Monday, July 03, 2006

Here I am

I had somewhat of an interesting weekend. My family, or what's left of us travelled to the States to attend an Islamic conference. We were detained at the border for quite some time. My dad had to park his car and we went into this building to be questioned. Man, if you saw the waiting room we were sitting in, you would have been freaked out. It was like something out of George Orwell's 1984. There was a huge American flag hanging from the ceiling, some framed portraits of George Bush and other government officials lining the walls, and of course, there was a TV in the room playing CNN News (just in case you forgot what country you were in and what loyalties you should have). The whole time I was sitting there I was thinking Alhamdulillah that I live in Canada. The border officials eventually figured out that these four cookie-eating, lame-joke-making, ball-bouncing people in our car were not a threat to national security and we were on our way. Right across the border, cars bearing a diverse array of world flags for the occasion of the World Cup became non-existent. Instead, stickers bearing the "Support Our Troops" slogan. Some cars had several of these stickers plastered all over their cars. I wanted to roll my window down and tell them: "okay, we get it!" The sudden replacement of Tim Horton's with Dunkin Donuts was also disturbing. Driving through this one neighbourhood, I literally counted 7 Dunkin Donuts within a 2 block radius. It was really despicable. It was an interesting trip, that's all I'll say for now. I could go on about the vices of America, but I won't. Instead, I remind myself and you that patience is the key to living righteously, and to everything we do and say. Here's to thinking twice before rolling down the window and yelling things, telling people who stare at you "listen, I know I'm hot, but it's rude to stare," muttering angry words under your breath, and losing hope in people: "And obey Allah and His Messenger. and fall into no disputes, lest ye lose heart and your power depart; and be patient and persevering: For Allah is with those who patiently persevere" (Al-Anfal: 46).


little asmaa said...

While we were on our American adventure, we went into a Walgreens (it's like Shoppers Drug Mart) to buy some groceries. On our way out, I noticed an old man walking slowly out the door, limping from age. He was carrying a shopping bag, and I saw one of the items he had just bought: diapers.

That reminded me of these verses:

"It is God who creates you in a state of weak­ness, and then, after weakness, ordains strength [for you], and then, after [a period of] strength, ordains weakness and grey hair. He creates what He wills; and He alone is All-Knowing, Infinite in His power.

And when the Last Hour dawns, those who had been lost in sin will swear that they had not tarried [on earth] longer than an hour: thus were they wont to delude themselves [all their lives]!" (Qur'an 30:54-55).

Bliss said...

sigh. No cars with lil flags?

thats just ugly.

Dunkin Donuts needs to be wiped off the face of this earth..ok mayb not, they have good strawberry coolattas.

So how'd the convention go?

Khadijah said...

Oh when i went to Florida in March, I dont know about you but i went Crasaay in Walgreens,there was one everywhere. And right beside the hotel their were like 3 Dunkun Dounuts not as great as Tim Hortons though.
Yea, the Americans were really rude, we mostly got along with tourists (like us) well I hope you had fun.
And no flags on cars, god.
Not even a England one? -sniff-
Yea im pretty happy I live in Canada rather than America, but i would love to live in England.
Bye bye asmaaaa.

brotherhood said...

its so hot here.. how was the temperature there?

the heat woke me up :freak:

Anonymous said...

There's something about Dunkin' Donuts and rats. Avoid it like the plague.

In most northern/Canada-bordering states I've seen Timmie's, always attached to good ol' Wendy's.

The coffee is truly dispicable.

Elizabeth said...

Would you kindly allow me to apologize for my country? And say that not all of us are like that? Though I've been getting pretty scared at the large numbers who are like that. But if you come to certain cities, like Portland, OR where I live, or especially San Francisco, you'll see that not everyone is like that. Except if you come to Portland, come to the good part, not the scary outskirts part. I even get scared by that weird suburbia.

Ah, yes, Dunkin' Donuts was BIG when we lived in Boston. Not so on the west coast. Not sure what exactly replaces it. Oh, the other day we saw a sight we hadn't ever seen before: an out-of-business Krispy Kreme.

--Elizabeth, who does NOT have a "support our troops" magnet on her car! but does have a passel of homemade shirts, with flags from all over the world, that says "united we stand." Made especially for us and by us during all the weirdness after 9/11.

Squeeky said...

Assalaamu Alaikum :)

Glad you had a nice weekend, alhamdulillah. haha Don't ever get my dad started on the American's obsession with plastering American flag's all over the place! Oh goodness gracious.

Ever notice that as soon as you step in America, you have trouble breathing? I always do ... eek

olde woman said...

Assalamu aleikum,

Pshhht, Asmaa, I can't believe your father was detained (N.B.: Asmaa's dad is awesome)! I have much I could mutter under my breath (or rant loudly), but I 'll state this instead: fasabrun jameel - but patience is more beautiful

12:83 (And when they came unto their father and had spoken thus to him) he (Jacob)said: Nay, but your minds have beguiled you into something. (My course is) comely patience! It may be that Allah will bring them all unto me. Lo! He, only He, is the Knower, the Wise.

