Monday, 10 May 2010

Step Outside of Your Little World

Asalamu alaikum wa rahmat Allah wa barkatoo (May God's peace and
blessings be upon you) and HelloooOoo!

Did you know?
-          that the Korean language operates on a SOV pattern? That means the object comes before the verb. If this sounds too grammatical for you,  in English the object in the following sentence would be an ‘apple’: She ate an apple. Now, in Korean, apple would come before ate. Cool, huh?
-           Indian brides wear red?
-          Japan has vending machines for noodles and eggs? 

So yeah, back in the day, I used to attend an international high school (in some Arabian country :P). In my own class (not even the entire school), we had students from Nigeria, India, Palestine, Egypt, Ukraine, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, South Korea, Iraq, Canada, United States, etc. Many of my best friends were children of parents from mixed backgrounds. For example, one of my friend’s mothers was Native American/American and her father was Iraqi. Another one of my friends was half Palestinian, half Filipino. A third was half Suadnese and half Emarati (UAE)….there were even more, but I’m not going to bore you with that (although of course, the stories of how their parents met were tres cute :D).

Yup, going to that school was a huge blessing (not that I actually realized that while I was actually attending it, lol). But there, being around so many different people from different backgrounds and perspectives, I was truly….touched by all the Colors of the World.

Something not many people, unfortunately, get to experience.

I still remember one of my 12th grade teachers. Rather than saying what country he came from, let’s just say he was a man who really didn’t much about the rest of the world, lol. He stepped in the class, started talking to us about jiad (LOL), and whatnot and then noticed one of the Syrian girls. (If you don't know, in terms of looks, many Syrians could pass off as Americans).He asked her where she was from and she explained Syria. He said, "Oh, man, I had you tagged as a girl from Kansas but with some weird thing on her head'.

He was referring to her hijab, the veil that we Muslim girls wear.

Isn’t it a shame that at this age and time not many people know basic beliefs and principles of other people’s cultures and religions?  I don’t blame that teacher, though. He told us that he'd never met a Muslim before.

But what if we did…what if we met other people?

Don’t you think the world would be a nicer place?  Don’t you think there would be fewer stereotypes, less anger, less frustration? There would be more understanding, more empathy? Don’t you think that we could actually achieve peace?

So, let’s me and you do it! Today’s dare (Sunday’s dare, remember?), is to go out and meet someone new. I promise you, most people are good and kind. Join an international forum (like, which is not only for Muslim women), visit a blog by someone not living in your region…Because believe me, no matter where you go…people are people, with stories to tell and hearts to share…

P.S. Not only did attending this school introduce me to different cultures, but switching continents also played a huge role in that.  I was born in the US but moved later on to various countries in the Middle East. I am, in fact, always amazed at people who have lived in one city their whole lives…how does it feel? The longest I have lived in one place is 9 years :D) Yeah, miss Pancake, I so know you could beat me! :P

P.S.S. Do you have an interesting fact to share?


  1. Ooo, I forgot something I wanted to say in the first few examples.
    In Arabic, when somebody asks you to do a favor for them, it's really polite to say "3la ayni wa rasi", which literally means "On my head and eyes". Funny, huh?

  2. Hey Sarira, I loved this post! The cute things at the beginning were interesting and also the thing you added here in the comments. My Syrian friend had actually told me this literal meaning before so I am glad to be reminded of it. :)

    I am guessing your teacher was American. He sounds like many that I know...including myself at times. :) I never met a Muslim here. I don't think there are many in my area so maybe his area is similar. Thankfully I've now met some Muslims online and been to Syria.

    It's really neat that you have met so many people from all over the world! That would be my dream as I enjoy talking to foreigners (and being the foreigner!) and learning about their customs and cultures and stuff like that.

    Enjoyed this!

  3. Wallah personally I don't give people (including myself) excuses for not knowing other cultures/religions,, specially the common ones, cos there are so many modes of learning nowadays, & u only need to show interest...
    I liked the facts,especially the vending machine in Japan,amazing :)..

    well, I will tell u one thing about my home country Oman,we have a habit called munashda,meaning when two men meet, they'd keep asking each other questions like how are u,?how'r u doing?how's family?life?work?and so on but not expecting answers,& they repeat the questions again & again.could last for quite a time LOL...:)

  4. That's what I liked about working in international trade...I met people from all different countries, cultures, and faiths.

  5. Susanne, I’m glad you enjoyed this post. You actually inspired it! I’ve been thinking a lot about the perspective challenge that you made on your blog and this came out of it;)

    I hear Syria is beautiful. I haven’t been there but my mom has and we’ve talked about going there.

    And, LOL, you’re right about the teacher. Like you said, though, there might not be that many Muslims in his area. I think there are only like 8 million Muslims in the US, right? The problem though is that for the rest of the world, Muslims make up a huge group…I think in the beginning of this year, BBC said that now 1 out of every 6 persons is a Muslim (hey, so now that you’ve met some online and have been to Syria, we’re not all that bad, are we ;P)

    Moon Smile, I had to laugh at the munashda! We have that in Egypt, too, I think, but I don’t think there’s a name for it. It’s just like a person will ask you about every single one of your relatives a million times, hahaa. Like “how’s mama, how’s baba (dad), how’s your sis, how’s your brother, how’s your grandmother, how’s your mother, how’s your dad….” Here we go again….LOL.

    By the way, there’s this FANTASTIC show about Japan! It’s in Arabic. Have you heard of Ahmed Shukari? He’s Saudi and he does the series ‘Khawater’ (thoughts). In part 5, he went to Japan and compared it to Arab countries. OMG, such a GREAT show.

