Now or Never

Meet Calgary's Muslim matchmaker

Saima Jamal is dedicated to finding potential partners for people in Calgary's Muslim community. Most who reach out are looking to find matches in a way that is 'halal' or 'permissible.'
Saima Jamal has gained a reputation in Calgary as a matchmaker — and she does it all for free. (Submitted / Saima Jamal)

Nearly every day, Saima Jamal opens up her Facebook inbox to find messages like this: 

An example of one of the many matchmaking requests Saima Jamal has received.

As an organizer, social worker and activist in Calgary​​, Jamal makes a point of being deeply involved with her community. But she's also gained a reputation as the city's unofficial Muslim matchmaker — and she does it all for free. 

"Because I'm involved in so many other causes, wherever I go I have people approaching me, asking me 'Saima, can you find my daughter or son someone suitable? Or can you find me someone suitable?'"

Jamal calls herself an extrovert, and she uses her broad social and community networks to find romantic matches. Most of the people who reach out to her are Muslim, and are looking for a way to meet potential matches in a manner she describes as "halal or permissible." 

When she receives a message from somebody looking for a match, Jamal will often write a post about them on her Facebook page. 

"So once you post it on Facebook — right away a flourish of messages," said Jamal. 

When she finds somebody she thinks could be a match, she facilitates an introduction for the two potential lovebirds. 

"This isn't really an arranged marriage or anything," laughed Jamal. "All I'm doing is introducing you to someone, you go out for coffee and if you want to take it further you go ahead."

"And if you want somebody to come with you as you go for coffee, I'm more than welcome to be that volunteer chaperone."

For clients who practice Islam, Jamal takes care to make sure that matches are done in a way that is in line with the faith. (Submitted / Saima Jamal)

Jamal told Now or Never that the Calgary Muslim dating scene is a difficult one — which means a lot of people are putting their romantic dreams on her shoulders. But despite the hundreds of requests she receives every year, she remains motivated by two things: faith and happiness. 

"In Islam it is a religious obligation." explained Jamal. "And for me being a Muslim if you can get two people together in marriage you carve a little bit of heaven for yourself." 

"But at the end, just that little bit of happiness that you're able to give that person — that 'yes, I have somebody to meet tonight!' or 'somebody is coming over to meet my son or daughter or brother or sister,' that little bit of happiness is all that keeps you going."

This segment originally aired in November, 2017