Even with the clearest of intentions, finding your perfect match on dating apps can be a challenge. For people with additional cultural or religious guidelines for dating, this process can feel even trickier. That’s why NIM, a new dating app for Muslims, is offering members a different way to connect with others who share their faith and values.
NIM is a members-only dating app that launched on Dec. 20 in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Turkey, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. NIM’s founder, Snaullah Niazi, is a tech entrepreneur who saw the need for a dating platform designed with Islamic values in mind. “Being a young first-generation entrepreneur here in the U.S., one of the challenges that myself and everyone else around me have been facing are the cultural differences, especially in love and marriage life,” Niazi tells Elite Daily. Although the app is open to people of any faith, NIM's features are geared toward Muslim users looking for marriage, as opposed to dating casually. The app gives users the ability to select between the two largest denominations of Islam, Sunni and Shi'ite, and a general Muslim option for users who don't wholly identify as either. According to Niazi, NIM also gives users the option to abide by Sharia law and invite a third-party chaperone to supervise conversations, but not comment or intervene. Similarly to Bumble, it also gives female-identifying users the exclusive ability to initiate conversations with matches.
Prospective members are asked to submit their full name, date of birth, email address, two photos, and either their LinkedIn or Instagram profile. These applications are then vetted by a panel of advisors whom NIM refers to as its real-life relationship experts. They verify every application before admitting prospective users to NIM’s online community.
The cost is $9.99/month or $36.99 for six months, and the first 100 accepted users will receive one month of membership for free. Once users are admitted to the app, they fill out a questionnaire that, according to Niazi, serves to help the algorithm and NIM's panel of advisors curate prospective matches. Questions range from lighthearted ("What's your favorite TV show?") to more serious, like how important a user's faith is to them or how conservative their family is. These faith-based questions are presented on a scale. "We want to make sure that it's fun, it's serious, and it's wholesome for the individual at the same time," says Niazi.
Once users have completed their profile, they're given a list of five curated potential matches each day, chosen by a combination of the app’s algorithm and the NIM advisor team. When two users match, the female-identifying participant can decide whether to strike up a conversation via text, voice call, or video chat.
NIM also allows users the option to select their own gender and gender of interest, opening the door for queer users to find love on the app. Elite Daily reached out to Minder and Muzmatch, two similar dating apps designed for Muslims, to inquire about their policy on LGBTQ users, but did not hear back by the time of publication.
Nilo*, a 28-year-old user who participated in NIM’s beta test, tells Elite Daily she has struggled to find a dating app that works for her. “There is nothing out today that caters to both my standards and faith background,” she says. She has tried Minder and Muzmatch, but prefers the exclusivity of NIM, since the other apps don’t require an extensive application process. “It's [the] first of its kind, being exclusive and members-only, having the female priority and religious part tied in so seamlessly,” Nilo says. “Plus, I don't have to swipe on my lunch breaks. It sends me a handful of matches a day that I have to decide on.”
Ultimately, Nilo hopes to find a serious relationship and get married soon. “My faith is the core of my lifestyle[...] and how I want to raise my kids one day,” she says. “I need to find the right partner who shares the same level of faith as I do. So if I can get on a platform that caters to my faith and standards, that's what I want to be on.”
Sam*, another beta tester, was intrigued by NIM because of the carefully selected daily matches. “I hate the idea of randomized selection because I do not have time to waste swiping on people who have nothing in common with me or my interests,” he tells Elite Daily. When testing NIM, he was “pleasantly surprised” at the app’s design and function. “At first try, it was impressively tailored to the kind of people I thought I would like, and then some I didn't think I would like that I probably should,” he says. He notes that the app “fulfills a lifestyle choice that is more important to me than most other choices” by catering to his faith background.
NIM isn't the only app that caters to people who prioritize religion when dating. Apps like JSwipe, Christian Mingle, and Mutual are also designed specifically for people who want to date within their faith.
As NIM launches and grows, Niazi hopes to bridge the gap that some Muslim people feel between their cultural background and their search for love. He notes the relatively small percentage of Muslims living in the United States — 2018 Pew Research Center data found that only 1.1% of the U.S. population is Muslim — makes it difficult to find a special connection. Additionally, the rise of Islamophobia can also negatively impact someone's ability to find a serious partner. "If you're on a mainstream application and you come across that you're not getting that many matches, that might be the case," says Niazi.
“In other countries, where the Muslim community is a lot larger, it’s easier. But in the Western world, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack to find that partner when you have that criteria you want to meet," says Niazi. He is open to evolving the app to cater more specifically to members of other faith backgrounds as well, if it proves to be successful.
But for now, Niazi is focused on Muslim users who need a more private, exclusive online dating option than the current market offerings. “We’re looking for those who are committed [...] and want something serious for the next step in their future,” he explains. Cultural restrictions shouldn’t keep someone off of dating apps entirely. This new platform seeks to provide a safe space for people to find love without sacrificing the values they hold dear.
*Names have been changed.
Snaullah Niazi, founder of NIM
Saliba, Issam. (2011, June 1). What is Sharia Law? Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/law/help/sharia-law.php.
Mohamed, B. (2018, January 3). A new estimate of U.S. Muslim population. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/01/03/new-estimates-show-u-s-muslim-population-continues-to-grow/.