I stood tired and weary at the supermarket. I only had 10 things so I was in the express lane. Just before I was to put my things on the conveyor belt two twenty year old Arab girls cut in and the girl smiles and asks me in Arabic, "Maleesh, bes heyda -It's ok right, we only have these" She hold up two shampoo bottles. I stare at her coldly and reply in perfect Arabic "Ana bes hayda kaman -And I have only these." And pushed my stroller to block their path in front of me and set my things on the counter. They scooted beside me still staring at me like they couldn't believe I wouldn't let them pass. I purposely didn't make eye contact again. After paying for my things I took my kids who were acting up by then to the restroom to change diapers and potty time. How dare those girls think they can just barge in front of me. We all had only a few things too hence being in the express lane. Sure if I had a cart full I would have let them go in front. The nerve, I swear! Then still at the mall later I needed to get a couple bottles of cold water so I go into the store get my water and again go to the express lane. It was only two bottles. There was a long line. A woman with a couple of kids pulls her cart behind me and then another lady behind her. Then this young arab man comes and pulls his cart in behind me. I wait a few seconds to see if he's going to keep going through the line or wait. So he didn't budge so I turned to him and in English said, "Uh excuse me but the end of the line is over there." And pointed to after the two ladies (who said nothing). "Ohhh, riiight ok, after these two ladies." He mumbled and moved himself to the end. Not two minutes later another big Indian Family tries to move in behind me. "The line is over there." I said and pointed behind the guy who was looking miffed at the Indians. Once they moved (with a nasty glance my way) to the back I turn around to find an Arab lady in her mid-50's had cut in front of me but it was already to late to kick her out of line since she slammed down her shampoo on the conveyor belt first. I did glare at her though. She nervously paid then left. I put down my bottles and paid then left too and went to meet my husband.
First thing he says to me, "I cannot believe these Emeratians, they think they own the world."
"What happened?" I asked. "I was at the Bank which is why I'm late because the lines were so long. We are all standing peacefully waiting our turn when in comes this Emeratian guy and Yalla to the front of the line. Not even thinking for a moment to wait in line with the others."
I tsked sadly and told him my day's stories and we sighed at the state of people these days.

So whats up with this rudeness, especially in the middle east I've seen this more. People think lines are just a suggestion. Though I admit sometimes they follow them but not usually. And when you come across this mob of people trying to reach the one person they all want sometimes you have to join in the throng or get nothing accomplished like at government offices in Lebanon or at fast food pizza pie places in Lebanon. It frustrated me because grown men will be shouldering aside women with babies in their arms and of course a mother has to back off or her baby will be crushed. I've even seen pregnant women jostled. disgusting. Being an American if any guy shoves me wallahi I shove him right back and they look at me startled but I just raise a brow and dare them to say anything. Sometimes they'll reach an arm over my shoulder to plunk their papers in before me and I have to literally grow taller (tiptoes) to keep the papers out of the government officials reach. Another ploy though maybe haram is to just give a good old american smile to the official and of course many times they grin back and go "Please Madam your papers?" I love that routine. The men in line actually step back and stop shoving when you are personally asked to present papers. Sometimes you just gotta use your feminine charms.
I think we all have the responsibility though when in normal lines to stop cutters by correcting them. If I hadn't said anything in the supermarket those two women would have never gotten out of there with their few purchases. This always makes me angry and I try to stick up for those being brushed aside. Learn some manners people. I don't mind letting you pass if I have so much stuff and you have two things but at least ASK me. Don't assume you have the right away.

16 intelligent thoughts:

Safiyyah said...

Salaams Sis:

Ya Allah, I am afraid it may be cultural.

You should see the behavior at the food tables at the masjid here in the USA, same thing, even the kids will bowl you over if you let them. It is quite funny to see new converts witness this phenominon (sorry spelling) for the first time!

You go girl! They know better. Why? Step in front of them like that and then see what happens :)

L_Oman said...

