Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Welcome Reassurance.

Thank you, Zunaid! :)

"For what it's worth I don't find your blog off-putting at all. I think it's a rather interesting perspective on life in the UAE from an outsider's viewpoint.

Just two comments from me:
1. Are you sure that is what Ameen meant? Maybe he got the word order mixed up? Easy to do if English isn't your first language for example.
2. Whatever you do, at the end of your time in the UAE don't come away assuming that Arab culture equates to Muslim culture or vice versa. If you really want a broader experience of the religion in different cultural contexts you'll need to visit other Muslim-majority countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey and even Pakistan and Iran. That should just about cover all your bases ;)

From a non-offended Muslim reader.

To paraphrase Dory from Finding Nemo: "just keep blogging, just keep blogging..." ;)"

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Little Miss Unpopular.

Hello. Sorry I've been quiet lately. But I just picked up a comment to my entry about the consequences of pre-marital sex for Muslims that I thought was worth sharing:

"I really don't like you, but I would like to point out something that you obviously would not know as a non-Muslim. The lashes thing, its SORT OF the girl's fault, because if she did have consensual sex, she shouldn't have made it public. In religion, it states that a man came to the Prophet PBUH and told him he had committed zinnah i.e. extramarital sex, and the Prophet PBUH HAD to have him stoned to death but the same man had gone to the Prophet's companions earlier who repeatedly told him to keep the matter private. Basically, this means that Allah hides your secrets and forgives you when and if you repent truly, so if the man had just stayed quiet and repented, he would have been granted mercy and would not have to be punished in this life. Similarly, this girl, if she had consensual sex, should've kept it to herself as well.
May Allah bless you and your family in all that you do, Ameen."

Wanted to repost this for two reasons: First, because the content is very interesting... and second, because the "I really don't like you" part has sent me reeling. (Not even "I don't really like you"!-- it's "I *really* don't like you.)

This bothers me because I have tried, when expressing my discomfort over certain Muslim traditions and rules, to be as open-minded and non-judgmental as I could possibly be. I have tried to be respectful, even when stating my Western-influenced dismay, and I have tried to educate myself a bit so that I could present a somewhat balanced description. But the above comment makes me feel like I have failed-- like I have described our experiences in the UAE in a way that has been off-putting to a Muslim reader. Which was certainly never my intent.

I have learned, the hard way through the experience of this blog, that people do not like to read about themselves in anything other than the most exemplary terms. I have probably made more enemies than friends as a result of it, in fact. And yet I keep writing, as much for myself (it helps me process our experiences in a foreign land if I can think through them in writing) as for my friends back home who have expressed an interest in our travels. And I think I will continue to be honest, because I would not be able to stand behind my efforts here if I felt like I was compromising my ideas.

But still.

I don't like the idea that I have offended anyone.

Cuz I guess that I, too, only want to be thought of in exemplary terms.

So I restate my standing invitation to the author of the above comment, or any other person of the Muslim faith who has stumbled upon my blog: I would like to be friends. I would like to learn more about you, and what you believe. I came to the UAE very willing to learn more about a culture and religion that was wholly unknown to me, and I remain committed to that end.

In other words, you don't have to like me, I guess, but I'm still open to liking you.