    Jen, that’s awesome. If you remember any interesting stories/things you learned, do share.

  6. Sarira,Thanks for ur reply,mashallah didn't know Egypt has similar kinda thing lol,it is funny..And Ahmed Shuqairi is fantastic in his show,i saw few series only & had to read the book afterwards,I think the series were better ?

  7. Sarira, oh, I'm soooo glad my post inspired this one! I *really* like this sort of thing and enjoyed your stories a lot. :) I missed the P.S. the first time reading, but saw it now. Did you tell me one of your parents is American or were they just living over here when they had you? How long did you live here before going to the Middle East? (If my questions are too personal for a blog, just ignore them. I know some people don't mind sharing details to their I-don't-know-you-from-Adam readers while others like their privacy while there are many in between.) I'm curious where you lived in the USA. I wish I would have known you and your parents! :D You seem very sweet.

    Anyway...I'm sure there are other cultural differences, but nothing is coming to mind presently as an interesting fact to share. Hmmmm. I doubt anything I'd have to say would be new to you anyway. :)

    No, of course, not all Muslims are bad! Ha! Actually when my Syrian friend found me online (when we first met), one of the first things I said to him was "Americans aren't all as bad as you probably think we are." So I had similar issues to put to rest. Thankfully we came to be very good friends.

    OK, I've rambled long enough for now. :)

  8. Sa'lam Sarira,
    This post reminded me of this 'documentary' I watched in which an American teenage girl had to 'pretend' to be a Muslim for a few days. You should take a look (it's cute!):

    ^ It's the first one there. I think it's 16 minutes in all.

    Also, your post reminded me of this verse:

    O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted (Chapter 49)

    salam :)

  9. MashaAllah, I really loved this post and the facts you had at the beginning :)

    Before I was married I only lived in the US for most of my life (I came over as a toddler to the US) the only other "foreigners" I knew were Hispanics and Filipinos (my mother's friends)...I never knew what a Muslim was and I only knew Arabs from the TV...this was back waaaayyyy in the day before internet, LOL.

    It wasn't until I got married and moved to the UAE did I get any exposure to different cultures. Alhamdulilah.

    I am still always curious and amazed by the languages people speak and the clothes they wear and what is considered "normal" in their society and culture.

    SubhanAllah how Allah made us. :)

  10. Awwww, Susanne, your comment was so sweet! I would have loved to have met you, too. Oh and actually I’m really not the ‘private’ type on the Internet. I’ve actually met 6 or 7 people from online in real life! The only reason why I’m keeping my ‘name’ and self as secretive on this blog is because I believe that each one of us should have a tiny little secret between us and God. This blog is meant to draw me closer to Him and that’s why I chose to keep my identity a secret ;)

    But anyways, here goes my little bio :D
    Basically, both of my parents are originally Egyptian. Before my dad married my mom, he moved to the US to get a second Masters, and his PHD (So he moved there in 1984). After studying a bit, he basically married my mom and brought her over to the US…a few years later, I was born. (By this time, they had gone to Texas). So I was born in Houston, Texas and I stayed there till I was 9 (OH yeah and my dad had lived in the US for about 13 years and both of my parents have the American citizenship). But, anyways, here’s the thing. I continued to be in an American environment till I was about 13. See, the school I went to (the country was Qatar, btw), was one of those American schools in the Gulf that cost a fortune and is basically made up of people who are Americans/have a Western background/etc. The names of the people in my class were all Ryan, Elise, Jenna, Megan, Chris, Rhys, Eric, Kasey, etc. Not really international. When I moved again, to the United Arab Emirates (think Dubai), that’s when I went to this international school. I had friends named Aditi, Darya, Tarannum, Ji-hyeon, etc. Much more international, *wink, wink*.

    LOOOOL, I love how the first thing you said to your Syrian friend was that!! We definitely need to build bridges between both sides to erase all the 'stereotypes'.

    And Susanne, if you thought you were rambling, look at me, LOL.

    Miss MishMish (I just realized that you’re mish mish and I’m bateekha, haha), ma’shaAllah, you really do have a story to tell! Who woulda thought your kids would be part Arab, huh? :D Amazing.

    Tinks, thank you for visiting my blog. I checked it out and that was a GREAT link. I didn’t know there were schools like that? Ma’shaAllah. Thanks for sharing and love the verse you put.

    MoonSmile, I haven't read any of his books...but I think I would like it more as a series ;)

  11. I just read this post and I loved it ! P.S I know I'm late on the commenting front :D
    Most my friends are from all different countries too, and I love it because we are all so different!
    I've only lived in two places in my whole life so you're really,really lucky!

  12. :D mashaAllah what a cute post!

    btw.. if you put the object before the verb in finnish it sounds like poetry :D. it's understandable though.
    i lived my first year in a smaller town near my current home town, and when i was 18 i lived in the capital for a year, but besides that i have lived all my life in one town.. alhamdulilah i got to travel so i haven't totally been 'in a closet' all my life :P

  13. I lived in the same city in the same house for my entire life until I moved in with dh a few months ago =) Sooo that's 22 1/2 years of the same place! It's nice, there's so much familiarity, you know almost everyone because you went to school with them all your life, many people know your life story, and every "new" person you meet knows someone that you know, lol. it's weird moving to a new city, being almost totally anonymous (I have met some people, so I'm not entirely anonymous, haha).


Hey :D So am I talking to myself or...? Tell me what you think :D