Ahlan Wa Sahlan

Ahlan Wa Sahlan

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bunny who?

Well its time again for an awkward holiday dinner with my Christian family. Today is Easter and is, for me, one of my least favorite holidays. Even when I was still Christian I disliked Easter and I don't know why. While I feel fine sharing a big family dinner on holidays like Thanksgiving, which is a completely secular holiday, and Christmas, which is a slightly less secular holiday, when it comes to Easter I have very little desire to even attend a family showdown chowdown.

But I did because I love my family and love spending time with them.

This morning my mom, who loves making Easter baskets and laments my Islam most on the loss of making them for her future grandchildren, had one waiting for me. Oh well, chocolate is chocolate, especially when it is Lindt chocolate, so I quickly got over it and we headed over to my grandparent's house. My mom insisted on listening to her Christian muzak station on the way over "since it is Easter Sunday" so I popped in my earphones and rocked some vintage Sherine on my ipod to drown out the inanity.

One thing that saves my sanity, and that of everyone else in the family, is that I can take off my hijab once I get inside the house. So we arrived and I shucked it off quickly and had a fairly good time and lots of good food until my aunt had those last ten glasses of wine that put her over.

I love my family, I love my aunt- who incidentally is the one who refuses to be seen with me in public with my hijab- but she drinks... a lot. Her and my uncle both will routinely kill 5 or 6 or maybe 10 full bottles of wine between the two of them at family dinners. And I know at home most evenings my aunt will finish at least one bottle herself or two if it was a bad day. Usually she's a friendly drunk who tells everyone she loves them. The first time she saw me in hijab was at a wedding she got soased at and told me that she'd love me anyways no matter what. Sober, her tune changed quickly.

But I digress. Today once she crossed her limit she began to needle me in the socially inept way drunks have. She completely missed the dirty looks all the clear-thinking people in my family shot her, or the awkward silences that descended when she said something particularly insensitive. She decided it was really humorous to tell me that when my marriage dissolved there would be plenty of good Catholic boys waiting for me.

Rip on my Islam if you want, but don't ever talk smack about my marriage.

I ignored her as much as I could, but her volume control mechanism had disappeared five glasses of wine ago and when I ignored her she just talked louder. She had dropped that oh so funny "find yourself a good Catholic" line three or four times when everyone else was teasing my mom about having a date tonight, but I ignored or parried each one of them until she finally cornered me and I glibly replied that I was already happily married (alhumdulillah.) To which she then baldly said yelled, "Well when that one ends like I know it will, there will still be some good Catholic boys waiting for you, or even some Lutheran; I could deal with a Lutheran. But not a Baptist, it would take me awhile to be ok with a Baptist."

Awkward family silence.

Drunken giggle from my aunt.

And then my grandmother turned the conversation to politics, which we all know is such a safer topic of discussion.

It was time to leave so my mom could make it on time for her date (tee hee) and I put my hijab back on and edged towards the doorway hoping to escape a confrontation with my already belligerant auntie. No luck. She caught sight of me and bellowed, "Oh my Gawd Molly, will you please just get over it already?!?"

When I walked over to give my grandmother a kiss she smiled at me and said, "you do look cute in it."

And then they both stalkedwalked me over to the door talking about my (inshAllah) upcoming move to Egypt. Both my grandma and aunt are convinced I will lose all human rights in an Arab country and will become a slave chained to the oven and popping out Arab babies. My aunt defends her position, "I've read those Khalali books!" And by Khalali she means Khaled Husseini which must mean she knows everything about Islam, Muslims, and Arabs.... right? Besides being just one more example of Islam-as-culture not Islam-as-religion, both books take place in Afghanistan not Egypt.

sigh

It was a tough day.

But I have a bunny-shaped chocolate to comfort me.

Oh and just to get completely off-subject for a second: how disturbing is it to eat cross-shaped chocolates? Seriously? Eat them?

I just couldn't see any Muslims chowing down on a gourmet Quran-shaped chocolate bar.

But thats just me.

I hate Easter.

31 comments:

janene said...

I’m no expert, but thought I would throw in my two cents:

I’m sure you have come across mamoul, a buttery cookie stuffed with dates or nut paste, which is typically eaten by Christians in arab countries during Easter. The round shaped cookies signify the crown of thorns that were placed on the head of Jesus at the time of his crucifixion.

Not only are there chocolate crosses, but also buns decorated with crosses ("hot cross buns").

The traditions associated with preparing and eating food with religious symbolism has more to do with celebration and Christians do not really consider it inappropriate or disrespectful to consume such food.

Historically speaking there has been no symbol of Islam (and no, cresent and star are not officially recognized). But surely many muslims would find it highly inappropriate or disrespectful to make a chocolate Quran, much less consume it.

