Hi my name is Rahim.
I’m in my 30s and am happily married (to an Ismaili) for the past 1.5 years. Sounds great right — The holy grail! Trust me it was a long journey, and I’m here to tell you my story and why I think an app like Chai Meets Biscuit is so important.
I’ve always been a romantic, and I’ve always wanted to meet an Ismaili. There is so much to understand about our faith, and Hazar Imam, and Jamatkhana, and what your favorite Sukreet texture is, that it just felt easier if I could be with someone who already understood all of it. Someone who knew where I was coming from, and maybe help me in my own faith journey and make me stronger.
In my 20s, I found myself in various cities in the U.S. as I developed my career — Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Portland. These were great cities for professionals, but the Jamat sizes were small.
I would do my best to meet Ismailis. I always went to Jamatkhana on Fridays. I would definitely go on Chandraats and Khushialis — those are the times when new people who don’t always come, can make it. Sometimes I’d catch myself cutting off conversations — “hey I already know you, who’s that new person, I need to talk to them!”
I tried to do as many Ismaili events as I could. I was a counselor at Al-Ummah, I was a facilitator at Al-Ummah. I did the ITREB Retreat. I participated in Global Encounters. I got involved in the Education Board. I’d go on dates but I didn’t find that spark.
I tried the apps — OK Cupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge, Bumble, Tinder — you name it, I checked it out. But there weren’t many Ismailis I found on them. So I dated non Ismailis. I dated someone who was Hindu. It was a wonderful relationship, my first real meaningful one. But 6 months in, faith became a sticking point. She wanted to introduce me to her parents, but I was nervous about taking that step. I couldn’t decide if I was ok marrying someone non Ismaili, and we broke up.
Eventually I stopped using dating apps because I felt I would end up in the same place…great person, but faith was a deal breaker, so not a good use of time.
After a few years in San Francisco, I decided to move for the cause…to Toronto. Yes, a different country! In Canada, I thought, there were going to be a lot more Ismailis, a lot more density. If finding an Ismaili is important to me, let me solve for that. I found a job in Toronto and moved in 2016.
I loved Toronto and its vibrant Ismaili community. I tried the dating apps again, on the off chance I’d see an Ismaili on there. I found a fair number of Muslims, but still not many Ismaiils. 1.5 years into my move, my company downsized, and I lost the job I had moved over there for. I was a bit depressed, so I started going to Jamatkhana more, just as a way to get out of my house and add some sense of routine and purpose to my life. I joined the Volunteer Corps in Downtown Jamatkhana. The Diamond Jubilee visit came and it was wonderful. And shortly after, the volunteer captain asked me, had I met Sarah before.
I had seen Sarah around, but she had been in her Medical Residency and we had just been missing each other in Jamatkhana. And that’s how I met my future partner…we both lived in Downtown, and we started hanging out and it just happened. 1 year later we were engaged, another year after we were married. When it works it works!
Seems so simple, right, once you find “the” person? But how does one make that happen? And sooner please…before all the pressure and questions from Mom build?
Looking back, here’s what I’d say to my past self, as I take stock of my journey
- Be a bit more open to people — I had ideals in my head of what I wanted, but really what mattered is someone who just gets you. You can’t know that until you meet, hang out, and give it a chance.
- Try not to be shy — I’m very introverted. If you want to meet more people, just go out there and introduce yourself. Try not to overthink it and just do.
- Put yourself in places where you can meet more Ismailis –> Ideally an Ismaili dating app (if a good one existed!)
Getting an Ismaili Dating app won’t solve the inner fears we have about ourselves, and the other troubles that any person (regardless of Faith) has in dating.
But it’s a great way to find like-minded people, who are also looking to meet members of their community. We’re in the same boat, we just need a place to meet.
Here’s the future connections, and making Chai Meets Biscuit that place!