Is Halal Dating…Halal? (Special Guest: Soraya Soobhany Chohan)

single muslima solutions soraya soobhany chohan

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In this post, we are going to do a deep-dive (sort of) into halal dating.

As surprising as it sounds, 20% of my readers are women.

Some of them even e-mail me asking for help with their boy problems.

They’re usually a hot mess (as women are when they catch feels) but Alhamdulillah I was able to help them avoid potential disasters.

On top of that, as you know, I review matrimonial apps for Becoming the Alpha Muslim.

I would say about half, or a little more than half, of the women looking to get married, are in their 30s and 40s.

A lot of these women are divorcees but as just as many have never been married.

Which is a little weird, honestly.

when muslim women don't want to be a second wife halal dating

This being the case, I was SO glad when Soraya Soobhany-Chohan contacted me asking if I’d like to have her on my podcast.

Soraya is a relationship and marriage coach for single Muslim women in their 30s and older.

She herself got married well into her 30s AFTER 14 years of looking.

We plan, and Allah plans.

And Allah is the Best of planners.

Ordinarily, I would have said “no” because my audience is mostly male.

However, when I internet stalked her researched her business I noticed we both have similar ideas on gender roles, masculinity, femininity, marriage, and relationships.

The pre-interview phone call we did confirmed that.

In this interview, Soraya and I talk about:

  • What does Single Muslima Solutions offer women? How many women has she helped and are there success stories?
  • Why did it take Soraya so long to get married? What did she do wrong? And what did she do to fix it?
  • What’s the right way to look for a husband? What do single Muslimas need to look for?
  • What is Halal Dating? Is it even halal? What are the boundaries of interaction? How do you avoid bad situations? When do you involve the male guardian?
  • On men being men and women being women. Halal dating tips for guys and girls
  • What are guys REALLY looking for in a spouse?
  • Why should guys go for older women (in their 30s and 40s) as opposed to younger women (18s and early 20s)? What benefits do older women bring to the table?
  • Why aren’t more of these women considering polygyny as an option? Does it make sense for a 40-year old divorcee to say “I don’t want to be a second wife?”
  • Soraya’s top tip for single Muslimas on their first meeting with a guy: DO NOT fall into this trap

If you want to read a full transcript of the interview…

Scroll down. It’s after the picture of Soraya.

Oh, and by the way, please don’t forget to leave me a rating and review on iTunes, because it helps other people find the podcast and tells me you’re interested in hearing more episodes.

FREE 5-day e-mail course: How to create meaningful first meetings that lead to marriage

Soraya is generously offering this free mini course to our female readers.

You will learn:

  • Your unique “decision dating type” and how it can help or hinder your meetings with guys
  • How to use one secret yet highly powerful word to help you avoid coffee-date burnout
  • How to position yourself during that first meeting to remove the “does he like me?” anxiety and uncertainty
  • How to avoid the biggest first meeting killer that is sending you back to square one, again and again,
  • How to activate 3 key switches to immediately improve the quality of those first meetings

It’s completely FREE and will be delivered automatically via e-mail.

Click here to subscribe.

Where can you find Soraya Online?

halal dating muslima marriage coach for muslim women

Interview Transcript

N: Assalamu alaikum, run tings rude bwoy! Nabeel Azeez, becomingthealphamuslim.com and the Becoming the Alpha Muslim podcast. Welcome to another episode, and this is a special episode. It is the second time that I’m having a female guest on the podcast. As you know, 20% of my audience are women and I often get messages from them thanking me for the work and sometimes asking for advice on specific issues. We don’t turn away anybody, and today our guest is Ms. Soraya Soobhany Chohan. She is a relationship and marriage coach for single Muslim women over 30. Assalamu alaikum Soraya.

S: Wa alaikum assalam, brother.

N: How are you doing today?

S: Alhamdulillah very well, thank you. Thank you for having me here.

N: It’s my pleasure, and thank you for reaching out to me, I think it’s an important discussion that we’re going to have today and I’m glad to feature you. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and a little bit about what you do with Soraya Singles Coaching?

S: Yes, I’m somebody who got married after 30 and as a result … it was a very difficult thing to do because [inaudible 00:01:41] coaching myself from … it was from a non-Muslim woman, from a Christian woman. She understood the boundaries of religion, our beliefs and things. And it worked really well with her. Within seven months I’d met and married somebody. And then I realized that we really needed something like this for Muslim women as well. That’s why I decided to train as a coach and set up the company, so I could support sisters who are trying to balance their faith and the world they live in when trying to find a spouse.