Interestingly enough, a giant Quran made of white and dark chocolate was put on display in a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, a few years ago. ***Which I find a quite ridiculous and disrespectful.***

Anyways, your question reminded me of the whole teddy bear fiasco where a naïve schoolteacher asked her muslim schoolchildren to name the class teddy bear – which they named Mohammed. There are those who looked at her intentions, and those who concluded she insulted Islam and committed blasphemy.

I think that often such issues are only a matter of perspective concerning what constitutes respectfulness.

mr.mm said...

huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuug

Molly said...

J- I can't say I've ever eaten mamoul, but some lebanese christians taught me to make atayef which is supposed to be like the shape of the crescent and eaten a lot in Ramadan... some interreligious cooking right there.

Hot cross buns... I've never really seen one actually. I always thought it was a bun in which two lines were cut in it for rising purposes like the line cu down the middle of a loaf of bread. I did some research on wikipedia and found that they do have a religious significance. Again though, my experience with them extends only to learning how the play the tune on my recorder in the 3rd grade.

There's a lot of food-related religiosity in Christianity. Seeing Mary in a tortilla, the hot cross buns, hiding the three kings in the yule cake... I just feel like EATING a cross is vulgar and can't say I ever partook of such a thing as a Christian.

Although as a Catholic (or any type of Christianity for that matter that includes bread and wine/grape juice) taking communion, which is supposed to be the body and blood of Jesus (astughfurlillah,) probably counts as something even more vulgar.

Now that I think about it, it makes sense.

Ya rabb.

Molly said...

awww ya habibi ya noor eini.

Molly said...

bugger stupid gmail, I hate that they're connected with blogger and eff up my comments and sign in if I log into m gmail first.

grrrrrrrrr

ammena said...

salam sis... poor girl, I know how hard that much be for u. As for the books.. hmm, Im sure hes only wrote 3 and they are all fictional. How would anyone say they know about a religion from fictional books? :( hugs all around sis, and well done u for keeping your cool. Dunno if I could have.

gulnari said...

I had a hot cross bun this morning for breakfast. It was nummy. I'm gonna devour some 75% off choco bunnies tomorrow. I enjoy the non-Muslims' holidays because I get to gleefully chomp on all types of fun-shaped chocolate. But I'd never eat a choco cross. That'd be creepy.

That situation mustve been very awkward. I'm about to 'come out' to some members of my family (long story) and I'm a bit hesitant. Mostly cause I don't wanna deal with awkward questions and my own inappropriate bursts of giggles. I'm not good at keeping my composure.

gulnari said...

umm... is it just me or does 'hot cross bun' sound just a tiny bit raunchy? :D maybe i'm just a food pervert.

Organic-Muslimah said...

InshAllah Allah will reward with being patient with your family. It's really sad that you won't have them to be there for you.

I am sorry if I missed this, but when did you convert? They seem to believe that you converted for your 'Arab' husband!

Miss Muslimah said...

So glad to see you back!

I could never eat a chocolate cross and especially not a chocolate Qur'an!That would be weeeeiiirrrrrdd........

Mom brought my son this HUGE chocolate bunny yesterday..but im hesitant to eat it..he's soo cute!lol

Aeryn said...

Salaams,

Likewise as others have mentioned I am going to get some clearanced chocolate today, and enjoy it. I love cadbury chocolate, mmm bring on the minieggs, lol. I think it really takes a lot of patience to be a convert to Islam. And insha'Allah we will be rewarded for our patience, and for being a good example to others.

Sorry you had such a rough time though, it is hard,

Aeryn

UmmLayla said...

Well, I know how you feel. I too did the family thing this weekend and though a decade of being Muslim has dulled the sarcasm a little bit I think things are still pretty strained on such occasions. It's all part of the experience I guess. As for the chocolate, once you crush it up a bunny is just chocolate... And so is a cross!LOL

Be patient for now, they will get used to your Islam sooner or later. Maybe they will even grow to understand that it is not just a phase. Even Tante Drunken Loose Tounge. And remember that the people before us were tested with these things too. And I figure I am not above suffering the same things the sahaba suffered. Maybe it's actualy a good thing.

Just my two piasters as usual. But here's a big hug from a big sister who has "been there done that".

Anonymous said...

AsSalamu alaykum Molly,

I'm with you about the chocolate cross.
I'm sorry that you have to go through that. I think your reaction (or lack thereof)was great! May Allah Ta'ala Grant you the strength and patience to endure it.

Janene- This is very random but are you from Conti by any chance??

A.

janene said...

anonymous:

no, I'm not from conti -- what is that? Europe?

I am born and raised in Canada.

janene said...

Molly,

Your aunt may be loose with her tongue whilst drunk, however my grandmother, 95 years old, has recently made some slips concerning muslims whilst suffering from old age and mild dementia. Interestingly enough she trusts both me and my brother (muslims) with power of attorney more than her fairly religious christian grandchildren. (It was granted long before she lost some of her mental abilities).

