Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sunni? Shia? Blue blood? Persian? Oo Ba3dain!?

I do not remember my parents and siblings ever mentioning or differentiating between other Kuwaitis on the sole basis of their religion or ancestry; it was simply an overlooked aspect in our house. Personally, I have friends from different families and traditions and I never batted an eye at their beliefs and opinions nor have I ever judged them for holding such views. I used to think that everyone – or almost everyone – befriended others based on their character and not on their religious preferences or customs. My naive perspective was shattered when I came to US for college.

Not all but some Kuwaiti students here fervently stick to their own kind. I have been surprised – and quite appalled – at how a handful of these people voice their opinions in the most blatant and quite unnecessary manner; “All my friends are Shia; I don’t want any Sunni friends. I don’t trust them,” or “I told him that I don’t care if it’s Ashura; I’ll play my music loud and proud even if he is my roommate.” It is a bit ironic; one would think that after being here for so long, a person would have an open mind because they are free from social constraints and schedules that may have driven them to be present at gatherings where, coincidentally, others of their own kind meet and mingle.

As a side note, I know that a large portion of Kuwaitis do bounce in the same social circle that has quite literally encircled them since birth and it is a somewhat steady and quite natural cycle. For example, one’s friendships could be determined based on their family and background, beliefs, education, and the like. I am strictly speaking of Kuwaiti students in the US (and others who have studied abroad as well) who have the opportunity to befriend anyone and everyone and the only caption that labels them is related to their moral fiber and temperament.

A while ago, I went along with a large bunch of Kuwaiti students to an amusement park. I remember I was with three of my colleagues – two boys and a girl – and after we stepped into one of the water ride’s log shaped boats, they started to speak and joke around in Farsi. I did not mind it but it would have been nice to understand what they were saying. All of a sudden, I heard my name in the conversation. I cocked my head and asked, “What are you talking about?” They all laughed as one of them looked at me and told me something in a language I will never know. Personally, I did not see this incident as a big deal; I merely brushed it off then but I have to say, the feeling I had afterwards was not a positive one.

I keep asking myself, “Why all this animosity? And am I the only one who notices such cliques forming or does this phenomenon apply only to my off-beat city?”

Please note that I have been advised not to speak of such touchy and personal topics (sorry Big Bro, I had to; I am the curious cat!) and if I have offended you in any way I do apologize. I just find it perplexing that some Kuwaitis voluntarily isolate themselves from their own kin instead of collaborating and bettering their time here in America or in other foreign places for that matter as well as in Kuwait itself. Isn’t it time we shelve our differences and look beyond one’s religion and name and more into this individual’s nature, personality, and spirit? In friendships, I do not think the saying “What’s in a name” applies; it is what is in and what makes up one’s truest heart of hearts that is most important, in my opinion anyway.



PS's...
DJ Shadow Feat. Roots Manuva - GDMFSOB (UNKLE Uncensored)
Celso Piña y Cafe Tacuba - Aunque No Sea Conmigo
Siya Dengelela Kgonyama – Sangomas (Roni Size Remix)
Jeru The Damaja & Cinematic Orchestra - Come Clean / Channel 1 Suite [DJ Food & DK mix]

at 4:17 AM

21 Comments

  1. Blogger Temetwir posted at 4:49 AM  
    you're right. they're wrong

    they don't have basis: not religious (advocates against it really), not human (for anyone who's grown up with 'diff sets and groups of ppl' knows what this is), and not social (no, its not a trait of kuwait)

    i wouldnt call it seperatism as such its not like arianism or something else, 3ad "kelna cham nafar", but im addressing this from the light you shed: frienships, socializing and mutual respect

    why is it noticable at times among the young crowd, you ask? i personally think its both lack of understanding (misconceptions) and false pride injected due to materialistic variables or tales of heritage that substitute for lack of substance showing for real traits

    meaning: u never come across someone whose opinion actually counts who thinks like that
  2. Blogger Temetwir posted at 4:50 AM  
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
  3. Blogger Fallen Angel posted at 7:28 AM  
    Nice one Erzulie dear.

