Saturday, January 16, 2010

Three Good Friends

What a crazy, busy weekend! On Wednesday evening I had the pleasure of attending a concert in Al Marooj Theatre with one of my closest friends. It was better than I expected. The singer Naziha Meftah had such a lovely voice and watching the emotion in her face as she sang added to the experience. I just wish I understood the words! I took some snapshots of her and her amazing dress along with the talented orchestra. I was surprised to see so many Omani men relaxed and enjoying themselves, I guess Salalah is slowly chipping away at its conservatism? My hubby stayed home with the dumplings.

I was especially dazzled by her beautiful emerald dress layered in gold lace.  While aiming my camera and adjusting the lens, I noticed that all the women seated around me were using their cell phones as cameras. At one point I counted 12 cell phones in the air all taking shots. Its strange the way cell phones here are an essential item for everyone; male, female, young, and old.

On Thursday afternoon I had lunch with a friend who shared really sad news with me. One of her "western" friends told her that a colleague of hers passed away (alone) the night before.  I'm not one to relay gossip and perhaps the story has been twisted along the way, but I was told that an elderly woman passed away in her apartment and was discovered by her dear friend who came to simply check up on her. After hearing this I couldn't help but feel sad myself. Imagine being in a foreign country and dying alone in your apartment?. I can't even begin to think about the devastation of the friend who found the body. The trauma. My heart and prayers go out to her. I don't know what I would do if I found my friend dead. My friend ended the story with "Praise be to God".

This morning I spent nearly two hours on the "phone/computer" talking with a friend who is deeply offended by Frances inclination towards banning the face veil. She is a French-American convert living in France who wears the face veil... by choice. She asked my opinion, what should she do if the law is passed, should she take it off, why are they doing this to women, and of course, what will happen if she doesn't remove it? I don't have all the answers of course, but I am affected nonetheless as a woman who chooses to wear the face veil in a place where its common-place. I've become so used to it that I might feel violated if I was forced to take it off.

For those out of the loop; In 2005, France declared that any and all conspicuous religious symbols would be banned from all French public schools. While its true, Christian crosses and Jewish kippas also fell under this category, it was obvious that this ban would primarily affect the hijab, which it has, considering France has the largest European Muslim population. Now, things are moving quickly and women seem to bearing the brunt of it. Its only a matter of time for hijab to be banned period in France, no?

Just last November the Swiss voted "no" to minarets in their country despite the fact that there are only 4 in the entire country. I still don't understand that. It happens in doses all over the place the push for secularism in the name of democracy.

My Christian friend sent me the photo above. We both had a good laugh and I appreciated her sharing and joked that Nuns wore Abayas first. Sometimes when you're "in" something, your perception is skewed, limited. I remember my non-hijab days and how I perceived the women who covered, I always admired them, maybe I'm just weird like that?. I would be so curious to know how people really feel about the women who wear hijab/niqab today.


  1. .... Coming from Europe I can understand why the government wants to ban face veils. Many criminals (of which a large part are NON-muslims by the way) wear some sort of face covering so they cannot be identified. That is why, at least in my country, the total face coverage has been banned. Covering the hair and neck it still allowed and more and more women are covering up. But, they are facing problems because of this. One of my best friends covers up hair and neck and is having trouble finding a job. She has been unemployed for years even though she applies for jobs regularly.

    Personally I believe that the media and some of the leading politicians has / have a lot to do with the fact that many Europeans are opposed to people covering up (even if it's only the hair). The main reason being that it is identified with terrorism. Since 9/11 we have been (subtly) brainwashed that many of the more conservative muslims are terrorists and you should be very afraid of them because they will harm you and your loved ones.

    Needless to say, I don't agree with what is happening and I sincerely hope that things will change so everyone can practice their religion in peace.

    Peace upon us all and blessed be the brave at heart who dare to be who they want to be.....

  2. Good three meaningful paragrophs:the entertaining,sad news,and religious.
    Indeed, these three things are ingrained in our day lif in the way that we have to pass through at least one of them daily.
    The first one which happened in a concernt even though you couldn't understand much but you got an overall idea of what was happening maybe with the help of your friend.
    In this respective, i highly recommend you to mangle with the people more often in order to acquire the language beside that to learn it formally.
    the second one may Allah the almighty rest her in is a right on all of us may Allah grant us better end.
    Coming to the third one,it is a univeral topic overlaps many things such as counterterrorism, and so forth,in this point my opinion is they should jusy wear headscarf especially in public places not veil(burqh),checkingpoints, and airports.
    Regard to minarets, all people have right to practice their religion freely and without any osbastcles and such the act of bannig the symbol of Islam is not going to solve anything,in the contrary it will escalate hateness and segregation among people of faith.
    The world is changing and we have to cope with its challenges.

  3. Thank you Rania,

    I think its just another target on Muslims and Islam to ban the burqa. The covering of women have no effect on terrorism and is just an excuse to de-veil women. Its funny how the world chants freedom of expression when it comes to sexuality etc. As soon as a woman CHOOSES to cover herself, to protect her sexuality, to conceal her body she meets opposition.

    France will win this battle, and before you blink, hijab will be prohibited in the country. I wish you the best of luck in Salalah, where women can cover or not.


  4. I hate the fact that they say it's for "security reasons". If they truely believed hijab would undermine their security standards, they could've forced us (for example) to wear it differently, e.g. tightly on the head so that our facial features stand out and become easily identified. Yes we might look uglier, but it remains our choice.

  5. Recgarding Hijab and Nigab, I think there is a big difference between them.
    Hijab is not a big problem because it is just covering part of the head not encluding the face which is the most important part of the human body, while the nigab(veil) is covering the face in a way that you can not be sure of the person in front of you, is he/she man or woman. According to that I think the European countries have the full right to put their own regulations that can make their citizens feel more safe and confortable.
    In Oman, women are not allowed to wear nigab in the government establishments or ministries. Also Oman TV is not allowed to make interviews with veiled women.

  6. I agree. Wearing the Hijab is one thing. Wearing a mask is another. People don't feel safe when they can't see someones face. I am of the opinion that face covering should be illegal even in the Middle East.

    Men can easily pose as women and frankly you can hide weapons under those layers. Im just being honest. I don't buy it that covering women is to protect them. Its a mans world Rania. Men control women better by covering them up. Its all about ego. Take off your headscarf and tell me your Omani husband wont kirk out.
    Women shoud seriously wake up.

  7. To be honest, I dont see the usefulness in wearing a Niqab. You cover your face.. then what? I dont see how it protects a woman and/or her sexuality. And as mahafeef said, Oman bans it in many places already. It does make the place safer..

    Hijab is a different issue.. all Muslims agree its a requirement. I mean, how is it a security threat to wear a hijab?

    At the end, its personal choice.

  8. @Reality in Oman: what's ur take on what Islam says about Hijab??

    How can you say it's just a requirement??

    Does Islam not command women to wear Hijab which involves weatring Niqab

    NO non mehram is allowed to see each other, i suppose that is why niqab is necessary

  9. I think the point is not whether women must wear hijab or niqab. The main issue is people should be free to chose. How can some one who imposes a restriction on women talks about freedom and claim that women are oppressed in Islam?. I always say power demands respect. Currently we are weak therefore; we cant get the respect we deserve. and who is to blame? WE

  10. Hi ... the pic gave me a lot of food for thought

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