Yesterday I worked most of the morning on creating a necklace charm that was a special order for the Eid.
Last night, we attended an Iftar given by a lady who has been a mentor to me for many years now, and her husband, who has known Khaled for even longer.
When we walked in, the girls and I took our dessert platter back to the ‘sweets table’ and found the hostess. We were hugged, smooched and welcomed. (Secret Handshake – Style) Once we were suitably greeted, our hostess went back to her preparations but we found other ladies we knew right away. Again, more Salaams and greetings! Smiles all around.
We met a new lady and her two young ladies. My daughters were immediately swept off by their friends. Next came in a family that we have known since my son was just 3 years old. Their daughter is the same age as our son and they were often in the same classes for many years. Now she attends a different school, but we see them often at the Masjid and we always take time to say hello and sometimes chat. Then the mother of another one of my daughter’s classmates arrived and there were more hugs and smiles and greetings.
Did I mention yet that these women are all Muslim, Hijabi and wearing Abaya?
I point this out because I wanted to make sure that you understood that these women were no less religious, none of them were originally from the U.S., and all of them spoke in heavily accented English to me and in Arabic to each other. This Iftar, this festive party like atmosphere was sooo welcoming!
We all ate in the same room, we took food from the same buffet, and the men and women spoke to each other. No, we did not sit intermingled at the same tables, but it wasn’t so divisive. Back when I was new to the community and didn’t know that many people, I would have still felt a little uncomfortable even though I was in the same room as Khaled, but sitting separate.Last night, if I hadn’t known as many of the women as I did, I might have felt uncomfortable during the meal, because my table mates all spoke Arabic to each other and didn’t make any attempts to include me in their conversations. (Still rude IMO) But because I have been around these ladies before (some for many years, others just sporadically) I started conversations with them. I asked them about their children. I talked recipes with them. I have found that there are two things you can always talk about with another women; food and children. If those are dead ends (because they are single, or not interested,) I usually ask them about their clothes or shoes.
Speaking of clothes, I was wearing a sleeveless, ankle length dress with a long sleeve top underneath and a pair of sandals. I wore my 5 pillars necklace. No one batted an eye. I was dressed appropriately, end of story.
When we are invited out somewhere in the community, I go with the assumption that all of the events will be as welcoming as this one. I make this assumption, because when you gather together for any common reason, there should be that underlying belief that everyone who is there, belongs there. If someone has found themselves in the wrong place, or not where they meant to be, they will either remove themselves, or ask for help.
You can’t just stumble into an Iftar dinner, unaware of what is going on. If you weren’t invited somehow, you would never know it was going on. So, if you are in attendance, you meant to be there. If you meant to be there then you should be, as in this case, most welcome.