Going to religious community for Arabic language support? - Mothering Forums
Multicultural Families > Going to religious community for Arabic language support?
sky_and_lavender's Avatar sky_and_lavender 04:01 PM 07-02-2010
I was listening to the Parents' Journal Podcast and heard a segment about bilingual parenting. It made me remember that despite my efforts to create community and speak Arabic as much as possible, my daughter needs more!

Our efforts to be in touch with more local Arabic speakers on a regular basis have not been very successful. I even started a cultural group that has around 30 members. It hasn't been great for language support yet, but we've met some nice people. Because I'm still increasing fluency but not fluent in Arabic yet, that slows things down. I'm working hard on it, so that's one critical element.

But also, the best place for our dialect of Arabic is probably a local mosque, where there is a pretty good Arabic community. I have shied away from mosques because my husband is not religious and doesn't want to participate and because I don't enjoy the scrutiny converts are said to face... besides that, it seems like people who attend masjid would be much more conservative than I am. It would be disingenuous to pretend to be more religious than I am, just for linguistic benefits. (Just to be clear, I am a believer, just not in the hair-covering, super-shariah-focused way.)

But the possibility of meeting Arabic-speaking women with babies and children speaking Arabic is enticing! It seems like being around people chatting in Arabic would be good for my daughter and me, and what if we met just one or two people who were friend-compatible and religion-compatible? That would be great!

I've also been looking into putting our daughter into Islamic school or daycare since they tend to incorporate Arabic into the curriculum, but the schools' pedagogy is so authoritarian. Language is important, but other things are, too.

This is so hard!

Liquesce's Avatar Liquesce 04:19 PM 07-02-2010
Do you know for a fact that your local mosque is populated largely by a, for lack of a better term, judgmentally conservative membership? I ask because in my experience that has tended to be less true than people assume.

I also have not known converts to be typically overly scrutinized ... patronized on occasion ("you've been Muslim for fifteen years? Masha'allah! Can you recite fatihah?"), but IME that tends to wane soon enough, and the degree to which converts are treated as lesser Muslims is very often greatly overstated.

Generally speaking people who come looking for community find some, and people who come in with reformist guns ablazin' bring out the bristles. Now, people who come in looking for a cadre of best friends based upon no other points of compatibility beyond a broadly shared religion may well be disappointed, but it doesn't sound as though that's what you're doing. And even if you were, you might be surprised with whom you can find compatibility.
Amatullah0's Avatar Amatullah0 04:31 PM 07-02-2010
Theres usually a very large range of "religousness" in any given community. Some masjids are more conservative than others, and some masjids are only attended by "the most religious" of the community. This will often change on fridays, in ramadan, on fridays in ramadan, and especially on eids. see if they have community dinners, picnics, or iftars. see about posting flyers in the masjid asking for arabic tutoring/exposure for your daughter.

If it turns out the local masjid is "overly conservative" you can drive a little further to the next one, where all of the "less-conservative" people probably go. oh, and as far as the masjid goes, hijab isn't really a way to judge it, unless what you see is all black, everyone wearing niqab, but, even then, I have seen time and time again that the type/amount of clothing is not always a show of "conservativeness" it is often a show of culture. Ever hear the story of the teenage girl who covers every inch of her skin except her face and hands when she goes to the masjid, but goes out to the mail box in a mini skirt and a tank top? I have. Its not uncommon for women(and men) to dress more "conservatively" at the masjid than they do elsewhere.
Liquesce's Avatar Liquesce 05:27 PM 07-02-2010
... or for people who dress very conservatively elsewhere as well to be very lovely people all around.
sky_and_lavender's Avatar sky_and_lavender 06:42 PM 07-02-2010
Thanks, Liquesce and Amatullah0! Your replies were so helpful and encouraging!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquesce View Post
Do you know for a fact that your local mosque is populated largely by a, for lack of a better term, judgmentally conservative membership?
The one I'm looking into seems more multicultural and less "judgmental" than I might assume (based on a hippie white Muslim guy I know who goes there--he's had some differences of opinion with people but is still tolerated and loved). So I guess it might be okay, which is why I'm considering it. He does say he's had people there "critique" his wudu and such things--and he's been Muslim for 20 years. But it's not been a huge part of his experience. I'm just having a really rough time taking the step of going for a visit. I am imagining a very big cultural divide, which could just be mostly in my head!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquesce View Post
Generally speaking people who come looking for community find some, and people who come in with reformist guns ablazin' bring out the bristles. . . . but it doesn't sound as though that's what you're doing. And even if you were, you might be surprised with whom you can find compatibility.
I love your descriptive language--made me chuckle! I guess if I go with a humble spirit and stay open to possibilities, that will serve me well. I have always had luck as a cultural tourist in the past, but this time I'm more than just a stranger, which I guess throws me off.

[QUOTE=Amatullah0;15582775]Theres usually a very large range of "religousness" in any given community. Some masjids are more conservative than others, and some masjids are only attended by "the most religious" of the community. . . . . If it turns out the local masjid is "overly conservative" you can drive a little further to the next one, where all of the "less-conservative" people probably go[QUOTE=Amatullah0;15582775]
This is a really good point, that the range of people probably varies in one place. Of course! I appreciate your practical thinking and ideas on this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amatullah0 View Post
oh, and as far as the masjid goes, hijab isn't really a way to judge it, unless what you see is all black, everyone wearing niqab, but, even then, I have seen time and time again that the type/amount of clothing is not always a show of "conservativeness" it is often a show of culture.
Another good point, and one that I should know, having spent a lot of time in Lebanon, where the most made-up women can also be the most devout in some cases! I live in a place where there are a lot of muhajabis, and clearly hijab has different meaning for different people.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquesce View Post
... or for people who dress very conservatively elsewhere as well to be very lovely people all around.
Well stated! It would be sad to shy away from someone based on his or her clothing--conservative dress doesn't mean unfriendly or "close-minded" or boring, that's for sure!
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