Thursday, March 29, 2018
Tweisi, Wadi Rum, Jordan
My homestay host is Aboo Salah and his wife and five children. He is a farmer and tends a nearby grove of olive trees. This is a very warm and gracious family, helping me to feel welcome and at home from the moment I arrive.
On Thursday morning, our group met in a house in the village to hear stories and experiences from two remarkable women. They wanted to make the point clearly to a western audience that they have a distinct culture, but they do not feel oppressed. They both have run for office in municipal Parliament and one has served as a member of the Parliament. They explained that sharia law supports and empowers women in many ways. The way they experience and live empowered lives is different from women in the west. They offered their perspective that they are oppressed by the way western media presents them; they are oppressed by a lack of access to economic resources; they are oppressed by political corruption. They asked the question why are they spending more money on the military than on education?
They closed by raising their concern that the west sees all Muslims as terrorists. They emphatically stated that the Koran teaches that treating one another with respect, care and concern is even more important than observing the Five Pillars of Islam.
These two women, dressed from head to toe in a niqab, were dynamic, self-possessed and very comfortable in their own culture. I can’t wait to tell their story and share their perspectives with my students back in New York City.