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27 November 2014

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Yatra Lounge, Manchester
Yatra Lounge, Manchester

Desperately seeking Muslims

By Aneela Ashraf
In Asian circles, it's a new problem. How do young thirtysomethings meet new friends and marriage partners? The answer may lie with new Muslim social events.

For someone to be thirtysomething and unmarried in the Asian community is a rare thing - or is it? Actually, it's more common than you think and is rapidly becoming a problem within the Asian Muslim communities.

Many find themselves in the same position: "I need friends, I need to network, I want to find a marriage partner, and I want to meet other Muslims". But how do they do that?

Young Muslims celebrating Eid
Asians celebrating Eid in Manchester

More and more young Asians are moving away from traditional 'arranged' methods of meeting potential marriage partners. And as clubs and bars are not seen as appropriate places for Muslims to meet, other avenues need to be explored.

Over the past two years, Muslim social events have been taking place with the intention of bringing potential marriage partners together. Designed to cater for the single Muslim population, they are held strictly in line with Islamic practices.

Aneela Ashraf spoke to Rooful Ali, organiser of 'Emerald' - a Muslim social event in Manchester this weekend. He is also the founder of

Why was the social set up?

"The history behind the venture stems from two years ago in London.  When a small group of us enjoyed an Eid dinner together with the added value of individually inviting a few friends along - this concept of friends-of-friends led to a simple yet enjoyable situation of meeting 'like-minded' Muslims whom otherwise we would not have met given the diversity of background (e.g. professions, geography).

What is the aim?

"No formal seating - standing and mingling is encouraged, talking to anyone and everyone!"
Rooful Ali, founder of

"Incredibly simple - allow Muslims to enhance their social network by meeting 'like-minded' people. Ideal for simply increasing an individual's social circles with people with similar interests or professional backgrounds, great if you want to meet people if you're new in town or have little by way of contacts at work/home of similar aged people, and finally if you're single and are looking for a prospective partner - this forum is equally fantastic in meeting people in a respectable environment (ie. non club/pub environment associated with work socials - which are not considered appropriate for Muslims).

Who is it aimed at?

"Typically 2nd and 3rd generation Muslims born/educated in this country.  No doubt they will have been successful in their plights to study hard, gain degrees and professional qualifications - now typically in their mid 20s and 30s facing little time to meet people in a social context, they want time to readdress the work-life balance, but not able to do so in the work sphere as the activities and interests may not be appropriate to Muslims (clubs/bars), hence "Emerald" which can cater for their needs for a simple alternative avenue (namely an informal restaurant setting).  Emerald is open to ALL Muslims irrespective of cultural background, my motto is 1 Faith, 0 Boundaries - although we do find the absolute majority are of Asian descent.

How does it work?

"Very simple! A restaurant setting featuring buffet food and unlimited soft drinks all included in the price. No formal seating - standing and mingling is encouraged, talking to anyone and everyone!  No limit on the conversation time or restrictions on where you have the conversation.

We have a team of up to half a dozen hosts on the evening (depending on the size of the event), who are there to help people talk and introduce themselves and friends (especially if people have come on their own or it's their first Social event).  So often I see a number of events down the line individuals return with increased self-confidence and general gratitude to having such a simple forum on a regular basis to meet up with friends - less individual admin! Simply "let's meet at Emerald!"

Emerald Social is at Yatra Lounge, Manchester. Saturday 24 September 6.30pm

last updated: 26/09/05
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