Halal Tinder’ helps men find second (or third) wife
A new dating app being dubbed the ‘Halal Tinder’ is helping men meet widows online who will become their second — or third — wife.
With many other dating apps such as Tinder banned or severely frowned upon in Gaza, the matchmaking app — Wesal — is the first of its kind, New York Times reports.
Since being introduced in March this year, it has already led to 160 weddings. More than half of these were men marrying their second or third wives.
Under Islamic law, it is legal for men to marry up to four wives.
Wesal founder Hashem Sheikha, 33, said the project supported polygamy, adding that many men died in Gaza fighting wars and were survived by their wives.
“We want to spread joy and connections between people” and help them with “finding love and peace after going through a lot of suffering,” he said.
These widows eventually wanted to remarry, often for financial stability, he added.
Reham Owda, a Gaza-based writer on women’s issues, told the New York Times women who lost their husbands in wars were left with “difficult lives and few options”, and many gave in to pressure to marry their late husband’s brother or someone from the same political party for financial stability.
For these reasons, the online service was positive because it allowed women to “choose” their next husband “without fear and pressure in this religious and patriarchal society”, she said.
Wesal not only helps widows but also those women who are divorced or never married.
When registering, users must complete an application with several questions which are traditionally important when choosing a spouse in Gaza tradition, such as place of residence, occupation, salary, marital status and the number of children.
They must also accept: “I swear by Allah the Great that all my information is accurate, and that I won’t use this website for entertainment.”
However, the site does not allow people to upload photos or chat online, to protect women and because it would be considered ‘haram’, which is forbidden under Islamic law.
“We are the halal version of American dating websites,” he said, using the word that connotes what is acceptable under Islamic tradition.
Instead, once a man and a woman have exchanged ‘likes’, the man is given his prospective bride’s address and has up to 48 hours to propose, which is traditionally done over coffee at home.
Traditionally, a man and woman will marry via a khattaba — a woman who visits homes with the groom’s mother to search for brides.
She inspects a potential bride’s body shape, skin colour, teeth, hair and other physical features.
Then a groom’s family will ask to go to the bride’s family’s house for a cup of coffee and a proposal will likely follow.
Sheikha said he wanted to challenge these longstanding customs and give women more power to choose for themselves.
“Our website encourages them to search for husbands by themselves, to truly choose and say what they like in the man,” he said.
“We also fight old traditions that say divorced women should not get married.”
Ghada Abu Mustafa married his second wife Majdi, a war widow, after meeting on Wesel. He was looking for a widow without children, between 25 and 30, from southern Gaza. She was looking for a married man.
He told the New York Times: “She is beautiful and a widow of a martyr at the same time,” Mr Abu Mustafa said.
“When I get wealthy, I will marry the third wife.”