    Thank god we don't have this problem in my state (or at least in my area). Although, I usually become shy to pray with the rest of my friends since I'm the only one who is She3e...and then they say "why being shy? We are all Muslims". It just in these situations I have this big culture (or should I say religious) awareness that might interrupt my prayer...so I abstain from praying with them and wait to go home and pray in "5osho3".

    I always joke with my friend by saying "Ana she3e not 3eme"..."My father side of the family aren't descents from Iran...so, don't bother asking me about the Farsi language."
  4. Blogger Jandeef posted at 7:57 AM  
    It is amazing how long-lasting this issue is. Keep in mind Kuwait wasn't like that a few decades ago. It only started to mature when the government formed alliances with religious groups, along with Iran's revolution's effects. That is when corruption started to appear and people's basic rights were infringed upon. If the state can't protect my right, then I'll turn to whom I belong to by blood. That's the dominating mentality.
  5. Blogger SpiKeY posted at 8:26 AM  
    Thats how it was back in the UK too...well in my city it was ok..no one ever talked bout she3a ana sena...but then some new people came and put some hate between us...am a sunni and my flatmate was she3y...he used to do what she3a did..and i did what sunnies did...we didnt care ...we were friends and thats enough for us...
    but some people try to plant some thoughts into people...and thats what happened...
    kuwait wount change...there are influences that grow bigger and bigger...
    but all i know there are people (both she3y and sunnies) who are open minded and think with their own brains and use it..and not go after what people tell them...
  6. Blogger Jelly Belly posted at 8:46 AM  
    We don't have that issue in my state bas ma7na 3ala egloob ba3th!
  7. Blogger iDip posted at 7:47 PM  
    I know, it's so sad :(

    even if we look to ourselves (Kuwaitis), we'll find that most of our friendship circles are of a single background (sect/race bla bla bla).

    I agree with you that it comes naturally for a notable number of people, due to the social circles they were born among, but I think it's IGNORANCE that keeps it the same.

    If you don't know the others, you'll probably not feel safe being surround by them, which is -unfortunately- is an unexamined and a misleading judgment.

    I for one (el-7imdillah) lived two thirds of my life in a "mixed neighbourhood", so I had my chance since an early age to know, play, befriend, mingle & share moments of joy and sorrow with my neighbours kids, without thinking about their background. I think if people will keep their circles closed for a longer time, no progress will be in sight :(

    ونأسف على الاطالة
  8. Blogger error posted at 11:22 PM  
    Kuwaitis are immoral

    sad but true!!

    i dont think bloggers are a good representation of the social fiber!!!!!!!

    which brings us back! kuwaitis are still immoral!!!

    naive of u!!

    !!!!
  9. Blogger Spontaneousnessity posted at 2:29 AM  
    I think people are bored and create this cause they need something to believe in or hold on to, they want to be right about something, anything, what is wrong with logic people!?
  10. Blogger Erzulie posted at 4:12 AM  
    Temi: Couldn't have said it better myself.

    fallen: Well yeah I mean it's your personal choice whether to pray alone or with others regardless of their sect; you do what's best for yourself in this case. But in terms of friendship and respect, you seem fine and dandy :)

    jandeef: Ee lil asaf. I don't understand Iran's involvement. It's a different country; why would a Kuwaiti have an alliance with another state? Sure, everyone recognizes that they originate from so and so but to constantly uphold that linkage? I wonder why...

    spikey: I think the word "plant" is exact, because people are basically being brainwashed into thinking "Oh, there is a difference between flan and flan" and they base it on the most irrelevant matters.

    jelly: Heh well that's a different matter. Some people in my state segment themselves on this issue, sadly enough, while others befriend the crowd that are into what they like i.e. the ultra-Kuwaiti group, the outcasts, the in-betweens, and the like.

    iDip: Yeah I think ignorance and lack of tolerance for accepting others' differences is a big part of it. Maybe one feels insecure about his/her social caption(s) that they feel that they should draw back from "the others" so as to feel superior when in fact, that act in itself inferiorizes them amongst the humane and more understanding crowd in Kuwait who are, in my opinion, very few.

