First of all, we would like to state that spending efforts for the interests of people is greatly rewarded by Allah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: Whoever is spending effort for satisfying his brother’s need, Allah will be satisfying his need …” (Reported by Al-Bukhari) Having stated this, you will be rewarded for the act you are going to do if your intention is for the sake of Allah and it is in accordance with the ethics and morals of Islam.
In Islam, marriage is based on the free choice of both the man and woman, with due consent and approval of their parents. Nevertheless, it is ultimately up to them to decide whom to marry so long as they are religiously compatible.
Dr. `Abdul-Fattah `Ashoor, Professor of Exegesis of the Qur’an at Al-Azhar University, states: First of all, I would like to tell you that this is a good initiative and you will have a great reward for it, especially in the light of the prevailing conditions and environments in the Western countries where immorality and lewdness are so rampant that the relationship between a man and a woman is a personal relation and everyone chooses what he or she likes without any restrictions.
So, you are commended for the act you are going to do, as it is in the interest of those Muslims livin
g in that country. The gathering you are going to arrange should be based on the teachings of Islam. Of course, there should be no intoxicating drinks or unlawful food served. There should be no dancing or singing or the like of what is prohibited in Islam. Families, including sons and daughters, can attend this gathering while abiding by the Islamic dress without uncovering their `awrah or being exposed to any corruption. They can be invited for lunch or dinner, and in this way those attendees can talk to each other in a good atmosphere away from disgraceful mixing and the prohibited acts that do not comply with the ethics and morals of Islam. Such a gathering would open the door to mutual acquaintance and approach. Thus, the door of the lawful marriage would be easy for those people.
Dr. `Ali Jum`ah, Professor of the Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, adds: There is nothing wrong in inviting those people to a lunch or a dinner meal in order to harmonize between them with the aim of seeking a Muslim spouse. This will be a good opportunity for having a good Muslim spouse, especially in a Western country where there may be difficulty in finding a life partner for some Muslims. They can attend and have food together. It is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) shared a meal with `Umar and a slave girl. It is also reported that Abu Bakr had a meal with his guests along with his wife.
Thus, there is nothing wrong in males and females along with their families gathering for food with the aim of acquainting the attendees with one another and seeking a good spouse from among them.
However, we would like to point out that, from a practical view, a large gathering—especially a lecture—is not the best place to meet people. Most likely each family would end up sitting with its own members and not mixing much with others. Also, you would not be able to control how people dress in such a gathering. A better solution would be to follow a more traditional path. Each person who asks you to look for a spouse should provide you with some information on his or her education, personality, likes and dislikes, et cetera, so that you can find one or more potential spouses that would be suitable. Then you could invite one or more potential couples and their parents to a smaller dinner at your house or another suitable place, or even at the mosque. (A dish party in which each person brings one or more dishes to share would be ideal here.) A smaller gathering that follows Islamic morals, as outlined above, would likely have better results than a large gathering as you envision. If your mosque does not already have one, you could help start a committee to look for spouses within your own community and, by networking with other mosques, farther afield. May Allah help you in your efforts.