Although I have lived in Oklahoma most of my life, I have had very little interactions with Oklahoman Muslims and as a result I knew very little about this community. However, going to college exposed me to many different types of people and to the struggles and prejudices that American Muslims face within their own country. I have learned a great deal about the Muslim community and continue to learn as part of my International Studies major and Arabic minor and through historical and cultural classes, but also through international clubs. This has motivated me to be more involved with this community and so this summer I will be interning with CAIR-OK, and organization that seeks to increase awareness of Oklahoma Muslims and educate people past the biases the media presents.
The past few semesters I have been documenting Sooner Jump Start as my international organization, and I still am a part of that organization, but this semester I wanted to highlight my involvement in another area, Egyptian Club. This club is engaging and each session we learn about Egyptian culture and the dialect. This year we decided to make a video for the talent showcase based off of a classic Egyptian commercial. It was really fun to make and to be honest I’m quire proud with the final product. The video is too large to upload, but here’s a screen cap from it.
Last weekend the Arab Student Association put on the event Afrah, which was a wonderful cultural display of three types of Arab weddings. They introduced us to Moroccan, Egyptian, and Palestinian weddings, which each had their own types of celebrations and music. When I first went to the event, I had no idea what to expect. I had never seen an Arab wedding on television or in a movie, much less been to one in person, so Afrah was a great introduction into the traditions of Arab weddings and the diversity within them.
In the brownbag lecture, speaker Dr. Yusuf Mansur gave an insightful look at how each Arab country was affected by the revolutions with a special emphasis on Jordan, and he also looked ahead at the future in the Arab world and how the Arab Spring will affect it. Dr. Mansur went through a chronological account of how the Arab Spring spread through Arab countries, first through Tunisia, then Egypt, Libya, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, and to some extent, the Gulf States. In class when we go over the Arab Spring, it tends to be more on the socio-political side, so I really liked this this lecture because it focused on the economic side, giving me a multi-dimensional view of the Arab Spring.
Often the western world looks at the Arab world as lagging behind in feminist issues or more extremely they consider all women oppressed, particularly Muslim women who choose to wear a hijab. However, there are feminist movements within the Arab world itself that are working towards women’s equity, if not equality, that the western world has overlooked. The form of feminism that is most common is called soft feminist, which advocates for women, but uses Islam as the corner stone. This contrasts western forms of feminism because most often they are secular movements.
The reason that feminism in the Arab world ties Islam to itself is that not only is it a vital part of the women’s culture, but attempts to follow the western style are often looked at as hostile domestically, as if feminism is a western ploy to destabilize their society. As a result, “soft feminism” focuses on Islam and women’s role as a wife, mother, and daughter. It emphasizes traditional roles, but at the same time it demands for women to be treated with the respect that the Quran states. They may not be the head of the household but they are the neck, controlling where the head looks and goes. Groups like Islamwaysisters is an online forum where Muslim women can come together to discuss their roles in the household and how they can look for equity while following the roles set for them in the Quran. There are of course more outspoken groups that advocate for women to have a more active role in society, but they also use Islam as the basis for their movement.
Islams role in Arab feminism shows how tied religion is to everyday life, and when women use it, it shows that religion can empower, unlike many western points of view that believe it only suppresses women.
This year I took another mentee from SJS to teach him the ins and outs of Norman, and I have to say I got lucky again. My mentee was great and we got together to have lunch all the time at the Union. We talked about many things but I especially like to learn what daily life was like in Oman. He told me about the education system and how different careers are given more importance over there.
This was my third time participating in the talent show and it was more involved than ever! I submitted calligraphy art, sang for two classes, and prepared a video for the third. It was really fun and I already can’t wait to do something even better for next semester.
The Arabic Flagship Program hosted this Arabic themed fair in Farzaneh, and it was so much fun. They had live Arabic music, henna paining, Arabic calligraphy, and many Arab organizations were there too. I went with some classmates from Arabic class and we had a blast! Our TAs were there too and this time instead of telling us about cultural activities we actually got to experience it.
This lecture by Dr. Michael Cooperson was a peek into the world of translations. I never expected that translating was as complicated as it actually is. Translators have to deal with idioms, cultural context, and choosing the right words so that their translation gives as close of a meaning as the original author intended.
For my first event this year I went to Farzaneh to learn about tostadas. Mexico has a rich culinary history and this dish looks deceptively simple. A hard baked tortilla makes the base for the beans, lettuce, tomatoes, meats, and guacamole that are the toppings, but making or preparing those ingredients is labor intensive. Fortunately the local restaurant owner of “Puebla” had the ingredients ready for us and we got to eat right away!