7:22 AM

"Life Story in 15 minutes please"

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

When you meet someone, especially another Muslim sister, or any Arab who's rarely seen a White, English speaking Muslim before (in hijab), they always want your life story. I'm always happy to oblige but sometimes I just am sick and tired of the same questions and responses. Not from the sisters but from say my taxi driver. Why taxi drivers always feel the need to talk to me so much? Here is basic conversation in (really basic)Arabic and English that I get in Lebanon and UAE almost everytime I'm in a taxi.
"Min Wein? -Where you from?" Taxi man asks looking in his rear-view mirror. I sigh and start with the short comments hoping that will shut him up.
"Ana Amerykia -I'm American" I smile (ok I'm American and I can't help being smiley. I know we shouldn't smile but I can't help it I want him to think well of American converts-but I know where to draw the line if they get to personal or fresh)
"AH! Inti AMerykia! Lesh Hetti Hijab? Inti Muslimah? -Ah! You're American, Why you put hijab? Are you Muslim?" he asks getting excited to be driving an American Hijabi. I think this is the stupidest question by far. Of course I'm Muslim why else would I wear hijab you Muslim man NUT!
"Na'Am, ana muslimah. -Yes, I'm Muslim" I look out the window hoping that will stop the questions and it does for a few........... seconds.
"Zouwaj min wein? -Husband from where?" He eagerly waits this big question.
"Lebnan. -Lebanon" I reply. He grins fully happy to know his countryman caught himself a rare and sooo white American. (remember white is prized in Arab countries)
"Masha'Allah! Zawaj min Amerykia ow Lebnan? -Married in America or Lebanon?"
"Lesh min AMerykia? Huwa mannak?- Why in America? He was there with you?" He checks his mirror again.
"Huwa andak madrasa. Raheh masjid wa oolit Imam bedak Zawaj. Ba'deen ijit hon bil Lubnan. -He had school. Then he went to the masjid and told the Imam he wants marriage. Then we came to Lebanon." I say it all so he doesn't have to keep asking questions. Yet none deterred he takes a break to mull this over then begin the next series,
"T'neen walid? Masha'Allah. Wein Zawaji shougal? -Two kids? Where's your husband work?" Obviously curious to know what education he received in USA to afford the American wife and two masha'Allah cute kids.
--I then explain whatever job my husband happens to be in at the time, none of which makes a lot of money but alhamdulliah it is what Allah wills for us. He continues like this until I get to my stop. It would be ok if it was just once in a while like the taxis in UAE but in Lebanon it was like EVERY taxi and I took like 3-4 taxis in one day to get to and from my home and to classes and to my in-law's house and to home again. So the answers were well rehearsed.
As for the sisters asking for life stories I usually take a good two hours to get it all out including their questions. But that is fun because it's making a lasting connection insha'Allah and I get to pull theirs out too. So I will continue with the greater story (as requested) in another post.

9 intelligent thoughts:

Aalia said...

Ahhhhh I totally know this drill! SubhanAllah, I dont know how many times I have been asked these very questions! I hope it's not like this in the U.A.E!

Ilka said...

salamu alaykum

i too get tired of the "how did you convert to islam?" question. i know ppl are just curious but sooo many ppl ask me. i guess ppl in egypt think there are like 10 musilms in america so they are astonished when they meet one.

i wear hijab and abayas from dubai so they are black and ppl still ask me if i am muslim. i guess there are some american women that are married to egyptians and are not muslim that just wear hijab out of respect or whatever.

iMuslimah said...

Thanks sis! I was sooo curious ;)
Look forward to reading more!

Assalamu alaykum!

Susie of Arabia said...

You're too funny. I love this post. You nailed it! I get the same thing too. I'm impressed with your Arabic!!!

Safiyyah said...

Salaams Sis:

Gheez ... how do you say "mind your effing business" in Arabic!

Anyhow, see my Shahadah story for my experience with this:

Now that I've converted, the story is similar, but the questions usually stop when I tell them that my husband is African-American.

L_Oman said...

I thought it was 'cute' in the beginning, but these guys have no business asking questions like this. Yes, some may be innocent, but many are not. Never in a million years would they ask these questions to a local. It would be serious trouble if they were to ask...

We may do such things in the U.S. culture, but it's pretty much not part of the culture here for a complete stranger and a taxi driver at that to ask such questions!

When men ask me where I'm from, I simply say, "I'm from here." And they pretty much leave it at that because they get the point. Turn it around and start asking about their sisters / mother / aunts and you'll find the majority won't say much.

I know I sound like a grouch, but I don't dig strangers asking me personal questions. And it's the gooey gross way they smile that cheesey smile when they ask that weirds me out. Maybe others have had better experiences, but for me the majority was bleh.

American Muslima Writer said...

-Aalia, subhan'Allah no matter where you go it will be asked and it's worse in the arab countries because being a forigner and wearing hijab makes you more of an interest topic. Prepare a short version story of the whole thing for your in-laws then your fav ones later can have the long version.
-ilka, LMAO 10 muslims in female doctor asked me "they have muslims in America?" I almost walked out of the office at her ignorance (like who wants to be treated by a doc that doesn't even know muslims are everywhere) Good point about the hijab. I didn't think poeple that weren't really muslim would wear them since they aren't obliged to.
iMuslimah, hang onto your keyboard and keep reading lol I'm about to spill the WHOLE story!
-Suzie, heh i wish my Arabic was better. I can converse just the basics and the life story i tell everyone because everyone glad u liked it.
Saffiyah, good idea to learn that phrase hehehe. I do know unfortionatly a plethora of cuss words in arabic BUT not how to polielty tell someone to back off. I guess I'm afraid of getting kicked out of a taxi where there wont be another one to pick me up for a long time... so i try not to be rude. GOOD IDEA to put your story onilne i will go and read it today insha'Allah. Maybe we should al do that. Type it up and put it online and then when epoiple want to know the story giv them an index card with a link on it to read in their free time hehehe. But maybe that would be anti-social off line. I'm sorry that people are racist bigots and I hope once they are quiet you should just GUSH how wonderful your afro-hubby is and hopefully that will educate them to their wrongful thinking. insha'Allah.
l_oman, yeah i know I should be all standoffish too and their cheesy grins do annoys me. They dont grin liek that with my hubby there too. Mayb they aren't used to women who will be like blah blah blah and then they feel they want to satisfy their curiosity about why an American would be sitting in the back of their cab. SOmetimes i don't mind too much if they seem ok like in Lebanon they were just more friendly and used to talking to women openly but here in UAE they creep me out and half the time I can barelly understand their accents and they can barelly understand my lebanese-arabic so it makes talking all the more frustrating.
I had one taxi recently after my life story he just went off talking about islma and I couldn't keep up but I didnt want to dampen his enthusiasm at seeing an american convert so I just sporadically said masha'Allah and subhan'Allah and AllahuAkbar when he paused depending on his worked he had nooo idea i didn't know what he was talking about.

Anonymous said...

Well, it seems we've all had parallel experiences once we became Muslim, wore hijab, and spent some time in the Middle East.

I'm writing a series on my blog called Learning Tajweed.

I, too, got tired of the questions that were flattering in the beginning. However, I tried to keep in mind that whoever was asking might never have seen a Western Muslimah, and may never see another one, so I usually obliged, at least with the elementary facts of my life.

Anonymous said...

You and I might have had a telepathy of sorts. I just noticed that you made your post the same day I made mine, and our content is essentially the same! Amazing!

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