Buttons and flags and stares, Oh My! : ) You're starting to worry me - if people were rude to you (bouncy ball you!), imagine what they may have done to me (*wink, wink*).

Dunkin Donuts, you say? Hmm, I thought there would be more Starbucks'. Ah yes, I have been indoctrinated into the mass of those who love Timmie's (gasp! Asmaa, am I going Canadian on you now? No no, let's check: yep, I still eat "fool" :) (N.B.: "fool" is the Arabic word for fava beans. Insert corny jokes here).

What convention was it, and how did it go?

P.S: Little Asmaa's reminder was touching...

And Elizabeth's comment was heartening : )

(to be yodelled by a one-legged Swede in a sofa-shaped crevice in the alps:)

Faraz said...

I was just in Illinois for a couple of weeks, and those American flags everywhere did bother me, as did the bumper stickers. I missed my Tim Hortons; the Dunkin Donuts Coffee Koolata is a far cry from the Ice Cap.

I'm in Vancouver these days, and even here, they're short on Timmies. What's worse, there's a Starbucks at practically every corner.

Oh Canada, indeed. It's not perfect, but having travelled quite extensively over the last few years, it really is closer to perfect than anywhere else I've been. Though I expect I'll change my mind when I eventually visit Malaysia, insha-Allah.

Asmaa said...

little asmaa, I don't remember seeing him...I remember seeing some weird drunks though. But thanks for the reminder.

Bliss, no cars with little flags :( The convention wasn't too bad, alhamdulillah. Definitely beats ISNA! Well, pretty much anything would beat ISNA ;)

Khadijah, hehe well I didn't quite go to Florida, but the same country.

Bro, it was hot. Because you know, it's the summer time. Turn your pillow over.

Anon, hehe I remember the correlation between Dunkin Donuts and rats...from a lecture by Siraj Wahaj actually :D Back in the day when he used to be allowed to visit Canada.

Elizabeth, hehe I'm sorry if I generalized in my post. Not everyone was like that, of course. But you tend to notice the people who are like that more than the nice ones :) And don't get me wrong, Canada is full of people like that as well. But since we're used to multiculturalism (at least in Toronto), it's not too prominent. You don't have to apologize for Americans, everyone is different and I think that most Americans are good people that have just been brainwashed with biases against Muslims.

Squeeky, walaikum assalaam :) Nope, I was breathing fine. But being in such a homogenous place was kind of strange. So, yes, metaphorically speaking, it was suffocating :D

Olde, tell me about it. My dad is the corny joke king, NOT national security threat material! Thank you for the reminder. Yeah, I'm not sure what they would have done to you, *wink wink* ;) I haven't eaten fool for a long time now. I should. It's good for the soul.

Faraz, I agree, Canada has got to be one of the best places in the world to live in, even considering the context of terrorism scares. Alhamdulillah. For me, the thing about Tim Horton's isn't so much that I like what they sell, rather it's more like a national symbol :D That's why I missed it.

'liya said...

I remember reading an article in the paper recently about the lack of flags for the World Cup in America and lack of soccer interest. They don't know what they're missing :)

Anyways, seeing an American flag anywhere only makes me feel scared..

mujahideen ryder said...

okay the america you saw was the suburban and rural areas. u need to hit up the urban places, where u'll find flags all over the place, especially new york city, you wont find a dunkin donuts, but an kebab king or crown fried chicken halal or west indian grocery or something like that. that's what im use to. then again being a new yorker is different then being an american. one thing is for sure, we're pretty mean, and most of us are ghetto.

sara said...

Yay for interrogations!

It's too bad you weren't refused entry into the country because then we could be in the same club!

anis said...


I reckon that you went to the ICNA-MAS conference in New Haven, CT. We ususally go to that conference if it is in or near Washington DC, this way we can save on lodging by staying with our cousins.

Not to brag or anything but i would like to share a little border crossing story of my own... My father was once pulled in for a 'routine checkup'. In the beginning, officials from the ICE (perfect acronym to describe the icy cold attitude of the immigration officials) were very rude and discourteous probably noticing that all the females in my family were covered in Black and all the males had beards. However, as soon as my father produced his British High Commission(embassy) Consular Officer business card and informed them that he deals with the ICE station manager at Fort Erie Bridge crossing on a daily basis, there was a sudden change of attitude. Soon apologies were flying all over the place, suddenly my father was knighted with the title 'Sir', we were frisked right to the front of the queue, my father's visa was stamped and we were on our way in no time. Everyone in the waiting room was utterly bewildered and just amazed at what had just taken place. Alhamdulillah for that...

