Saudi Arabia: Wives are Ill-Prepared for Marriage


A two day focus group was held in Jeddah during which Saudi men and women shared their perspectives on marriage.  One theme which was consistent among the differing groups of men is that they believed their wives were ill-prepared for marriage.  The men felt that their wife had no idea how to take care of a home and husband and remained to focused on wanting to get together with female friends and shop.  The men also felt that the women had no conscience or thought twice about spending large sums of money which in many cases, the couple did not have.

Speaking from my own observations I can understand how a Saudi woman may be unprepared for marriage.  Some Saudi women are coddled by their parents and do not have any specific responsibilities.  As a result they spend their day with friends or cousins, experiment with make-up, have several outfit changes a day and then in the evenings go with their friends to the mall to shop and then eat.

Many Saudi families will have domestic help which do all the general household tasks of cleaning, laundry, ironing and general cooking.  Now among most of my Saudi friends, the mother would do the majority of the cooking but have the housemaid assist.  Most Saudi girls in my experience will know how to prepare and serve tea.

What does this mean then when the girl is married?  If her mother does not give her a course or training in maintaining a home, then perhaps the parents should give the couple a gift in the form of a housemaid.  In fact, many young women who have been accustomed to housemaids and having a driver will often be insistent that the new husband provide them.  Most husbands, wanting to please a new wife, will engage a housemaid and driver even if he can’t really afford to do so.

A new wife typically wants her home furnished with new and fashionable items.  In essence, she wants to go into her marriage with the same standards and lifestyle that she had while living at her family home.  Not every new husband has the resources to do so.

As a result, part of the high divorce rate in Saudi Arabia is being blamed on wives who do not know how to maintain a home, spending beyond what the husband can afford and a lack of communication and closeness between husband and wife.  Many husbands feel that their wife spends too much time with cousins, family and other girlfriends rather with him.

I find the information from the focus group to be very interesting and enlightening. Many young married women I knew in Riyadh felt that their husbands spent too much time away from the home with their friends.  As a result, these women in turn would gather with friends or go out shopping.

In defense of the women, most of the young women I know in Saudi were sheltered and never given any indication about budgets or ceilings on costs.  They would shop and purchase whatever they wished with no regard to the costs.  It is customary for a women to have a new dress for any special occasion. 

I think one of the best things for a young couple is to go outside of the Kingdom for a year or more, such as on a scholarship for continued studies.  Living abroad the young couple are made to rely more on each other and learn to do things together.  Most young couples can not or do not take a housemaid with them.  They are also away from the influences of family and friends.  They will learn to work together and whether they have a marriage that can survive challenges.

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49 Responses

  1. Good to see that they actually care enough to put together a Focus Group to study it.

  2. So Saudi men are untrustworthy and deceitful when it comes to relationships and Saudi women are shallow and lazy when it comes to performing their roles in a marriage…cook, clean, and be mindful of how much her Saudi husband doesnt make. Gothcha.

  3. how is the young couple supposed to be spending time together if all events and gatherings are segregated?

  4. Even if he is married the Saudi husband/father does not spend a lot of time with his family. And the worst is he often travels abroad by himself.

  5. I agree many Saudi young women are pampered at home. \it is the same with the young men also, having every task performed by a female.
    I also think the gender segregation plays a huge role. The kids grown up with no idea of social interaction/respect of the other gender.

  6. One of the lessons I remember most from high school is from a favorite teacher who told us we cannot go into life, marriage, whatever thinking we must have the same lifestyle as our parents right from the start.

    Mr. R reminded us that our parents have had several years of working and saving (and hopefully NOT a lot of credit card debt 😉 ) to get where they are and we must realize we, too, must work for that standard of living if that is what we desire. We cannot feel entitled to a big house, nice cars, plenty of stuff right from the start.

