Sunday, January 24, 2010
**this is a photo of a delicious (Mashallah)meal my dear best friend Texan in UAE made for her guests (including me) at a sisters get together she had at her home a couple of years ago.
as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I have been living in Dubai, UAE since September of 2005 Mashallah. Just a little over 4 years-- Subhanallah how time goes fast!! Its been a whirlwind of adventures learning this new culture so different from my own.
I live with my in-laws and so through their friends and other family coming over (especially to visit my mother-in-law), I have gotten the chance to meet many Emiratis Mashallah.
Not that Americans can't be good hosts, but the Emiratis are on a whole other level. Socializing is a huge important part of their culture. There are days this clashes with me and what I am doing every now and then.
I am so not the type of person who can go to a social event and strike up conversations with people I don't know. I get way too nervous when I am meeting someone I do not know... like for instance if I am going to a friend's home and they have guests over who I have never met. My nerves usual calm after I have met them, but there are times when I am left alone with the person/s and then I have no idea what to say and have to force myself to say something. It is a lot easier if the host is right there and gets everyone going first.
So then what happens when it is a bunch of people who are speaking Arabic most of the time? Well, that is my own fault as they try to speak with me but I can only have a small conversation with them if they don't speak English very well. Anyhow, this culture of theirs has existed since the olden days... perhaps it is a custom from the beginnings of Islam when Prophet Muhammad (salallahu aleyhi wa salaam) instructed the Muslims about treating guests:
Narrated Al-Miqdam AbuKarimah: The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: If any Muslim is a guest of people and is given nothing, it is the duty of every Muslim to help him to the extent of taking for him from their crop and property for the entertainment of one night.
Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 27 #3742
Guests are to be entertained even if they come unannounced. Afterall, back in the days of the bedouins there were no phones, no hotels etc... and a traveller would go to a person's home asking for food and shelter.
So over the years this has become completely normal for them to have guests come unannounced and it happens to this day. Sometimes I think, wow, Mashallah that you can just go over to someone's home without telling them... but another part of me is... shouldn't they call ahead of time to make sure the host will be free?
It has happened more than a few times that someone would come over just as my husband and I were getting ready to leave. If it is women coming over and my MIL is home, they can sit with my MIL and we can leave, but if men come over, my husband has to entertain them.
And I don't even know how many times I was cooking and guests would come--right at dinner time--but not come for dinner. They would say they have dinner waiting for them at home, so there goes all my cooking efforts. You see, a lot of my cooking is American, Japanese, Asian, Mexican etc... and not Arabic food. Most dishes I cook are best to eat as soon as it is finished. A lot of Arabic food can sit in hot pots for some time just fine. I cook so that we can eat by a certain time. It really sucks to have to cover it with foil and eat it later...sometimes having to re-heat it in the microwave all because someone came over without letting us know. These times especially it would have been so nice to know so I adjust my cooking times.
Of course, these people aren't "travelers" passing through the city, they are fmaily, or friends of the family.
But Mashallah it is amazing to think that the locals don't even blink an eye in annoyance at unannounced guests. I am definitely more used to it than I was when I was first here, but I still get annoyed sometimes.
Inshallah it will become like 2nd nature to me like it is to them someday.... we will see.
Posted by Twizzle at 9:49 PM