Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"She's lying... she's trying to fit in"

The other night my husband and I went to a masjid in the next town for Taraweeh salah. The masjid is dominantly Egyptian with some other Arabs and few Somalis. After the first 4 raka'at the Imam gave a short talk - in Arabic. Since I couldn't understand and no one seemed to be translating for the sisters (pshh, no one was even listening!) I took a Qur'an and sat in a corner reading.

A sister with her friend came and sat near me and after a while one of them tapped me on the shoulder, "Excuse me sister, I think your friend is trying to get your attention".

"My friend?"
I asked her, thinking no one even talks to me when I go to that masjid... at least they do answer my salaams though. She pointed to 2 Indian women, a mother and daughter, sticking out like a sore thumb among a sea of Arabs. They were staring dead at me. They smiled at me, and I smiled back slightly shaking my head. They probably thought I was Indian. They must have been happy thinking they finally found someone of "their own kind" at the masjid.

After the rest of salah and witr during the mad dash to make it out the door they pulled through the crowd towards me. The daughter said salaam to me and then said "Aap.." something something in Urdu, probably asking, 'Are you from Pakistan?'

I looked at her and said, "I only speak English.."

Her mother asked, "WHY?"

"Because that's the only language I know.."

"Are you Pakistani?"
the daughter finally said in English.

"No.." I said smiling. The daughter translated the 'no' to her mom, even though she understood. She grabbed her moms hand and pulled ahead of me before I could even explain that I'm technically from Guyana, but my ancestors went there from India.

"But she's look Bakistani!" the mother told the daughter.

"She must be. But look at her, she is trying to be like them!" She was refering to the Arabs. "See how she is dressing in their clothes, I think she doesn't want anyone to know she is really Pakistani!" And they were lost in the crowd before I could hear more.

Seriously? How can you have that attitude after standing in nafl salah for 2 hours? They couldn't even continue a conversation with me after they heard my answer? It really irritated me for a while but then I reminded myself that it's Ramadan and I should just focus on that fact and get over some people who I met for a couple seconds and had such a negative way of interacting with people. Sigh.. nice to see the spirit of Ramadan is really reflecting in peoples' attitudes!


.::Tuttie::. said...

hugs. PEOPLE! Make dua for them so that your heart wont hold a grudge. By the way what do they mean "dressed in their clothes"? What do arabs wear?

Adventurous Ammena said...

wow.. thats shocking.. Allahu alim

Anonymous said...

I guess she was refering to your abaya but that is not ARAB clothes it is a modest Islamic dress!!!!

NiDa said...

aww sis...*BIG HUGS* ... yeah the dear 'bakistani' aunti ji's are like that at times. It happenes to me a lot too, they think im iranian, or kashmiri sometimes i get turkish - lol - i take it as a compliment and go on with my life. Arabs take me as too white so usually them sisters ask enti arabi? n i shake mi head NO,, n they walk away. lol. bengali auntis just stare at me thinking ohh look she soo white (they tend to envy white skin for sum reason) but dont do alot more then that. It's usually the older generations that do that tho... inshaAllah we wake up and stop this silly nonesense.

Glad you took it the way you did. Always beter to concentrate on sumthing else n jus ignore them! :)

Lazeena Umm Yusuf said...

haha, this happens to me allllll the time. There are people who've known me for 15 years and are still learning about where I'm really from. I just really didn't like when they said I was trying to fit in. Who are they to make a presumption like that?!

Jaz said...

God help them reconsider their bad attitudes especially in a month of self-improvement like this. Actually I grew up with one of my best friends who was from Guyana of Indian heritage, so it's strange to hear that people don't understand that you're not pakistani..!

Mona said...

UGH how obnoxious and rediculous! I hate stupid nationalism in masjids.

Aalia of Abu Dhabi said...

Unfortunately this way of thinking does not change in ppl :/

I am guessing they were referring to ur abaya & niqaab as "dressing like them".

Don't worry Lazy, it could be worse... I mean over here (in UAE), if I don't cover my face while wearing an `abaya I get local girls giving me nasty looks or saying VERY un-Islamic things just cause they *assume* I'm just another Morrocan dressed "like them" -- trying to land me a rich Emirati husband.



Irish muslimah :P xxx said...

gosh thats was sure nice and kind of them just ignore them :( sillys*
ignorant people. :) xx

Yasmin said...

Its amazing how many times this happens. We are brothers and sisters in Islam, it shouldn't matter where we from or who we are. Its like its a crime to talk to someone who is of a different nationality or race than you. Ive had that happen to me one time. I was in the masjid and an African woman had came and sat next to me. She had asked me if Im African. Technically Im of African descent but not any country in particular. She looked at me and said oh, then got up and sat somewhere else.
Oh and definitely the abaya thing gets on my nerves. A lot of people think that if you wear an abaya and aren't Arab that you are a wannabe.
All we can do is make dua sis.

sumaiya said...

Oh I get that here too. I'm indian but can't speak urdu (since it's not my mother tongue) and my husband can speak Arabic but I can't speak that either. So when the urdu speakers meet me they're confused to why I can't speak in urdu and the Arabs don't understand why I can't speak arbic (I really wish I did). We have, arabs (from all the arab countries), pakistanis, sudanese, somolis, afganis, bosnians, etc, mashaAllah a lot of nationalities.
At first it was really hard to fit in then I met some families who are from south africa (3-5th generation) who are originally from India but only speak english and afrikaans, they're like my family here now. then I met some revert sisters who are my closest friends here alhamdulillah...But as 'imam's wife' I have to be with everyone, which is a good thing for sisterhood here. Everyone accepted who I was and understood or at least tried too understand that I only speak english. alhamdulillah I now feel like I'm apart of every nationality here in our Masjid!

Maryam said...

Aww I'm so sorry you had that experience, it's a shame not everyone knows how to get into the Ramadan spirit of things. Inshallah, may Allah guide them to a better way. I guess this is just Allah's way to test your patience, sounds like you probably passed the test too mashallah. Don't let other people spoil things for you - concentrate on preserving and building your Iman and pray for people less fortunate than you in the state of their hearts.

I always find it so surprising how so many of our muslim brothers and sisters seem to be obsessed with nationality. Who cares where someone's from? Who cares if someone looks Pakistani but isn't? I'm told I look completely Moroccan, but I'm Welsh!! Why should that be a problem for people? Maybe it's because of politics and culture battles, it's certainly far from religious. Everyone should just chill out and think how wonderful it is that our Ummah is so diverse and spread all over the place. I love it when I meet sisters from unexpected places like Austria, Lithuania etc :-)

untitled said...

/: thats not nice..

Rays of Faith said...

That is really rude, but im slightly not surprised. Muslims are so lost in the darkness of nationalism.

Just be patient sister.

Maryam said...

As-salaamu alaikum and Ramadan Kareem. I can sooooooo relate to that. I get the "Are you Somali/Eritrean/Ethiopian/Sudanese..." version of that (btw I'm from the Virgin Islands) and it's sooo frustrating. Some just kind of roll their eyes and walk away. Allahu alim but I think these issues of nationalism among Muslims need to be discussed during khutbahs to remind people that we are an ummah and we need to stop letting petty differences come between us...especially in the masjid during Ramadan.