Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Moving to Oman as a Muslim Woman

When people think of moving to a Muslim country from the West, they think of maybe Saudi Arabia (if they're super new to Islam that is), or Kuwait (salary is good), or UAE these days. Some people think about scholarship, so maybe Jordan (for Arabic), or Turkey (for history). People tend to skip over Oman. I know I would have, if my family hadn't already been here before. It wasn't first on my list when I sought a halal job wearing hijab as a Muslim woman, looking to be safe while being able to do that. Like, live a normal life you know. Just...be a person, not a threat, not a walking dictionary on Islamic values, and history, and act at peacekeeping. Not be less intelligent, less part of society, somehow a person other people feel they have to "save" "liberate" or "lecture" or "take rights from to give rights to".

Going to another country, as a Muslim, means being less a part of society. Muslim countries aren't "Islamic" countries. They don't award passports based on "Muslim-ness" the way, like, Israel does, if you're Jewish. It's a big sacrifice to consider. Islam has many freedoms that are sometimes better protected in the U.K., in Canada, in America, in South Africa... for example. Safety might be less there, but hypocrisy is obvious. It doesn't use religion as an excuse, or as a blanket to cover any shameful flaws at the governmental level. Anyways...

My mother, kind of lied to me, to get me to spend a summer in Oman, the first time I came here. Like, London, was way more awesome to me, or Africa, because I needed to go there for something. Oman was... I actually thought I was going to Amman. Not Oman. I was like, "I'll come if you take me to see the Temple in Petra". My mother was like, "sure...."

So like, they took me to Nizwa instead. ....So not the same thing.

I ended up in Oman because UAE didn't work out, Saudi would probably turn me into a political rebel or extremist (or a suidicdal housewife) and it was just convenient.

...I have this theory, that the planes of the places we have been decide us. The colour of the dust of the earth, sticks to heart, making it thick. The richness of other places in this world decide us, the same as the desolation in the spanses of others, stretch us, make us see futher, make us harder.

I grew up in a soft place, with rich, black earth... The scent of trees, the bounds only of the sea around me. Richness makes me introverted, selfish maybe? But also free.

So even though my heart is in another land, all that I love in grey waves and mists, and in the scent of curcled ferns and cedar smoke, I left.

I still bear scars from that beautiful place, scars in the mind, of the freedom that was one day considered not mine anymore, though I still considered myself free. And while I could fight for freedom and against oppression, from within my little fraction of Islam, and from outside it, it didn't matter I wan't "free enough" because "I wan't what people wanted me to choose to be". I could choose, but my choice was the wrong one apparently. I didn't know freedom was defined by wrong choices. I thought it was defined by the availability of them, or the lack thereof? Silly me.

 I didn't lose my morals, or my mind, with a headscarf, or by praying five times a day. I don't know why people think that all people are alike, when in a group of three hundred, there's probably only two to three who are evil, and that's for all fractions and sects of mankind, not merely religions. Like highschool;).

So from my home country I have? what? Scars from words. Scars from the ignorance of people who do not travel, do not look beyond the beauty of their own little world and what builds it... I guess you could say...in the capitalism, with some socialism thrown in, not enough to be for all, but not a misery for all either.

And about Oman...

I don't know if you could build a perfect shariah system either. I basically doubt it. I argue with my husband over this. Perhaps that makes me a heretic?;). Good thing Oman is kind to its heretics, if they are only of a religious bent;p.

Oman is a country with shariah law in base and it should be fairer in a sense for Muslims with Muslims than a Western country, but a shariah system puts such faith in the people enforcing the laws, that they'll support them, and in the parties testifying to them, that it loses much of its credibility under a practical application.

I'd love to have a society that perfect, but come on? The laws are there, I believe, to give us something to aspire to in ourselves, and towards others, but uniformally, society reaching that level of awareness, knowledge, and "goodness" is something out of a sci-fi movie to me, in the theory of having a credible application not turn out into something like, ugh, scary, like Iran, Afghanistan, and KSA.

Love to see it, doubt it possible, however, for myself to master myself, let alone, society, within a country to do so, without a guiding Prophet or the hand of God/Allah directly upon them 24/7 with explainations.

Maybe that's just me? The Salafi/Wahabi heretic?;).

But Muslim country will never equal well read in history, law, and religion... that's just my experience.

