Tag Archives | Islam

In the suburbs no one can hear you scream

I live in the suburbs now.  From the maelstrom of Union Square in Manhattan to the slightly more sedate “urban” experience of highrise in downtown Abu Dhabi was one shift. But in a weird way the shift from one cityscape to another wasn’t as big a shift as the move from city to the ‘burbs.  It’s so quiet here . . . and when I walk around at night I’m always slightly on edge because my footsteps echo in the emptiness.  But the thing I miss most, weirdly, is hearing the call to prayer, which had become the regular punctuation for my day, when I lived “in town,” as we say now.

In The National today, I wrote about my sense of suburban displacement. You can read the article here and don’t be afraid to share it around: show The National a little social media love (and me, too, while you’re at it).  Thanks.  Would love to hear your thoughts in comments.

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I took this photo of the Grand Mosque last winter during an unusual rainy day

Read full story · Comments { 1 } on November 22, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, environment, expat, NaBloPoMo, NYC, religion, The National, Travel, UAE

in which we discuss unicorns, world religions, and whether barack IS in fact a muslim

About two weeks ago, we got notification from the boys’ school that today, 17 June, would be a national holiday and the school would be closed.

National holidays on short notice. One of the perks of life in the U.A.E.

I’ll give you a minute to think about how parents in a large metropolitan area in the States, say New York, might react to a holiday delivered so casually. The brouhaha about banning soda would pale by comparison.

When the boys came home from school last week, excited for the long weekend, I asked them what holiday was being celebrated today.

Boys: It’s the day that Mohammed rode a unicorn to Jerusalem and met with all the prophets and they had like a prophet party.

Me: A unicorn?

Caleb, emphatic: Yes! Or maybe some other magical creature, no, no, Abdullah in my class said it was a unicorn. And that Mohammed met with God, too.

Me, again:  A unicorn?

Liam, patiently, the way one speaks to the elderly:  The word is buraq and that’s the word for unicorn or any magical creature.

Caleb, unconcerned about translation issues: What is a prophet, actually?

Me, realizing yet again that what my children don’t know about religion (any religion) would fill all the holy books, combined: Well, a prophet is a holy person who–

Liam: Noah was a prophet!

Me: Um…sort of, I guess, and some religions see Jesus as a prophet, but Christians see Jesus as the son of god–

Caleb: Whose idea was it to be Christians?

Me:  The followers of Jesus called themselves Christians but they were originally Jewish –

Boys: JESUS WAS JEWISH?

Me: Yes but in this part of the world–

Boys: Jesus was from ABU DHABI?

Me: No, but this part of the world, the Middle East, is where Islam, and Judaism, and Christianity all began, thousands of years ago.

Boys: So is Mohammed from Abu Dhabi?

Me: He was born in a place called Mecca, which is a holy city to Muslims, but he also lived in a place called Medina.

Caleb, getting at the heart of the issue: Did Jesus ever ride a unicorn?

Me: I don’t think there are unicorns in any Jesus stories. Just donkeys.

The boys are unimpressed. Unicorns are cool. Donkeys, not so much. The boys wander out of the room to worship at the altar of “Star Wars the Old Republic,” which is our household’s primary religion. I turn to my holy book in search of answers to questions about Mohammed and the unicorns.

Wikipedia, praised be its name, says that the unicorn holiday is actually Isra and Mi’raj, which celebrates the night that Mohammed rode a magical steed to “the furthest mosque,” in what we now call Jerusalem. Apparently, at least in the realm of Wikipedia truthiness, this journey is also where Mohammed bargained with God about how often Muslims should pray. God originally asked for fifty times a day and Mohammed got him down to five.

Mohammed’s magical steed was called buraq. You can pronounce it “barack.”

And there you have it. Some Tea Bagger confused unicorns with Presidents.

(And no, I’m not saying anything about believing in unicorns being more or less ridiculous than believing that Obama was born in Kenya.)

Buraq also, according to my online holy book, can be translated as “a beautifully faced creature.”

So while it’s clear that Barack isn’t a Muslim, it seems entirely likely that he could be a buraq. After all, as I said to the boys: have you ever seen Barack and a buraq in the same place at the same time?

 

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When you’re done reading through these various Wikipedia links, check out my review in The National of Lauren Groff’s entertaining and thought-provoking new novel, Arcadia. For that matter, if you’re searching for a good book to read on vacation this summer, look over there at the Amazon box. No, not the little ordering box, but the long box, with books in it, just to the right. Lots of good reading in that box. Help yourself.

 

 

 

Read full story · Comments { 4 } on June 17, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, Children, Education, expat, Kids, lost in translation, Parenting, Politics, religion

they say there’s a product for every need…

So I’m in the pharmacy looking for shampoo and realized I don’t have what it takes to be an investigative journalist. A true journalist-minded person would’ve bought a box, just to bring it home and see what the hell is inside.

Given that conservative Islam, like so many other religions, is desperately concerned with women being virtuous (and virgins at the time of their marriage), I’m really curious about the properties of this gel.

Update: I spoke sternly to myself about my cowardice and marched back into the store the next day and bought myself some hymen gel. I mean, what if it’s a miraculous cure for under-eye bags, like what they say about Preparation-H? (full disclosure: my sister-in-law suggested this possibility) The package says “hymen gel is an all natural especially formulated herbal gel used as tightening and soothing gel.”  Hmm. The tube inside says it’s a “soothing gel and a lubricant gel.”  You apply the gel on the “intimate area” and then allow fifteen minutes for maximum effectiveness.

Which raises the question: wait fifteen minutes for what?

Is this the gel version of the Madonna song? Is the gel that will make us all “like a virgin, touched for the very first time?”

My sister-in-law, who is visiting us this week, rubbed some gel on her hand. We didn’t see any visible change in her skin, but now that hand is embarrassed to be seen naked.

Read full story · Comments { 3 } on January 23, 2012 in Abu Dhabi Discoveries, expat, UAE