    error: Not all Kuwaitis are immoral; let's avoid generalizations. And I did not mention bloggers here but in response to your statement, yes, I do not think bloggers are representative of the whole of Kuwait. In my humble (read: uneducated) opinion and guess, I would think that Kuwaiti bloggers are composed of computer literate (or savvy) individuals who are, for the most part, educated.

    sponta: Logic? Well, I think people enjoy living in their comfortable bubble. Digressing from what one is used to takes a lot of courage and will, believe it or not. For example, my great aunt is an elderly yet miraculously active woman. Although she is well-off, she detaches herself from her "circle" and aids & befriends the hidden unfortunate population in Kuwait, the impoverished people that you and I never see. She tells us stories about them, their hospitability, their deteriorating homes, and the like. I am not necessarily talking about public aid, but merely giving an example of looking beyond one's social status and origin and reaching a friendly and maybe helping hand to human beings unlike yourself and your world.
  11. Blogger Equalizer posted at 2:34 PM  
    i can also lay blame partly on the governement because at the end of the day we only have our selves to blame. The most important key to understanding each other is to mingle and share thoughts. Everything is like a myth between she3a and sinna. Both have weird myths about each other, created by someone that for some reason wanted to. The less they interact with each other the less they would be able to uncover such myths. I have heard such stories as roomates pissing and spiting in the food while cooking etc. Personally I have many shi3a friends and I have not seen anything that would seperate us on a personal level. You might have some fanatic here and there with weird beleifs.
    On the government fron this has been accentuated by the deliberate removal of neighborhoods of Old Kuwait into the areas we know today. Thus areas in old Kuwait from persian decent (almaidan and parts of sharg) have been moved to areas such as IlDasma & Mansouriya etc. Parts of Jibla moved over to Shuwaikh etc. and so forth. The result is an urban segregation that is pretty much the same as Old Kuwait. Now that you have children growing up at different schools a clear religious and ethnic background majorities, it can only make things worse. The result is a wideneing gap of misundertanding.
  12. Blogger SpiritGuide posted at 5:48 PM  
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
  13. Blogger SpiritGuide posted at 5:50 PM  
    Spirit Guide

    Erzulie, You are gifted with a smart soul. Don't be angry, Don't let your inner voices trip your mind into hate.
    Your soul pollutes it self with hate when you are around those people.
    Be logical. The only reason you went out with them is because you needed a space where you can free sin. Unfortunatley, the people you picked to go with don't share that because they them self like to reflect thier jelousy and hate towards you. These are the lowest of the low. They them self are too weak to tell you the truth or project thier thoughts into you because they see the pure gentle heart that you posses and milk it untill you suffer in the end.

    You are born with a freidnly soul. Find the souls that match your personality and you shall be rewarded greatly.

    In the end, now you know that those people who spoke another language are in reality either jealous or just hate you plainly and are too weak to say the truth infront of thier face.. Your reflection in front of thier eyes makes them boil from the inside.

    Remember every body is equal by science physically and mentally. It's thier perception that determines thier soul.


    At others,
    The argument was not directed at sunni and shiea's. She was being general towards humanity. Kuwait unfortunatley has evolved over the years. Exposure to the west and oil have brough change to the country. However, this is typical human behaviour and only the ones who seek the truth get rewarded in the end.

    I recommend you listen to Aphex Twin/ Selected Ambient works Vol. II/ Track 10/Disc 2. This is the track that I'm listening to when I wrote this comment.
  14. Blogger 1001 Nights posted at 12:24 AM  
    I don’t think this is a Sunni/Shee3i thing. I think this is a humanity thing. People gravitate towards those of similar attitudes and dispositions. Sometimes it just happens to be that those of similar disposition are also of similar religious sect and similar background and even similar wealth level. I actually think the more your “life setting” is closer to your friend’s “life setting” the more likely the friendship will blossom. I mean even in terms of education, hell even in terms of fashion sense! People gravitate towards those of similar minds. One of my friends is a Shee3i Persian origin girl (I'm neither She3iya nor Persian) but her father happened to have the same job as my dad and she happened to have gone to the same university and she happened to be as religious as me regardless of her praying with a “tirba” and me without one. By choosing her, does that mean I'm discriminating against those who don’t have fathers with the same job as my dad and didn't go to my university in the US?

