a Brief Summary of Arab American & Muslim Culture

Tag: Engagements

No one can survive Bombs and Tunas alone… My Journey to Libya in 2012

I’ve been to the Arab Country situated in North Africa 3 times now & this time , it was different. 1st of all , it was 1 year after the infamous ‘ Arab Spring’ that happened on Feb 17th where they overthrew the tyrannical leader known as Moammar Ghaddafi. My Father decided that winter was too bad for me to stay in America and also some personal issues I won’t be discussing on this page. It was great for a few weeks until wars started happening and things began to take a turn for the worse. I went to a lot of Weddings and Engagement visits. Like I said , Libyans are more conservative they don’t have Engagement parties like other more open Arab countries do they just write the  contract and set a wedding date.  All I could eat for Lunch/Dinner was chicken , eggs and tuna sandwiches because the economy was so bad after the Arab Spring that we couldn’t afford a lot of food. I only went to the supermarket one time thanks to my cousin’s awesome husband and got all I needed. Women generally in the South of Libya such as Sebha/Al Gourda where my Father’s from , typically don’t go out of the house.  In places like Tripoli , Misrata or Benghazi ( Before Turmoil in 2 of the Cities) more women there go out and have cars to drive more than people in the South. Now  the south typically are very traditional minded it when it comes to culture and Islam. It even goes overboard with the Wedding traditions. Usually the Bride has her Hennah and Wedding at her House , but my 2nd Cousin whom I still kinda keep in touch with today , had her Wedding at a hall which was awesome. It just depends on the family and how traditional they want it to be. We had to reschedule the wedding so many times because of the Tribal infighting in town. I can tell you I was pretty scared of the bombs going off  . My Uncle’s Brother In Law describes it like a action movie he’s just seen on TV. 

There’s also some Socio/Political problems still in the country . Many People have sided with the Rebels ( Thowar as they’re called) the one’s who overthrew the Gaddafi leader and some are Tahalab ( Pro Ghadaffi People). Unfortunately, it can tear a lot of friendships and close familial relationships apart I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes.  Women in the north have a little bit more freedom than the women in the south, Women in the north do go to school , drive and even have a semi free social life . Whereas the south , a man has to take you wherever you need to go , he also gets stuff you need or ask one of the kids to go get stuff for you especially the really embarrassing stuff.  Weddings and Lunches like I said are a special occasion . The food is big and people like to drink a lot of tea & getting into the latest gossip which we know Islamically is  not the wisest thing to do. The Social life in Libya is pretty basic your family is all you need , your friends can be part of your family and many more.  When girls reach puberty they have to wear the Hijab which is customary , but the hardest part is once they’re in the late teens to late 20’s- early 30’s Libyan women are always talking about Marriage. The generations collide on this one  since now more people are willing to go to University & establish a career than starting a relationship or family. Once she does graduate , then the pressure is on and if she’s not married by 30 somethings wrong with her. When I was asked these personal questions it made me feel awkward , but as an American person I stood my ground and told them that I don’t need a man in my life and marriage is not a guarantee for me only Allah knows what’s written for me. They pity the girl if she’s Divorced like it’s a disease some couple’s are not meant to stay together for whatever reason just move on. Especially if that happens the two families have awkwardness between them and their relationships are severed. I was being called Amerekeeya because I loved freedom and independence they weren’t used to that.  The society should appreciate women who wanna live their lives as is and not pressure to conform them into a marital institution or a career that would guarantee status. I’d have to say I liked Tripoli better than my Father’s hometown it was pretty opened and things were so much fun back then. Would I wanna go back? probably not , I am happy in a country I was born and raised in. My Grandmother , who was born in a village 1hr away from where my father grew up certainly agrees with me. I’ve visited there  it’s like a  desert a bunch of houses , one store and one school. I would like to go to other Arab countries InshAllah when things get safer and better for travel until then, I’m gonna stay put in USA and focus on my life here.

Part 2: The Engagement

Now you’re all Wondering why I am posting this. I am giving u a glimpse of what Traditional Parties are like this time of the Year. Engagement Parties are a BIG To Do  especially You American Women whom have Arab Daughters getting Engaged , this one’s for u.