    Perhaps this lesson needs to be taught elsewhere so new Saudi wives will realize they may have to do without a maid or driver, the newest fashions for every event until their husbands get established in their jobs. Really, the whole society over there just sounds bad. I can’t imagine Bedouins of old being like this, but maybe they were. I’m just trying to figure out this culture based on your blog posts.

  7. ‘Really, the whole society over there just sounds bad’

    Isn’t it funny how some like to blame the MSM for the bad impression of Saudis or Muslims?

  8. When we got married both of us didn’t know to do a thing..we were focussing on studying,, and everythng wa staken care of. then we graduated, got married, starting as lowly drs pulling various shifts living in a tine place and realized however bad hostel food was it was still hot and ready 🙂 i think the fun was doing things together, learning to cook together, burning things together, cleaning together and after a long day at the hospital just dead tired to think of even eating.. bananas and milly tea was dinner most days and my parents lived 20min away… no parcels came our way…. by the end of 6 months we were competantly taking care of finances,food,cleaning and carreers..
    all it takes is throw them together , no help and no interference and they will wisen up…

    considering how much i was spoiled and useless as a kid my kids can cook,clean and do laundry, actually my daughter can bake faboulouly and whip up a 3 course meal !!!! all kids are ineterested, they just have to be given an oppurtunity to prove themselves…

  9. i really don’t think we can blame just the wives here.. why are the men not better prepared? why can’t they cook and teach their wives.. excuses on both sides. women have to suddenly become live-in maids and cooks while th eman tries to make a living !!!!!
    very patriarchial? no?

    I think both should be capabale of living independently, cokking and earning and caring for themselves alone…It’s not the saudi male is very well prepared for marriage, just like it takes time fo rhimt o establish a career and bring in the money , its going to take time for her to adjust to beinig a cook and cleaner i’d say…

    better they both go to work and both work at home..

  10. Wow,can I ever relate to this topic. The young people I’ve observed in Saudi really fit the descriptions in the article. Couple that with growing up segregated and not knowing how to be with a man or woman and it’s a recipe for disaster.

  11. Were women at this focus group about marriage??

  12. Oops, just re-read the post…

  13. Lynn, aside from clips people share online I rarely watch the MSM if we’re talking television. I get a lot of my info from blogs most of them by Muslims or people in Muslim lands and also from following links online. I find it interesting to read what people choose to blog about and highlight from their societies or the ones they are guests of.

    I told Samer I blame him for making me interested in follow Arab and/or Muslim blogs and following news from “that world.” 🙂

  14. What is MSM?

  15. One reason that this thread conveniently glossed over, for the saudi housewives being ill-prepared for marriage, is the prevalent practice of “child marriages” in saudi arabia (or for that matter in many other muslim countries). Many under-age females (7/9/14/15 years of age) are given away by fathers and brothers, emulating prophet’s hadith/example, that do not care about their daughters/sisters happiness as long as the dowry is paid. Small girls are married off to men twice their age. Obviously in saudi arabia, WOMEN DO NOT HAVE A VOICE. These women are married off in their teeny-bopper years; so obviously they are ill-prepared for marriage.

    In all of the cases of child marriages, in addition to violating international agreements signed by Saudi Arabia, child marriages should be considered to be the same as forced marriages since valid consent has not been obtained. Also, serious health problems threaten a young bride who is not psychologically, physically, and sexually prepared for marriage. Young brides are not ready for the responsibilities that come with being a wife, a sexual partner and a mother.

    Such trafficking of child brides — a most reactionary practice that takes us back to the days of concubines and slave girls —- should be outlawed with absolutely no exceptions. By allowing such crimes against childhood, saudi males are incurring the wrath of their own society… behavioral abnormalities and problems which lead to “marriage problems” outlined in the thread.

  16. Radha- seems your experience with your hubby was a great start, are you two Saudi? Living in Saudi?

    I started out in the USA and am now in UAE. I have 8 children, in the states they were all capable of helping and loved to do so, they were only 5 children, then ages 7 and under. And hubby was very involved.