N: I just want to stress how important the work that you’re doing is, because for my website I review some of these marriage websites. I’ve reviewed one already, secondwife.com, and I’m test-driving another for another piece. For the most part I guess it’s about 50-50 or a slight majority of Muslim women who are single over 30, either they’re divorced or they’ve never been married. Some of them are in their forties. There is a significant population of single Muslim women who are not the, what we would think, the traditional marrying age. They’re a bit older, they’re educated, they’re working and some of them have been married before. It is important what you’re doing, and I think that you’re providing a good and important service.

S: Thank you.

N: All right, so let’s get into it. What exactly do you offer? I mean, you mentioned that you’re providing support. What do you offer in your business to these sisters?

S: Well, it’s developing, actually. It started off as a one-to-one coaching package where I worked with sisters individually for about three months, and just helping them to rebuild their confidence, get out there, sharpen their skills, know how to meet somebody, how not to meet somebody as well. I’ve also developed a couple of mini-courses as well, that cover things like how to meet people, how to negotiate the online world and inshallah tomorrow I’m launching a group coaching course, just to help sisters. It’s five-week intensive course to recharge themselves and reset their skills for marriage.

N: How many women have you worked with so far?

S: Quite a few, actually. I’ve had quite a few one-to-one clients, I’ve had a few people who I worked with on the courses and that kind of thing, and then I worked with ladies on a daily basis in my private group as well. And it’s just been really, really inspiring, really positive. I never realized how far this would go, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with some very amazing women. I mean, all kinds of women, from never been married, a lot of widows in the group as well, as well as divorced women.
N: Have there been any success stories?

S: Yes, we’ve had one marriage, we’ve got two engagements and inshallah weddings this year and in terms of success in just generally confidence and that kind of thing, I’ve seen an amazing rise in women who have been saying, “Actually, I’ve been putting up with bad behavior from this guy who I’ve been meeting and I’ve realized he’s not serious about marriage.” So, it’s helped a lot of women realize when things are going right and when things are not going right as well.

N: Yes, I think that’s especially important. I’ve received messages from some of my female readers dealing with boy problems, and this above my pay grade, I write for men, and then they’re emailing me. A couple of them, they were speaking to guys about marriage and the guys were messing them about. One guy was flirting with other women online while he was engaged to the sister, so that was fairly straight-forward. I just told her, “Listen, the guy’s not serious.” Then there was another one that it was on the verge of fornication, that I had to intervene. Alhamdulillah, the sister came to her senses, but I would rather you deal with these kinds of things than me, so that’s why I referred her to you.

S: Yes.

N: All right, tell us a little bit about how … first of all, why did it take you so long to get married, and then what was your approach to finding potential spouses that was not working for you and then finally what did you fix that made it right?

S: Yes, well, as you know it took me 14 years to find somebody. I was searching non-stop for 14 years. There were so many reasons it took so long. First of all, when I started searching in my twenties I actually wasn’t ready for marriage. I had a lot of issues to work through. I think one of the things we just assume is because we’re Muslim and a certain age, we are just ready to get married, and we forget that we’re also human and we’re dealing with our own issues as well. One side figured those out, and then there was the looking process as well. I was meeting all kinds of guys, but like the sisters say to you, they were just not serious about marriage at all. They had their own issues as well. Plus, I was facing all kinds of rejection, things like my age, my cultural background, my color, my height. Really bizarre reasons. It was really hard because I was going alone, and I was in the dark because there are no really practical guides for Muslim women. There are religious guides, which we know about, and we know what we’re looking for, but the practical way to actually find that there was nothing there.

It was when I … I hit a very low point at one point, I hit a very, very low point where something had gone spectacularly wrong and I thought, “I need help now.” I reached out to, again, a singles coach with a Christian background, and she opened my eyes. She was somebody who married in her forties quite happily. Skills that we were just never taught as women. As women, you’re taught your whole life not to look at boys, and then all of a sudden it’s like, why aren’t you married. There was no in-between, nobody teaches us how to communicate. How to communicate our wants, how to make the decisions and that kind of thing. So once I figured all that out, and once I’d built my confidence in myself again, it was really easy, I was on a website that I’d been on for about a year, and I must have scrolled past this particular guy so many times because I wasn’t looking properly. When I started looking properly, I found this guy and seven months later we were married and nobody was more surprised than I was that it happened so quickly. It is just about having the right building blocks in place to make those decisions and go ahead and do it.

