Who is dating whom?

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Do Somalis date people that are not Somalis?

Yes, in the present day Somalis date non-Somalis, but it is a new concept. Since 1991 when most Somalis left Somalia for western countries, there has been a lot of intercultural and interracial marriage. However, just like any other group, parents prefer that their children marry other Somalis, not only other Somalis, but their particular clan. Marrying an outsider is still looked upon differently and has a negative connotation. I don’t think this is a Somali thing; it is true for every group.

The idea of Somalis dating other people is a new thing for a lot of Somalis.  You have to remember that back in Somalia, for a lot of people outside the big cities even seeing someone who wasn’t Somali was a very uncommon thing.  To meet and date someone who wasn’t Somali just wasn’t something that even occurred to people.  As such, it’s something people haven’t adjusted to yet.  Add to that the urge of Somalis outside Somalia to stick together as a group, and people get very uncomfortable with the idea of Somalis not ending up with other Somalis.

There’s no rule that says I have to marry or date someone within my clan. In fact, as Muslims there should be no distinctions based on race or nationality. Every Muslim is the brother or sister of every other Muslim.  A Somali person can date a Muslim African-American, Asian, White, Latino and every other race I cannot think of right now, but not a Christian Somali. For a Somali Muslim, religion precedes everything else. The couple times I told my parents about someone who I was dating, the first thing they’ve asked has always been, does he pray, is he a person of faith. And of course, I would lie.

So, go ahead, ask the girl or the guy out. Get to know them but remember, in any culture if you date or marry someone other than who your parents want you to date or marry there will be problems.