Abeer Ayaz asks for suggestions for someone to pair up with a 31-year-old Pakistani-American engineer living in Sterling, Va. “He said he’s a ‘museum rat,’ a history nerd,” Quraeshi read from the man’s profile, then turned back to the California woman’s photo.“I think we need a bubbly, fun-loving type,” she said. “I feel like he would dig this picture.” One of the six matchmakers around the table suggested another woman, who at 34 was out of the engineer’s preferred age range.When sparks finally flew for Baig and a man with whom she was matched, it wasn’t over a traditional coffee at her parents’ house — it was on Snapchat.[Even the pope has a Snapchat filter] And she met the man, now her husband, thanks to one of the online services springing up to cater to American Muslims like Baig, who want to marry fellow Muslims but don’t want their parents setting them up.“I think that my life is based off of this empowerment that I’ve gotten from my faith.” Ayesha Maqsood, 28, said she, too, has been turned off by the impersonal-seeming process of the matchmaking “aunties” her parents know, but wants to find a Muslim husband. “But eventually one day I want to raise my kids how I was raised, in the Muslim faith. “Someone closer to your own age, who’s been through the process, they’d be more understanding of my situation and what I was going through,” she said.The matchmakers say they’ve successfully paired off people of all ages and situations, from single parents to divorcés to widowed grandparents.She credits a service focused on both compatibility and religiosity with making the perfect match for her. After her cousin got married to someone Beyond Chai matched him with, she joined the service a month and a half ago.
Sitting around a table in the co-working space they sometimes rent in Tysons, the matchmakers take turns pulling profiles up on a projector screen. “She wants to be near the city because cities are fun. She pulled the woman’s profile up on the screen, showing a photograph of her smiling under an ancient archway.
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It’s just on the app.” [I’m a 32-year-old virgin, and I’m living the feminist dream] That was the pattern Baig followed when Beyond Chai paired her up with her now-husband.
They started out just by texting, and she immediately recognized that he shared her unusually blunt, frank demeanor. Soon they were sharing snippets of their day by Snapchat constantly. She let him see her at the end of the day when her makeup was gone; he showed himself sweaty after a soccer game.