Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Women in the Gulf

Since one of us SB's is a man and one is a women, we managed to learn a lot about both genders in the Gulf.  As a woman, I really didn't think I would get to meet and share with many people.  In the Gulf culture, women do not make eye contact with men in public except to possibly do business.  Sometimes exceptions occur in shops when a woman is shopping and only men work there, or vice versa.  The women didn't invite people to their homes; men did.  Since the men generally spend a large part of their time praying in the Mosque, I assumed that they would be the ones willing to discuss religion and the Qaran.  As things turned out,  I was mistaken.

A Visit to our Friends Home or Bedu Hospitality

We visited our new friends as least once a week and most of the time it was twice.  As we drove up to the house, the expat servant/cook came running out to meet us.  He directed us to the Madulas.  We took off our shoes and as we entered he brought us coffee and dates while we waited for our friends.  On this particular evening,  the women went into the inner house to eat while the men stayed in the Madulas.  While the men were discussing camels, weather, and video games, two of the female cousins from next door told me I looked like a local woman.  I had worn my Gulf clothes.  I said thanks and then the conversation went something like this:

"So, are you Muslim?"
"No, I'm a follower of Isa (Jesus).  I follow him because..."
"You want to be Muslim, yes?"
"No, I follow Isa, but I have been reading the Holy Qaran because..."
"You read the Qaran?  That's great!  So you want to know Islam.  You will be Muslim?"
"No,  I follow Isa because He is the way to Heaven.  It says in the Injil (New Testament) that..."
"I have the Qaran on my phone.  You want to listen?"
"Well, ok, and I have something on my phone about what I believe.  Would you like to listen?"

Next thing I knew, all the women in the room were listening to the wonderful story of Jesus in Arabic, their heart language.  Awesome!  Everywhere I went, the women were very open about religion, but I did find that they knew almost nothing about what they believe or what the Qaran actually says.  They just know that Islam is "good" and they must defend it at all costs.

So, we ate rice and chicken with our hands.  When we finished, it was time for perfume and incense.  The perfume is sprayed on clothes, each fragrance in turn sprayed in a different place.  Then the incense is used to "smoke" your clothes and body, sometimes being placed under the dress so the smoke comes out through the fabric.  It is a strange sight to behold, and a little scary too.

As was the norm, as we left to go home for the evening, our friends gave us dates, perfume, and cloth.  We said goodbye, rubbed noses, and headed for home eager to return the next time.

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