Monday, March 07, 2005

The Osama Chronicles

Salam all

This is Anna in Cairo with a kid anecdote. It does pertain somewhat to Islam so bear with me...

My kids and I are traveling to the US this summer (inshallah) forthe first time for them in several years (since the summer of 1998 to be exact) and my younger son Osama (turning 13 next month) came to me yesterday saying "You know our trip to the US this summer? I thought of a problem." I said "what?" He said "What about mosques in the US?"

I said "Oh, they have mosques in every city and although you could very well pray in the house where we will be staying I will try to take you to some US mosques and you can see what they are like."

He was worried about the prayer times and the Qibla as well, so I told him there were internet sites for that. Then he asked about the mosques again, seeming to be kind of worried about whether they really were there. I told him "Yeah really, they have them everywhere - You can see if they will do the Khotba in english, which they do there you know."

He thought about this and said "How can that be?" I said "well most Muslims do not speak Arabic as a first language, you know, they are people from other countries like Indonesia or Pakistan and they memorize Arabic verses to pray but they understand the meaning of the Quran and stuff in their own language." He said "but you have to know Arabic to be a good Muslim." I said "No, actually you don't." We had a further discussion and it was kind of fun because he had never thought about the language issues before, having been raised for the past several years in an Arabic speakingMuslim country.

This experience caused me to remember, as I periodically do, that there are many times when we hold really offensive or wrong ideas simply because we lack context or experience. I wonder what Osama will think after he has spent three July weeks in the USA. Thoughts from those currently there on how I can mentally prepare him for the experience are most welcome. Keep in mind there is also my 14 year old who looks about 17, Yasser, who has the highest possible expectations of this visit, and I'm a bit worried he'll be disappointed.

1 comment(s):

  • Greetings! I'm an American who found this blog from Steve Gilliard's blog comments. This post reminds me of an American comic book called Love & Rockets that features two main groups of characters, the fictional Mexican village of Palomar and a Mexican-American group that lives in Los Angeles.
    I found it very enlightening to see my culture from the perspective of foreigners, from people commenting on "white people" as though they were "the other".
    In any event, I hope Osama has a good time in America and that your journey here is trouble-free. As a former sailor, I wish you "Fair winds and following seas."

    By Blogger Rich Gardner, at 3/16/2005 06:27:00 PM  

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