The ideal Muslim man is… blond and blue-eyed.

Isn’t it depressing that according to Nesrine Malik the so-called ideal Muslim man is blond and looks suspiciously white? Apparently, this beautiful mythical creature can be found in the popular Turkish soap opera, Noor, where he can be seen observing Islamic customs like a good Muslim son-in-law (*half-hearted sarcasm*). She writes:

[…] the male protagonists (Muhanned in Noor’s case, above right) are fair-skinned Muslim men with blue eyes who epitomise the model man as far as Arab women reared on western media images are concerned – a man in the mould of sensitive western heartthrobs, who still observes Ramadan.

[…] This vision of the ideal man can be found among women in the Muslim world who grew up on a diet of western media and chick flicks, but also to those reared in a conservative environment in the west. Of course, in real life this “Tom Cruise in a gallabiya (or insert other ethnic dress here)” – as my sister jokingly refers to him – rarely makes an appearance on your doorstep or anywhere else. So, instead, many women caught between cultural expectations and conditioning await the perfect halfway house: a liberal Muslim who is comfortable with all the trappings of a westernised lifestyle but is also abstemious and observant, striking a perfect Arabesque ballet pose between what your friends might think, and what your parents might prefer.

Malay leading men: (clockwise) Awie, Hani Mohsin, Rosyam Nor, Eman Manan

It’s difficult to speculate what the general Muslim women population would like in an ideal romantic partner. As for the preference for European features, she fails to mention that the quest for whiteness actually transcends Islam – or any religion for that matter. Furthermore, whitening cream industries are just as culpable as the media for preying on the insecurities of men and women (there’s a Fair and Handsome advert, in case you’re wondering).

I’d also like add that the idealised image of masculinity tends to be complicated by class: one working class woman’s ideal man is usually a middle-class woman’s average Joe. Using film actors and media consumption patterns as parameters, in Malaysia the tanned, sometimes skinny, average looking man would normally play the romantic hero in locally-made mainstream films and television dramas catered generally to the working-class Malay audience (see above left). For the Malay middle-class on the other hand, the ideal would roughly look a little like Hugh Jackman, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Gael Garcia Bernal, etc.

A comment by halgeel84 adds to this discussion the unwavering cultural preference for darker-skinned partners in predominantly Muslim Somalia:

Now, Nesrine, it can be argued the dreams and fantasies of men with blue eyes and blonde hair by women from societies were men do not often have these racialised features is an outcome of both colonial hangover as well as an effect of postcolonial/postdmodern globalisation of western image of beauty.

However, the whiteness crazy has not reached under the skin of all dark skinned societies. Thus, I do not think you will see many commercials for male skin bleaching creams, or marriage ads seeking men and women with fair skin, blond hair and blue eyes in Somali oriented media outlet. Yet, Somalis are primarily Sunni Muslims.


By Angry Malay Woman

I like plants.


  1. So, I spurted water at reading your first sentence and then glancing at the pic.

    I think it’s difficult to speculate what the general ideal for women tends to be, too. I, too, noted the difference between tastes in one particular conversation between co-workers (it felt awkward but I had to catch a ride to the sushi place somehow) and it ran something like, “I don’t find nerdy guys cute. I like the construction workers” “yeah, I guess I see the appeal, they’re all gnarly-looking and knotty”. I kind of wanted to run away, but the conversation did make me think about how there’re no universal ideals, just ones presented by media.

  2. Yeah, every Muslim woman’s dream man: the shirtless surfer dude.

    Oh, I forgot to add that sometimes it’s got to do with reversed power dynamics in a relationship. A friend of mine who’s done research on ethnic minorities in Japan mentioned about this regarding the preference for Korean men as marital partners.

    The popularity of Korean dramas and heartthrobs definitely play a part in the romantic fantasy, but it’s also about ethnic-Koreans as second-class citizens in Japan and the Japanese women’s privilege as the dominant partner in the relationship. Apparently a ‘weak’ man in a marriage is an attractive alternative to the traditional submissive role of Japanese wife.

  3. this is biased and prejudiced!!

