Posts tagged Islam
next time someone tells you Muslim countries oppress women, let them know Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, and Senegal have all had female Presidents or Prime Ministers and 1/3rd of Egypt’s parliament is female but the US has yet to even have a female vice president and can’t say “vagina” when discussing female reproductive rights
My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears by Mohja Kahf
My grandmother puts her feet in the sinkof the bathroom at Searsto wash them in the ritual washing for prayer,wudu,because she has to pray in the store or missthe mandatory prayer time for MuslimsShe does it with great poise, balancingherself with one plump matronly armagainst the automated hot-air hand dryer,after having removed her support knee-highsand laid them aside, folded in thirds,and given me her purse and her packages to holdso she can accomplish this august ritualand get back to the ritual of shopping for housewaresRespectable Sears matrons shake their heads and frownas they notice what my grandmother is doing,an affront to American porcelain,a contamination of American Standardsby something foreign and unhygienicrequiring civic action and possible use of disinfectant sprayThey fluster about and flutter their hands and I can seea clash of civilizations brewing in the Sears bathroomMy grandmother, though she speaks no English,catches their meaning and her look in the mirror says,I have washed my feet over Iznik tile in Istanbulwith water from the world’s ancient irrigation systemsI have washed my feet in the bathhouses of Damascusover painted bowls imported from Chinaamong the best families of AleppoAnd if you Americans knew anythingabout civilization and cleanliness,you’d make wider washbins, anywayMy grandmother knows one culture—the right one,as do these matrons of the Middle West. For them,my grandmother might as well have been squattingin the mud over a rusty tin in vaguely tropical squalor,Mexican or Middle Eastern, it doesn’t matter which,when she lifts her well-groomed foot and puts it over the edge.“You can’t do that,” one of the women protests,turning to me, “Tell her she can’t do that.”“We wash our feet five times a day,”my grandmother declares hotly in Arabic.“My feet are cleaner than their sink.Worried about their sink, are they? Ishould worry about my feet!”My grandmother nudges me, “Go on, tell them.”Standing between the door and the mirror, I can seeat multiple angles, my grandmother and the other shoppers,all of them decent and goodhearted women, diligentin cleanliness, grooming, and decorumEven now my grandmother, not to be rushed,is delicately drying her pumps with tissues from her purseFor my grandmother always wears well-turned pumpsthat match her purse, I think in case someonefrom one of the best families of Alepposhould run into her—here, in front of the Kenmore displayI smile at the midwestern womenas if my grandmother has just said something lovely about themand shrug at my grandmother as if theyhad just apologized through meNo one is fooled, but Ihold the door open for everyoneand we all emerge on the sales floorand lose ourselves in the great common groundof housewares on markdown.
An excerpt from Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, and Belonging, edited by Rabab Abdulhadi, Evelyn Alsultany, and Nadine Naber. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2011.
Click here for an interview with the editors.
Heart goes out to the dead, injured, and others in Boston
but also my heart goes out to all the Muslims in the area who will wrongly be rounded up and detained tonight and to their families, and to the ones who will have to face mob violence and a spike of hatred that this…