High-Tech Shia Pet

A Houston computer whiz uses the Internet to become a Muslim marriage matchmaker

Rizvi says he's only breaking even on the service. The site displays advertising from an online Indian/Pakistani grocery store and what is touted as a "worldwide wedding services directory."

Almost a year after posting his own profile on Shiamatch, Rizvi met his future bride in the traditional way. He pulled his profile shortly after meeting Salma, 23.

Both Rizvi and his wife hail from Hyderabad, India. Rizvi moved to Denton in 1993, where he earned a degree in computer science at the University of North Texas. He works for a Houston software company and maintains the Islamic Educational Center's Web site. Salma is a biotechnology major at the University of Houston.

There are no follow-up surveys to determine how many marriages have resulted from his site. Rizvi says his cousin in London met his wife through Shiamatch. They were going to the same mosque but never knew each other until they met through the site.

"Somehow, the trends are changing," the soft-spoken Rizvi says of Shiite matrimonial customs. "It used to be that without the parents initiating the talk…things wouldn't even go forward."

Another trend is holding true in both the Muslim and Christian crowds. News reports have attributed an upswing in American marriages as the United States continues its buildup toward war with Iraq. Rizvi says the membership in his service also has grown steadily since the 9/11 attacks.

"I guess everyone needs to get married, regardless," he says.

Rizvi now devotes the bulk of his free time to building an online marriage service geared toward Hispanics. He says he doesn't talk about his service when he's at the mosque because he's afraid people might come to him as a matchmaker rather than use his site.

"I'm not really in the business of hooking people up on a personal level," he says. "I'm into building either services for the community…or something that challenges me intellectually -- and this was like an ideal combination of both."

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