Today, while I was at Starbucks a Saudi student came by and we had a quick chat about what each is doing over the Christams holiday. After he left the smart looking senior American man who was sitting in front of me asked “Arabic or Farsi?” I answered “Arabic.” I waited a moment, hoping for his follow up question but he returned to his laptop instead. I wanted to start a conversation so I asked him “Do you know Arabic?” His answer was quite unexpected. He said “I wish!” and continued to say “It is a talent that brings lots of money these days.” I said “Ya, I have seen many Americans learning Arabic. You know… [I wanted to say after September 11 but I stopped talking].” We both then returned to our laptops.
It is a fact though that after September 11, 2001, many Americans preferred to learn Arabic more than any other language. Universities everywhere in the USA started opening more classes for teaching Arabic. Some universities which never offered Arabic course started new ones. Also, more American students wanted to spend a semester or two in the Middle East than before 2001.
Americans have different reasons for learning Arabic after 2001. Here are a few reasons:
Know your enemy – The impact of the 2001 on Americans was equivalent to the Pearl Harbor attack. Americans were shocked and wanted to know more about their enemy and the people who hate them that much.
Job security – Knowing Arabic is a guarantee for getting a job with the American government.
Good Samaritan – Some Americans felt that the actions of their government do not present their personal beliefs about Arabs, Muslims or Islam. So, they thought learning Arabic and spending a semester or two in the Middle East would help them learn more about the Arabs’ culture and also show Arabs the good side of American citizens.
Curiosity – Arabic was, since 2001, and maybe still a hot language to learn at least in America.
Do you think there are more reasons for Americans to learn Arabic?
It was only recently during a discussion with my colleagues and our adviser, during the presidential election, I learned that President Lincoln was a Republican. And last week after watching the movie Lincoln I learned also that the Republican party, unlike the Democratic party, was supporting the The Emancipation Proclamation. That is, proclaiming all slaves in Confederate territory to be forever free.
The movie shows that Lincoln alone, against the approval of his cabinet members, who pushed very hard for the approval of the Thirteenth Amendment.
“The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865.” [Wikipedia]
The movie was amazing. I liked it but I am sure Americans would feel more than just enjoyment watching part of a great history in the making. The performance was outstanding by everyone.
Last Tuesday, November 2012, I went to a rally held outside the Boone County Courthouse-Columbia, MO- to show support for the Palestinians in Gaza. Due to school break (Thanksgiving break is one week), late notification about the rally and being held at 12 noon in the middle of the week very shy number of participants showed up. I was very disappointed by the number of Muslims especially Arabs who participated in this rally. The number of non-Muslim Americans were more than the Muslims. Is it apathy? Losing hope? The fear of showing support to Palestinians in America? Or do Muslims think this is a pure Palestinian issue?
COLUMBIA – Mid-Missouri residents gathered in Boone County Courthouse Square Tuesday to protest President Obama’s support of Israel.
Jeff Stack, an organizer of the protest, does not believe Israeli actions against the people of Gaza are just. “The numbers are not right. More people of Gaza are killed than Israelis,” said Stack.
Rabbi Yossi Feintuch has lived in Israel and makes regular trips back and forth. He has been watching the conflict closely. “Just this morning, Israel has deflected 9 bombs though the iron dome system, to my previous home Be’er Sheva. Israel does not want to hurt civilians, that is what makes us different than the Palestinians,” said Feintuch.
Stack does stress that he mourns the death of all people, on both sides, and hopes there will be a resolution soon [via KOMU].
I wasn’t aware of this site before but thanks to Chiara my blog is listed now. But this is not all. I received the email below from the website management:
Firstly, fantastic to meet you! Many thanks for your suggestion. As you may know, we’re compiling a collection of the very best expat blogs on our site http://www.expatsblog.com and on reviewing your expat blog we agree it’s worthy of nomination for the Expat Blog Awards 2012! Your listing can be found here:
The Expat Blog Awards 2012 which will be decided late December, where a Gold, Silver and Bronze award will be given for each country. One main judging criteria will be based on reviews left on your listing, and so it’s a good idea to get some of your regular readers to leave a quick note for you.
How cool is that! So, please go ahead click on the badge and leave a feedback. My blog is listed in USA category. So, the competition is tough. I am counting on you. For my silent readers who usually read my posts without leaving a comment it is your time now to shine and show your support 🙂
Some would argue that the reason behind Europe’s “Dark Ages” is the ruling of the Church. Scientists were jailed and books were burned. Saying that the earth is not the center of the universe is considered heresy.
Some Europeans didn’t like this model of Christianity so they hoped one day to live in a new land where they can practice their religion the way they believe is right. Those Europeans were later known as Americans and their dream land is now known as the United States of America.
Ironically, Americans who didn’t like conservative Europe became, now, more conservative than their brothers and sisters in Europe. Americans are more Christians than Europeans even if their constitution says it is a secular country.
So, the question is how come people who stayed in a church ruling land became less Christians than the people who left the land of the Church?
The answer is simply because the more pressure you put on an object the faster it is going to explode. That is what happened in Europe. The new generation became rebellious against their parents’ old and strict religion.
So, what is the relation between Europe’s Dark Ages and the future of Islam?
