Monday, October 31, 2005

This is still a very tribal culture. The rules are not fixed in stone (and they certainly are not on paper!) as they are in my home country.
The rules change here, according to who you are, what country your passport is from, what you say, how it might effect the reputation of the person helping you, who you know/knows you and will speak on your behalf, and how the guy in charge is feeling at that particular moment.

Now, this can work for you, or against you, depending on the situation.

Examples;

More than once a stranger has paid for our dinner. I mean like we’re in a restaurant and go to pay our bill and the waiter says … “it’s already been paid, by that guy, over there”!!! So, my husband goes to him to give him salaams, and discovers that the guy paid for our dinner because he is so excited to see Americans who have become muslim. Subhanallah!

I have also heard stories from other American reverts living here who have requested exemptions from the Qatari immigration department. These exemptions have ranged from getting fines waived to not having to get their children’s blood taken for the residency visa. Apparently it didn’t matter what their empirical reasons were for the exemptions. Every time they asked for an exemption, another Qatari standing in line or on the periphery would step forward and say something to the effect of, “Look, here is an American who has converted to Islam! Praise God!”… and the immigration officer signed their approval!!! Just like that!

The government rules regarding who is allowed to import a housemaid have recently been tightened. Now, any non-Qatari who wishes to import a maid must work for a Qatari government ministry AND make an income of at least QR 15,000 per month.

An expat friend of ours was having trouble getting his agent from the manpower company to stay on-task in helping him at the Qatari immigration department. After several attempts at re-directing this guy nicely, he had to get Arab on his @#% and yell. This attracted the attention of an elderly Qatari gentleman standing next to him in line. He asked our friend what the problem was and he kindly explained to the man that he’d been denied a housemaid visa, etc. and on top of it all this guy from the manpower agency wasn’t staying on-task. So the Qatari man decided to help him. They cut to the front of the line and pled his case together to the immigration officer. All the Qatari man did was say, “Look! He’s an American Muslim. Give him a housemaid!”….and poof! They granted him the visa!!!!

It’s crazy because he had rehearsed all of his legitimate reasons why he needed them to give him another maid visa; the wife works, they have so many children, etc…. None of that mattered. Just that they were an American family, who had converted to Islam. WOW.

4 comments:

madcapmum said...

How does that concept of queue-jumping fit into the Islamic system of ethics? In Christianity we're taught (taught, but don't necessarily practice, I realize) that we should be no respecter of persons, honour the stranger, etc. Are there similar teachings in the Qu'ran?

Rockin' Hejabi said...

"Islam", which simply means "self-surrender to God", teaches that we all will be judged by God on the Last Day according to our Good Deeds and Bad Deeds, (along with whether or not we worshipped One God and held no parterns with God, how we gave of our blessings to our families, the poor, the traveller in need, orphans,) etc. There is an Angel on each person's right, recording in a book every one of her good deeds, and an Angel on the left, recording every one of her bad deeds. A Good Deed actually carried out is worth more than a Bad Deed; A Good Deed that you think of earns you points even if you don't carry it out; if you think of a Bad Deed, but then decide to do the Good Deed instead, that earns you big points; If you think of doing a Good Deed, but then choose to do the Bad Deed, then it's one Bad Deed. etc.... God is most Merciful and Gracious.

That being said, keep in mind that religious beliefs, and the socio-cultural behaviors of a people are cerainly not the same!

America has similar contrasts. Look at Tammy Fay Baker and Jimmy Swaggert...or how King George professes to be such an upright Christian president, yet he orders pre-emptive war on innoncents...

madcapmum said...

Oh, I'm not defending how Christianity is played out, believe me! Just curious about Islam because I know so little about it. Thanks for taking the time to spell it out for me.

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