Comment/Concern: While working I met a man of Islam. He was very kind to me, and always treated me with respect, patience, and attentiveness. I am an American woman (Divorced with children) and have always been taught that Arab men are abusive and controlling, and that for single women to touch them is considered highly offensive. So, despite his manners I avoided touching him at all costs, and only responded to his questions and conversation cautiously. When I last saw him I happened to take my break at the same time he came into my store. We ended up having lunch together, and he told me about his desires to marry and re-settle in Orem, Utah. He spoke of his love for children, and he complemented me on the beauty of my own children. His timing could not have been worse, and my manner in responding to him could not have been more shameful.
You see, I had taken a break that day in order to calm down. My employer had just asked me to compromise my practice of faith in God, and I refused. I ended up quitting my job. I tried to laugh and talk freely with my Islamic friend, but I’m afraid I came across as uncaring, un-attentive, and cold. He never came back into my store before I left, and I have been alone with my feelings of guilt ever since. Despite what I have always been taught, he was never anything but kindness to me. He reminded me that I am a person worth seeing, and worth being loved. While I do not believe he had any intentions towards me, I owe him a great deal of respect and appreciation, but I failed to show him any of this the last time I saw him.
I also failed to thank him for his constant kindness and respect towards me. My faith demands that I make amends for any harm I may cause to another. Again, I am battling between the things I have been taught, and what I have witnessed. Have I indeed injured this man, by being un-attentive to his personal confessions to me, or do Arab men truly not care about the opinions of women, and I am worrying about bruising his pride for nothing? From what I have seen and experienced of him, this is a man of honor and highest esteem. I am sorry if at any time I did not leave him with that impression.
Time: Monday October 18, 2010 at 8:44 pm
Observation/Response: God (Allah swt) has blessed you with a good sense of keenness towards understanding religion-al-Islam and empathy towards other humans. Let me give you an Islamic response since you have sent this comment to an Islamic site. Much of my response is to broaden your thinking towards Islam, its culture and the manner in which Muslims act or ought to act.
Why does Islam frown upon male/female hookups?
In evaluating your matter, miscommunication has occurred due to a cultural incongruity. To avoid such matters from occurring as well as enhancing relational success, one must realize that what occurred in your relational matter is an added contributing factor as to why Islam frowns upon men/woman making advances upon each other in a direct-open manner. Had both of you went about the matter as Islam prefers, the adverse outcome may have been avoided.
Yet, in modern times we assume that due to the liberal affairs of society, we all would be able to absorb every occurrence and accept them in stride and objectivity, compartmentalize all factors for greater evaluation and immediate scrutiny and respond accordingly. Reality proves that this seldom occurs. Life in its true state is not a laboratory. Emotions and other variables occupy the route of critical thinking. Your matter is a fine example of this occurrence.
It’s all part of life’s learning experience:
We learn from your situation; when anyone is faced with a similar situation to yours, make mention of the following: ‘I am sorry but I am having it rough right now, can we continue some other time under better conditions.’ Then politely request the presence of a third party to be present as part of your dialoguing. For example, a simple yet religiously compliant request c/would be as follows: ‘Do you have a sister/aunt that could talk about this marital matter with me on your behalf? How about sending one of male friends’ female spouses to discuss this matter with me,’ etc.
Your personal battle – those Arab barbarians/savages:
The issue you are battling as it relates to Arabs (aka Muslims) being savages is not a new concept. As a student of history, I am not even mildly offended by this remote implication. Rather I appreciate your frankness. Sadly, Muslims are all lumped as Arabs, only for people to later find out that majority of Muslims are not Arabs, nor can they even remotely converse in the Arabic language, nor do they comprehend its laws/bylaws as it demands. Such thinking has being going on for centuries. Thanks to the oil boom, much of this negative perception has change, particularly as it relates to Arabs that possess oil.
To illustrate, a savage would never give an attractive western woman jewelry worth thousands of dollars in lieu of her beauty had he really been a savage. Or buy 15 Cadillac’s to drive in the desert while most of them remain parked off so as to better regulate its shine! Nor would a savage ever build a shopping mall in the middle of nowhere with western assistance. However, when an Arab male cannot share such resources, then in some segments of society he is still frowned upon. This usually is due to the perception-sharing that is done through the media – particularly authors of historical texts. I am glad you have seen through this façade. We are not saying men, or better yet Muslim men are perfect, but I am glad you had the opportunity to experience the positive side of male behavior (Muslim or other!)
Romance: (only found in movies)
I would love to see this site have him respond in exchange of a happy ever after ending scenario, but do not hold your breath. Regardless, more important is that you have grown to appreciate people much more, this in itself is a blessing. I sincerely hope you would continue to turn this positive experience to learn more about Islam and those aspects that make Muslims good people. I am positive, if you not already a Muslim, you would make a fine one indeed, God Willing (inshaAllah.)
Allah Certainly Knows Best.
Here is a memo that was sent by a former MSA President on what may have been viewed as a sensitive matter back in 2009 but fits in well with what you have also shared.
(To whom it may Concern) XXXX,
Back in 2009 a Student (XXXXXX) Organization hosted a dialogue with the Muslim Student Association at the University of Utah. I asked some intense questions about Muhammad which created some offense. I also responded back with an intense email when I was told another dialogue would not take place.
Since that time I have learned more about Muhammad and the religion of Islam. I have been able to spend time with Muslims and have experienced their generosity, their kindness, and their compassion. I certainly don’t want to be a person that promotes a never ending ‘clash of civilizations’ but a person that promotes rather a ‘dialogue of civilizations,’ of which mutual understanding and peace can be achieved. How I responded was inappropriate and short-sighted. My views have matured on Islam in the last year, thanks in no small part to having talks with Muslims themselves about their faith and learning more about this religion of peace. I want to apologize to you personally for the way I acted and ask for your forgiveness. I am but human. In fact if you still have my email I would appreciate it if you would delete it, as those views are no longer my views and were said without my current knowledge. I hope instead that this email will be saved as what I really think.