It reminded me of this ayah: "...that is the Grace of Allah, which He will bestow on whom He pleaseth..." (5:54)

Now my father always makes a point of showing his business card along with the passports whenever we cross the border... Alhamdulillah...

Mars said...

Yes. You're all frikin hot. ;)

I'm relieved that they let you go without hassles.

Being in Egypt is definately a change - every khutba is about Isreal this and Isreal that..

Kinda gets repetative..

Anyways, Asmaa you guys need to wake up a bit earlier so we can talk.

Fro said...

I miss Timmy's!!!! :( Being stuck here in suburban America where you MUST have a car to get around everywhere starts getting to you after a while.

hydroman said...

Welcome to the American Experience.

I'm glad I left.

On the same note, you can't really hate on them for having American flags. After all it's what they believe in. When I went to Iran, it was the same thing everywhere I went, Iranian flags and pictures of Khomeini and Khamenai. Then I realized that I'm an outsider that's why it seems strange to me. For the people that live there that's what they believe in.


Asmaa said...

Aaliya, it does make me scared. It's really too bad that the American flag has that emotion attached to it. But it's understandable.

Mujahideen, you don't give a very good impression of Americans :) But yes, I'm sure the more mutlicultural areas would be much different than the places I went to.

Sara, I remember that...despicable.

Anis, yeah that was the conference. Haha, the flash of credentials stories :D Well at least you guys can get cleared pretty easily, alhamdulillah. My dad once thought the border was a toll and he handed the guy money. They guy thought he was trying to bribe him :D

Mars, thanks ;) Well I'm not sure the khutbahs here are much better. The "Islam means peace" khateebs are ticking me off. Canada is empty without you.

Fro, haha at least this way I'm sure you'll come back...if not for school, for Tim Horton's!

Hydroman, I don't hate the American's just the emotions that go along with it. You're right, that's who they are. But an outsider may sometimes be better at judging a nation than someone who is immersed in it.

AP said...

I made a relevant comment, but somehow it didn't show up.

So here's the irrelevant comment:

What's red and looks like a bucket?

Asmaa said...

AP, your face?

Nusaybah said...

Asmaa, how rude, you should never treat people rudely. Even though it's just like saying "Asmaa, don't breathe", you should still try to consider this action. Anyways...........I can't wait for summer to end.

You're stupid, by the way. :)

AP said...

Q: What's red and looks like a bucket?

A: A red bucket.

Nusaybah said...

Nevermind Asmaa, I totally take that back when I called you stupid. Now I can see others who are.

The Laughorist said...

I have enjoyed reading your perspectives. I am an American. I'll call myself a patriotic one. Which means, I understand that in these times I too can be nervous or paranoiac for just tapping on these keys. I am angered that the right wing has appropriated the flag for its own uses. This also happened during Vietnam. The only bumpersticker on my car is "I Leap for Kierkegaard." I find some degree of hope that forums such as these allow some chance for tolerance-building and understanding. I oppose the war. Many Americans do. I suspect its sectarian violence was unleashed in the absence of brutal suppression, as happened in the former Yugoslavia. But it's a complicated world. Would I oppose American intervention to stop Darfur genocide? Did I oppose America's efforts to stop the killing of Muslims in Kosovo? (I supported our efforts then.)I fear for my neighbor who went back to the war after being home. Almost immediately after 9/11 I attended a mosque in a delegation from an Episcopal Church; afterward I corresponded for quite some time with a Muslim man. Our church also hosted a Buddhist roshi at that time. I remember her inviting us to feel compassion, to understand that, ah yes, this is what the suffering world feels every day. I feel we have lost that opportunity for compassion. We are in a guagmire. That was the word used during the Vietnam War. And yet. And yet. I just finished "The Kite Runner, which underscored for me the perils of any totalitarianism, any radical puritanism, any gnostic mania. Any regime that says, "Be like this, believe like this, or we will kill you, in the name of God, or ...."

Pax vobiscum.

p.s. My shop sells a T-shirt that says, "My country right or wrong... is like saying my mother drunk or sober." -- G.K. Chesterton

Slave of Allah said...

HAHAHAHAHA.....dude! when I went to Canada my first time (in Windsor), it was a complete different environment for me as well. Funny thing was that i went in the summer of 2002 when the World Cup was going on. LOL

so yeah.....every product that i bought had the labels in English/French, not English/Spanish. And I LOVED Horton's. Trust me, Dunkin Donuts sucks lol.

Oh, and the people were the nicest folks in the world. And then when i came to Toronto, i stayed at this neighborhood and I thought I was back in Pakistan. LOL

It was an awesome trip.

I'm sorry you had to go through so much garbage at customs.

I get pulled over by the cops quite oftenly, just because i'm a Muslim. And when I ask the cop why he pulled me over, he tells "Oh, I just wanted to make sure that you're not on our most-wanted list or a fugitive on the run!"

I hate that

but most of all,


cherie amour said...

I was gonna say no Krispy Kreme, haha.