N: What do you mean by looking properly? Can you break this down? What are sisters doing wrong that they need to fix?

S: I think … it’s to do with the way we’ve been brought up. We’ve been told to look for a guy with a good education, good income, this sort of family, this sort of background, which is great, but those really are things that come and go. The great job, he can lose it. The money can be lost. The education, he might do something else one day. Actually, it was about what are my fundamental human needs in a marriage. Who am I, how do I want to feel in a marriage? I realize I needed somebody who was not going to judge me, who was going to accept me as I was. And once you start looking for guys who are showing evidence of being just really decent guys who are just very open, honest and down to earth, suddenly you’re seeing them everywhere. Whereas before you’re very fixated on this list of criteria that the community has given you that might have worked 50 years ago, but you need something a little extra in this day and age. That’s what really helped me shift my mindset and the way I was looking.

N: So that would be the online situation, but I’m sure you’ve been on … and we’re going to talk about this a little further, you’ve been on what we would call halal dates. How did those go? Were they difficult to navigate, or …

S: Oh, completely. Because there are no guides. I tried to read western guides, and they’re not appropriate for a Muslim female audience, and there are no guidelines or anything. It really was just walking in the dark, playing it by ear. It’s different because you’re there to see if you’re suitable for marriage, you’re not there just to go out again and again and again for a year. I must have gone on 100, over 100 first meetings. Some of them were fun, some of them were embarrassing, some of them were just awful. It was a real experience, and it helped me learn a lot, which is helping me in my business now. But as a result, in terms of what I do, I do have a real key course on how to navigate those first meetings. Really, it shouldn’t take more than about three or four meetings to get to the next step, any more than that and it’s not going to happen. Those first meetings are really tricky but done properly, they can be really effective and very successful as well.

N: As I’ve gotten older … I used to think that, okay, there’s no such thing as halal dating, and then all you have to do is one or two meetings with the dad, just to ascertain if you guys are compatible and if you’re physically attracted, but as you get older you lose some of these silly ideas. Maybe they’re not silly, but a lot of the times they’re not practical at all. Let’s talk about that a little more. What do we mean when we say halal dating?

S: Well, I call it decision dating. If anyone who purchases my mini-course [inaudible 00:12:17] I talk about halal date … it’s called decision dating. So it’s this idea of you are meeting somebody to see if you’re compatible for marriage. That is all. You’re not meeting to go and hold hands or anything, and one thing I do is to remove any romantic notions from these meetings. It’s not a chick flick, it’s not Bollywood, it’s-

N: Business.

S: It’s a practical meeting. Yes, it’s a business m … as unromantic as it sounds, it is a business meeting and you’ve got to keep a cool head. So I call it decision dating, and I think we shouldn’t be ashamed to say that we are doing it … you are meeting in a public place, what you are going to do in a coffee shop, seriously. So, you’re meeting in a public place, you’re asking the right questions, you’re having the right conversations. You are building the sense of a team, you’re getting an idea of each other, purely for the idea of making a decision. So, yes, I call it decision dating because of it, like you say, is almost … is like a business meeting, rather than a romantic chick flick meeting.

N: Yes, exactly. I think a lot of the stigma around it, or the hesitation around it has to do with the fact that it could be looked at as a form of seclusion with two strangers of the opposite sex, but like you said, it’s in a coffee shop, it’s completely in public. I think we need to, as a community, we probably need to examine the boundaries of appropriate gender interaction, because I think we are, as a community, we’re quite dysfunctional in that regard. We’ve both worked in jobs before, so we have coworkers, male and female, the genders are not segregated and we might have non-Muslim coworkers, and then we have no problem interacting with them, but then a sister says assalamu alaikum to you and you suddenly don’t know exactly what to do. And vice versa. It’s just a big mess and I’m glad that there are people like you who are quite forward-thinking and then helping people out. It’s something that I try to do, yes … go ahead.

