Halaal Speed Dating – it’s a thing!

Speed dating is a formalized matchmaking process the purpose of which is to encourage eligible singles to meet large numbers of potential partners in a very short period at a particular event. Although not new, speed dating has become more and more popular as it becomes increasing difficult to find a partner in a world fueled by technology, social media and dating apps.

Halaal Speed Dating Hungry for Halaal T

Move the setting to Cape Town, within the Muslim community and bam, the struggle has become even more real. Marriage is a serious business, even more so within the Muslim community. Islamically, dating is not permitted in the traditional sense. You need to meet someone in a halaal manner and with your parents’ blessings tie the knot.

The Cape Town Muslim community is relatively small, which makes meeting someone quite challenging. Luckily, we have good Samaritans like Iman Chilwan to help us along. Iman was raised in Australia and has South African roots. When she moved back to SA in 2014 she realised the lack of opportunities for Muslim singles to meet and founded Iman Islamic Events. She roped in Moulana Dawood Sampson to aid in her initiative as he often hosts Islamic marriage classes.

About 3 weeks before the event my friend Whatsapped me the advert for it. She said she was interested in going but didn’t want to go alone and wanted to know if I was interested in joining. Although hesistant at first, I thought about it and decided I had nothing to lose. Plus I said, if it was awful we’d make a dash for it and head to Wembley.

The setting

I arrived on my own and waited in the car while she made her way to the event. I sat in the car cringing at the thought of actually attending and texted my siblings saying I had serious doubts about going in. They encouraged me to just check it out and go in with no expectations. Finally, my friend arrived and we headed in. At this point she was more confident about this whole thing than I was. I guess, the lack of knowledge of what happens inside makes you a tad nervous.

A young lady sat outside the door of the school hall checking for your name on a list. As we went in, I saw atleast 10 tables spaced in a large circle around the hall. There were rows of chairs at the back of the hall for mahrams (companions) who came along. Since it is an Islamic event you are allowed to bring along a mahram, at about R75. Brothers, parents, uncles all sat watching us as we walked around the tables looking for our names. This part was particularly awkward, everyone looking at you as you made your way around. We realised our names were separated at different tables, another cringe because now you actually have to sit alone. Darn!

The mechanics

I made my way to a table where 3 gentlemen already seated. Luckily for me, I find myself to be confident so instead of awkward silences, I decided to greet and do introductions. I then got chatting with two of them regarding our careers and how we came to be there. After what seemed like ages, more females joined our table. Phew, I breathed a sigh of relief. Myself and the girl seated next to me immediately hit it off and got chatting. Soon Iman took to the mic. She introduced herself, the event and welcomes everyone. She then explained that there is a sheet with game instructions on each table, we would be playing these games for 7 minutes. The guys would move clockwise and the girls would move anti-clockwise. She also shared that since starting these events, many couples have since tied the knot. Okay, I thought, so there was hope. Plus, games had to be easier that actual one-one right?

Initially everyone thought we only needed to do introductions as the instructions said we needed to share our names, relationship status, where we lived and how many kids we had (if any). We went around the table sharing this information and then the whistle went off.

We were greeted by a new set of males and proceeded to play the same introductory game only to realise the actual game instructions were at the back of the page. This went on for many rounds and soon, everyone seemed to loosen up including me. Knowing that everyone in the room was there for the same reason was comforting.

Towards the end we started ignoring the games and just started chatting about careers, the challenges of finding a spouse, previous attendance at these events and more. Many of the guys, I realised, had attended before and were back for another round. The people I met had booming careers in various fields such as finance, engineering and media. Many had their own businesses. Age group wise it was mostly millennials aged 26-37 that were attending this event. We were given cards to write our names and numbers, at the end of a round you could pass this on to someone you liked. I noticed nobody did this.

The event went on for around 2 hours and luckily it became comfortable and social. That said, I didn’t have to make a dash for it, thankfully. I made friends with two lovely young ladies along the way as we moved tables together. I also noticed quite a few people I knew or had seen around before. Refreshments and pizzas were then served and we all sat at our tables eating and chatting. Some moved around to reconnect with friends or family they attended with or to socialise. I went to sit with my friend at her table and we shared our thoughts. I could see that at this point some of the name/number cards were finally switching hands. Those who were too shy had the opportunity to ask Iman and those assisting her to make introductions for us. On a side note, if socialising in this way doesn’t appeal to you or if you’d like to go the more traditional route, Iman Islamic Events provides personal matchmaking services too.

Myself and my two new friends started mingling as the friend I attended with left immediately after we ate. I ended up enjoying meeting new people and expanding my circles. It was interesting and was similar to a social club one could join to meet people. The event reminded me of societies one could join at University to bring together people with similar interests. Once you get into the swing of things no one is awkward as you realise everyone is in the boat together.

Would I go again?

I must say it was a good way to meet new people in a halaal environment. At least meeting in person was way better than trying online platforms where one can come across rather strange characters. Attending something like this allowed you to immediately see whether there was someone you could potentially click with. Over and above that, everyone seemed genuine in ‘their pursuit of happiness’ and romance. I would certainly attend again especially now I know what to expect.

Now you may be waiting for the happy ending, but alas I didn’t end up meeting Prince Charming. Still all is not lost, I made two lovely new friends and reconnected with a few others. As they say, “maybe next time” or “second time lucky”.

The next event will be taking place on Saturday 6 October 2018 at Oaklands high school, Lansdowne. For more information or to register, check out https://princessofhearts.co.za/.

This article was written by a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous.


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  • As Salaamu Alaykum. I heard about this only recently. I am a mother of a young lady and would like her to meet a few people.
    May this be a successful event going forward. Inshaa Allah

  • As Salaamu Alaykum. I heard about this only recently. I am a mother of a young lady and would like her to meet a few people.
    May this be a successful event going forward. Inshaa Allah

    • As Salaamu Alaykum. I heard about this only recently. I am a mother of a young lady and would like her to meet a few people.
      May this be a successful event going forward. Inshaa Allah

  • You are the one who is crossing the line they will laugh at you in the day of judgement at least they are getting married and dedicating their lives to each other but you can break up with your girlfriend do the Haram things together istaqfurallah.
    rose martine

  • Salaam
    I would like to know when the next speed dating session will take place in cape Town plz.


  • Assalaamu alaykum…what a lovely idea and excellent and safe manner for Muslim ladies to meet potential life partners. I am a widow aged 45yrs would love to attend next event in shaa Allah.