Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Family and Religion.

So, I was raised Muslim. [Or Muslin as Wonkette so wonderfully calls it. I LOVE Wonkette. So much bitchery.]

I was never particularly religious.  Neither were my parents.  I'd compare it to those Christians who go to church on Easter and Christmas.  We'd hit the holidays and my grandparents prayed and no one ate pork, but there was drinking and smoking and only my grandmother and other old people covered their hair with a scarf. [Which, by the way, is a FANTASTIC look.]


Anyway, so not terribly religious growing up.  And the husband was raised Catholic and is far less religious than I am [he believes in NOTHING. I believe in . . . Something? It's a work in progress.]

My parents are becoming more religious as they are getting older. My dad is involved in the xhami [mosque] and my mom is reading the Koran.  I have a copy and read it . . . almost never.  I've actually probably read more of the Bible [thanks, undergrad!] than I have of the Koran.  The girl has been raised free of any kind of religious indoctrination.  And yet she is incredibly moral.  Huh.  Who knew?

Last week was the end of Ramazan, and even though I did not fast, my mom and dad asked if I was going to the celebratory dinner on Saturday.  I asked the girl if she wanted to go, because she had expressed interest in seeing what went on at the xhami.  She wavered, so I asked my husband if he wanted to go ["No. College football."] and my sister ["ABSOLUTELY NOT."] and finally a friend if she and her daughters wanted to go.  My friend and I went back and forth and we ultimately ended up going.

And it was not bad.

When we went as children, it was a day long slog of boredom.  We didn't pray, so we didn't go to the prayer room and there was nothing to do as we waited for the dinner to be served.  We'd spend the entire day [and it always seemed like it was the hottest day of the summer] outside walking the neighborhood and waiting for dinner to be served so we could help clean up and FINALLY, after 8 or so hours of BOREDOM, go home.

So now, the friend and I decided to go late and leave early.  Well, we were late and still got there before the speeches and prayer.  It's like punctuality is an unheard of concept.

What happens is this:  Sitting around. Prayer.  Speeches. Dinner. Leave.

There are always speeches.  Lots of speeches.

And there's always a lot of people talking during the speeches and the acoustics are horrible and you can never hear what's being said.

The girl and my friend's daughter kept asking what they could do while we were sitting around, and we said, yeah, sit here.  We, thanks to my dad saving us seats, sat RIGHT UP FRONT next to the head table where the imam sat, so we tried to look as if we understood what he was saying. Seriously:  Really bad acoustics. 

At one point, my friend and I were texting each other, which I know is rude, but not as rude as the people at other tables who were TALKING OUT LOUD while the imam was talking.  Anyway, I was telling her that I was going to start giving the speeches.  Also, that I was going to start yelling 9/11!! 9/11!!!

Because, yeah, we were at a mosque celebrating a Muslim holiday on the anniversary of 9/11.

And the imam and several other speech givers talked about [and here I am paraphrasing] how important it was to share that the Koran and Islam are holy books and do not advocate atrocities.  And how people should realize that religions are personal things and not to be used for your own ends.

Really, just calm, rational discussions about the need for religion in your life and how other people's perceptions of your religion should be gently corrected.

So. That's it.  People have beliefs and sometimes those beliefs are perverted and sometimes, sometimes, MOST of the time, those beliefs help people out in their daily lives.  So be cool.

Also, my dad was so excited that the girl was at the xhami that he introduced her to the imam, who spoke to her NOT in English which made the girl freeze up.  But then the imam realized she only spoke English and he talked to her in English.  And as an afterthought, my dad introduced me.  Thanks,  Dad.

And AND! They gave out prizes and stuff to the kids.  My friend and I were JEALOUS because the most we got when we were kids was leftover lamb to take home.  The girls got cool scarves and hair pins and little kids got art supplies and stuff.  Plus the girls picked up a couple of those cool hats:
Cool, right? I think my hair is too bushy, but it might work.

So, it was an entertaining evening.  We're planning on hitting the next holiday at the other xhami.  I wonder what they'll give out?


Before I forget: I'm over at Secret Society of List Addicts talking about shoes today.  Go over! Take a look!


  1. I heart you. have I said that recently? I do.

    second, I was raised Mormon, went to Christian school, and spent most of my college years reading just about every religious text I could get my hands on. so you'd think I'd be religious, but no. I just find it all fascinating. in a cultural sense, I think.

    anyway, what I was going to say was, I've heard from my practicing Muslin (hah) friends that it's ALL about the feast. so was the food as good as I've heard?

  2. Oh! I heart you, too!

    Isn't it funny, how fascinating religions are? I particularly love reading about religion and art and architecture - sooooo cool.

    The feast this time was fine, but generally it's beyond delicious. Totally the reason to go.

  3. Wow! I feel as if every time I read your blog I learn something new about you. I'm quite surprised you were raised Muslim, you don't ever mention blowing up America.
    Seriously though, this is a very beautiful post. Thank you for writing it and giving a personal face to a religion that should really not need a face because, frankly, we have the 1st Amendment and also, people are idiots.

  4. Tonya - HA! I know, it's amazing, isn't it? How I hide the Muslin.

    Thanks for liking the post. I really appreciate it.


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