S: I think it’s … one of the problems of it being seen as something bad is then that brothers and sisters, they’re doing it secretly so they’re already going to these dates feeling ashamed and feeling that they’re doing something wrong, which casts a shadow over the whole thing. And then when things don’t go right they can’t really turn to families for support, because they feel like, “Oh, well, I’m going to have to admit that I went on a date, and they’re going to wonder about what I’ve been doing.” Like you said, we have to examine the boundaries. We are adults, we’re in control of ourselves. We’re not … we know the limitations of what we should and shouldn’t be talking about in a public place. I think it’s just about trusting our brothers and sisters to make the right decisions and to do what’s right for them and in accordance with their beliefs.

N: Right. And I guess the first coffee meeting is fine, most likely nothing bad will come of it, but then isn’t there the potential of it leading to something that is prohibited in Islam because of the nature of gender interaction and things like that.

S: I think, with my method, generally my advice is to keep it public all the time. You’re only going to meet three or four times, there’s no reason to be by yourself anywhere. Even something like getting a lift home, you don’t need to do that. You got there by yourself, you can get home by yourself. I think so long as you’re in public, you’re talking, it’s really important to be talking about the right things as well because in terms of going down the wrong path, as soon as you get onto the wrong topic, that’s it. And that’s not actually … I find that a lot of the temptation doesn’t happen face to face. It happens, actually, on the phone, when you’ve got the safety of the phone screen in front of you, people will just talk about anything and say anything. And I think sometimes that’s where the bound … I mean, one tip I heard online somewhere was if you are talking to a guy on WhatsApp, have a third person in the conversation just as a silent observer. Therefore, you reduce the temptation to talk about anything you shouldn’t be talking about. But I think sometimes a lot of the temptation happens away from the dating table.

N: What are some of the questions or topics that you teach your students or your clients to discuss?

S: In terms of the dating you mean?

N: Yes, the first, let’s say it’s the first meeting.

S: I think the first meeting, I think, well, this is where sisters can go quite wrong a little bit. And brothers, as well. We need to remember, you’ve chosen not to do the traditional meeting. When you do traditional meetings, you ask things like, where are we going to live, what are we going to do, in-laws, whatever. But I think when you’re doing these dates, these halal dates, you’ve got to keep it very open, very fun and very honest. That very first meeting is just about seeing whether there is a connection, whether you communicate well, and just to get an idea of the person in front of you. What is he like, are his manners good, is he nice to people, is he respectful towards me and that kind of thing, and I really think the first meeting isn’t necessarily the place to be asking him how much he earns and whether you can give up work as soon as you get married. It really is about, when you’re doing decision dating, halal dating, it’s more about pacing it because you’ve got to pace it and have a little bit more patience. You can’t just expect answers like you would in a … like you said, a traditional meeting with the father. Part of the skill is just knowing how to pace it and what to talk about and when.

N: And you mentioned the father, where’s the father in all of this, why isn’t he involved from the very beginning?

S: I don’t know, I think for some … especially as you get older, you are living your own lives. You’re probably not even living at home. I think it just depends on individuals. Some people are happy to talk to their parents about it, but actually, a lot of the women I talk to, especially on my group, what’s really sad is that sometimes the parents … awful thing to say, can be a hindrance rather than a help. I’ve heard of sisters who have met the right guy for them, and they want to make it halal, they want to get married, but the parents are saying no for very superficial reasons. So, like I said before, if you want to get a male relative involved, it could be in a very practical way, like he can sit on the next table when you’re on a date, or he can be in your WhatsApp group, but in terms of the fathers, I think it just depends on your individual relationship with your father and how much they are or are not willing to get involved, really.

N: Okay, one of the reasons why we connected and we agreed to do this podcast is that we have similar sorts of ideas about gender roles and women being women and men being men. To that end, you wanted to give a few tips for the brothers. You can go ahead now.

S: This is from my experience and what the sisters say. Obviously the lines are very blurred between genders. Like you said, we work together. You have females who are bosses and everything. But when it comes to the marriage, are you really … women can be women and men should be men. I think for the brothers, if you want to … if you’re chatting to a lady, you’ve got to meet her straight away. Don’t delay it, because a lot of women say, “He’s just messing me around, he just chats and chats me, he doesn’t want to meet.” Another tip, brothers, is when you want to meet and she says yes, guys, you’ve got to organize the date, okay.

