“You’re Syrian right?”
“Yes, but I’ve never been there”
I wish I can go back to two days ago to change my answer above. I wish I had said: “No, I’m not”.
What is it that makes me “Syrian”? Is it the way I speak the Arabic language? Is it the way I cook my food? Is it the way I dress?
The time has come to mark a line, a very clear line may I add, to outline the differences between culture and religion.
When your religion becomes your way of life, your “culture” ends up being shaped by your religion. You take from your culture what you want and you leave what your religion does not allow you to do.
I don’t think I have ever been more disgusted with the Syrian government than now. Granted I’ve never been to Syria, yet I’m known to people as being Syrian, because of the two things mentioned above I believe…
And to that, I say:
First of all, the reason I speak Arabic in the Syrian dialect is not because it is right to do so. It is because I am too lazy to speak in the true fusha Arabic…
And when it comes to food, honestly, especially in my current state, I hardly eat “Syrian” food. Besides, the only reason “Syrian” food is “Syrian” and “Chinese” food is “Chinese” is because Allah blessed the people living in the area where Syria is with different foods from those living int he land where China is. So people, depending on where they are and the food that is available from the land they inhabit, have developed their own cuisine. So wherever you are, you’re bound to eat the food that’s there. It’s globalization that has allowed us to have whatever food we want from all over the globe whenever we want it… and that’s why, I’ve been able to eat my Za3tar and Labneh and Kibbeh whenever I want to wherever I want to, not because of any other reasons. The fact that I grew up eating those foods is the reason why I miss them… Take anyone though, from any culture, and raise them in a place without ever introducing them to their cultural food, they will not grow to love it or miss it… and they will be happy with whatever the land they live in gives them.. It is because I was raised eating that food that I miss it, not because I am Syrian and therefore I eat Syrian food…Food is food.
So, next time someone asks me where I’m from, I don’t know whether I’ll reply Syria, regardless of what my genetic make up made me look like. My genes were a gift to me from Allah. And to that I am thankful. He made me look a certain way like a certain people who lived in a certain land and married and multiplied with people who look like them until it became known that people from that area look that way… If they had mixed early on, there would not even be a certain look for a culture! Take that!
So, what was my point again? I was trying to get to something… Oh yeah… My love for the Syrian land comes not from being “Syrian”… but because my Prophet peace and blessings be upon him liked Bilad Al-Shaam (currently Syria and other surrounding areas). It is because he did his businesses there and traveled there that I love that land. It is because of what the people who used to live there stood for that I love that land… (And no, they didn’t stand for being Syrian, they stood for their religion, their faith)…
And that’s why, next time I’m asked where I’m from, I will say, “Earth, but I was raised here and there and everywhere and hold dear to my heart many people and nations of all shapes and colors”.
I will always hold close to my heart the benefits I got from living in Saudi Arabia during my early childhood. I will always hold close to my heart the benefits I got from being raised in Canada. I will always hold close to my heart the opportunity to further my studies I was given in the USA. I will always be thankful for being able to live in different places, at different times, to experience this land and that land, these people and those people, this food and that food, this entertainment and that, this crappy government and that disgusting government… For all of those, have taught me lessons and shaped me and made me who I am today. So Alhamdulillah.
And I will say that because I am proud. I am proud to be a citizen of earth, following my religion and respecting myself and others.
So… No, I’m not Syrian. I’m a Muslim who has been places and hopes to go to even more places around this earth we were blessed with.
My religion defines me.
P.S. this post was inspired after a discussion of the recent ban of Niqab in Syria and a reflection of the current news of the mosque trying to be built in Ground Zero. It saddens me that I have lived to see a day where a Non-Muslim has stood up for the rights of Muslims while a so called “Muslim” government has banned something of the religion. Oh the irony, oh the sadness…
Ground Zero Mosque