    Coming to the UAE has been both a blessing and a curse, the high income/high standards of living are not always a blessing, 3 more very unexpected pregnancies and some health problems made me start to employ a maid and driver, then it was bigger kids so we need bigger house so we need 2 maids- sigh-
    Needless to say the children got spoiled and used to the finer things in life, so did I. This however has really killed the closeness of our family and I hate that they are so interested in materialistic things.

    This summer we have changed alot, down sized our house and gotten rid of all staff except 1 maid who is like family, she has all the same privelages as my kids, only now they have chores also, and consequences for not doing them or slacking in general.
    This has really improved their character, its like you just get sucked into this way of life without even wanting to.

    I now have 3 teenagers, 2 tweens, 2 lils and a newborn (and a much over due tubal ligation). Kidding my kids are my life but really alot to handle by myself. I had a long talk with them this past weekend about what so many others in the world have, many of them absoluletly nothing, they actually felt a bit ashamed and suggested we cleaned out our closets again and donated toys, clothes, food, etc.

    We are working on that project and sadly found out that the local Red Crescent trashes most of the donations because they dont want to sort it! I kid you not, and this is from a dear friend who has worked with them, her superiors refused to let her have poor people come and pick things up because they would have to do paperwork.

    My children of course will not know that, and we are still working on down sizing and helping others, luckily my friend has left Red Crescent and works full time out of her home for no compensation finding suitable donations for families.

    Well that was longer than I had intended, hats off to you Radha and all us moms who are trying to bring back that good old fashioned “kids need to be responsible” agenda.

    UmMuhammad

  17. Aafke, sorry, MSM= Main Stream Media. I, myself, don’t believe that there is a strong bias against them but I keep hearing that there is so now I keep looking for it but the only place I find anything remotely bad is in Arab/Muslim blogs. {{shrugs}}

  18. And this article says they don’t even want to be married.
    http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article470797.ece

  19. I thought you meant FSM…
    😈

    UmmMohammed, you seem to have things very well arranged. What a pity donations get thrashed by the red moon people, good you found out about it!

    I think all young people need to live on their own a few years. It’s really very important, it teaches you to live your own life, deal with a budget, clean and cook, etc.
    We always used to say: ”Never get involved with a man who hasn’t lived at least three years on his own”!!!

  20. Oh Pleeeeeaaaaaase. It is like you want to get an eraser and wipe the slate clean and start again in KSA.

  21. I like the idea of everyone in the household pitching in to accomplish household chores rather than having the bulk of the responsibilities fall on the parents and/or the child(ren). I think teaching children how to care for themselves is a very important thing that is being overlooked in many places, not just KSA. Ditto with living on a budget.

    A lot of my classmates in college would rather eat poorly so they could afford the name-brand (or designer-brand) pair of shoes on their list. I also remember one particular incidence where even after I had already shown a flatmate where the shut-off valve on the toilet was, they still managed to conveniently “forget” and the flat was flooded. I was the one who had to call it in because they were “running late” to class. Craziness! Also, I noticed that most of my Chinese flatmates also did not seem accustomed to living on a budget or cleaning up after themselves. So I think this is more of a worldwide issue particularly among the wealthy who may have grown up with a housekeeper.

    I could easily see how women being left at home after marriage while their husband travels may drive them to spend more time with friends, particularly if they don’t have a job. If their friends are all shopping, then I would think they would, too. What all is there for women to do during the day while their husbands are at work?

    One thing that might be an interesting idea is to start up a bartering system among women where they could “trade” one’s cooking skills and recipes for another’s ability to clean, etc. in the event they couldn’t afford a maid. I remember in some of the poor neighborhoods I lived in, women would give each other manicure and pedicures to save on money and/or do each other’s hair.

  22. -ummuhammed —

    We live in USA currently. My husband is saudi , I’m not . We did live for a few years in saudi many years ago when our kids were young. We however travel a lot – work and pleasure 🙂

  23. The culture of segregation does not help a newly married couple prepare for life. Neither does the ‘interference’ from extended family.