It doesn’t have to be fancy, it’s just coffee, but you take the lead. You say, “I’d really like to take you out for coffee,” or, “It’d be really nice to get to know you, to chat a bit more, how about Saturday. How about this place. How about this area.” Take the lead, brothers, and in that very first meeting, there’s no question about it, you pay. It’s just a cup of coffee, man. You pay, and the lady wants to … sometimes a lot of women are scared to let go of the control a little bit, but obviously, they want to know that you can look after them. From what I’ve heard from the sisters, do take the lead, and if you realize you’re not interested in a sister for marriage, please do tell her. Don’t leave her guessing, don’t just stop texting her and treat her with the utmost respect at all times, no matter what your feelings about her are.

N: Just to add to that, when you are organizing or scheduling the coffee meeting I would go further and not even phrase it in the form of a question. I would just say, “Meet me at X place on Saturday at blah.” If she is serious, then she’s going to make time and show up. I mean, obviously, if she has a very good scheduling reason that she can’t make it then you guys can reschedule, but then … ideally, you just want to be as direct as possible. Be strictly business 100% because really, at this this stage, we have … mainstream media brainwashes us to think that relationships are a certain way but at this stage it’s basically just a business deal. As a guy, you need to look at it like it’s a business deal, because a lot of the times … the sisters, even though they’re a bit older and they’ve lived life and they’re quite independent they still have their female emotions that can affect their perception of what’s going on. And then you need to make sure that … you need to protect them sometimes from themselves.

S: Yes, absolutely, I think sometimes the misconception is [inaudible 00:22:25] older [inaudible 00:22:30] she’ll deal with [inaudible 00:22:33] as well.

N: Yes, yes, yes. If I can give some advice for the sisters … maybe I’m … I would say that I would be … I’m probably the typical guy, maybe I’m a bit more conservative than most, but guys in general, we don’t care about your career or your achievements or your education. Obviously we have to be able to have a conversation with you, so you need to be intelligent enough for that, but at the end of the day they’re not looking for a COO for their business, they’re looking for a wife and a mother, so you need to position yourself that way.
S: Absolutely. Just to give you an example, I worked with a client who is a surgeon, and she said she finds it very hard to stop being a surgeon and to just be a woman when she meets a guy and what you say is spot-on. When you come to that coffee table, you are a man and a woman looking for a companionship, not a doctor and a banker looking to buy a fancy house. That’s really important.

N: Another problem that’s … because of the situation, once they get a bit older and the sisters are … sometimes some of them are really quite successful and well accomplished. The guy might tend not to … he might not have that much experience dealing with women, so he doesn’t know how to be a bit suave and have a little bit of game. He might not have very good social skills, so that’s something that you would want to brush up on. And it’s the same with the ladies, they don’t need to be … they need to come off as … come off looking feminine as opposed to very brusque.

S: Yes. No, I agree, I know of sisters who are very direct at the coffee table, they’ve literally got their list of questions, they bang them out, it’s like an interview. If he doesn’t answer correctly, he’s out and it’s a real shame for the brothers as well, because in your married life you’re not going to be interviewing each other every day, you’re going to be living a life together and you just got to see if you can feel that connection with somebody and this is someone who you actually want to see again, let alone marry, that you want to see him a second time. So yes, I completely agree.

N: Yes, it’s just a coffee date, right? You just have to be normal.

S: Exactly, just be yourself, it sounds really cliché … I mean, the other thing is as well, in these early stages we have to remember, nobody is obligated to anybody. If you’ve met, and it doesn’t go well … which happens, it’s fine, if you’re not meant for each other. Sometimes you can get really, really upset, “Oh, he led me on.” Whatever. But I think, actually, in these early stages you’re not obligated to each other, you’re just seeing how it’s going. A lot of the time we’ve got brothers and sisters messaging each other before they meet before they’ve even met, suddenly the messaging has stopped for whatever reason. And it’s frustrating, but you have to remind yourself you’re not obligated to each other in any way at all. So, just to keep a cool head about it, like I said, clear your mind of any of that romance, first meeting romance, or anything like that, because that belongs in another world, not our world.

N: So, we’re on the topic of older men and older women trying to get married. Now, we’re both being quite practical about it and obviously you are quite open about practical realities involved around this. It’s the normal way of things that as a woman gets older, she becomes a less attractive prospect for marriage, and as a man gets older, as he becomes more successful and gains more social status and things like that, he becomes a more attractive prospect for marriage. So why should these men, or younger men, go for 30 plus women when they can go for an 18-year old or a 20 plus-year old or … you know, a younger woman?

