Thursday, August 4, 2011

Imagine You Made Hijrah

This is what I asked my readers:

Imagine if you traveled on hijrah from a non-Muslim country to a Muslim country.

What would you miss by leaving everything?

You would have only your four suitcases full of belongings.

You could have only one other person with you.

You would know some of the spoken language but virtually nothing of the written language.

What would you miss?
Most readers (80%) said they would miss their family.  That makes sense because though you can duplicate many things and many relationships, your family remains at the level of your core being.  With your family, you can remember who you are. 

However, it's worth pointing out that remaining with  family is actually rather stunting.  If you are always in the fold, you never are free to explore who you could be.  The labels which are stuck on you from your family dynamics can get rubbed off from being away and being yourself---whoever that is.
Though, I've had some times of missing family, I have not mourned them.  I think this comes from being a child of divorce who never was really together with one family; it was a fractured existence.  That sounds sad, I know, but it has become a positive.  I don't view family as my protector or my safety net---only Allah.
40% of readers would miss their friends the most.  In America, friends have replaced family for a lot of people.  Friends have become a kind of new family; the tribe.  I have missed friends and really have relied on our computer chats to keep me connected to a previous version of reality. 
In many ways, though, I've had to let them go.  I've had to find the people who understand more of what I'm about now.  I have a mix that not everyone can comprehend.  The people who have become my friends here have lived in both the West (whether the U.S., Canada or the U.K.) and in the Middle East or North Africa.  They know the pitfalls of being a foreigner here and they enjoy the time.  I have avoided the people who come here to complain.  Sure, we all have our rants but, in the end, we must make peace with our choice to live here.  
NOBODY said they would miss their stuff.  Gotta tell ya the truth:  I've missed my stuff greatly.  I have fallen asleep at night dreaming of the day I could hold my CD player again, or get that Lift-the-Flap book for my kid, or wear that velour tunic (which I was soooo sure would be too hot for Egypt).  I am not a totally materialistic person however I treasure my junk belongings.  Maybe this comes from moving around so much.  My things make me feel comfortable.  I can't wait to load up suitcases with stuff and bring it back to Egypt.
A few (20%) said they would miss their language.  I love learning new languages.  In my life, I've tried to learn German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Welsh, Hindi, Malayam, Urdu, Arabic, Latin and of course Pig Latin and Ubbi Dubbi. I'm not saying I can really speak all of them all but I've dabbled and really enjoyed the challenge.  Having said that, there have been times I could have screamed in frustration at not being understood.  Most of those times were when the hearer was so sure I was impossible to be understood before I even spoke.  That is irritating to the max.  Yet, the successes are so wonderful.  I'm at the point now where Egyptians congratulate me on my Arabic.  Alhumdulillah. 
Only one person bravely clicked that they would miss their sense of self.  Honestly, that is a great danger here.  Not as dangerous as crossing the street!  Yet, as previlant a pitfall.  Being here, where there is that group mentality, means that to stay true to yourself you are often rubbing against the grain.  It hurts to disagree and to be that one voice saying, "no".  So, being ready to be "wrong" is part of that bravery needed.  I didn't want to come here to become someone else's perfect wife or perfect employee.  I came here to be my imperfect me.  So far, it's working...but not without some battle scars.
I appreciate everyone who plays along with these polls.  I think it's a great way to communicate.  It's like I can take your pulse---and find out if you're still pumping along. 
Watch for more polls!  I'm thinking up one right now...

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