Ignore the aunt, you handled the situation with grace and good manners. That speaks volumes.

DawnUK said...

Salaam Aleikum.

MashALLAH you coped brilliantly and full respect to you for going despite knowing what would probably happen. Your love for your family shines out! MashALLAH.

Molly said...

Ammena- has he written three? I thought it was only two. But its the same with all the people who saw "Not without my daughter" and became convinced that anyone who married an arab would lose their children. I know I've gotten that movie referenced to me about a million times. My aunt is sure she knows everything she needs to know.

Narita- "I'm about to 'come out' to some members of my family (long story) and I'm a bit hesitant." been there its not a happy place to be. I hated doing it but I hated hiding even more. Everything got better and worse at the same time. I think my family would not talk so much crap about my choice if I didn't wear hijab. If I didn't cover they could ignore the fact that I was Muslim and move on. Maybe that will help in your favor? InshAllah it will go well for you, maybe it will be like some of the responses I got coming out to some of my friends "what? duh, I totally knew that already, I thought you were going to tell me you were dying of cancer or something."

I love my friends.

Molly said...

Organica- No, they know I was Muslim for about two years before I got married. I converted in 2005 and married in 2007, so there is not that sense. My aunt is just in denial and has decided that I'm going through a phase and will eventually grow out of it and return to the Catholic church.
*snort*

Molly said...

Miss Muslimah- the bunnies and eggs and stuff I have no problem with.... although maybe I should since they're pagan and even farther from Islam than crosses... anyways its just my mom bought this cross-shaped cake (probably out of spite for my Islam since she's never bought one before) and I was REALLY hesitant to eat any. It just seemed wrong....

but my lindt bunny was YUMMY. I eat the ears first.

My husband was showing me pics of the sugar dolls and horses they make for children to eat in Egypt for the Prophet's (saas) birthday. I guess its all kind of the same?

Molly said...

Aeryn- mmm cadbury eggs. yumm. :D

Umm Layla- thank you for putting it in perspective, I'm not being tortured or murdered for my Islam. Alhumdulillah. You're right.

And you know, not even crushing them, they dont have any shape inside my tummy. nummy.

Molly said...

Anon- thank you very much, I'm hoping its the best response to give. blah. alhumdulillah for everything.

Where is conti?

Janene- slips? My grandpa (same side of the family as all this) has altzheimers and is getting worse, I'm just waiting for him to start saying stuff. Its hard to watch though.
And wow, alhumdulillah she did trust you at one point.

I'm soooo curious about your upbringing because I had kind of gotten the feeling that you were raised muslim, now I'm wondering?

Dawnuk-Awww thank you. I do love my family very much and I told my aunt that when I hugged her goodbye and her response was "yea". But I know she loves me and its from thi love that she reacts this way. Alhumdulillah for my grandma and ESPECIALLY for my mom who supports me. And my grandma who is on my side a lot of time.

janene said...

Molly,

Just to respond to your question about my religious upbringing...

My dad was muslim. My mom was born christian, not completely sure what she was when she married, I think she agreed to be muslim. I did review the shahada with her before she died though! She definately agreed for us to be raised muslim, but she had no qualms about passing recipes in her handwritten cookbook that included ones with pork (!?). I was born and raised in Canada, did not fit in AT ALL with my fathers culture, and did NOT want to fit in with western culture (dating, drinking, etc.). My dad died when I was beginning university. I lived with my grandmother (non-muslim) who lived near the university, for many years. My mom and I had a great relationship, however she died when I was in my mid-twenties.

Amanda said...

Awww honey, I am so sorry you had to deal with that. How awkward! I would have been on the edge of my seat the entire night, wondering when and how I was going to defend myself. I hate having to defend myself especially to family. Alhamdulillah mine don't really give me that hard of a time...I think if anything they say things behind my back but not really to my face. Who knows?

OMG I can't believe she told you to "get over it"...I would almost feel like crying. Is your family catholic? Mine too, although not really practicing.

I don't know if I've ever eaten any cross-shaped foods...maybe as a small kid? I don't really recall doing it (I hope I haven't lol). It just seems weird!

Kay said...

Did you have to go through the whole Easter ham thing too (just curious)?

Having not come out of the religious closet yet, Christian holidays aren't that awkward for me, but the Muslim ones are sort of lonely.

Also wanted to say, sorry about your aunt, I hope she realizes the pain that she causes, and on a holiday it is sort of, well, hypocritical at the very least.

Molly said...

Janene- that makes a lot of sense now. Thanks for explaining. It must have been hard to lose both parents at such a young age :(.

Manda- You know, I'm not so much hurt as I am just stressed. I was pissed when she ragged on my marriage, considering her marriage is so miserable that she drinks herself to sleep at night, but I wasn't really hurt. I don't know... Its kind of weird now that I think of it. I'm just frustrated. But alhumdulillah, I'm happy as a Muslim, happier than I have ever been in my life.

