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Yelli is an iOS and Android marriage app for Muslims

Introduction

Hussein Ebied, one of the creators of Yelli, wrote me last month asking me to write about their app. I rarely write about products, but I decided to make an exception in the case of Yelli, since it provides an important and necessary service to the Muslim community -that of facilitating marriage- in a way that hasn't been done before (as far as I know).

The topic of online marriage remains sensitive and controversial, since the assumption in traditional Muslim society is that people will grow up in families with many familial and social ties, making marriage a matter that is enabled mostly by families, not individuals. This system has many virtues, enabling marriages that have the support of both the man and the woman's families, making married life more peaceful and increasing its chance of survival. However, not everyone enjoys the privilege of having extensive social networks.

As an example, converts and immigrants in the West often find themselves alone in areas filled with non-Muslims, not knowing people who can help them on the road toward building a family. In such cases online services can play an important role in allowing the creation of Muslim families. Critics focus on the potential negative applications of such services, but the Quran teaches us to take into account both the potential benefits and harms of something before making a ruling about it, and in the case of an app like Yelli, Hussein Ebied says "when used with good intentions, it can create much good with few downsides, enabling marriage and preventing loneliness and isolation and the various harms that can come with it.

For the above reasons, it makes sense to think of marriage services and apps in the context in which they are used. It may not make sense to use such services in Saudi Arabia, since there are already various established channels for enabling marriage. But in the West, especially in areas scarcely populated by Muslims, such services may be the only option available for people seeking to lead a righteous married life.

Therefore such services may not be for everyone, but when used correctly by the right people, they can offer an essential service that's not provided anywhere else.


Yelli

Yelli is a free Tinder-like app for Android and iOS smartphones, created by three New York-based Muslim developers who are funding the app's development themselves. Yelli will allow users to swipe through several potential matches in their area while preserving their dignity by only matching people when two users express mutual interest in each other. The app uses a person's Facebook details for log in, meaning that their name will appear to other users the way it appears on their Facebook profile.

To protect the privacy of users and prevent frivolous browsing, the app offers a limited number of potential matches everyday, and allows users to deactivate their profiles once they no longer have a need for the app. The developers also state in their privacy policy that user data will not be rented or sold to an third parties.

Yelli will support messaging and text chat between users (after they have expressed mutual interest). At the moment the app is only available in English-speaking countries (US, Canada, UK, Ireland, and Australia).

Technical Details

Yelli's back end will be built on a LAMP stack and hosted on Amazon Web Services. The developers at the moment do not have a monetization plan.

[Disclaimer: I do not receive any compensation for writing this, doing so only because I believe this app is a great service to the Muslim community.]