A 'halal' app for dirty fantasies: How 'Tinder for Muslims' is also feeding fetishes far removed from its original intent

Recently, I was scrolling through Minder — a Tinder-like app for Muslims — when I came across an intriguing profile. The man in question (let’s call him Z) stated in his bio that he was a Ghaziabad-based Hindu in his early 20s, employed as an officer with Indian Railways, and had a “fetish for Muslim girls”.

Curious, I swiped right.

***

Minder is described as an app for “awesome Muslims to meet each other” — basically, to find potential spouses. Soon after I matched with Z, he texted me —

Z: “Wow, you are really pretty.”

I: “Thank you. So tell me more about this fetish.”

Z: “It has always been my fantasy to have a Muslim woman as a slave in bed.”

I: “That sounds a bit problematic…having a Muslim woman as a slave?”

At this point, Z hastened to clarify that he had “done it with many women from different communities” and was now looking for a Muslim woman on Minder. As I questioned him further, Z told me he was into BDSM and had an array of toys at home — handcuffs, whips, a collar and leash. “So far, the best BDSM chats I’ve had have been with Muslim women. That’s why I’m trying to find one to do this with,” he said.

I took another look at Z’s profile: “I am an adventurer and explorer looking for nice girls to hang out with…and further,” it stated.

By this time Z had realised I wasn’t going to be the submissive Muslim woman he had hoped to find, and unmatched me.

***

 A halal app for dirty fantasies: How Tinder for Muslims is also feeding fetishes far removed from its original intent

Women on the Minder app were 'quite open', one user reported. Representational image/Pixabay

It wasn’t too long before I came across N — another Hindu guy whose bio stated a Muslim girl “fetish”. His was far more defined than Z’s though: N wanted to engage in a “golden shower” (excitement over the thoughts or acts involving the urine of a sexual partner) with a Muslim woman. N’s “About Me” section had read:  “I am just here to make good Muslim friends.”

A third man I encountered, M, told me in detail about his Princess Leia fantasy: an elaborate routine that involved wrapping her unbound hair in his hands and pulling her close and bringing her close to — but not allowing her to experience — orgasm. (M’s bio said he was looking for “a halal meme partner”.) A fourth told me about his fixation with pretty feet — and “Jatt girls”, who he said were as “strong and assertive” in bed as out of it. His first girlfriend had been Jatt, Guy No. 4 told me, with “a voice that turned [him] on” although later, she also gave him “the worst beating, when [I] told her [I] couldn’t marry her.”

Guy No. 4 added a sad emoji at the end of this message, but I couldn’t help laughing on reading it.

***

“Men — Hindu or Muslim — are taught this specific idea of a Muslim woman,” a researcher I discussed my Minder experiences involving Z and N with told me. “Hijabi, submissive, not very outgoing… Men believe in this idea because it suits them.” The researcher pointed to specific categories like “Arab Muslims”, “Submissive Muslim Girls”, “Submissive Hijabi” and “Hijabi” in pornography as promoting the idea that Muslim women are submissive in bed.

***

Viqar Ul Aslam is a journalist who headed PR for a dating app back in 2017. As part of his work at the time, he researched the behaviour of people who join dating apps, Minder being among them.

“Minder is a replica of Tinder. They have used the same algorithm, but it isn’t very refined. It claims to be exclusively for Muslims, but there is no system for verification and unlike Tinder, it is like a matrimonial site, and there are many sectarian questions on Minder,” Aslam observed.

[Indeed, when I was registering for the “halal” app, I was asked if I was Sunni or Shia, and instead of the usual hi/hello, there was a flood of salaams and jazakallah khair (‘thank you for adding me’) once I became active on the platform.]

“In India, we do not talk openly about sex. People suppress their sexual urges. Dating apps provide users a space to discuss their fantasies,” Aslam said.

***

When I reached out to Noida-based psychiatrist Praveen Tripathi, he echoed part of Aslam’s conclusions, saying, “Fantasies have always been part of the human mind. But earlier, there was no safe space for people to openly talk about their sexual fantasies, so they would repress these.”

Tripathi noted that as long as fantasies remained just that, they were healthy enough. “But,” he cautioned, “if we start to express all of our desires and practise them in real life, they may play out in ways that we hadn’t imagined.”

***

Not everyone on Minder is looking to indulge a fetish of course. I spoke with T, a consultant at an auditing firm, who used the app for a few days before “finally deleting it out of frustration”. T told me that he chatted with a Muslim girl; ultimately, she was sceptical about meeting him. “When I heard that this app was the Tinder for Muslims, I was curious and thought it would be a good platform to meet women. But it was like a matrimonial app. It asked me how soon I planned to get married,” T said.

However, “women on this app were quite open,” T added. “Unlike earlier, sex before marriage has now become common and people are willing to go out of their way to check their compatibility before they get married. So, this app is very much for dating among Muslims with the ultimate purpose of marriage.”

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Updated Date: Mar 31, 2020 17:41:24 IST