Engagement Process:

Arab Christians do not Typically Date per sey , but when they do it’s kind of a respectable thing to ask the Father for Permission to Date the Daughter.

Arab Muslims: If a Guy is Interested in the Girl, he has to call the Father for Permission to talk on the Telephone this lasts probably 6 Months . People consider Talking to be Dating , but it’s really a Formal get to know u kind of a thing.

When it’s made official , they ask the Father & then have a Khotbah which is typically the writing of the Katib Kitab in Islamic Law it means they’re Officially Engaged , but in reality in the eyes of God they’re Married.

In Places like Palestine , Syria , Egypt , Lebanon , Jordan , Egypt & Iraq they have an Engagement Party. In Libya , it’s not very Islamic to have an Engagement Party but they just do an 3akid to confirm the Engagement. In the Gulf Area it’s called a Melcha which is the same as a Khotbah. It’s just basically letting Family & Friends know that the Two Couples are planning to get Married.

If for some Reason things don’t work out , They’re automatically Divorced or Broken up.  The 2 Couples choose a color to Wear for Their Parties Girls wear formal gowns and the Guys will get a shirt to match the color of the Bride to Be’s Dress. I hope this is helpful to u til next time BYE!

It’s Spring! and Love is in the Air. All about Engagments & Marriage.

So in at least a Year and just a Few Short Months of 2013 , Half of My Friends are all Recently Engaged/Married & It’s about time to crank up the party! whatever Arab Muslim Country u are from. See I’m gonna tell u about the whole Process of how we do our Relationships even tho it’s universal that ALL Relationships are complicated. Muslims are not allowed to Date it’s Haraam ( Forbidden) so we wait to get Engaged & then get Married whenever the time is Right it’s one of the things that Allah/God has prescribe for us. A guy sees a Girl and goes to the Father & asks for her Hand in Marriage if she agrees then they do the Fathia , but most of the Arab Countries in the Middle East to a Khutbah or writing of the Islamic Contract , in Libya they don’t because it’s forbidden. Guys & Girls don’t typically get to know each other until after they’ve been married hince the ol saying ” Love Comes After Marriage” . To me it sounds pretty pathetic ( I hope God Forgives me for saying that) , but that’s just how I feel. It limits from Single Girls like me the Opportunity to be with some great guys even tho everything’s ” Naseeb” destined. Everytime I go home ( Overseas) they always ask why am I not Married. Culturally , over 25 is expired & Cut off they tend to believe that a Man makes ur Worth or brings u Freedom which I don’t think so . InshA’Allah ( GodWilling) I hope in the near future I end up finding someone as awesome as I am & Typical Americans ask me ” What if I end up alone?”  it’s god’s will and I have No control over that matter. I know u think Islam is a Backwards  Religion , but it keeps us from doing the wrong type of things.  A Man & a Woman should not be alone if they’re not married to each other the devil is the 3rd party. Another thing is culturally the boys & girls cannot be Friends cuz likely they’ll be afraid that if one has feelings for the other than It causes tension and awkwardness esp if the Families are Friends & they think u actually would sleep with a person ( Wrong Again). Anyways , Islamically u do the Fatha between the couple & Wait untill the Wedding , but in other countries like Palestine , Lebanon, Egypt , Syria and Iraq. In My Fathers country of Libya , they do the Fatha  even tho they write the Kitab cuturally or Relgiously it’s not permissable to be alone if ur actually Married. So anyways , the Engagment Parties are all fun the Bride to be Wears a Pretty Formal Dress & we all Dance & do The Dabke . The Groom Comes in & the Rings are Exchanged . The Wedding is even better , but the night before the Wedding we have a Hennah where sometimes we dress in our Traditional Outfits which we Call 3araby weather it’s a Libyan Get up or a Palestinan Thobe. The Wedding is Off the Hook with the Zaffe ( Processions) where the Bride & Groom walk in or if ur a Traditionalist the Libyans  the Bride walks in by herself. And then there’s the outro Zaffe as well. U might be thinking this is a Crazy post , but wanted to share happiness with everyone. I’ll be Partying up for everyone else even if I am a 30 something person living the good life. Till then! Dabke & Party on!