    I think it is good that the focus point illustrated husbands and wives do want to spend time together and get to know another. I guess they simply need to learn how.

    When Abdullah and I were getting to know one another, we always prepared lists of questions with things we wanted to know about each other. That helped alot and certainly led to even more topics of discussion.

  24. Salaam alaikhoum. I read with interest this piece so as I can be prepared when the time comes that I find a husband. You know my friends that I sometimes post about. I know in the early days of their marriage the husband felt the same as the men felt in that forum about his wife spending too much time with her friends. It is better now, alhamdullilah, but the point about the ladies in the forum also thinking their husbands spent too much time with their friends is also interesting. What about the husband who does not spend any time with their friends, and always prays at home, not at the mosque as he feels that he does not belong there! How does that equate with your fellow readers thoughts? I ask this because this does apply to the husband in that marriage. This also relates to the lack of communication point in this item; even if he did want to go to the mosque and had friends to spend time with, he does not know what his wife would allow!! I would be interested in seeing any replies and any advice that anyone can give for me to pass on to my friends. Massalaama, Amelia

  25. Which is the real problem? That he doesn’t pray at the mosque or that he doesn’t feel that he belongs there?

  26. A woman has every right to expect that she lives in the lifestyle she was given by her father. The boys family knows this and so does she. If he can’t afford that then he should say so upfront. She can then decide if she wants to marry this man. People shouldn’t marry off thier daughters to men not equipped and ready to provide for her. Its seems people don’t ask basic questions or sat thier expectations before getting married. These things should be ironed out before not after the marriage.

  27. @kim,

    What if she’s of a wealthy family and not many young boys can match that . unless she goes in for older men or men dependent on their fathers wealth she might not find a match.

    I understand where you are coming from regd discussing this beforehand, but i find youngsters having too many pre-concieved ideas nowadays ( says something about my age doesn’t it 🙂 ) and too much emphasis placed on money , money helps but there are other things you value more …

    My dad always said if i was so fond of a grand lifestyle then i should make myself capable of providing for it myself 🙂

    I hope the youngsters reading this realize it is a great feeling to achieve everything after you have started out from scratch, makes you feel happy and pumped up and helps you appreciate the wealth all the more 🙂

  28. “a woman has every right to expect that she lives in the lifestyle she was given by her father”

    really? i would lower my standards of living for a righteous man rather than marry rich man whose character is lacking. i thought that was what marriage was about, no?

  29. ‘My dad always said if i was so fond of a grand lifestyle then i should make myself capable of providing for it myself ‘

    Most wise man, your father.

  30. Radha, well said!

    I was around while my parents struggled to make it out of the ghetto. I’m not really looking to go back, but I sure do appreciate all they’ve done!

  31. @ Radha, I agree with you about the emphasis on money but if a girl is raised with a certian standard and the boy is not upfront about his condition then it is going to be a bad situation. My point is that we are not teaching our youth how to choose a suitable partner, they have no clue what they want let alone what they can give to a relationship. If the boys family sees that his mother and sisters are not doing any of the work at home why wouldn’t he pause and think about the girl he is going to marry. Silent expectations when confronted with reality = explosive situation. We need to teach our daughters and sons to know who they are and what they want and to look for a mate that compliments them. Asking the right questions and stating expectations upfront is key.

