How a Muslim dating app made a British man’s search for a wife go viral | Encounter

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When giant purple billboards advertising Muhammad Malik’s search for a wife appeared in London and Birmingham in early January, the 29-year-old financial consultant became an overnight celebrity.

His quest drew extended coverage and supportive social media posts, which Malik said garnered 5,000 responses via an accompanying website, findMALIKawife.com.

Then last week, Muslim dating app Muzmatch revealed it was behind the stunt, with renamed Malik’s website directing hopeful suitors to their site.

The revelation drew mixed reactions on social media, with one user praising viral marketing campaign, another criticizing him as immoral and a third saying it was leaning into Islamophobic tropes because of his slogan “save me from an arranged marriage”.

Malik, a startup consultant at Nationwide building society, said Muzmatch’s marketing team pitched the campaign to him last fall. He has previously appeared in advertisements and promotional videos for the app, including one titled “Farts break heartswhere he discusses his dating red flags, which include “that there’s a double life going on”.

He denied that the campaign was dishonest. “It’s an idea that was presented to me and I said to myself: it’s true, I’m looking 100%. But these guys absolutely took it on steroids. I’ve always been a little ironic. A little off. I did a little stand-up comedy. So I think it was very much in line with that.

Shahzad Younas, Managing Director of Muzmatch, said: “Malik was keen to emphasize that there is nothing wrong with an arranged marriage. For many people it works. The whole premise is more about how young Muslims are becoming increasingly empowered through Muzmatch to find their own partner, but still do so in a way that is respectful of their faith, their traditions, their culture.

The viral campaign comes as Muzmatch, which has 5 million users worldwide, defends itself against an allegation of trademark infringement. brought by Match.com before the High Court. Muzmatch has been accused of “piggybacking on established dating brands” to enhance its success. The court heard Match filed a lawsuit after four failed attempts to buy Muzmatch.

Hussein Kesvani, the author of Follow Me, Akhi, which explores how British Muslims interact with the online world, compared Malik to the TikTok trainspotter Francois Bourgeois, was revealed to be a student called Luke Holland, represented by a modeling agency. He was then entered to appear in a advertising campaign for Gucci and The North Face.

“The goal is to get people to really invest in a character that you’re not sure is ‘real,'” Kesvani said. “Muzmatch could argue that ‘Malik’ is more a representation of the platform’s customer type. Who, in this case, seem to be young, bourgeois, fashionable, metropolitan Muslims, for whom faith is part of their identity and aesthetic.

“To me, this represents what MuzMatch is trying to assert itself, now that it happens to be the most successful ‘halal dating’ app… It was always going to lead to an identity crisis as it was growing.”

Malik, who lives in London with his parents, said he considers himself “more on the orthodox and conservative side” of Islam. “When you go on dates, it’s always a chaperone date. From a spiritual perspective, the purity is intact because there are no ulterior motives. focus, it’s marriage.

A member of Muzmatch’s marketing team helps Malik sift through the thousands of responses. Malik said he has personally responded to more than 100 so far.

But he said that even though he didn’t find a wife among them, he was “super happy as a bachelor”. “I’d be really happy even a decade from now if I was single, but maybe I’d be even happier with someone.”

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