February 16, 2005

Getting the primary source:
Interview with an Iraqi

Head coverings was the trend. Arabesque calligraphy decorated the entry. I took my shoes off when I entered. This evening I visited the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.

I am taking a class on Islamic culture this semester with an Egyptian professor, Abdul Marjoud Dardery. He is visiting for about ten weeks, and my class is shortened to accomodate his stay. However, I should say lengthened because of the 4.5 hours I spend on Wednesday nights.

Four and a half hours? Boring right? Nope. Though I sometimes have issues with body parts falling to sleep, I am enamored by what I am learning, and becoming more aware of the misconceptions in our own culture about Muslims and the faith tradition of Islam.

When we arrived, I was expected to take off my shoes, and it was a great experience. I mean, everyone had something in common: we had clean socks. :-)

After introductions and the evening prayer, which was called in the traditional manner by a Seton Hill student, the students in my class, and the Faith, Religion and Society course (which I took last year) were introduced to the people of various countries represented at the center.

Saudi Arabia. Egypt. Yemen. Turkey. And Iraq...

I chose Iraq as my country to research. After all, I am a journalism major, I should know something about the country that is on the news every day.

Hearing about the country straight from an Iraqi was indeed enlightening. His views on the American habitation of Iraq were perhaps the most surprising. He wanted America there for a time to establish order and borders, but then eventually move on. I thought that he would want the Americans out.

I perceive this constant friction between "us" and "them", but the more I learn, I find that the conflict is in certain specific groups, rather than the majority of the country that voted in the first election.

He would not directly answer my questions concerning the influence of the west on the east, such as the decline of polygamy, but he did point me in the right direction for my research.

The influence of the west! Exactly. We are there, why not?

One especially funny thing we talked about was marriage and the contract that it is to Muslims. As a contract, a male and female may outline what they would like in their marriage. He did not intimate the conditions of his own marriage, but he did say how expensive the gold was that he purchased for his wife, which she requested. Amazing! 24-carat. He said he had to buy it in Turkey because the U.S. does not have it of that quality.

I have his e-mail, so I think we will keep in contact. He said I could perhaps stay with his family sometime to see what life would be like as a Muslim for a day. Sounds interesting. This religious studies minor keeps getting better and better.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at February 16, 2005 11:21 PM | TrackBack

Sounds like it was a lot of fun. What was the inside of the building like?

Posted by: ChrisU at February 17, 2005 12:16 AM

I'm really glad you had a good interview. That man seemed to really have a lot of information when he just gave a little spiel at the beginning--I can't imagine an interview!

I'm so glad that you're enjoying your class--I'm not surprised you're liking the religious studies minor, honestly :-)

Way to be, Bloginator ;-) Got it blogged the same day thanks to Saif's driving, huh? P.S. I had fun finally getting to talk with you for more than five minutes!

Posted by: Karissa at February 17, 2005 8:26 AM

I wish Dardery was staying for ten weeks Amanda, but I believe he is staying for six weeks, when in Professor Leap will be teaching the last two class periods.

Head coverings are a trend? That's dangerously obscuring a religious belief into pop culture; Typical of a reporter.

Decided to leave out Palestine in your country list? Considering Palestinian quarantine from their land has infinate more impact on relgious world Affairs than Iraq, I guess it was a good idea to leave it out. Of course so your interview doesn't appear to be second chain in the importance sphere.

Overall a misinformed report. I did not understand the point? Bomb Iraq you say? Let's do it!

Posted by: Stephan at February 17, 2005 11:06 AM

Hm. Stephan is making a rucus. But I dare not comment because I know I will inflame him further.

Karissa, Saif was actually a pretty good driver--I mean he didn't kill us. When he cut off that guy on the turnpike, however, I thought I did see my life flash before my eyes.

Chris, the Islamic center was a Jehovah's Witness church before, as I understand. It was empty--as mosks are to be. Some chairs were on the sides, a tall throne-looking thing with a beautiful top that looked like a rotunda were the only decorations. The floor was carpeted in green with lines across that everyone stands on to pray facing Mecca.

As my interviewee, Erkan said, in Baghadad, for example, the mosks are quite elaborate with arabesque designs and calligraphy that I showed you the other day in my book. If you want to see more arabesque, or even get another perspective on the news go to islamonline.net. I have been getting a very different view of world events there.

Posted by: Amanda at February 17, 2005 12:47 PM

As for leaving Palestine out of my blog--not report, I also left out Malaysia. My intent was not to give all the countries represented or to exclude any either; I simply wanted to demonstrate in a small way the variety of worldwide representatives at the center.

Posted by: Amanda at February 17, 2005 6:25 PM
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