    As for those who actually like a person and get along with her but decide not to befriend her BECAUSE of her sect, there has got to be some sort of slight inferiority complex there. And frankly, whether Sunni or Shee3i, this person NEEDS to be put in their place if they're gonna mouth off their sectarianism in a manner that insults someone of the other sect. People can discuss whatever they want in the privacy of their own homes but to go around offending people because of your own insecurities and 3uqad is 3AIB.
  15. Blogger Erzulie posted at 1:53 AM  
    equalizer: Yup I agree. I did not think that there is a geographic divide though; that alone is quite scary. The less people interact with others who are different than them in terms of background and religion, the more lack of understanding one has for the other, be it someone across the country or the street.

    SpiritGuide: Thank you for your kind words. I am not angry nor do I hate anyone in particular; this issue just confuses me and I am bothered by it because I just see these divisions as unnecessary and irrelevant forts between two individuals. And thanks for the music :)

    1001: Yibteeha. It is 3aib. I was going to insert a personal example but omitted it and it goes along with your friendship with the girl who went to the same university as you. My best friend, for example, is very similiar to me in terms of family, background, beliefs, traditions. We do differ, but those fundamental elements that shape us - me and her - are very alike and I think those factors are very important, as you said, in the formation of strong friendships.
    Unfortunately, I have heard girls - some of them friends - exclaim "Wai3 3eemiya gi6ee3a" and that, I think, is the most vulgar thing. No matter who your father is and no matter how "religiously righteous" you are, differentiating others based only on their traditions and religious sect is preposterous yet unfortunately, it is a cycle I see here every other day.
  16. Blogger Talisman posted at 10:07 AM  
    She3a are dogs period..They should be sent back to iran & iraq.An open minded guy talking here.
  17. Blogger Erzulie posted at 1:09 PM  
    Talisman: Well, not all Shee3a come from Iran and Iraq.
    My very good friend is Shee3iya. I've known her since 4th grade and I knew she was Shee3iya when we broke our fast together at my house; she waited a few minutes after dusk prayer and I waited with her out of courtesy. What's a couple of minutes spared for a friend? Hell, I'd wait a lifetime for one because really good friends are hard to come by?

    Open minded? We both know that you're trying to instigate an infuriated comment from myself :)

    Chin up Talisman :) Things aren't all that bad. In the end, I think that we all won't be judged on our posture during prayer; on the other hand, we'll be weighed on how just and good we are with fellow human beings and not only Muslims.
  18. Blogger Entrepreneur posted at 5:44 PM  
    Religion is overrated

    the revolution is long overdue
  19. Blogger The Krispy Dixie posted at 11:39 AM  
    I agree with entrepreneur...

    Religions are institutions, man-made, man-evolved institutions.

    As long as you have faith, and that faith guides you, all is well :)


    As for the topic at hand, it is infuriating how stereo-typical people can be. Its human nature to gravitate towards the familiar, to find friendships in commonalities. I have always had friends from different backgrounds and, to me, it doesn't matter where a person is from, it matters who they are :D

    much love, erzulie!
  20. Blogger Raine posted at 9:38 PM  
    You are so right. It is infuriating... In fact, so much so that I will have a hissy fit if I try to comment further :) Everything you said is so sad and true. But you know - they are the ones who miss out. If they are happy with their limited existence, oh well. I have no patience for it.
  21. Blogger Erzulie posted at 10:49 PM  
    Entre: Lol I agree. I just hate it that it's used as a tool to differentiate people from others when in my opinion, we are all the same regardless of what religion whether earthly or holy for that matter.

    Krispy: Yup, true true...and true :)

    Raine: Yeah I know. I won't bother bettering a situation that is hopeless. Yeah, it might sound like I'm giving up but some people are too deep into the blackhole (of shit).

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