Dating a Muslim is generally just like dating anyone else – a varied and unpredictable experience that can vary widely depending on the guy’s individual personality. However it does mean taking on a very strong set of beliefs and a very different culture. Muslim men are very passionate about their beliefs and their traditions and many people will see this as a highly attractive quality. However it does also mean that you are taking on both the man and his values and while you don’t necessarily have to agree with them (the Muslim faith does not discriminate between religions), you will have to make sure that you are happy making compromises and comfortable with your partner’s views – just as in any inter-religion relationship.
Another important point though is that while Muslims are allowed to date non-Muslims, they are told to date ‘women of the book’ meaning Christians or Jews. It is expected for there to be a shared belief in a single God, though this will depend again on the personal discretion of the man. Depending on how devout the man is, there are also many things to consider practically and there might be some sacrifices that you are not prepared to make. All this should be discussed with your partner before the relationship progresses past a certain point.
The first thing to do is to drop any preconceived notions you have of Muslims. At the present time Muslims are not getting the best press, and this is of course due to extremism. Recognise that the views of Muslim extremists do not reflect the views of other Muslims, and most Muslims are extremely peace loving men. Mohamed Ali for instance was Muslim, and this is why he opted to be a conscientious objector during the war (and subsequently was stripped of his title).
Approach your dating with Muslim men as you would with any other man – judge him on his own merits and keep an open mind.
Muslim Values in a Relationship
Most Muslims take dating highly seriously and are looking for straight forward women of substance. They believe very strongly in the importance of family and lasting relationships and so that’s what they will be looking for when they enter a relationship with you. Thus you need to expect a serious and lasting relationship and in general to be ready to commit. You will also need to be respectful of the Muslim faith around his family. Again this will depend very much on the Muslim man in question and how strictly he adheres to his faith and what his own personal views are. However as a rule, a Muslim man is forbidden to date other than to find a spouse, so expect relationships to be taken very seriously.
Another aspect to consider is that if you are to marry a Muslim, he will likely very strongly push for children to be raised in the Muslim faith. While many people are comfortable with their partner having different views, it can sometimes become an issue when it comes to choosing a religion for your children. This is something to consider and discuss.
Faithfulness is taken very seriously by Muslim men and they will be very strict on women who they perceive as having cheated on them. However it is actually acceptable in Islam for Muslim men to have up to four wives, and obviously to date outside of the marriage in order to find these wives. To many Western women this could be seen as hypocrisy and it is something that many will not be comfortable with. Fortunately the majority of modern Muslims living in the West will opt to settle for just one, but again this is something that you will definitely need to discuss before dating you Muslim man.
It is also important to understand that Muslim women are not quite regarded as ‘equal’ in the same way that Western women are. Islam describes their position as ‘equal’ though not ‘identical’ but the reality is that the woman is expected very much to be obedient to the man. She is considered to be the man’s ‘jewel’ or ‘treasure’ and he will be protective and loving but ultimately in charge of the woman. In Islamic countries ‘disobedience’ can sometimes result in death, while in the West it will more likely end in divorce. Sometimes this will result in the children being sent to Islamic countries possibly not to return. In the West it is rare for the woman to be required to wear the Hijab (head covering) yet it is still generally considered to be the man’s ‘right’ to request that you do.
This might sound highly bleak for many Western women and be highly off putting. However although Islam highly stresses the importance of conformity and is generally one of the most devout religions in the world, the extent to which your partner wishes to follow the religion will still come down to the individual – particularly if they were raised in the West. A combination of liberal Western views and traditional Muslim beliefs about family could result in a relationship with a man who is highly caring and dedicated. What is important then is that you discuss all these aspects of his beliefs and make sure that you can find some common ground before the relationship progresses too far.