1. TyrannusRex

    TyrannusRex Active Member

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    Looking for Input from Muslims (namely Women)

    Discussion in 'Research' started by TyrannusRex, Apr 28, 2017.

    One of the main characters in a work of mine, Amira, is a Muslim woman, a college student in her early 20s; her family immigrated to America from Syria when she was about 8 years old, so she's been influenced by two distinct cultures growing up. Admittedly, I don't know a lot about Islam, or if/how different countries vary in how they see/practice things, but I have tried my best to research what Muslims would deem acceptable.
    This character, at first glance, follows the tenets of her religion: she dresses and behaves modestly, wears a headscarf (I've heard it called different things by different countries, so I'm going for something neutral), prays facing Mecca, follows dietary laws and observes Islamic holidays.
    But though she had a childhood overseas, her adolescence came about in America, and, like any teenager, she absorbed the popular culture and learned to express herself. As a young adult, she is still religious and feels deeply connected to her roots, but, as most everyone does growing up, she begins losing touch and/or questioning things.
    The main thing that concerns me, writing this character, is her views towards dating, love, and sex. I won't go into great detail here unless asked (try to keep it PG/PG-13), but I'm just curious as to what Muslims (women especially) would see as acceptable behavior from a young woman such as Amira, and ways she might reconcile her free spirit with her religious and cultural upbringing.
    (PS: I feel like I should write down her thoughts a little bit. She does wish to marry someday, and remain virginal until then, but she wants to date around, figure out what she likes in a partner, and perhaps, as she puts it, "have a little fun".) :bigwink:
     
  2. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    Your focus on a Syrian immigrant is a good start, because from what I've been able gather, there is a world of difference in the way Muslim women are treated in different cultures. It's at least as diverse as Christianity, which ranges from fundamentalist Mormons to eastern Unitarians, with God knows how many permutations of Baptist and Methodist floating about.

    I strongly suggest you pick up a book called The Trouble With Islam Today by Irshad Manji. Her experiences parallel you character's, especially the part about growing up with Islamic values in a western culture.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2017
    TyrannusRex and rktho like this.
  3. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    By fundamentalist Mormons do you mean members the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who have fundamentalist views or the Fundamentalist LDS Church that still practices polygamy? Or both, since you were referring to a spectrum of diverse religions, I suppose.
     
  4. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    You could google experiences of Syrian/Muslim teenagers in the USA. I'm sure you'll find a lot of stories. But there are differences between families and the way they practice Islam, are they sunni or shia, and so on. For example, pre-marital sex is a no-no kind of like it "should be" in Christianity, but people are individuals and they observe their religion differently, they pick and choose, or they may even identify as "Christian" or "Muslim", but have actually never received any religious education and don't even know something is forbidden. In fact, when I was growing up as an Orthodox, there was never any mention of pre-marital sex being a bad thing although my understanding is it's wrong because the Orthodox believe in the same God and he says it's wrong. I went to a religious youth camp when I was 15 and there was no talk about it, or if there was, I wasn't listening (which is possible... the only thing I really remember was my telling the priest I don't believe in God and will leave the church at 16 when I'm finally allowed to do it, which I did).

    ETA: I was reading a Q&A thread by a 20yo Sudanese immigrant, and she wrote that the reason she doesn't wear a headscarf is because she doesn't consider herself "a perfect Muslim woman". The way she was taught was that you start wearing it when you feel worthy, that you are able to pray when you're supposed to and can commit to your religion 100%. If she wore it now, she'd feel like a hypocrite (as she does things or is willing to do things that Islam forbids, like she dresses in skinny jeans, doesn't mind dating a non-Muslim or having premarital sex, fails to pray 5 times a day, etc.)
     
  5. TyrannusRex

    TyrannusRex Active Member

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    This actually makes some sense; it got me thinking about the character's story, which just kind of happens to play into this.
    Her family left their home country because they began to fear for themselves: they felt that the community was going to turn against them. While her father is fairly devoted to his religion, her mother is a bit less. I haven't decided for what reason exactly (perhaps she was a convert), but Amira's mother was an ardent supporter of women's rights and equality, so Amira had always gotten a little bit of both sides growing up. Her father is not a combative man, so if his wife really wanted to make a point, she made it. :rofl: Once they immigrated, they moved into the small town in which the story is set. With no mosque nearby, Amira's father was really the only one who reinforced her religious beliefs, while her mother's view(s) seemed to match the new culture around her.
    The way I see Amira is that she wants to have a life like any young American, but she also wants to make her father happy and be a good Muslim. The way I see it, she tries, but no one is perfect. (Like, I've often heard many Christians say that they try their best to keep the faith, but life makes it hard. The phrase "I've cussed on a Sunday" comes to mind. :rofl:)

    (Edit: After researching the abovementioned book, it does actually sound a lot like my character. Thanks!)
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2017

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