To the elders of the Muslim community, even just the word “dating” seems impure

To the elders of the Muslim community, even just the word “dating” seems impure Damla, a 64-year-old Turkish mother of five and grandmother of nine, explains her ground rules: “No touching or kissing; no private, un-chaperoned meetings; no inappropriate text messages; the families need to be involved at every step while the two young people are getting to know each other.” As a result, when it comes to the modern Muslim dating world, younger generations often refer to their meetings as “halal dating” – meaning that there is nothing inappropriate going on, just some innocent getting-to-know-you on the road to eventual marriage Damla and her husband Sertac came to Germany almost 40 years ago when he got a construction job at a railway company. They vowed to maintain their traditions and strict rules in their Berlin lives, and they have expected the same from their family as well. All of their children’s marriages were arranged, at a very young age, with other families from their community. “We are a religious family and we have many cousins who also moved here at the same time as we did,” Damla says. “We all visited the same mosque and managed to build up a wonderful community around us and our children. My husband was looking out for the best matches for our children. We know them the best, after all – we know who they’d be happy with!” In Germany’s Muslim communities, arranged marriages are still fairly common. The matches are usually set up by the families of the bride and groom based on compatibility in status, finance and values.