The topic of online marriage remains sensitive and controversial, since the assumption in traditional Muslim society is that people will grow up in families with many familial and social ties, making marriage a matter that is enabled mostly by families, not individuals. This system has many virtues, facilitating marriages that have the support of both the man and the woman’s families, making married life more peaceful and increasing its chance of survival. However, not everyone enjoys the privilege of having extensive social networks.
As an example, converts and immigrants in the West often find themselves alone in areas filled with non-Muslims, not knowing people who can help them on the road toward building a family. In such cases online services can play an important role in allowing the creation of Muslim families. Critics focus on the potential negative applications of such services but Hussein Ebied, one of Yelli’s co-founders, believes that “when used with good intentions, it can have few downsides, enabling marriage and preventing loneliness and isolation and the various harms that can come with it.”
Yelli allows users to swipe through several potential matches in their area while preserving their dignity by only matching people when two users express mutual interest in each other. The app uses a person’s Facebook details for log in, meaning that their name will appear to other users the way it appears on their Facebook profile.
Yelli will support messaging and text chat between users (after they have expressed mutual interest). At the moment the app is only available in English-speaking countries (US, Canada, UK, Ireland, and Australia).
The app creators, Abdullah, Khalid and Hussein, are three Muslim Americans who grew up in New York City. They’ve been close friends since childhood. All three live and work in New York City.
They’re all married and blessed with children. As second generation Muslims living in America, all three have experienced similar challenges in finding suitable spouses that were compatible both religiously and culturally. They feel very lucky, and decided to go into business together a couple years ago to help Muslims in a very practical way.
Ikram Hawramani reviewed the app Yelli and blogs at http://quranclub.net/ .
(Photo Credit: Yelli/Hussein Ebied)