So the plan is to do a sort of running commentary on this show as it airs. This first post is a bit late since I didn't decide to do this until Monday morning.
First things first: this is a show on TLC following five Muslim families living in Dearborn, MI. I didn't realize it on my first watching but all of the families featured are Shi'a which is not the 'most common' branch of Islam. When people think of Islam, if they're aware that there are sects within it at all they think of Sunni.
it starts with some of the people sitting talking on couches. They're arguing about whether or not a Muslim man can marry a non-Muslim woman. The two men say that they can but one of the women, who is the judgy one, says that 'for the actual ritual of marriage both parties have to be Muslim'.
I like Shadia (Amen). She's very much herself, if that makes any sense. She's engaged to an Irish Catholic man (Jeff) who converts to Islam during this show. And she has a 10 year old son from her previous marriage.
Her parents were less than thrilled with her dating since that's typically frowned on in Islam.
The thing I like about Shadia and Jeff is that they seem to be willing to do whatever to be together. It's not about Catholic or Muslim but being with one another.
Okay. Then we get Nader & Nawal Aoude. They've been married for 10 months and she's getting ready to have their first child. And his sense of humor is adorable, I think. Like in the first meeting she says that she wants to have the baby at 38 weeks and he's laughing, asking if she's going to be sending the baby an email to tell it it's time.
Shadia has one brother and two sisters, none of whom appear to be married. I read a review that said that Shadia's father came off as a hidebound old Muslim who couldn't bend from the need to see his daughter only marrying a Muslim. I can see it, but I don't think he came off as crazy harsh. Shadia herself said that she wanted to only marry a Muslim. So it's not just something coming from her father.
It is important to him, but it's not unreasonable. If you're truly dedicated to your religion and it says that it is only proper to marry another member of that religion then it wouldn't sit easily if one of your children married out of the faith. It's no different from Catholics only marrying Catholics, etc. Christianity has (for the most part) drifted from that hard line but it's still there, trust me. I had that mentality myself, back in the day.
'There's been death and wars. People kill because of women.'
'No- Not- It wasn't because of the woman, it was because of the moron who started the war, which was a guy.'
Right, Nina Bazzy. I kind of like her personality, but I have to be honest that I can't stand the way she dresses. It reminds me of the kids on Jersey Shore. But that's a personal issue that doesn't really reflect on her personality, religion, etc. I just don't like her clothes! She's married and has a young son who is adorable! She works as a party planner and wants to open up a club. Her business partner doesn't think it's a good idea because she's a woman and clubs and women (running them) don't go together.
He keeps mentioning that 'you're a girl' and that she has other responsibilities. Like her family. *rolls eyes* But I do like Nina - because she keeps being told that she shouldn't do something it makes her want to do it more.
Another couch session: they're talking about converting to Islam. Now, all of the people on this show with the exception of Jeff are born Muslims. There's a whole thing about converting and people not understanding that Islam is a religion and that you have to follow it and not 'adapt it to fit your life' which I think is bull. Yes, you have to adapt to the religion, but if Islam isn't adaptable to modern life then it's sort of pointless, isn't it? There's a middle ground somewhere in there.
Anyway. Nina makes this comment about how if you're going to convert then 'you have to do it right' and Judgy Woman (who is one of Shadia's sisters, actually) says, 'How do you expect people to convert and expect them, because they're converts to be perfect, to try and be perfect-'
And then Nina interjects and says there's no such thing and one of the other women says they should at least know what they're getting into.
Then Judgy Woman says: 'Like Nina just said, if you're going to convert, you have to do it right, but what about the people who were born into it, they don't have to do it right?'
And I actually get her point, maybe. Nina is not a 'proper' Muslimah, is such a thing exists. She doesn't wear hijab, she works with men, she wants to run a club, etc. Things that, from the looks that were passed around in that couch session were indicative of her not living the kind of Islamic life that she would expect from a convert.
Then there's a little scene with Jeff and Shadia's father (Mohsen) about whether or not Jeff's really thought about what he's doing, converting to Islam. And that Mohsen doesn't want Jeff to feel pressured to have to convert. 'You do it from yourself'. See, that's part of why I can't see what that article was talking about. He seems like such a sweet guy! He even practiced the shahada with Jeff to help him get the pronunciation right!
Fouad and Zaynab Zaban have been married for 12 years. See, when I first watched this I somehow got the impression that the parents required their daughters to start wearing hijab at 9, which I had a problem with. On the second watching Fouad is just saying that they started wearing it around 9 which leaves it more open to it being the daughters' desire. You could argue that the daughters were influenced, but what children aren't influenced by their parents and their peers?
Fouad is the high school football coach and he has the mouth of a sailor on the field, fyi. It's interesting to hear him having to work out the problem of how to train and play football during Ramadan since all the players will be fasting.
Jeff's family - his mother has a problem with him converting to Islam. Not enough to not attend the wedding or anything, but you can see that it hurts her. She starts out trying to play it off as it being okay, but she breaks down and cries about it later on and winds up not attending the conversion.
Angela and Mike Jaafar may be my favorite couple. They were high school sweethearts who've been married for 11 years. They have four kids, 2 girls and 2 boys. Mike is a Deputy Chief for the sheriff department. And their kids are so cute it hurts! Angela also works as a liaison for an auto manufacturer.
I don't like how TLC cuts their teasers before the commercial break. For instance, they make it look like Jeff has cold feet right at the moment of saying his shahada. However, having seen the show I know that that's not what happens at all. Very misleading.
Shadia's brother: 'I've got an announcement to make. Me and Jeff were outside talking. Jeff's decided that we're converting to Judaism. But I brought him back to Buddhism and then we worked on Islam. I had to pay him a couple hundred, so he's going to covert.' *lol*
One thing Shadia says is that you can convert by saying the shahada by yourself. I was always under the impression that you needed Muslim witnesses to make it 'official'.
The Imam's little flub using the wrong sisters name is funny. Suehaila is, I think, older than Shadia and there's apparently a running thing about trying to find her a husband.
I did find it interesting that, from what part of the ceremony they showed the same questions are asked of both the female and the male.
I'm liking more and more the tradition of the woman keeping her name when she marries, fyi. I know that most of the couples on this show have the same last name, but that's just an aside. Of course I'd still take my husband's name because I hate my own - it's the name of my asshat adoptive father. And I'm not going back to my bio dad's name because he was also an asshat. Men. *sigh*
I love the hijabs on this show. How come the hijab never looked as lovely on me when I wore it?
Oh! Oh, crap. I just realized that Judgy Woman is Nawal. Crap. I think it's because she's pregnant during the show but not pregnant in the couch sessions. So they must have been filmed later. I *thought* Nawal and Judgy Woman looked a lot alike! Ooops!
The reception for Jeff and Shadia is very pretty and it's an interesting mix of Jeff's Catholic family and the Lebanese Muslim family of Shadia. Jeff's cousin does a traditional Irish dance which is always neat to watch and then Shadia's family hired a belly dancer.
Judgy-Nawal likens belly dancers to strippers, which I think is rude and excessive. And not at all accurate. The dancer they had wasn't wearing the traditional 'harem girl' kind of outfit, but something loose and flowing. Also, some of the Muslim side of the wedding were making fun of Jeff's male family members for getting too into the belly dancer routine. I didn't see the leering that they saw, but we only get bits and pieces, so maybe it happened off camera for us.