S: I think the thing that our community is missing, that women also have their advantages as they get older. And while, yes, there are advantages to marrying a younger woman, there are also different advantages to marrying an older woman. We need to stop seeing older women as the bottom of the pile. So, for example, older women have life experience that younger women don’t. There’s a more of a calm and a maturity to an older woman. In terms of compromise as well, I think older women have lived more, they’ve experienced more. They are more in tune with being practical, compromising in practical ways.

One of the key things with older women is from a financial situation as well. Older women are more practical with money, most of them have their own homes, or they’ve lived alone, or they’ve had families in the past. They know the value of things. They’re not going to marry you to spend your money, they’re going to be very sensible in that sense. I think there’s a lot less pettiness and … they’re just generally more appreciative of the men in front of them because they’re not running around choosing between 10 different guys. They’re considering these guys as people in front of them. A lot of the time they’re autonomous from their families. They’re not being driven by mom and dad saying things, urging them to do things. They’re a lot more independent. I think there’s something to be said for marrying an older woman in terms of the sort of relationship and the level of companionship you’re going to have, and just a practical, day-to-day running of your marriage, I think there’s a lot to be said for it.

N: One of the problems that I find, just like women have the problem getting older, and being less valued as a marriage prospect, younger men … so, men in their 20s are at the bottom of the pile in terms of marriage prospects because they are, most of the time, they’re not established in life yet. They might be just out of college, especially if you’re dealing with a Muslim family, the dad is involved and most of the time the sisters might be interested, but then whether she’s young or old it doesn’t matter. The sisters might be interested but then the dad says no, or … you know, because he’s not able to quote unquote provide for his daughter in the way that the dad expects. So I think this is another problem that we’re facing, in that the younger guys don’t get a shot either.

S: Yes, I absolutely agree. I think we’re still fixated on … when my grandmother got married, it was about, can you provide for her, because she didn’t work or anything. But I think we need to shift our mindset a little bit. In this day and age, you’ve got men and women are both earning. It’s not unusual to have, for a period of time, the wife earning more and then, later on, it’s the husband who earns more. Sometimes we need to think about examples from history, famous couples who have married, you know, Prophet ﷺ who … that situation as well. If it was okay for him, why is it not okay for us? So it’s more about a mindset shift, really, getting back to what is actually … what do you really want for your daughter. Do you really want your daughter to be living in a beautiful, big house, or do you want her to be loved and cherished and respected for her whole life?

N: And as I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of these sisters who are older and single and obviously you’re aware that Islam allows polygyny, so the man is allowed to take up to four wives. How come polygyny is something that is not an option that is explored more by these sisters?

S: I think because the problem is sometimes it’s presented to them as a last resort and a solution to their … they’re seen as a scourge upon society, and the only solution is to be a second wife. I think … obviously, there are merits, there are merits to being a second wife, but I think it’s something any sister, any age, should consider if it’s for her. But if it’s not for her, and she’s an older woman, I think she has equal right to say no to it. I think it’s just the way we present it to women. A lot of the ladies on my group, who, for example, have been married before, who are widows, they really hurt. They say the only people I’m presented with are guys who are in their 60s or 70s. Or I’m asked to be a third wife. And while there’s nothing wrong with it, they are offered it as a, look, just do this and get off everyone’s hair kind of thing. It’s a big decision to make, to be a second wife. It’s an emotional decision, as well. It is put to sisters, but I think perhaps it should be … there are other options as well, this is just one of the options. It shouldn’t be a solution to an illness or something.

N: Right, right, and obviously it’s a decision that the sisters are completely entitled to make for themselves. If it’s not for them, it’s not for them, period. But what I have found in my experience is that, okay, if we’re speaking about practicality, when you’re 40 and then you’re a divorcee, and you’ve got kids, and you’re wanting to get married, now your options are … practically, they’re limited. Maybe you’ve got a guy who’s also a divorcee with kids, or maybe he’s a widow, or in most cases he might be somebody who’s already got a wife, and in which case, if you’re serious about getting married, then okay, you’ve got to keep all of your options open. You can’t say, “I don’t want to be a second wife,” when you’re pushing 40 and you’re a divorcee and things like that.