In the past ten years, a new generation of Satellite Muslim Scholars has emerged. These scholars are known in the Arab world as the “Satellite Sheikhs” since they appear on Satellite TV channels rather than writing books or giving speeches in Mosques.
The first generation of Satellite Sheikhs were young men. Either have no beard or their beard is trimmed nicely. Their audience was also young. Mostly, university age or 20 something. Very quickly they became very popular and took the fame from the more traditional Muslim scholars. They were closer to the young generation, the topics they talked about were current and of concern to the young generation. These young Muslims got fed up hearing the same old stories again and gain and it was time for them to hear something new.
For the American readers think of the charming Joel Osteen wearing a suit and giving a Sunday lecture in a stadium instead of wearing the white robe in a church.
Traditional old and more conservative religious scholars fiercely criticized Amr Khaled’s (see photo) theology, claiming his preaching is wrong and it produces a generation of young people who lack the real knowledge of Islam. When more speakers like Amr Khaled became popular, the old and conservative scholars decided to enter the era of Satellite TV to preach the stray youngsters (who follow Amr Khaled and speakers alike as they claim) the true meaning of Islam.
At that time a fair game started between the old and the new generation of Scholars. Each has his own show. The audience chose whom to listen to. But as with any TV show, producers are after number of audience not after the quality of the show. So, the fair game unfortunately developed into a bitter war. Very respected Sheikhs started talking nonsense. Digging for the most awkward story or an unknown hadith or a new interpretation of the Quran. Why? Because we all know the more shocking story on TV means the more audience it generates. It is the Arabs’ version of reality shows. The louder and less classy get the more audience. Poor Charlie Rose. How many prefer to watch his show rather than Jerry Springer? For the majority of people, TV is for entertainment not for enlightenment. And this is exactly what is happening in Arabia.
So, who was behind the Arab Spring? The new generation of Scholars, the traditional ones or the old time never ending conspiracy theory (i.e., Israel and its big daddy, America)? And is the Arab Spring going to affect the future of Islam in the region??
Culturally, there is a plethora of differences between Americans and Arabs. Many of these are just normal differences between any two cultures like the culture of celebrating the Halloween. Few others I can’t figure out like why men take showers in front of each others TOTALLY NAKED in the Gym.
Here is one that I also couldn’t figure out; Americans LOVE of dogs. This love relationship is not just a love between a pet and his owner. In some cases, dogs are treated, or may be considered, like humans. Some dog owners pay ten of thousands of dollars to cure their dogs. A professor in my former university paid a huge sum of money for his dog psychiatrists.
Here is another example how dogs are not just pets here. Guess what was the first mission of the White House when President Obama won the presidency back in 2008? Yes, finding the president’s family a dog. I still remember the media coverage over this story until Bo is finally found. This shows how for the president to be close to the citizens he must own a dog, like any other American family.
In my 10 years in the U.S. I don’t think I have met any American who doesn’t own a dog. I have seen people here who get offended when someone says something bad about their dog, like he is loud or she misbehaves. Similar when a mother is told that her child misbehaved or something.
It is very often that dogs are referred to as a member of the family. Many times I heard someone say “I don’t have kids but I have two dogs” or “I have two girls and a dog.”
So, for a society that has such fond of dogs you have to expect to see them everywhere you go. I have seen dogs in many private businesses as well. This is a big problem for some new comer Muslims. Dog owners expect others to pat their dogs and act like when an adult sees a baby. Dogs here are nice and friendly. Unlike cats, dogs like to play with strangers. So, you can imagine the reaction of an Arab when he enters an office and a dog jumps and licks him.
As you may or may not know Muslims don’t have such fond for dogs. Mainly, because in Islam dogs’ saliva is considered not clean. This is an important issue since Muslims pray five times a day and they have to be clean before praying. Having a dog at home would be a problem for Muslims.
There are some different opinions about dogs. Some Muslims, mistakenly, think that touching dogs nullifies one’s Wudu’. And many Muslims also don’t like dogs thinking they are not clean. But many Muslim scholars agree that it is the dog’s saliva that is not clean not his body. And for this reason owning dogs are not haram in Islam. Can you imagine a bedouin or a shepherd without a dog? But here is the thing that might be shocking for Americans, dogs can’t stay inside the house. There are many Muslims who love their dogs but they are not allowed inside.
Here is a funny true story told by a friend who was on the phone with a customer service rep:
American Customer Service Rep: D as in dog?
Arab Customer: NO! D AS IN David!
My friend laughed at his reaction but he was convinced that saying “D as in David” is better than saying “D as in dog.”
When an Arab calls someone a dog it is a big insult. Americans say “You dog.” But I don’t think it means what Arabs mean, it is not an obscene or a big insult.
Back in August 2012, the only mosque in Joplin, MO was burned to the ground. It was the second attempt within a month. After that incident, the Muslim community here was afraid something bad would happen to our mosque as well. So, the Mosque’s management bought $5,000 high quality cameras for security.
Since September 11 many Mosques experienced some sort of vandalism. Unfortunately, there were even some cases in which residents of some small cities refused to give permission to build a mosque.
Although haters in any religion are always minorities their effect is very devastating.