Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Meat Market

No, I'm not talking about the halal meat market... but rather the experience of many new reverts to Islam upon entering a community as a single (read, eligible) Muslim woman. That is, she begins to feel like a piece of meat being appraised by well-meaning "aunties" for their sons and nephews and so forth, who may or may not actually be living in this country.

It's not an experience I've had much to do with (I have a guess on why that I'll keep to myself for now.) But while I was at the mall last week for "sister's night out," I did have a blog-worthy conversation. This is a monthly gathering of sisters, many of whom are converts who work full-time, to get together, chit chat about goings on and enjoy some time with only girls without any of us having to play hostess. Typically gatherings are at "food courts" where there is a large seating arrangement (seat yourself, pulling tables together if you like) and a variety of choices of restaurants. So this week we were at a shopping mall--it was raining so outdoor seating was not a favorable option anyway.

I tend to arrive earlier than other sisters... I get off work at 5:30 and the meeting time is 6:30, so I usually get there around 6 or so (even after hanging around the office late) and listen to a CD or something in my car (a lecture about Imam As-Shafi'ee was in that evening.) Then I go in about.. 6:30. "On time." To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is to be... left. But not in the Muslim world, oh no, to be on time is to be early, and to be late is to be on time. To be early is to be confused--where is everyone?

So I stroll in, not sure who will be showing up this week (several sisters had canceled) and walk over towards some hijabis assuming (bad idea) that they would be some of the sisters from our group. Oh no! Did not recognize them, so I offered salaams and received them in return but was invited over, and not seeing anyone else in the proximity (my group) I sat with them and talked a while--them being two very sweet Jordanian sisters and yep, you bet, one of them is trying to find a bride for her sons.

How shall we describe the awkwardness of being appraised for marriage to one particular person whom I've never met. "Oh you go to NCSU? He graduated computer science there!" Let me get your phone number and here is his picture isn't he handsome mashallah... and they grab your arm and refuse to let you leave until you've offered up the digits. Ah! My friends arrive, much to my relief, though they fall into the same trap--oh, hijabis, let's go that way!! Wasn't too bad, one sister who has a daughter my age was mistaken for being a college student as well. So after a very brief chat with the 5 of us, I did finally escape...

...but my phone number didn't.

Nonetheless, alhamdulillah that was several days ago and no rings yet. Perhaps she forgot me. (A girl can hope?)


Anonymous said...

"they grab your arm and refuse to let you leave until you've offered up the digits", that's a clever way to say "I am good looking", if they didn't let you go then you must be good looking ... good hint. On this marriage thing, this "meat market" seem a backward arrangement for marriage. Why can't a muslim man or woman pick their own partner at their own prerogative (I am a muslim man about to face a similar experience), what do you think?

Amy said...

LOL, too funny. No I wasn't trying to say I was good-looking but perhaps I should wear a sign informing any and all that I am not looking for suitors right now, especially from my blog (trust me on that one, it's trouble!) I currently have my hands full in that department.

If I had any kind of courage I would have told the woman that in the first place. I'm a firm believer that Muslim men and women can pick their own partners, but I think some dear and darling mothers begin to pity their sons as they approach their third decade in bachelorhood and begin to think that any humanoid of the female variety with the ever-essential headscarf is good enough.

And my scarves are good-looking, for sure, but that's about it.

Anonymous said...

Hey, do let yourself down. Beauty is within, and not without. In regard to my comments above, I have no interest in marriage, I just hoped people would get of my back on the subject and leave me alone.

Anonymous said...

I meant "DO NOT let yourself down"