Aaaaah. The queues here. Don't you love them? I find it almost animalistic the way people act and push and shove into lines. It's pathetic.

But, Safiyyah's right - it's cultural and totally engrained in them and I don't see how it will ever change!

I'm glad you stand up for yourself. I do the same thing and will call a person out when they try to do stuff like that. I had to wait in line, what makes you so special!?!?!

Khair Insha'allah! said...

So I guess yemen would be at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to manners. There is not line, no circle, no que. There is me first, no me, no me. Whoever's money the shop keeper touches first wins first place. I was so in shock the first time I witnessed that. That's how fights break out in the US, "Respect my personal space, dude!" There is no such thing in the Middle East. But I began to wonder, is this a draw back from our cultural arrogance? Straight lines with exactly 2 1/2 feet between each person, please and thank you. Have a nice day. Sounds so institutionalized. I would pick a rough day in the suq over a casual stroll through Walmart anyday.

Safiyyah said...

Yes, I suppose being pushed, shoved, and nearly knocked over is much better than a please and thank-you any day, Khair Insha Allah :)

I do not agree that it is institutional. It is merely the adab of a certain culture. It's called manners. Every culture has a version of them. Every culture understands them.

Is it cultural arrogance to expect courtesy, consideration, kindness, and respect? I don't think so.

The people in the Middle East do have a concept of personal space, Khair insha Allah. For themselves in many cases and not for others (not all people of course). That's why the Prophet (saw) gave the people guidance about such matters. The Sunnah is FULL of examples, i.e., not permissible to save a spot for yourself or a friend on the massala floor, rules for getting up from your space, rules on how to fill the lines, rules for coming in late, rules for eating offensive foods and violating the olfactory senses of others, etc.

Just imagine if it were a free-for-all during the salaat in the masjid, everyone pushing and shoving, saving spaces, etc. !!!

It probably was that way and the Prophet (saw) for forced to come up with a solution for the people.

Of course, the Prophet (saw) is no longer with us, but he did leave his Sunnah. If people don't behave Islamically, then we are left with bad and rude behavior - no matter WHAT COUNTRY the Muslim lives in!

Um Abbas said...

A brand new discussion forum to the topic of islam, islamic clothing, including questions and answers for muslim and non-muslims is being opened right now.
Help us to make this commnity nice and active!

Thank you and have a great day, Um Abbas

PS.: Sorry for spam, I'm just trying to inject some life into the forum.

Anonymous said...

I remember being reduced to tears at the Cairo airport while attempting to board a flight.

I also remember deciding to stay hungry rather than squirm and worm my way to the buffet table.

They don't seem to mind, which means it's definately a cultural thing.

Susie of Arabia said...

Many people just think that they are so much more important than everyone else and the rules of etiquette shouldn't apply to them. I have had people cut in front of me in many places around the world, including the states. If this happens, I just cut right back in and say "I was next!" I have no problem with offering for someone with just an item or two to go ahead of me, but that is my choice, not them forcing their way in there.
This rudeness bothers me too. Good post, sister!

Ilka said...

OMG! I have told multiple line cutters to go to the back of the line and one girl even tried to argue with me.....she lost and decided to go to another line. This is absolutely ridiculous and we Muslims should have better manners.

It was sad when my brother came to visit and was horrified and upset at the total disregard ppl have for others here...great dawah:(.

American Muslima Writer said...

WOWO! What great and very different responces that have made me think alot.

Safiyyah :Yes definitly cultural. I think it scares converts to see the mad rush lack of curtesy for others when we're all supposed to be good muslims. We normally look up to the Muslim Arabs for guidance and when they miss behave it's a letdown (of course it's partly our fault for putting them on a pedistal). --Exactly if you step in front of them ever they get all up in your face.
L_Oman: I'm glad you stick up for your rights. Exactly no one is more special than anyone else.

American Muslima Writer said...