    @ Almost a Muslimah, yes she does have every right to expect that, I am not talking from a spoiled rich girl perspective I am talking about the Islamic perspective. If he is ill prepared to provide for her in the same fashion as her father he should say so, if she accepts then its her choice. The groom may pay a huge dowery then expect her to live a very different lifestyle. If she isn’t aware she is going to be disgruntled. If a man’s religious commitment and character are pleasing then she should certianly marry him. This is the basic principle and the ruling of sharee’ah. How many of these men are really pious? The women complain they are out with friends every night leaving them alone, never spending time with them, is this the statement of a pious man or the statement of Saudi tradition? I don’t know about you but the men I know who are pious keep themselves out and off the streets (ie cafes, and coffee shops) and don’t spend time visiting friends nightly. They are going to the Masjid, teaching and building a strong family at home. What are they doing in the home of thier friends instead of with thier wife and family? We need to examine the situation of each suitor and whether he is suitable to marry one whose social level is above him, or not if the difference is great in terms of lineage, wealth, education and profession, it is not advisable to go ahead with this marriage, because there are usually problems from the woman or her family. There may be differences in lifestyle and the ways in which they do things, which may cause enimity.

    The key here is silent expectations from both parties.

  32. Lineage? What has lineage to do with a successful marriage? Except when lineage means related, like a cousin, in that case you may want to rethink because of the genetic burden you may be placing on your children.

  33. Seems to me the men in the review have a serious problem with objectivity. What do they do in the home? Do they lend a helping hand? Clean up after themselves? Are they themselves home at all?
    Are they themselves any good at cooking?
    Seems to me these guys should be thrown out of the house for five years and make to live on their own without ”household help” before they should even be allowed to get married, let alone be allowed to have an opinion.

    Of course growing up in a neurotically segregated society is a recipe for disaster. Maybe they should forget about marrying and the girls should live with their girlfriends and the men with their boyfriends.

  34. Fathers shouldn’t marry off daughters who are not capable of supporting themselves- and should not marry off sons who are not capable of washing a dish and doing laundry.

  35. Aafke-Art – I think people who grow up in closed societies with all the rules, regulations and segregation simply can’t understand marriage by choice for love so money, lineage or whatever is all they can hold onto and believe and so it will continue and with that will bring the desire to find love elsewhere perhaps???

  36. Wendy, it is a historically recorded fact that arranged marriages tend to increase outer marriage relationships.
    Because people want to be loved. Humans need to be loved. If their arranged spouse doesn’t love them it is maybe inevitable you find it outside of marriage.
    If a society is so totally segregated men and women will find love within their own sex, even if that isn’t their natural inclination, it is the natural effect of total segregation.
    If your society is completely unnatural, people will start to act out unnatural behavior.

    Sandy, Ah, we’ve come to the crux of the matter: it’s the parents fault!

  37. Salaam alaikhoum. In response to Lynn. The gentlman in question does not pray at the mosque for various reasons. Firstly his place of work is too far away from the mosque. Secondly he prays at home for the sake of his wife- she has difficulty in “finding time” to pray – although she knows she should. It is his way of trying to set some sort of example for her to follow. Thirdly, she is diabetic and because her english is not yet good enough he feels that if an emergency comes up she would not be able to get the ambulance (or whatever) to come. However, according to the faith, the best place for the man to do his prayers is in congregation in the mosque so what does he do!? When he does go (say during Ramadan when his wife makes the effort to go- it has a ladies section!), he feels out of place- not only because he is probably the only male who is not from an islamic country but also because of the generally unsuportive environment – even though according to the faith it is explicity directed that those born to the faith should show evey support to someone who has converted/reverted. With regard to the second point in my original response. It is because of all the above that he does not go anywhere to visit friends, yet his wife goes off to visit her friends. Apart from this, he too has seen at first hand what the women in the survey said about their husbands going off and it upset him. He and his wife (soon after they married) had an invitation to visit a family in a predominantly pakistani area of a town elsewhere in england. Obviously the host (as he was active within the mosque) whent there to pray a lot so this gentleman went too. At the end of the prayer, all the brothers tended to congregate outside and talk, and this gentleman overheard several invites to come and eat at someones home now; invites accepted and no communication with the respective wives either to say “I wont be home for the meal as brother …. has invited me to eat with him” or “I am bringing brother …. to eat with me now”. What about the wife who has prepared food that will not now be eaten, or the wife who has to dash about making more food and then dash upstairs to put on suitable modest clothes due to the presence of a non-mahram, or when she was expecting to be able to spend some time with her husband to be banished from sight due to the segregation rules! Maasalaama, Amelia

  38. Amelia, I’m really not sure that I understand the point that you are trying to make. Unless of course you are saying that Muslim marriages are pretty cold.

