Someone sent me a long list of questions about Arab culture. It is difficult to answer all of them in one post. So, I will try to answer a few in different posts.
How has the US changed since you first came here?
- It became more expensive.
- I used to see more people reading books everywhere now people at coffee shops are mostly on their electronic devices.
- American TV started depicting Muslim characters on TV shows as normal people. The stereotype is still there but at least they are not terrorists.
- I became more adapted to living in the US since I came here 10 years ago.
Knowing both US and Arab culture, would you recommend a cross-cultural marriage to a sister or brother, cousin or friend? Or would you strongly caution against it? Why? Would you recommend this couple’s children be raised in the US or be taken back to Arabia or somewhere else? What other advice would you give?
I am no longer against cross-cultural marriage, as I used to be, because I have seen successful ones. I know Arab-American, Arab-European and Arab-Asian couples who live happily. Cross-cultural marriage can work if both belong to the same religion.
Where the couple lives is not a determined issue for a successful cross-cultural marriage. And also it doesn’t matter where the kids are raised as long as they live with their parents either in Arabia or in the USA.
As in any arrangement both must be clear about certain issues. They should know marriage is not about physical attraction only. One issue I have seen repeated many times and American women can never learn a lesson no matter how many times they read about it. A Muslim Arab man in his mid-twenties or early thirties falls in love with an American woman. Although he is a Muslim but he is not practicing so he is okay with his American wife wearing what she used to wear before marriage. At some point in his life the Arab man decides to be a devoted Muslim. So, he asks his wife to become a Muslim if she is not or to wear hijab if she is a Muslim. Maybe he will ask her not to go the yoga class wearing these tight pants. Or maybe when the couple has their first baby, naming the baby becomes an issue.
My recommendation in case of inter-cultural marriage is to ask questions before marriage.
What did you find different about American Christians compared to Middle Eastern Christians? In what ways is Christianity different here than you expected? Do you believe there is an element of American culture within American Christianity?
Middle Eastern Christians are more conservative than American Christians. In the Middle East, many Christians identify themselves to be Christians. In the US, it is not easy to know if someone is a Christian or not. People here don’t like to talk about religion. I don’t think I have seen a man or a woman wearing a necklace with a cross. In the Middle East, this is very common. One might say because they are a minority in the Middle East so they like to be identified. I feel in the US, some people feel shy to identify themselves as Christians especially among college age students.
In the Middle East, religion is the identity of people. In America, it is not. I think the more dominant factor here is race.