I meet very few Muslims that inspire me, which is horrible to say- but i'm just disillusioned by the preaching and not much of any doing. This woman is not at all a conventional Muslim, wait let me introduce her first before philosophizing about her.
I started working in my uncle's hotel 4 months ago, it was new and exciting and I was just sooo enthralled by the whole idea. Then I met the receptionist. She was not, whats the word...nice? Yeah. She was not nice. I mean she didn't go out of her way to make me feel bad, but to my sensitive American feelings, she did- make me feel bad, that is. It started with the touching- actually more like grabbing. She used to grab my sides and was like "what is this?!" "Come on(she says this allot, I blame it on the bad re-runs), this is not attractive!" For those who have not seen me, I am chubby- and I have love handles, which I had made peace with a few years ago but I swear to god when this woman touched- no grabbed- me, all those issues just came flooding back. But then I came to accept that since this woman is of Russian background, bluntness is a national sport for her. So I let it go. And then found out that she was with my uncle. Yes, in that order. I actually complained to him- that this woman, this random stranger that worked for him- grabbed me. And he was like yeah, you should lose weight. This was not helpful.
I'm thinking ok move on snake charmer, this middle aged woman has got nothing on you. Turns out not so middle aged, although she looks like a soccer mom(well a soccer mom that looks like a hooker
Until it is my business. And that means family. She started hanging out with the family, which I was ok with, my 14 yr old cousin, not so much. Of course any teenager would feel anger towards the young and pretty mistress, she keeps comparing herself to Cinderella- a bit dramatic, but there it is. One day, I was dirty dancing with my cousin, because I like doing that, when the Receptionist walked into the room, the door wasn't locked but this was tantamount to breaking and entering in our minds. But we were polite and civil and pretty soon we started talking and her life story came out- it was more like a really bad soap opera really. She was married off at 15 in her country to an abusive(thats putting it mildly) man, who scarred and battered her to pieces. She got pregnant at 16 and has a 5 yr old girl now.
One day while she was making dinner for her husband he came into the kitchen and she went ape-$^&* on his @## and stabbed him in his gluteus maximus 7 or 8 times. He was hospitalized for 3 months. I guess this is what happens when a woman is pushed and pushed into a corner. Although that story was horrifying, it was also humanizing because this woman we saw as the enemy now is just some sad woman who lived a horrible life. After her divorce from said wife-beater, she was brought here by a woman who should be likened to the DC Madam, if any of you remember that scandal. Yes, she was brought here as a prostitute. And she did it and made money and sent it back home to her daughter and her brothers, of which she has 8 btw.
Prostitution in Dubai is very common, much more common than I would say in Detroit. But over here prostitutes don't work the red light districts, they work the clubs and the restaurants- the ones that sell alcohol. These women are expensive and are not called prostitutes but "Business Ladies", no I did not just make that up. These women spend thousands of dollars at the salons and spas- actually most salons and spas WANT "Business Ladies" because they don't care how much something costs, they just want it all done. But what was I talking about? Right, the Receptionist. She was working at a restaurant as a hostess when my uncle met her or something and he offered her a job at his hotel if she would leave prostitution behind, which she did and started working for him. Anyways he had rules of what she could wear and where she could go and stuff like that. I always used to laugh when she used to tell me about these rules- especially since I kept breaking most of them.
She grew tired of living under his thumb so she decided to go into business for herself. She had land in her home country which she sold and used to open up a salon here. Now people can't open businesses or own homes here, they have to have a sponsor (well the homes part is lifting in some Emirates, but not in Dubai). A sponsor is an Emarati who takes a cut of the shares. Anyways she found one woman, and they opened up this salon and now she started working there and is super happy and wears what she wants and goes where she wants- and my uncle gave her a chauffeur. Apparently his biggest problem was that when she was working here at the hotel, she was representing him and not just herself. One would think that with that logic, he would have enforced better behavior- but one cannot win a logic debate with my uncle, so one would do better not to ever bring up said topic. Wow I feel like I have carpal tunnel now.
Anyways, This woman who just turned 21, who lived an incredibly hard life who had nothing that belonged to her, goes out and does something for herself- everyone else be damned. I've been to her salon, and though it could use some work- it's pretty awesome, and I can't help but feel a little bit jealous that this woman decided that enough was enough and she was finally going to do something that was hers. She wasn't going to live off anyone anymore. Honestly, apart from my mother and grandmother, the ex-Receptionist is one of the strongest women I know. She's only been in Dubai for 2 years, she didn't even have a visa when my uncle met her (he has since rectified that)- and has done very well for herself.
I guess i'm writing mostly for cathartic reasons but also because there really are so many different kinds of Muslims out there. I started out by saying she wasn't conventional, she's not. But religious, she is. In her country Muslim's drink vodka like water- and its completely normal, they date- they do drugs (which is a little frowned upon- but not by much). They pray, they read Quran, They call on Allah in times of need and in times of happiness.
This really puts the whole phrase "good Muslim" into question in my mind, it really is all subjective isn't it?