1. Hero-Jean629
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    Hero-Jean629 Member

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    Questions about Islam/Muslim culture in America?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Hero-Jean629, Sep 21, 2011.

    Now I'm writing about one character that is Muslim but lives in America. How would things change from living in a place like Iraq where a majority of people practice the same things you do to America where everyone is different?
    Another question is would my character be able to immigrate from Iraq in 1982 to America? I've done so much research but nothing really tells me about Iraq's view about those leaving the country for America though I do know that Saddam Hussein's cousin was president during that time and he was said to have been a stern but kind president. I know my character would have to wait a while before being granted permission into the States and would have to pass a citizenship test.

    I just want to write this perfectly without offending anyone...though the plot line just might offend a lot more people than my character.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no citizenship test is needed simply to enter the country...

    answers to your questions will depend on info you haven't provided:

    how old was he when he immigrated?
    did he come with his parents, or on his own?
    was he coming to enter a college/university, or to get a job?
    did he have a sponsor and/or a job waiting for him?
    did he have any special skills?
    did he speak any english?
    did he have any friends or family members living in the us?
    were his parents political?... if so, on what side?...
    is the character deeply religious?
     
  3. Hero-Jean629
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    Hero-Jean629 Member

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    Well that's the thing...he comes over at the age of 28 on a student visa where he decides to stay in America despite the wishes of his parents. Before he made his trip to America, he had gotten a pen-pal in America and so that became his sponsor and his future lover.
    He speaks English with a bit of a rough accent but it's not too bad to the point where you can't understand him. Currently, in the year 2011 he is a History professor in a college because he was so fascinated by History, not only Iraq's or America's but the world's history. Another reason why he stays-I'm still debating this-is because he comes to realize that he is gay. Now I don't want people to be offended and try to track me down for what I done to this character so I'm trying to get him as right as possible. While he's not radically religious, he is religious to the point where he prays five times a day (in between his classes) and then every Friday goes to the mosque he belongs to and stays for the hour sermon and prayer.
    Now I don't know exactly what kind of job he'd have before coming to America but it most likely would be working with his father and grandfather, maybe working in a family store. I'd like to think that while his parents somewhat liked Americans, they thought that Americans were too nosy and that Iraq was fine how it was. I'd think that my character would feel perpetual guilty over missing the funeral of his father but sends money to his family whenever he can.

    Anything else you can think of? Right now he's in his mid-fifties, is a charming and eccentric but yet amusing professor with a kind and understanding heart. I feel like he would have a cigar in his mouth a good percentage of the time but since he's nearly always in class, he almost never lights it up but instead chews on it. His flaw would being guilty over things he could not control like not being able to return for his father's funeral or being gay, he would sometimes brew in a pot of his own self-pity only for someone to drag him out of it. He would sometimes add a few words or sentences from his own language (I'm still trying to think what else he could speak besides Arabic) or any other language (let's say French, shall we?) into a sentence when he speaks just because he thinks it keeps people on their toes.
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    ...he comes over at the age of 28 on a student visa where he decides to stay in America despite the wishes of his parents. Before he made his trip to America, he had gotten a pen-pal in America...

    28 is old. Most men are married and supporting a family at that age. Of course, plenty just up and leave their wives and then see them only on occasional visits home. If he came as a student, he must have had reasonably rich and influential parents. It was/is impossibly expensive for normal students to study in the US. With only a student visa, he can't work. Maybe he came as a language student, though. How did he find his pen-pal in the days before the internet? (not saying it's impossible, but it's unusual). You can't imagine how closed some countries were to foreign contact in the 1970s and 80s. Iraq had very much closer links with Britain and Turkey (as it has done throughout the last 100 yrs) than with the USA.

    ...While he's not radically religious, he is religious to the point where he prays five times a day (in between his classes) and then every Friday goes to the mosque he belongs to and stays for the hour sermon and prayer...

    That's too religious. Rich kids of his type usually aren't all that concerned with religion (generalising, but still...). But he would never eat pork etc.

    ...I don't know exactly what kind of job he'd have before coming to America but it most likely would be working with his father and grandfather, maybe working in a family store.

    See what I said about the money needed. It's more likely his father had some kind of official post. Or it could have been a big construction company maybe, or a landowner. A storekeeper would only earn enough (and have the clout to get a US visa) if he maybe had a government contract or something.

    I'd like to think that while his parents somewhat liked Americans...

    At that time in particular, many Iraquis liked Americans--the USA was supporting the Saddam regime and helping Iraq beat hell out of the Iranians.

    I can't imagine an Iraqui openly admitting he's gay (again generalising, I know. But it was totally not done to come out until very recently and even now unusual unless he's an entertainer). Middle Easterners normally want to be a father, even if they are secretly gay. The whole society focuses on the family.
     
  5. Hero-Jean629
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    Hero-Jean629 Member

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    After researching more, I kind of figured that I had almost set my character up for immediate destruction have I set him off in my world just yet.

    Perhaps he did not need to come from Iraq? Surely there are plenty of people in the U.S. who have conformed to Islam whom were not born in Iraq. Slim down the number of times he prays to the hour prayer and sermon on Fridays at a local mosque. Either he can be of the following with his sexual orientation:
    *Gay but does not act out on sexual urges
    *Gay but sacrifices his happiness to protect and secure his family (of which he has a bride of 35 and one or two children)
    *Not gay at all save it for another character

    I'm thinking that choice number tres is most likely going to be the winner. Though I'm just so frustrated by now. I truly did want to write a different kind of character but he is becoming too complicated. While a majority of these things will most likely not be addressed in the book, I have at least one more question.

    Is suicide a major sin? If so, are there any exceptions?

    Like Catholicism and Christianity, suicide is a extreme sin but what are a Muslim's views on it?

    I know that they cannot smoke so interestingly enough I made his character chew on cigars instead of smoking them. Is that still alright or is it a little much?
     
  6. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Suicide is a major sin in Islam, just like Christianity, although suicides are still allowed to be buried in a proper grave with full religious ceremony.
    BTW, cigarettes were invented by the Turks! The British soldiers copied them and brought the habit back to England after the Crimean War (1853). Also, the hookah or hubble-bubble type of pipe is still used everywhere in the Middle East. So in fact, many Muslims often smoke like chimneys. Including the women. The only thing they don't smoke is cigars. The type of tobacco grown in these regions doesn't suit cigars, and I've not really seen men smoke them. They certainly don't use any kind of chewing tobacco.
     
  7. MarmaladeQueen
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    MarmaladeQueen Senior Member

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    "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" is well worth a read. It deals with some of the dilemmas of a Pakistani-born US-educated muslim man who gives up a lucrative career as a management consultant in Manhattan to return to his native land. It's obviously not the same story that you're writing, but it's well worth reading in its own right and may help you develop your perspective. The author, Mohsin Hamid, is of Pakistani origin and spent part of his childhood in the US, part in Pakistan, before returning to the US for university.
     

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