Tuesday 6 February 2018

Dear Community,

I’m sorry to say this, but we have a huge problem. Well not just here–everywhere in our culture. I know the world seems a bit upside-down right now as we focus on Trump and the status of Muslims, civil rights, and so much more that is important to our lives, but can we discuss something that I find really important for a minute?

I’ve been looking for a roommate since moving to Chicago a couple of weeks ago. Many of the women responding to my roommate requests are Arab like me. Each and every single one I have talked to has a story–a sad one. Here is a real example of the majority of stories I have heard:
The husband left them or threw them out with nothing. They have nothing but their children with them. Now they are to fend for themselves.
Now tell me something. We teach women to stay at home to cook and clean. We tell them that some man is supposed to come give them this $59,000 wedding and take care of them all of their lives. But we don’t tell them what happens next.
Listen, I’m included in this, too. We live in this dream that we won’t have to work and we can shop all day. Here’s the catch. Your husband has now given you three or more children and now he’s done with you.

Oh, but wait! You’ve never had to work before. Now you have to go make minimum wage working 40 plus hours a week, find a home, and raise your children–ALONE!
I have met with several of these girls. It’s heartbreaking to watch them cry. The only thing I can do is comfort them and tell them inshallah khair and that I’ll try my best to help them find jobs or homes. Meanwhile, I’m looking for jobs and a home for myself.
This is old news, people. We need to teach our children to be independent, to be strong and not weak. We need to tell our girls to go to school finish their education. We need to help them learn to save money in case of emergencies. Stop feeding your daughters fairytales. Stop allowing them to marry so young to the first guy that comes and asks for their hand. We are throwing out daughters out to these men just to have them come back to us 10 years later with five kids and no job or source of income.

Men, please… for the love of God, treat a woman with the highest respect. Just because you want a divorce doesn’t mean you don’t still have a responsibility. How can some of you just throw your kids away like that? Although I don’t know the actual number, it appears to me that the divorce rate in our culture is increasing lately. Why? Is it a matter of respect? Men, find patience–bite your tongue. We will respect you as you respect us. We will follow your lead if you follow ours. We will stand beside you if you stand beside us. Do you get it? We are equal. Be our partner, not our enemy.
Before anyone starts getting defensive and saying it’s not all Arab…yes I know, but it’s a problem in our community that needs immediate attention. We should be proud of who we are and stand together and help our people. We have way too many battered women who need people to step up for them.
Also ladies, our men work hard–very hard. You have no idea what most of them go through to throw you these lavash weddings. Keep these things in mind. Most of them get credit for these weddings which start your marriage off wrong. Have a heart…our parents need to stop asking for so much in the beginning. We have lost the true meaning of marriage, our religion, and many other things. What happened to marrying for love?

To my beautiful ladies, whatever culture you hail from…be strong, work hard, study, finish school!
I also want to make it very very clear…just because a woman has been divorced once or twice, or even more times than that, it does not mean we aren’t good enough or it was our fault. I was once wanting to get engaged a man and his sister called me and said, “Well, I don’t know why my brother would want to marry a woman who has been divorced twice and isn’t a virgin.” Listen, I am worthy of a man, a good marriage, and a chance at life with a partner. I’m not trash.
The sad part is that this came from another woman. We are suppose to help each other not push each other away. Ideally, this lady would have told me, “Insha’allah, you and my brother are the right ones for each other and he makes you the happiest woman alive.”
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s try and work on ourselves and the betterment of the women in our community.

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