Naeemah Khabir, a 35-year-old devout Muslim who works for the Department of Veteran Affairs in Philadelphia, has attended matchmaking events from New Brunswick, N.J., to Queens, N.Y. She has used several matchmaking services. Khabir, of Elkins Park, who has a master’s degree from Syracuse University, even hired a private matchmaker for nine months until the counselor assigned to her conceded that race was part of her problem.
“When you look at all Muslims, of all races and ethnicities, who has it the hardest? Black women unequivocally have it the worst. Black men have it bad, too, but black women have it the worst,” Khabir said. “Everyone knows it, but it goes unspoken.”
Muslims say there’s an epidemic of educated, professional women older than 30 struggling to find suitable matches among Muslim men, who are often less bound by a biological clock and societal expectations, and more likely than Muslim women to marry younger and outside their culture or religion.
Women in the Philadelphia Muslim community, which is primarily African American, may also face a double whammy: a dearth of educated men in communities ravaged by unemployment and incarceration, said Aneesah Nadir, whose observation is echoed in research by the Brookings Institution and Yale University. Nadir is a social worker specializing in premarital education and project director of the Muslim Alliance in North America’s Healthy Marriage Initiative.