10 responses to “The Romance of Orientalism

  1. Assalamu alaykum

    Well, I hate Egypt as much as the next gal. But I would disagree that a non-Islamic country is better. I, for one have a son being raised in that environment and it is impossible to teach him not to follow that lifestyle. I have heard as well that many Muslim parents complaining of their children seeing how all the others are living and ask them, “Why do we have to be Muslim?” I think it is a huge huge huge fitnah to be amongst an environment that generally has no religion, and oftentimes HATES Islam because of its backwardness. I fully believe the opportunity to find Islam and practice it here is better and would never want my children raised in Canada or anywhere else in shaa Allah but an Islamic country – even one like this. And the West is going down the toilet just as the life here is, because when I was in elementary school the kids MIGHT have smoked, but now they are getting it on early and even smoking crack, and many young kids even bring weapons. And we are not talking inner city here. So I would have to strongly disagree, but thats just me 🙂 I hope the best for you wherever you are, sister.

    Oh, and about the niqab/beard thing I have heard that but to be honest me and my husband have never experienced that in the almost 2 yrs of being here — although I do agree it exists, but I personally have never had any problems. In fact I hear more problems of niqabis and beards in the West, especially these days.

  2. and its definately romanticizing egypt and islam in general. ive written posts about it a few times. the dreaminess, the wish for a “muslim country”. even visiting the country doesnt allow one to really KNOW what living there would be like. i do happen to know a handful of ex pats who have great lives there and love it but they also have exceptional jobs and money!! money makes all the difference in the world there but we know thats scarce for the common folk. why else do so many egy seek to get out and make a living!!

    wonderful place to visit..short term as you said!! but i wouldnt want my daughter to have to struggle daily there.

  3. Umm Travis- I agree with you in principle. I guess I’m writing from the stand point of whats available in Minneapolis Minnesota. We have private Islamic schools and even Islamic Charter schools that offer the benefits of a Muslim environment with the benefits of an American education.

    It is possible to educate your children Islamically in a non-Muslim country. I believe there are better choices in the states than there are here.

    Jana- Money makes ALL the difference. Another thing about Egypt though is that if you are a big-baller or you have wealth you are forced to rub elbows with the wicked and corrupt politicians and businessmen. Otherwise if you’re not WITH them you are AGAINST them and they will cause you problems.

    But yes, having money makes a super huge difference.

  4. I was in Egypt for 7 months and I feel the same way as you do. Although it’s definitely easier to practice Islam in Egypt than it is here, it’s probably not worth it for the lack of decent education. My husband is Egyptian and sometimes I feel like I can’t have a decent conversation. Yes, it’s in part because English isn’t his first language, but I often feels like he just can’t apply concepts, as you mentionned. And the government has him partly brainwashed too. He actually believes that the Bahais in Egypt should not have rights because they are not Jewish, Christian or Muslim. Anyway, it just all seems so backwards there sometimes.
    And we have some Islamic schools here too so I think that’s the best option. I strongly disagree with Umm Travis that Egypt is an Islamic country! It just has a Muslim majority and lots of mosques.

  5. As-salamu ‘alaikom~

    In all gentle intentions: I really did think you were looking at Egypt through rose-colored glasses prior to moving, but I think reality has dealt the vision a hefty enough blow for you now to be seeing things through the darkest of lenses. Life, and truth, is in between these extremes.

  6. Exactly. What constitutes an “Islamic Country”? Because the majority are born into a Muslim Family? You can’t go by that because a huge % of people do not practice and few behave like true Muslims should. And yea. If you have bags and bags of $$ then it is waaaaaaaaay easier to live here.

    It IS absolutely possible to raise good Muslim children in the west. It is hard, but it’s hard here too. Kids do drugs and have sex but it’s just not talked about.

  7. The first time I met my husband’s best friend, we went out in his car and he went to buy beer, drinking while driving… and he had some slutty girl with him. And by the end of our time with him that night, he was getting a blowjob as he drove. I was seriously appalled. I’ve never been in this sort of situation before in Canada, nothing even close!! My husband wonders why I hate his friend. The next times we went out, he had 2 slutty girls with him… I stayed away from him as much as I could while I was there… Good thing I trust my husband with his friend and the slutty girls that hang out with him.