Half of my family is Catholic, that aunt is, and my grandmother is a non-practising Christian who was born Catholic but really isn't anything now. She denounces most religion period. My mom's a non-denominational born-again, and my other aunt and uncle on that side are Lutheran.

My dad's side is mainly protestant of varying degrees and drug-use. I have one aunt and uncle from that side who I am very, very, very close with- and who I was extremely terrified to tell them I was Muslim because I didn't want to lose them- who accept me and love me no matter what and don't say anything derrogatory about my choice. When I came out my aunt said, "oh... thats a shame.." and left it at that and hasn't changed a bit how she treats me. I adore them. And another aunt on that side completely ignores me but I think that has more to do with her hating the fact that her own daughter dates Muslims.

Overall I have been really blessed by my family and their treatment of me. Its frustrating sometimes, but knowing the things I have heard other converts go through, I just thank God that I have the family that I have.

Molly said...

Kay- actually just another example of how blessed I am to have the family I have, my grandmother has always had something specially made for me to eat. Of course there was ham, it is Easter after all, but she made me a small roast on the side. And at Christmas my family has started their own tradition of making prime rib rather than ham. So I can chow down on some juicy beef most holidays.

I think it also helped that I stoppped eating most pork products when I was 14. I was never a huge fan of pig meat. The only difference between pre-Islam and Islam is that pre I never really stayed away from something that maybe had bacon in it, or completely and totally refused to eat something that had some sort of ork product in it. Once I became Muslim I started having to ask what the ingredients of things were, and my grandma got a little suspicious.

Kay, are you married by any chance? I know that sometimes Islamic holidays were lonely for me too, especially in Arizona where I had some good friends, but not the Muslim family I have here in MN.

And about my aunt, I'm sure she knows exactly what she's doing, she's that kind of person. I love her dearly, but I've never denied that she is a b*tch. I'm not slandering her because she takes pride in it. Gossip and b*tching are her marathon sporting events. She plans caustic comments and barbed statements like Sun Tzu's Art of War.

Maybe thats why I'm not hurt by it, because I know who she is and everything she says seems hollow because I know how truly miserable she is on the inside.

Kay said...

Molly-No, I'm not married (I was very, very close to being though); insha'Allah, I will be someday. I'm in college (with one more semester to go), so I've been fortunate enough to celebrate with the MSA on campus, but it is still sort of not the same, you know.

My family likes lamb too much so we had that instead of ham lol :p.

Sarah said...

"I just couldn't see any Muslims chowing down on a gourmet Quran-shaped chocolate bar."

I'm still giggling. Yea that ain't right. Reminds me of Robin Williams comedy....

"How do you go from cruxifiction...ressurection... then chocolate bunnies and colored eggs? Guess it's better than the cream filled crosses...or come on kids, let's look for Jesus in the trees?"

Easter is one of those holidays I've always wondered about myself and I never was Christian. But just studying Christianity. It's always been strange to me.

And sorry you have to go through it with the familia though. :(

Sarah said...

Oh yea and maamools not necessarily just eaten by Christians. They are actually just like what Muslims make in the Eid ul-Fitr celebrations - Kahk. Lebanese make maamool, egyptians make kahk (same dough, just maamool is stuffed with dates).

I think it's cool to have a traditional "dish" or traditional cookie and have it symbolize whatever you want it to, but why stick a cross or hilaal moon or 6-pt star on it.... that makes it religious all of a sudden?

You want chocolate and bunnies to go with easter...fine but why the cross that splutters with cream after you bite into it. LOL wow..

Mama Kalila said...

There was a debate on Cafe Mom about those chocolate crosses lol.. I personally see no issue, like the other poster mentioned - hot cross buns (I've heard of them too). I've had mamoul too, but not with the crown of thorns on it... Curious now.

I'm sorry about the family thing though. That's rough.. the worst thing I've dealt w/ at a family holiday thing is an aunt making a snide comment for me praying (silently)... and we're just two diff denominations.

To the where do you get bunnies & eggs comment (which I understand might not seem to make sense) - they represent new birth & life... ie the resurrection.

Molly said...

Mama Kalila- actually the bunnies and eggs are pagan symbols that have been adopted by the Christian faith (just like christmas during the winter solstice and christmas trees). Thats what I meant about them being worse, they're PAGAN which is something further yet away from Islam.

Which is why I'm not ok with my mom making my (future inshAllah) children easter baskets. I'm more ok with Christmas presents because it is more based in secular tradition as far as I know, but Easter no.

My aunt actually- with her baptist reference- was ragging on my mom as well. Because my aunts a catholic and my mom is a staunch non-denominational. Its such crap. Seriously.