Tag Archives: Muslim

The More You Know: “Forbidden” Foods

Pork and alcohol. No no, not together (at least not typically), but pork and liquor are the two items that are tough to find here in the UAE due to Muslim beliefs – the UAE is an Islamic country (rulers and all).

I happen to love both, pork and alcohol that is, so I was really worried (#whitegirlproblems) that I wouldnt be able to find them here and would need to have visitors smuggle in bacon and wine 😉 Not the case, thankfully! Here’s a bit of background:

Alcohol in the Gulf

Alcohol rules in the Gulf by country

Alcohol in the gulf is not fully or strictly forbidden, as indicated in the little map above; the rules really vary from country to country. Thankfully, we live in one of the dark green countries and can buy alcohol, meaning we can purchase alcohol at duty free in the airport, in limited liquor stores with a special license, or in hotels.  Phew! We just applied for our liquor license where we essentially had to show proof of our residency, our religion (no Muslims need apply), and our salary – hopefully we should be receiving that in the next few days!

Now some brief background as to why alcohol is haraam (forbidden) in Islam; truly, the abstinence form alcohol is a command from Allah (dictated in the Qur’ran), which is the law that governs Islamic nations, Dubai included. Alcohol is haraam for the reasons you would anticipate (and understandably so): it impairs judgement (and could cloud prayer) and it could be viewed as addictive. To each his own, and while we’re here, I definitely want to respect the rules and customs here in the UAE (though, selfishly I am glad we live in one of those dark green countries!) 🙂

Pork section at the grocery store

Pork section at the grocery store

So that brings me to the other item: pork. Above is a photo that I snapped in the grocery earlier today of the pork section – non-Muslims only! In there, there are the pork lunch meats, pork chops, pork and beans…you name something with even trace amounts of pork in it, you will find it in this section; and each grocery store I’ve encountered here so far has one of these special areas.

As with Jewish law, Islamic law similarly states that “…for the consumption of pork, that the land animal must have split hooves and chew its cud and it cannot have one and not the other…the pig has split hooves but does not chew its cud.” (per Wikipedia). THEREFORE, no pork for Muslims. That’s okay, more bacon for us 🙂 (Side note: turkey bacon is really good!)

So there you have it: two forbidden food/drink items here in Dubai. If you have any interest, you can read more about halal here – the more you know, right? Until next time….

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The More You Know: Eid al-Adha

Eid al-Adha is quickly approaching. Don’t worry – I didn’t know much (okay, anything) about Eid al-Adha before like..a week ago. But the more you know…

So Eid al-Adha translates roughly into “Feast of the Sacrifice”, a most important religious holiday for worldwide Muslims.  The feast celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael. Just as in the Old Testament tale, God intervenes at the last moment and replaces Ishmael with a lamb for sacrifice instead. Further, in the Qur’ran, when Abraham explains what must happen to his son, Ishmael replies: “Father, do what you have been commanded. You will find me, Insha’Allah, to be very patient.” Indeed, Ishmael’s willingness to sacrifice his own life for the sake of God as well as his unwavering trust, was unprecedented and demonstrates both men’s trust in God. (Side note: you will hear a lot of people here say ” Insha’Allah”, which means Allah/God willing).

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Anywhoo, because of this great trust and ultimate sacrifice made by Abraham, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha! The days (October 14 and 15) consist of prayer. And because of this holiday, it is a national holiday during that whole week here in Dubai. 🙂 Barr and I are debating where/if to take a bit of a vacay as he has some time off during that week – so if you have been/have heard about any of the following cities/countries, let me know in email or the comments section! We’re also open to any other suggestions or ideas: Istanbul Turkey, Amman Jordan, Beirut Lebanon, Delhi India, Fujairah UAE,  Bentota Sri Lanka.

I know it’s still a few weeks away, but to all my non-Muslim friends, perhaps on October 14 and 15, we too can remember that great sacrifice, and also remember that the world is smaller than we think 🙂 Until next time…

Eid Prayers; Source – Wikipedia

 

The More you Know: Muslim Veils

I thought I may start a post here and there about culture and/or questions I have been asked about living here in Dubai, the first of which is going to be an explanation of Muslim veils. I myself really didnt understand the various types of veils worn by Muslim women all over the world, nor the different names and meanings, so (hopefully!) my readers will find this informative. Actually, the issue of the Muslim veil has been in the news quite a bit lately (DISCLAIMER: this is NOT a political post OR blog!).

Muslim women wear a veil as a form of modesty, as instructed by the Qur’ran; which type of veil (or if they wear one at all) is typically determined by things such as where they live, their approach to the writings in the Qur’ran, in addition to others. (Wikipedia explains it well :))

The 3 most prevalent veils that I have seen in my (short) time here so far are:

  • Hajib: Arabic word for screen or curtain. It is a headscarf, covering the hair and neck. Usually I’ve seen it worn with an abaya (long, black robes), but one will also seen colored/embroidered variations with jeans, dresses, etc.

    Hajib examples – Source: Wikipedia

  • Niqab: Covers the face, in addition to the hair and neck. There is a slit open for the eyes. Per Wikipedia (I know, I know): “…the two most common forms [of a niqab] are the half niqab and the gulf-style or full niqab. The half niqab is a simple length of fabric with elastic or ties and is worn around the face. This garment typically leaves the eyes and part of the forehead visible. The gulf-style or full niqab completely covers the face. It consists of an upper band that is tied around the forehead, together with a long wide piece of fabric which covers the face, leaving an opening for the eyes…contrary to common belief, eyeveils do not generally restrict vision any more than a dark pair of sunglasses would.” 

    Niqab Veil – Source: Wikipedia

  • Burqa: Provides the most coverage to the wearer, covering the hair, face and eyes (a mesh screen is over the eyes).

    Burqa Veil – Source: Wikipedia

    Now I am far from an expert on Muslim culture, scripture, tradition and the like, so please take my limited information with a grain of salt and feel free to leave a comment should you have additional information or a question! I’m always trying to learn, and hopefully this provides some basic insight about a new topic and a different culture. Until next time…nowyouknow