So what touch has Oman had upon me? Canada is beauty, freedom, wealth, hate, ignorance, and scars.... So what is Oman?

Oman is madness at times. It is a country that doesn't make sense. The majority of the ethnic makeup of the country do not agree with its government's actions but they love their government anyways and generally support it. They are tribal. Feircely loyal (idiotically loyal) at times. Loyalty pulls my heartstrings. I don't give allegience to things or people or places easily but when I do it is forever. So I love this about Omanis--can't see Oman without this in them. ...Although I don't like loyalty from blindness or habit however. I think it should have a deeper purpose than that. I see that for some citizens, thankfully.

They are a kind people, but sometimes cruel, although generally not through the intention to be cruel or oppressive, out of fear, out of ignorance, or greed (the usual suspects). They are generous, but for a point or a purpose 80% of the time, not out of the freedom of pure generousity that I value more than the habit or "good manners" of generousity often engendered here. They are welcoming, not in law, but in character, and out of habit. Out of goodness would be more admirable but who cares I guess? Makes it easier to make local friends than in any of the other Gulf States.

Mostly what Oman imprints upon me is peace. These are not a people who like to fight, and if they do, they like to win without the most fuss, and without constant remebrance of the victory, as if... fighting itself, even for something considered the right thing, is not the bravest or the best way, but was perhaps the only way at the time. I am not like this naturally myself. I am the "I told you so" kind of person, who can never shut up in an argument without firing off the last retort, and if I threw the winning punch, I'll look you in the eye to remind you exactly where my last shot landed if you pick a fight with me. So naturally I admire this. I hope it rubs off on me, a little.  .

..I know this is the place where loyalty comes into conflict for Omanis... tribal fights happen. Families infight. If this peace aspect were stronger, who knows what Oman could become? For example:

...There is no fear among the religious sects here. No laws dividing us or outlawing us from the other's knowledge. Sunni, Shia, Ibadhi, I can enter any Masjid, read any book, be friends with anyone, and no one teaches us to hate eachother. If we debate eachother, it is for knowledge, to assure ourselves our knowledge is still the strongest, or to learn the weaknesses in our histories and hadiths and scholarship. It is not to look down one another or put down another, but rather to teach or to share. To lift eachother other up. Beyond history, upon closer inspection, our differences our major in one inspection, from one perspective, but from the perspective of all three, small. We barely imprint upon one another. ...Except to realize fear of one another does not control us here.

I know in Canada (I'm Sunni) a lot of Sunnis were always afraid, that Shia think it is okay to kill us, and want to take over leading us, and Shia think that everyone wants to kill them... and in Oman that just does not exist. It's like, they all got past it. They still think the other side is wrong etc.. but we aren't overcome or forced to accept any one side's opinions. Or to talk about them, or to fight for no reason, stupidly, over what we'll never agree on.

That to me is how Islam came to me. I wasn't beat over the head with it by some one, or anything. I didn't even see it properly exampled by a living breathing person. That wasn't required for the "peace" of it to be imparted. It was instilled in me already, I just, like, remembered it from somwhere, it was already there. The peace of truth, the peace of right, the peace of all the others things that compse those two larger things... Compassion, bravery, kindness, forgiveness, humility, equality... all that.

Oman's a lot like that to me. I can tell you about it.

...Warn you its not a Muslim country despite having some Muslims.

...That no Islamic countries truly exist except for those we carry within the landscape of our own souls.

(If you are thinking to fight for or run to or find or build anything worth defending or sustaining on the planes of this earth, through "hijrah" or "jihad", build that place first, fight your own self, to build that first.)

We must build within ourselves, not over and around others. 

...Oman was a safe enough place, for me to rest my wounds, and be a normal girl, while realizing that I could indeed begin to work on a blue print for such a metaphorical "land" on my soul's landscape.

Maybe I could say a million other things  about Oman (I am a wordy person who talks far too much to ever be intelligent just to warn you----I don't listen nearly enough), but none but the above sentance could describe it better. Oman is this for me.

...And yeah, the planes of the places of this the earth that I have been decide me, but I only found here what I already carried with me, and had eyes to see or the will to seek out. That goes for any place. Maybe I only had bad experiences in Canada because I had the courage to seek out the bad people? Or I wanted to know the truth about how much my own soul could handle? I don't know. But I'm here now, and I'm safe, and relatively happy, and moving on, spiritually, so I guess that's all that matters in the end. {Ends post}

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