Thursday, January 10, 2008

Chatting with strangers...

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

One of the nice things about living in Saudi Arabia is the way locals act towards me when they realise that I am not a born Muslim. Funnily enough this is the thing that annoys my mother-in-law as she thinks people are being nosey when they suddenly drill me with 101 questions but I find quite sweet and funny really.

I'll be in the masjid or musalla of a shopping mall with my brood of kids, wearing my abaya, hijab and niqab just like everyone else and no-one will take any notice of me... I finish my prayer and turn to one of the children to speak, in English. Suddenly all eyes are on me, puzzled. Then someone will bravely ask, "Muslim?" (Funny, because not only am I clad from top to toe in Islamic attire, but I also just did salah!) Next I will be asked if I am from Bosnia, Syria, Turkey... then the surprise when I say I am "Min Baritaaniya" (from Great Britain) and the conversation will continue depending on how good the lady's English is or how I am able to manage in Arabic.

Just today, I was in a supermarket with my two youngest children and my son fell over, I turned and said to him, "Are you alright? Come here and hold my hand." An old Saudi lady who had been looking at the bread came to me saying, "Masha'Allah, masha'Allah," and grabbed my hand to shake and then kissed the baby!

I know there are many, many convert sisters in Islam across Saudi Arabia but when we go out covered up we are hard to spot so it seems like such a novelty for the born Muslimahs in this country. It is so nice seeing how happy for me these people are, when they discover that I accepted Islam of my own volition (I converted before I met my husband). Alhamdu Lillah.

... إِنَّمَا ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ إِخۡوَةٌ۬
"The Believers are but a single Brotherhood..." (Qur'an 49:10)


Anonymous said...

Assalamu Alaikum

MashaAllah MashaAllah. Congrats on the blog sis :) I discovered it by clicking on the www link you know where ;)
Are you surprised to find a comment? lol

wish you all the best in the blogworld :)

umm tariq

Anonymous said...

asalaam alaikum warahmat Allah wabarkaatu sister,
i can totally relate with this post. although i am not a convert, i was born & raised in the US and my kids who are still young have english as their first langauge. no one has ever asked me if i was muslim here though-probably because by default in most parts of madinah only muslims are allowed in. but when they hear my kids speak, or see my blue eyed boy and very fair skinned daughters, i get similar remarks..espeically at the supermarket it seems when i'm discussing in english whch yogurt they would like or whatever :-)mashaAllah tabarkAllah. ofcousethere are some who think i dont have a clue on Islam, while others i think might feel intimdated by me ..subhanAllah..but for the most part i rather get this sort of the attention than people assuming i am a terrorist or at least the relative of one (like back in the states!!). subhanAllah, so i cn relate with the name of this blog..stranger of this dunya indeed..
may Allah facilitate that we pass the trials of this donia..ameen. jazakAllah kheir for sharing.

Umm Ibrahim said...

Assalaamu alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakaatuh,

Thanks sis Umm Tariq for the first comment on my blog! LOL. So where's your blog then? Huh?! :-)

Sis Suhaa, good to hear that other sisters have similar experiences and don't see it as something negative, alhamdu Lillah.

Adventurous Ammena said...

salam sis.. lol... i get the same in canada :P its nice to know that even all covered up you cant take the english out of a gal :P heehee

Sarah said...

Salaam sis!

So this is where you have been! Lol I know I'm not the first to say that.

Such a lovely post - the bit about the old lady gave me a lump in my throat!

Anonymous said...

Hi - I wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed reading your blog. I don't veil, but I wear the hijab, and even still, I feel like I stick out. I have even had children just come up to me and stare at me in stores, even when I haven't said a word. (my Arabic is not that good!). I am learning about Islam but haven't been able to embrace it wholeheartedly yet. I have questions and don't get satisfactory answers. Living in America all my life and moving to Jeddah in my mid 50s, it is difficult to break old habits and things that are basically in my nature - like smiling at people and saying hello or thank you, especially to men. My husband keeps telling me it isn't necessary, stopping short of telling me to just stop it altogether.

Umm Ibrahim said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

Susie... I really hope that you are able to get the answers you are seeking. :-) Islam is a beautiful religion when you get down to basics and are able to seperate Islam from Muslims, what's cultural from religious etc etc.

Talking about the staring... our first experience in this country was in immigration, the entire queue of people (all Indian sub-continent ladies) standing staring at me and my daughters. They didn't take their eyes off us for 1 second, it really freaked my eldest daughter out! lol

Nadia said...

mashaallah! what a wonderful story ..i can almost see the old lady kissing your hand and saying mashaallah mashaallah! :)
I love reading these blogs on life in if only my husband can somehow get a job there :P

Umm Ibrahim said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

Thanks for your comment sis Nadia. :) Do you have a blog coz I wasn't able to view your profile...

The Muslim Wife's Kitchen said...

SubhanAllah, so beautiful!