Monday, June 2, 2008

silence is a source of great strength

every time i walk into a mosque or attend a lecture for my research, i cannot help but feel that i am about to be judged. every woman is wearing the same long rain coat style dress and the same round white scarf. last week i walked into a mosque wearing varying shades of blue and (rather lovely if i may so say myself) light blue wrap-around hijab. and two minutes after sitting down a girl comes by and asks me my name. i tell her and she smiles and asks for my family’s phone number. ‘oh, she’s trying to hook me up,’ i thought. i guess that means she doesn’t disapprove. (i told her my father wan’t in the country so who was she going to ask for my hand?).

yesterday i attended the halaqa of the second oldest sheikha in syria and i was going to interview her afterwards. she is very well respected, wears a black scarf and black abayeh. her voice is so soft i can barely hear her during her talks and she would not let me record our interview. i was intimidated. i thought for sure she would disapprove of me as soon as she saw me. what a mistake. she grabbed my hand, smiled and exclaimed ‘mashAllah, you are very beautiful, visibly beautiful but also beautiful on the inside.’ now, not that i want to brag but she is said to be able to sense other people’s thoughts.

however they are still very suspicious when i ask them personal questions in the interview. so i guess them liking me only gets me so far.

there is this one sheikh, sheikh rajab. he is one of the main sheikhs for the abu nur mosque in damascus, where most of my research is centered. he is an adorable old man probably in his 80s who lives in the rows of apartments that are built into the mosque to house its students. my cousin taghreed, who knows him, and i went to see him when i first got here. we walked in on him eating lunch with his wife and daughters in his apartment. he tells us to sit and join him. the table is lined with dishes small in quantity but varied (they even had grilled goat’s brain which is actually pretty good).

he is a very witty and hilarious man. during lunch he randomly turns to me and declares ‘your husband does not ask about you!’ i stuttered a reply, completely caught off guard because umm i’m not married. he then laughs ‘your pair of socks!’ and for those of you who love puns get this. the word for husband in Arabic (jooz) is the same as ‘pair’ (jooz) in the phrase ‘a pair of socks’ (jooz grabat) because couples are pairs. i came in wearing sandals.

while drinking tea after lunch he randomly turned to me and asked if i wanted this to be my family’s house. again i was completely caught off guard and could barely stammer a reply. he continued saying that i should consider his small apartment in the mosque my family’s house. i was completely touched. in the end i got to know his daughters and he gave me some books about the mosque. but he did tell me to bring my husband next time!

i have been keeping my opinions to myself and hope they will tell me theirs.
i have to admit, maybe being outspoken is not helpful all the time. i guess lao tzu was right about some things.

1 comment:

Marium said...

im jealous
dont judge