Monday, December 10, 2012

Not So Random Observation During the Early Stages of the ARQ Project

I've been bringing my Qur'an with me to work so that if I have time on breaks or at lunch I can read a little bit. I carry it and a little notepad around in my purse.

Today I'm leaving early to go to my yearly eye appointment. There's nothing wrong but my insurance covers a yearly check-up and since I'm blinder than a bat without corrective lenses, I take advantage of this. Seriously. My range of vision ends at the end of my nose and I have a short nose.

I was packing my purse this morning with my Qur'an and Murdock (for the gym later) and there's always wait time at the doctors' office so I was thinking, 'Oh, hey, I'll have some time to get some more reading in...' and then a little voice said, 'But what if someone *notices* that you're reading the Qur'an. In *public*.'

And it actually, honestly, made me pause. What if.

I mean what could happen? Someone says something rude to me? Someone asks me a question? People think mean thoughts about me? Nothing *bad*, right? But there's still this niggling feeling that I'm doing something wrong by reading it in public. I don't have the same, 'Whoa, wait, let's think about this!' reaction when I think about reading the Bible or any of my other books in public. And trust me, I've read some strange books in public. See: the book on the cultural history of the penis. So why do I feel that way about the Qur'an?

12 comments:

  1. The natural assumption of seeing someone reading it is that they believe it, and there's a social stigma against people who believe the Qur'an. Right or wrong, it's there.

    I'm going to venture out and say you don't want to be stigmatized, especially if it isn't accurate. But I could just be projecting, as I don't want people to think I believe something I don't.

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    1. You could be on the right track. I try not to represent myself as anything that I'm not, so that might very well be a part of it.

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  2. I went to the doctor this morning and took a book about the Crusades. Yeah, I wasn't really wanting my doctor to see the title of it when she came into the room. Haha!

    An older Arab friend who lives in the US said when he was traveling once that he had a choice between reading a novel type book in Arabic (an "innocent" book) OR a more controversial book in English. He chose to take the English book because he wondered what people around him would think if they saw him reading an Arabic book. And he's 70ish. :)

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    1. :) You have the best friends Susanne!

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  3. That is an interesting question. The obvious answer seems to be that there is anti-Islamic stigma and you don't want to draw attention to yourself. But that's strange, because you used to wear a headscarf, right? I think you'd be used to any stigma or even just strange looks and assumptions you might get from people.

    That in mind, another question. Aside from not finding it necessary anymore and not really being your thing..do you think you'd have the same concerns about dressing that way now? If you decided tomorrow to try hijab again, would you be concerned about people seeing you and what they might think?

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    1. You'd think, right?

      I've been thinking about your question though and maybe between you and seashomore we've hit on an answer. When I was wearing the headscarf I had *faith* about wearing it. I believed, absolutely, that it was something that God wanted me to do. So all the attention and the questions, they were just a part of doing what needed to be done. And when I was wearing the scarf in public, I knew that I would most likely be mistaken for a Muslim even though I wasn't - so I was conscious of that and made sure to never do anything that would portray Muslims in a bad light through my example. With reading the Qur'an in public, I'm (I think) a little worried about being taken for a Muslim and I know that my dress and behavior doesn't meet those standards. And so...I think I'll make them look bad.

      do you think you'd have the same concerns about dressing that way now? If you decided tomorrow to try hijab again, would you be concerned about people seeing you and what they might think?

      I don't think I'd have the same concerns about it now. Or at least not all of them. I've been there, done that. I know that I can move through the world in hijab and hold my head high. That being said, there is still the atmosphere in our country of Islam being evil, of Muslims being the 'other' and almost acceptable targets for some of our worst impulses. So that would still be a concern.

      However I have to say that the only way I would put hijab on again would be if I'd converted to Islam *and* if I was convinced that it was necessary. In which case I would once again have the faith to back up my actions.

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  4. I make sure I don't open any Arabic text on an airplane. Because the pilot has the right to kick out any passenger if he thinks it is not safe to fly with this suspicious passenger. Can you imagine sitting beside an Arab on an airplane reading an Arabic book. What if this book is "How to Fly an Airplane." You may think I am exaggerating but on many occasions, after the 9/11 crazy busting of Arabs on USA, the top read Arabic book found with these Arabs was guess what "How to fly an airplane (in Arabic)." Because educated college graduate Arabs can't read in English so they have to translate how to fly an airplane into Arabic.
    What I am saying is that what is on our minds can force us to live in fear all the time.

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    1. o.0

      Yeah, wow, no, that doesn't sound like a set up *at all*.

      Because of course if you have nefarious plans the best way to pull those off is to not learn how to fly the plane before you get on. *That* would just be *ridiculous*.

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  5. It is me again. It is 5:53 am Jordan's time and I still can't sleep. My biological central time is still controlling my sleeping habit. I hate jet lag :(
    I am not sure if my previous comment made sense. I wanted to say I don't believe there is such book as "how to fly an airplane" in Arabic :)

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    1. :) I got that. I can fully believe that there are flight instruction manuals in Arabic and dozens of other languages. What I can't believe is that anyone, let alone all the people who it was 'found' on, would be dumb enough to need to read it on a plane.

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  6. I actually felt the same way reading the Bible when I was a Christian, here in Denmark, but I think that's more to do with there being a bit of a stigma to any kind of public show of religiosity here.

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    1. Here, especially in the South, Christianity is still definitely the default and accepted. I wouldn't read my Bible in public because it is an unwieldy book to carry around but I wouldn't think 'oh hey, maybe I *shouldn't*...' about it either.

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