S: Yes, I think when it comes to divorced ladies as well as older ladies, they’re the other group who are treated as some kind of disease upon society and actually we forget that marriages do break up for a reason. There are two parties involved and … I suppose it’s just different who you’re looking for. I know sisters who are divorced in their 40s with children who, like you say, have married a man in a similar position who is also divorced with children. But then equally, you know, a relative of mine, [foreign 00:33:15] he married a woman who was older than him who was divorced with children. I think, if it’s something a woman personally is okay with, that’s fine, but I think she shouldn’t see it as her only way to get married is to become a second wife, even if she hates the idea. I think for a lot of women, they would actually quite happily just not get married, especially when they’ve got children. You’ve got children, their happiness to consider, so it’s not just your happiness. Sometimes it’s better to maybe not do anything than to enter into something you’re not sure about and have a life of unhappiness for you and your children. I think it’s an option, but I think there are still other options.

N: Okay, and you have an email course that you give out to your subscribers, right?

S: Yes, it’s a five-day mini-course that I run by email. But actually, I’m thinking that I might just condense it to one master class, because it’s pretty intense to do for five days and it’s [inaudible 00:34:21] three mistakes to avoid in those first meetings and how to make those first meetings work for you. It’s just a mini-course, it’s delivered by email and it just gives you the real fundamentals to creating a really successful first meeting with somebody. As soon as you sign up it’s delivered to your inbox and you’re good to go. It just covers things like what to do, what not to do and how to get it [inaudible 00:34:49] stage two.

N: Right, so can you give us, or give the ladies listening, one of the major points that they can use immediately and [crosstalk 00:35:02].

S: Yes, one of the … yes, definitely. I think one of the … well, there’s so many, I’m trying to think which one would be the best one. I think one of the key ones is not to, what I call future fantasize. Sometimes we really, really want to get married and when we’re sitting in front of a guy who seems fine, instead of being in the moment, we tend to project a year into the future and you start imagining what is my wedding going to be like, what are our parents going to be like with each other, what am I going to wear, what music is going to be on, are we going to have children, where are we going on our honeymoon, and you get caught up in this fantasy straight away. Then if things don’t work out you’re doubly disappointed, because not only have you … you don’t have this guy, you also don’t have this fantasy world you’ve created in your mind. So I think it’s really important to be very mindful on these first meetings and just communicate with the man in front of you, here and now, in the present. Listen to each other, talk to each other, get an idea of what he’s like, not what he could be like. I think that’s a really important one because otherwise, you get your hopes up so quickly, and it can feel really, really soul-destroying when things don’t work out.

N: Fantastic.

S: So, yes, that would be top one.

N: And for the brothers, a tip if you’re involved in this sort of coffee date, decision dating. Just one piece of advice is that as nervous as you are, she’s probably 10 times more nervous, so you are at an advantage. You can take control of the situation and it doesn’t have to be as awkward as you think it is.

S: Yes, definitely. It’s funny, I have to remind the sisters as well that he is just as nervous. Sometimes as women we are led to see these men as these almost like a battle field, it’s us versus them. And actually you’re both as nervous as each other, so you’ve got to make each other feel at ease. It’s a team effort, it’s not me versus him. It’s us together, how are we going to get on.

N: Excellent. Where can people find you online?

S: If you go … well, actually, the website has changed. It’s www.singlemuslimasolutions.com or I have a private Facebook group as well, if you search single muslima solutions, there’s a private group as well as a public page. And if you want to you can email me directly, sorayasinglescoach[at]Hotmail[dot]com.

N: Okay. And she’s on Facebook and Twitter as well, we’ll put links to all of these in the show notes. Soraya, thank you so much for joining us and I wish you all the best with your clients and your business. Hopefully you will hear more of … maybe there’ll be some marriages coming out of this podcast.

S: Inshallah maybe we can get your guys and my ladies together, who knows.

N: That’ll be fantastic. All right. Thank you so much, Soraya.

S: Thank you too, thank you for me having me, thank you so much. Have a wonderful-

N: Yes, you too. Stay on the line for a second, I’m just going to close out the episode.

S: Okay.

N: All right, there you go. If you enjoyed this episode, please do me a favor and leave a rating and a review on iTunes. You have to do it through the iTunes app, so search for becoming the alpha muslim and then give me a five-star rating and click on the review button and then leave a review, because why? It helps other people see the podcast and benefit from it also. Thank you for joining me and thank you for listening. Once again thank you to my guest, Soraya Soobhany-Chohan. Jazakumullahu khairan. Wassalamu alaikum, warahmatullahi, wabarakatuh.

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