October 10, 2009
Just some thoughts on UAE
*His 'n her laptops. Awww how cute!*
A'salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu. Here are a few of my disjointed reflections on UAE so far:
I am a little surprised that I still feel like a "stranger in a strange land" here in a Muslim majority country. I don't fit in with the ultra conservative sisters who wear niqaab and boushiya and walk thru this world as if they are not a part of it. I am really taken by them and their other-worldly aura.
NOR do I fit in with the sisters who go to the other extreme and wear tight or see-thru clothes beneath their $1000 abayas and have their fabulously-styled hair showing thru their thin shaylas. Can I get an "Alhamdulillah!"?
Then you have the middle ground, simply muslim sisters who dress modestly according to their cultural mandates and who have even smiled at me once or twice. I think this is more where I would stand and most of these sisters seem to be expatriates (not Emiratis) the same as myself.
Also I do not want to hear how Muslim brothers are so much more respectful of Muslim sisters. Alhamdulillah they do not engage in idle chatter with them or in'sha'allah look them up and down but they will NOT stop for you if you walk in front of them nor will they offer to assist a single mother pushing a stroller with a crying baby, lugging 3 bags and obviously 7 seconds away from dissolving into tears.
Nor was the woman at the "reception counter" being very kind when asked if there is a phone available and instead of offering you her cell phone to use for a minute, she directs you where you can buy a 30 dirhams ($8) phone card instead. Alhamdulillah!
THEN... there are the others. The porter who helped me collect my massive amount of baggage, tracked down a cell phone so I could place a call to my husband, and when he saw me at the airport a while later (it was faster for Abdullah to drive down and get me then to wait for my connecting bus) stopped in his work to ask me if my husband was indeed coming.
There was the 20-something girl from the UK who works in Dubai, on her way back from a friend's wedding who helped me as I was obviously struggling to juggle Aaminah, my 3 carry-ons and carseat off the plane. She actually walked all the way thru immigration with me and to the baggage claim. Masha'Allah the kindness of strangers. The kindness of non-Muslim strangers to a muslim mother. :-)
So I think what this all means can be distilled into this: people are people are people are people. Was I surprised? A little, but mostly by the small kindnesses shown to me and definitely by the lovely, warm reception I received from my husband, and also a little by the uncaring attitude of others. I am from the south, the Volunteer State and, while I am not nationalistic (or state-istic?lol) I am proud of the fact that we hold open doors for each other and go out of our way to help a stranger.
Tonight I prayed Isha prayer with my husband. He has a beautiful voice and it was very moving to be standing with him in worship of our Creator, to be lead by him in prayer. It made any other positive or negative vanish. I made sincere dua that Allah blesses him and blesses me, that we grow together in our religion and in our relationship, and that we teach our children to be pious Muslimeen. Amin.
As we stood facing Makkah and the Ka'aba I was overcome with awe that I was so close now. Every prayer, every Muslim in the world faces in this sacred direction. It is something I have done thousands of time since I converted to Islam. But this time it held even more significance for me. I could still feel the heat of the desert sands on my face, I could look out my window and see the Arabian Gulf shimmering on the horizon. I could even insha'allah retrace the steps of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
So to recap: I am happy. :-) I miss home of course but seeing Aaminah KNOW Abdullah at sight (and call him "Baba! Baba!") was a beautiful thing. Less beautiful was her amazingly severe jetlag. :-( I tried to help her but it was so hard on a little baby, to try and make them stay up so they can get on the correct schedule. I am sure she was thinking, I WAS on a schedule! :-)
Insha'allah we will be home in a few months time. During my stay here I hope to make some positive changes in my life; I think I have found an Islamic Center for converts so I am very excited by that prospect as well. Their website is www.firdous.net I would just use the website for contact info; don't email them. I did a week ago and still nothing. Of course now I have started work, alhamdulillah, and have not found a way to juggle work, homelife, and study. Insha'allah. :-)
Umm Aaminah wa Zawjah Abdu!!!!!