Saturday, 15 January 2011

Cultural Observances: from the inside of Omani daily life

I remember my Omani homegirl R saying, and I quote: "You'd love Omani culture less if you were actually Omani."

And classic KH: "Trade passports? You love my country, take it. I want out."

It has always GREATLY amused my Omani friends that I love things from Omani culture that they are slowly rejecting, such as regional dress, certain handicrafts, Omani history, Omani stories, ect... and I had always thought it was very foolish of friends like R & KH to reject their culture for my highly commercialized, melting pot one. Well, not mine familially (as I have a very colourful family who have never quite been amalgomated into their society), but mine nationally anyways, just to add for clarification.

But now, from within the culture, I begin to understand why R favours jeans over sirwaal, and rejects niqab [the face veil], and why KH is so disatisfied with his role in society and longs for the advantages of freedom depite having to do barely nothing to subsist in Omani culture.

From within the culture, that I still love, I know all the things of the culture, good and bad, that cannot be so easily rejected and set aside. KH & R cannot do anything other than what is the norm in their famillies. They wear Western clothes, eat Western food, don't know alot about Oman, and the good things about it, and I hate this.

But I begin to understand the act of rejection as a means to protest the things that they wish they were able to reject.

Dhofari girls that happen to write about rejecting the niqab (face veil) don't really reject the niqab as the Islamic message it represents. They represent their lack of choice with the niqab of the symbol of their ignorant or uneducated relatives. This confuses expats, causes controversy in the Muslim Ummah, but at least, now I get it.

KH wishes to abstain from the wasta system. He longs for an Islamic (not Omani) marriage.

R also longs for an Islamic marriage. She longs for the time when an Omani woman doing something not sinful and even good for herself even if it goes contrary to the norm in the family will not be considered a crime in the society worse than adultery and murder. R admits if she murdered someone, her family would probably forgive her and support her, but if she chose to marry someone of the wrong tribe name, she'd be out in the cold and called "siflah" an arabic swearword similiar to "b*&^" but meaning "one who has gone out". The same thing would happen to her is she supported another family member doing the same.

Now that I am within the bounds of Omani society, and fall subject to the laws and traditions of MOP's tribe (apparently, if I drive a Mustang, I'll be a "bad girl" lol :XD same goes for a sporty jeep or wearing a colourful headscarf in certain village places) I find my powers to reject things to be limited in some cases (not by MOP himself) so I fight for things that are NOT important.

I never really desired to wear open style abayas at all. Not really my fave style. But I found myself fighting for the right to wear them even though it was not important to me.

Or hearing an ignorant Omani saying "9/11 was the Jews, and I hate America" and only able to give "Palestine" as a reason for that when I ask them why.

Not aware, apparently, that the Turkish Caliphate allying itself with Hitler not being half the reason, or that the Cheks armed Israel in its early days, not the USA, ect, ect, ect.

Read Bernard's "The Crisis of Islam" to understand better. Decent book, though he misuses the term "Wahabi" quite extensively. He means "Saudi jurisprudence" not exactly "Wahabi". Anyways.

I have realized, that fighting for things that are not important to me is hypocritical. Just as hypocritical as my friends, who I had judged as foolish for rejecting the worthy things in their culture and societies, who do not rebell against the true causes of their discontent state in life.

So while I will continue to fight, embracing everything in Omani culture that is not unislamic, I will not fight just to prove I have fight in me. No success or change or even satisfaction can come from that, just exhaustion.

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