    There are a lot of great looking Muslim guys, why the hell do you think all these women convert to marry them? haha
    I prefer muslim, middle eastern men, the real men 😀

  4. he’s not muslim… he’s just arab (turkish)..
    so just b/c he arab, that automatically makes him muslim? and is there something wrong with being a muslim?? wth i hate this mentality that people have against muslims..that their bad people or terrorists or w/e. we all know all that BS on the news makes muslims look bad… but if you actually do your damn reserch from reliable sources, youll find the truth that islam doesn’t teach that BS that we see on t.v . all people have imperfections… we’re not all perfect… an BTW!! there are plenty HOT ARABS!!!!!!! (including me…lol jp)

  5. This is one handsome Turk….nyehehe
    Not all Muslim women dream of the shirtless surfer. LOL
    Our desires and fantasies are as diverse as we are. Physically, I prefer dark-haired men with dark eyes and fair to medium skin tones. That would be my male counterpart. LOL More than anything else, a good character is most appealing.
    I also must add that I agree with wth! ^_____^

  6. That guy has Europeam white ancestry like crazy. Turks took probably millions of boys from the christian countries for their army. That’s why you see so many white, Caucasian/like males in Turkey.

  7. Lol…this is ridiculous. Western media like to make people believe what they want us to believe. Please mosy muslim asian, middle eastern, and also black/african women normally prefer men from their own groups. Let’s not feed into the nonsense the western media is feeding us. besides, what does religion have to do with skin color preference? arabs are not necessarily muslim and the majority of muslims are actually not arab. this is more of a cultural thing than religious. i do not think most arab women or muslim women of other nationalities are into white or white-looking men. personally, i prefer darker men.

  8. hello
    im a muslim woman who is attracted to only blond men lik the one above
    i lov blond rock stars and im still waitin for it coz here ther ar few and most of them lik blonds which im not……… well without forgettin that western lif style. here men ar sooo conservativ asswholes sorry
    by the way ibe ben lik that since ever , no one push to to lik blonds
    its a preferance ….

  9. Hello
    I totally disagree.. It is really hard to get such a conclusion. Actually, I believe that most people really consider inside beautifulness more than appearance. In other words, maturity people will think about personalities and behavior at first and then look in his/her appearance to find what is acceptable for them or to find what supports their inside beautifulness. The concepts and principles from Islam would lead us to such a maturity. They lead us to learn how to prioritize, how to judge people, and to know what kind of beautifulness would last longer (outside/inside). This level of thinking wouldn’t limit our decisions to skin color or eyes color.
    Also, as beautifulness is something subjective, there will always be diversity in people’s opinions.
    Finally, I don’t think white man with colored eyes is some thing rare in Turkey and many others arabian countries. So this actor is not unique. I consider him a typical Turkish person who looks like many others Turkish there.


  10. oh my, do people really have a hard time believing that there are WHITE muslims in the world? (salma, i’m’ referring to you) Islam is a religion, not a ethnicity. There are many WHITE muslim, black muslims, asian muslims, etc. NOT just ARABS!!! almost half the people in my mosque look WHITE (which is in the US). the western media makes it seem as though everyone is trying to be white, which is not the case. if i dye my hair, it isn’t to look white but mearly b/c i want a change. why doesn’t the same apply for white women who dye their hair black? they aren’t trying to be another race, they just want some change. as for the attractive part, character is important as well as looks. and the main thing that determine physical beauty isn’t color, but facial symmetry and proportions. (i can honestly say that having taken many art classes in college)

  11. hahaha….nice talk…..hello sister Malay woman…I’m Javanese woman….I like how you put…angry malay woman. Somehow I feel I am also Malay…(we’re sisters anyway…all in the world).

    I always dream marrying Javanese…but I’m OK with those white or wahatever the race may it be. IT just the color anyway. And marrying surfer?? I have ever been dreamt marrying Ville Valo (if you know him), a Finnish guy. But it’s afantasy. Even if it become reality…it will be difficult, and tough…and I don’t think it will work hahaha…..

    Salam dari Jawa, Indonesia 😀

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