Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Omar's Response

After reading my post on Dubai (If You've Seen One A-rab...), my friend Omar sent me a few thoughts, in the hopes that I would pass them on to my former professor. However, since I'm no longer in contact with her, I asked Omar if he would let me post them here. I decided that, as a practicing Moslem and inhabitant of the Middle East, Omar's thoughts were particularly relevant. So, without further ado, and with minimal editing...

1) Female Circumcision
Female circumcision is NOT practiced in mainstream Islamic/Arab culture. In fact, according to the actual text and doctrines of Islam, it is a travesty. Just because some sub-Saharan tribes in the desert practice it DOES NOT make it a general practice of the Arab and Muslim world. Let's look at it this way: some African tribes practice cannibalism. Does that mean that an average Egyptian (who is a part of the african continent) is now a cannibal bastard??? Similarly, some Americans molest their sisters... are all Americans incestuous?? [It is worth noting that Omar went to school in Southwest Virginia]. Some Muslims (such as Bin Laden), some Christians (Such as Timothy McVeigh), and some Jews (Al Goldstein) practice radical extremist measures to make a point. Does that mean all members of the religion are the same??


2) Arab "Hatred" Toward the U.S.
Arabs in general DO NOT hate Americans!

In a survey conducted by a tv channel in the Middle East and gulf region, the majority (90+ %) of Arabs asked (by the way there are Christian and Jewish arabs as well... I wonder if your professor knew that) responded: "We don't hate the American people, just the American government and its policy towards governing the World and the Middle East."

3) Islam and Terrorism
Islam DOES NOT condone acts of terrorism and violence towards any other religion! Just because some nut cases take it to the extreme means that a lot of the essence of the religion is misconstrued and manipulated. I call this process of misinterpretation and brainwashing Holy Crack.

There is a passage in the Quoran that reads (I'm paraphrazing):

"Dear Christians and Jews and people of a different religion than Islam.

You have your gods and your beliefs
I have mine
You don't believe in what I do
I don't believe in what you do.

You don't follow my doctrine
I don't follow yours.

You have your religion and I respect that;
I have my religion and you should respect that.

In other words, Islam promotes the recognition and respect of other religions.

4) Treatment of women
An excerpt from the Quor'an says that "heaven is under the feet of all mothers," meaning that women are revered in islam as very important and dignified. Similarly, there is a story that someone asked the prophet Mohammad, or Moses or one of them: who should I love first, my mother or father? The response was: your mother, then your mother, then your mother, then your father. It's one of those complex things; even though, to a westerner, a muslim woman seems repressed, it's much more complicated than it seems. There are always two extremes, with many variations in between. Some people are extremely conservative towards women while others aren't.
Similarly, in the states, there are people who abuse their women and mistreat them, while there are others who love and respect them. In general, there are certain countries (saudi and the gulf countries, with the exception of Dubai) that believe women should do certain things a certain way. Other countries, such as Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Morrocco, and Iraq give women certain liberties. It is a matter of culture mixed with religion.

In Dubai, you will see a woman who is religious and covered up like a ninja because, like a nun in America, this is what she believes. On the other hand, you may see an Arab, Muslim woman wearing a mini skirt, sipping on a vodka tonic and dancing on tables, rejecting guys left and right then going home and giving a blowjob to the biggest asshole in the place (again, just like the US). Between these extremes, you will also see a woman who is Arab, Muslim, not covered up, has a strong faith, but also believes in the right to enjoy her life, live liberally, have freedom of thought and lifestyle...while retaining a sense of dignity and formality when it comes to the things she does. I can count several examples in this group, including my mother, my sister, and every woman in my family. In the case of the third group, they can do whatever they want whenever they want if they choose to, but they have a strong sense of pride and dignity towards their culture and religion and choose a moderate lifestyle that combines certain stereotypically western traits with Arab and Muslim practices.

Feel free to forward my comments to your ex professor. I hold no kind of grudge or hard feeling towards anybody who approaches this issue the way she did; as far as I'm concerned, it's just a lack of information on her part. I strongly urge you to come for a visit to this part of the world and see for yourself. The best way to describe the arab world / muslim world is this: it's like a very complicated stew. It may look horrible and smell funny... some people may have tasted it and hated it and passed the word, but if you're taken to the restaurant and watch them cook it and try it for yourself, you'll understand it and appreciate the flavor.


  • Hey there,

    Thanks for posting my comments. I can't believe I ranted this much. There's more I could have said to make things a little clearer, but maybe I'll save it for a future response.

    I guess my main point in all this is, generalizations can be dangerous. No one religion or culture is perfect, and we all have our individual faults. While it may be funny to make fun of stereotypes, it is wrong to fabricate false truths about certain things.

    Having said that, i'm a muslim who is not that religious...i drink and do all sorts of crazy shit :) but that doesn't mean I condone certain things that have wrongly been associated with the religion.

    but what really bothers me is how some people will just believe anything they hear on CNN or anything they hear Bush say....

    You can AT LEAST have the intelligence to check out a second source.... see both sides of the argument before you make up your mind. THAT is what makes you a global person....


    By Anonymous Omar Rawi, At September 20, 2006 at 2:25 AM  

  • I can attest to the absence of alchohol aversion . . . this dude drinks like a russian sailor on shore leave.

    By Anonymous John, At September 21, 2006 at 3:36 PM  

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