  8. I was raised in a rural area. I was taught not to party and sleep around while most of my classmates (even the “church going” ones) did just that (and worse) and on a regular basis. I went to public school and had non-religious friends, but it was because of familial influence that I didn’t partake in these activities. Did I ask things like, “Why can my friends wear spaghetti strap tank tops and I can’t?” or “Why can’t I go to the party with no parents? _____ is going!! Don’t you trust me?!”? YEAH. All the time!! But I was told simply this: we’re a different family, and you’re different from all of them. Yeah, it pissed me off from time to time, but when I got older, I got the point.

    I strongly disagree that raising a kid not to follow a lifestyle of his peers and media influence is impossible, because I, and many, MANY of my friends are living proof. I do, however, very strongly believe that, yes, it will take more effort to raise a good Muslim child – not just in a non-Muslim country, but anywhere. (And anyway whoever said raising children should be easy? Stress-free?)

    I think many Muslim parents are fooled into thinking that an Islamic environment/country will simply encourage Islamic behavior in their children. That’s certainly not true.

    I teach Islamic studies school on the weekends, and people assume that because they home school or send their kids to us and only allow them to have Muslim friends that they’re doing enough. The truth is out of 18, 12-13 year-old students, I have six students who cannot read or recite Al-Fatiha. Two are Pakistani sisters raised in the US, one is a FOB (fresh of the boat) Pakistani, one is Syrian raised in UAE until she was 10, and two are FOB Egyptians. These girls happen to attend a home school group taught by Arabic Muslim tutors because their parents dislike public schools. While a few of my other students attend this group, the majority of my girls attend public school. While this situation may not be typical, it’s certainly enough to make me raise an eyebrow.

    People might think it’s “easier” to raise strong, religious Muslim kids in a Muslim country or at least immersed in a Muslim environment, but growing up in a college town with massive international enrollment, I’ve seen with my own eyes and have heard many-a-story about how well most of those home-grown Muslims behave when Mommy and Daddy have their backs turned. I’m not just talking about what goes on while they’re studying here – I’m talking about all the “fond memories” they share about “back home.” They talk about all the “secret” boyfriends and girlfriends, or how they stole their dad’s cigarettes – whatever.

    While I’ve seen derailed raised-in-the-US “Muslim” kids, I’ve seen even more of pious Muslims variety that are born and raised against all odds in the not-so-sheltered States. Honestly, of all the Muslims I know, as a whole, they’re the strongest in their deen. I believe it’s because they’ve had to be. Islam was more emphasized in their lives because their parents didn’t just “assume” their children just knew or were being taught in Islamic school, but rather that they had to be outright examples of Islam and educate their children on a daily basis. Their children have to, and do learn to separate themselves from “Islamic culture” where “everyone is doing it so you should too” or “it’s just the right thing to do”, and rather delve into a life of intentional Islamic practice that requires focus and study.

    I converted long before I got hitched, and I knew/know several Arabs and Muslims from many different countries. Let me just say, while my rejection list wasn’t Egypt exclusive, there are definitely several reasons why I said, “I’ll NEVER marry an Egyptian.” Well, here I am, 1.5 years into marriage to an Alexandrian and pregnant with our first baby (ha!). My husband and I joke about my aforementioned reasons and to my surprised and unfortunately, he agrees. My Mr. B is fresh off a three week visit to the homeland which has only solidified his stance: we will never live in Egypt unless there is a nuclear holocaust that wipes many other inhabitable countries off the map.

    I’m not a nationalist by any means, so please don’t call me biased. I hate, HATE what my country and countrymen have done in the past and many things they continue to do. However, I would prefer by far, as a Muslim, to live in a non-Muslim country under a non-Muslim, secular government rather than live in a “Muslim” country with corrupted “Muslim” leaders who do nothing but oppress and spit in the face of Muslims and Islamic values. Nothing disgusts me more than Muslims in power with a multitude of wealth who not only disregard Islam and its practice while still calling themselves Muslims, but outright live against and practice against Islam’s standards.

  9. Amen sista. Very well said, thats exactly my point.

  10. Assalam alaikum,

    I have to say Molly reading your blog sometimes I feel like Im over there with you, masha’allah. Im posting because I am one of those sisters who is contemplating going to Egypt with my kids for some time. I know many sisters from our community that have gone to live in Al-Rehab City and they have told me that they like it and so do there kids. I have met and read about others who live in Cairo and say they don’t like it and one sister from Rehab said that she would probably go back to the States as well if she had to live in the city.

    Is Al Rehab all that different from the rest of Egypt?

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