Khair Insha'Allah: I understand what you mean, sometimes it's fun to be in a mad rush at least it's action than standing bored in a line. And perhaps if those involved weren't being brutal about it it wouldn't be so bad. Sometimes though it feels more alive and thrilling to be beating people down and ignoring common curtesy and it certainly gets our blood rushing.
On the other hand as Muslims we have to try and not hurt other's feelings or feel superior to them or try to feel our time and money is more important than others. Glaring at the old lady who just wheedled her bony elbow into your side and the young man pressing her from behind to give her more strength than she noramlly might have had (not to help her no, just so he can get in too) is not at all good Islamic manners. There has to be balance. I don't mind mobs as long as they are civil mobs ;) Too much to wish for? hehehe. --Even Wal-Mart can get mean around the X-mas rush LMAO. Many movies made about this.

American Muslima Writer said...

Safiyyah again: I never even thought about the masjid manners in a long time because I haven't been forced into those small women's rooms on Jummah for a long time. Ugh it used to kill me! No one made proper rows (or very few) everyone saved spots for their friends and if you sat in their spot OH MAN you would be squeeze out of it when it was time to stand. Everyone far from the door would spread out their sitting space and force the newcomers to crowd together so as not to "be rude" by stepping over others to get a nioce spot. But sometimes you would just have to. Many times I went from the crowded door arrea and just walked to the front where there was plenty of room and then motioned a gaggle of sisters to follow me (which they did once they had a brave leader) --yeah i wasn't so popular at the masjid to the gossiping old ladies....
I'd see the brothers nice rows and be amazed we women couldn't do that. I loved reading hadith of the proper masjid manners of filling the row next to you no matter who it is (make more friend that way). Here when I do get to a masjid usually the space isn't an issue and women are more civil here and sit in nicer rows.
--Yes we all have to enforce Islamic manners no matter what country we are in. Insha'Allah

American Muslima Writer said...

Marahm: I'm so sorry you have had some really bad experiences. I know sometimes you don't want to even be a part of it (like why I went to friday prayers but didn't enjoy it as much as I should have) but sometimes we should show their rudeness upsets us. If we don't speak up in some way or show a few more tears for drama's sake they wont get the picture. Maybe at the next buffet when you're cut out make a loud (sincere)du'a "Oh Allah please feed the poor people who are fasting today." Maybe those that hear might remeber others might be hungry too and they should let them in. And even if your not fasting it's ok to say this with the good intention of it for other's benefits.

American Muslima Writer said...

Susie: I agree. But I feel so rude myself to just say I'm next. Because it makes me feel like I'm trying to be mroe important than them not just pointing out their error :) That's why I always poliely show them the back of the line ;) IN case they missed the looong line of poeple who are just happeneing to stand behind me.

ilka: OMG you faught with them? I've never had one dare to fight me back. Man when that happens to me I'll defintily post about it. It's liek their guilty concious makes them just quietly slink to the back. I don't know waht I'd do if one faught back. (Probably be the bossy LOUD know-it-all-and-i'm-gonna-tell-you-off AMerican chica I can be sometimes.....hehehe) ---or I'd be the proper muslima I should be? Hmm tough call.... ;)
EEEkkk I know trying to give dawah around people with bad manenrs makes me fume. Like me telling my mom men don't shake becuz they have respect for women and everyone was shaking her hand ugh!!!! Makes me wanna throttle the whole lot.

Anonymous said...

I do blame the people behind the counter and the cashier for this too. If they really made sure that people are following system and stood in lines and refused to serve otherwise then all this mess and rudeness won't happen.

Anonymous said...

Yah I feel ya...same here in KSA...its a constant game when your in line, trying to keep people from cutting you. And they are SOOOOOOOOO rude about it. Hence, why like you...I'm rude back. I just dont care!

Candice said...

In Cairo they don't normally have lines either. I never felt as though a person was pushing his way in front of me because I was not local though. I think that would bug me SO MUCH MORE than them just doing it the way it's normally done in their culture. At least they treated me like anyone else!

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