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Dating While Muslim: ‘Ramy’ Sheds Light on Muslim American Experience

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Ramy Youssef at the 2019 Deadline Contenders Hulu Reception at Paramount Theater in Hollywood, California. (Photo: Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Hulu)
Ramy Youssef at the 2019 Deadline Contenders Hulu Reception at Paramount Theater in Hollywood, California. (Photo: Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Hulu)

Amid rave reviews, the show “Ramy” sheds light on dating while Muslim, while also exploring the larger Muslim-American experience. The show stars Ramy Youssef, a young Egyptian-American, who pens his life into the semi-autobiographical miniseries.

Airing on Hulu, “Ramy” explores the narrative of a Muslim American and his family as they navigate faith and identity in a journey that often brings complex conversations to light.

As described by The New Yorker, the series offers “with tart precision and irony, the lives of young American Muslims who may drink, have sex, and believe in God—and who keep much of their lives secret from their parents and their friends.”

While “Ramy” has popularized the Muslim-American experience of dating while Muslim, Clarion’s National Correspondent Shireen Qudosi wrote a well-received essay titled “What Men Don’t Get About Dating Muslim Women.” While “Ramy” looks at dating while Muslim from largely a male perspective, Qudosi shifts to a female perspective.

That alternative perspective on the Muslim American experience of dating while Muslim has been gratefully received by Muslim women thankful for an honest account of their challenges and frustrations, especially when dating outside their faith and culture.

When it comes to dating while Muslim, on culture, Qudosi says:

As a Middle Eastern/South Asian woman, the culture is pretty big on generosity. No matter how much we say that the “religion of Islam is on a killing spree,” most everyone agrees that there’s a graciousness in the culture … when you date a Muslim girl who carries her culture with her … When you cross the threshold into her heart, you get the best of what she has to offer. You are honored.

On what she calls the “soullessness of online dating apps,” Qudosi writes:

A picture and a few lines of copy can’t tell you that. And on some fundamental level, what makes that connection between two people so sacred is completely lost in a sea of pictures, whether it’s from swiping right or clicking “follow” and “add friend.” And with that, courtship is reduced to an endless dance of “liking” each other’s photos or tossing out a text. Modern courtship is measured by how long he takes to text back and whether you need Alan Turing and his enigma-code breaker to deconstruct the deeper meaning in his Morse code texts.

In rhythm with the larger Muslim-American experience, as well as is often the experience of other conservative faith adherents, Qudosi believes modern dating is failing us.

And like many other Muslims, I’m also not much of a dater. I don’t want to date for years on end. I don’t want to casually date multiple people at the same time. I’m only going to give my attention to one man at a time. It’s that simple. I want what Muslim comedian Aman Ali called the “Up-Up-Down-Down” mode where you can take a shortcut from all the back and forth dating. Make that leap if you’re feeling that connection. I’m undecided about a lot of things, but I’m not undecided about where my heart is. If my heart has crossed the threshold, I’m in.

Whether the American-Muslim experience of dating while Muslim is coming from a male or a female, a devout Muslim or a cultural Muslim, the consensus seems to be there is a challenge when it comes to living in faith in a modern world of dating.

Just like with “Ramy,” this is something most people are still figuring out.

 

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