When it comes to love, dating and sex, Muslims are often conspicuous in their absence from the public conversation. From Muslim dating apps to halal sex shops selling halal condoms, it’s clear that Muslims are in the market for intimacy, romance and love just like anybody else, but sex-positive portrayals are few and far between. This may be, in part, due to strict rules on sex and dating outside marriage, but that doesn’t mean the religion is anti-sex (for married couples, at least). Quite the contrary. Islam has long preached sexual gratification – from scripture emphasising that a woman’s sexual pleasure is equally as important as her husband's, to a heavy focus on foreplay, to numerous books on how to sexually satisfy a woman.
Of course, not every Muslim dates and finds love in the same way; what one person thinks may be at odds with another. And don’t be fooled into thinking arranged marriages are a traditional trajectory – one person may be staunchly "no nikah, no nookie" (no sex before marriage), while another may actively look for a husband on a Muslim match site, and another may not find dating and premarital sex such an issue.
Challenging the view that Muslims aren’t a monolith isn’t the only battle, either; many young Muslims struggle with an older generation which expects them not to have dated in their teens and adulthood but to have found someone compatible to marry by their early to mid-20s. Given that most people in their 20s and 30s are part of the Tinder generation, is it any wonder conversations about relationships both in the Muslim community and outside are shrouded in secrecy?
So how do young women and men grapple with the conflict between religion and a Tinder hook-up culture? How do they align their religious values with a society where sex is quite literally a button away? Refinery29 spoke to several young women and men and although they’re not reflective of every Muslim, given the diversity of the community, the results are certainly illuminating…