'How can you marry a woman without seeing her first?'
Photo: AFP

Egyptian trend: Matchmakers offer veiled, 'devout' wives

Matchmaking service providers taking advantage of rise in number of single Egyptian women, use religious slogans to 'seduce' clients

"Veiled women for marriage, marriage for the devout. Call now!" This is a taste of some of the slogans that were recently spray painted in Egypt's central squares, including the renowned Tahrir Square.


Those behind them are matchmaking companies, using "religious slogans" to profit from Egypt's surprising new problem- a rise in the number of single women - coupled with a rise in devoutness.


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Al-Bayan, an UAE based paper, published an article which claimed a connection between the Islamization of Egypt's matrimony and dating services and the political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood.


Egyptian paper Al-Shorouk made similar claims in an article which accused these services of profiting from the Islamists' rise to power.


כתובות גרפיטי בכיכרות הערים בצביון איסלאמי

Tahrir square graffiti


One such matchmaking company has launched a graffiti campaign, spray painting slogans such as "Remember Allah, marry devout women" or "Look at Allah, a chance at landing a devout wife" in public squares like Tahrir.


One of the company's officials said: "Our sole goal is to preserve the piety of our Muslim women during these days of turmoil and increasing abominations."



Matchmaking services in Egypt are not new, but in the past they were operated with the help of volunteers or under the auspices of civil society. Later they underwent a process of commercialization, and some of the non-profits offering matchmaking services began receiving payment for their services.


The sector flourished; more and more newspapers around the Arab world were willing to give the matchmaking companies a platform and publish their advertisements for a fee.


In the Al-Bayan article, Dr. Muhammad Matwalli, a professor of social history, argued that most of these offices are not sincere in their message. According to him, they change their orientation according to social trends with the sole desire of increasing profits.


These offices, he claims, are taking advantage of recent developments in Egyptian society to lure more and more Egyptians searching for husbands or brides. Specifically, the article argued, they are targeting the growing sector of devout Egyptian Islamist believers, seducing them with religious slogans.


In recent months, Arab media have published stories claiming that the matchmakers are not satisfied with Islamic-oriented advertisements, and some are currently offering Egyptian bachelors veiled women.


One such office said that a man looking for a veiled woman, a sign of religious devoutness, must pay 15 Egyptian Pounds (roughly $3) to access its database. However he must also prove his good intentions in searching for a veiled wife.


In return, he will be offered a list of names with some background to choose from. According to his choice, the office will form a profile of his desired match - and the search will begin.


Top Egyptian official Sheikh Shuki Abed al-Razek, commented on the issue of matchmaking services offering veiled women, and wondered how a man can marry a woman without seeing her face before hand.


Citing the Islamic tradition, he claimed that much in the same way the buyer has the right to see the goods before the purchase, so does the man enjoy the right to see his future wife.


"How can I marry a woman I can't see? Is she a fish in water?" an Egyptian man, critical of the service, joked.


According to data published by the Egyptian government, 17% of marriage-aged Egyptian women are single.



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פרסום ראשון: 03.19.13, 18:34
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