    But, how do you know that the man was not given permission to invite people over after prayers? Or perhaps a man was told by his wife that she was going to be going to a friend’s and he knew that if he hung out after prayers he would get an invite to dinner somewhere? Not that the inconsiderate scenario could not also happen quite frequently.

  39. @Amelia,
    I met a lot of very nice, respectable Muslim men and women while in England. I think whether or not a Muslim man/woman is considerate of his/her spouse has more to do with individual personality and personal values and less to do with whether or not they are Muslim. The same thing could happen to Christian, atheist, whatever couples (except for the part about attending the mosque as this would be a little more unlikely if one is of a different faith). Nobody is perfect, right?

  40. My husband issues a lot of impromtu meal invites 🙂 to collegues, lone sheep , just friends etc., and my kids do so more often. I thnk the key is participation…

    he brings friends home but helps prep the meal and actually they sit at the island of kitchen table and we kind od chat ( i’m in actuality cooking 🙂 ) but they prep or lay stuff out or pour soe leamondade whatever and we all eat togetherr, it’s actually a fun experience and not that much hassle.. atleast i don’t think so, again he’s not dumb enough to do that late on week nights ..

  41. Salaam alaikhoum. In response to Lynn. I am not saying that muslim marriages are cold, but just as the original post highlighted, it seems to the brother that men are ill equipped for marriage as they are more in tune (due to culture,background or whatever) to the fact that they, provided they fulfill their islamic obligations to their wife and family, can do what they want as the the faith kind of like indicates that they are the boss. And we all know that bosses-as they are not answerable to anyone-do what they want. Whether they will get punished in the hereafter is another thing! I do accept your point about not knowing if he had been given permission,etc. On the flip side of this, it also seems to him that the women – having got fed up with what their husbands are doing have in turn got together and said “we will do the same”; a sad indightement of the “family values and morals” side of the teachings
    In response to StrangeOne, I do agree that a persons personality, etc. does enter the equation. When were you in england and to what area did you go.
    Radha, you say the key is in participation and you all eat together. Do you always have your hijaab available in case the scenario happens? What would happen if he brought someone home who then completely refused to join in as you were there too. This happened to this brother. His wife fractured her knee and one evening one of her then acqaintences phoned up to say that she would visit that evening, but said that his wife had to throw her husband out of the house that evening as she could not be there if a non mahram was around. This phone call happenned when he had just got home from work and was in the shower and he had to go in half an hour! Maasalaama, Amelia

  42. Amelia, ‘his wife had to throw her husband out of the house that evening as she could not be there if a non mahram was around’.

    I guess I just don’t know what your point is unless you are trying to show how inconsiderate and rude some folks can be and how weak others are to accept it. Was it not possible for the woman to tell the person that ‘tonight my husband is home and in need of relaxing after work so he’ll probably be spread out on the couch in his underwear so, unless you wish to see that, please do come by tomorrow when my husband is at work and I will be more in the need for company.’ ?

    No one would agree stronger than I that religion can make nuts out of people but if a person is going to ALLOW another person’s beliefs (or their own) to adversely affect them then, well, that’s up to them to decide, no?

    If a person was caught in a sticky situation where the husband brought home company that the wife believed that she had to cover in front of and she wasn’t prepared for unexpected guests then it is up to the wife to either make SURE he understands, in no uncertain terms, that that is NOT to happen again without letting her know OR, if the wife wants to comply then she will make sure that she is always prepared in the future. If my husband brought home unexpected guests for dinner it would not be a problem at all. I’d get my shoes on and ask which restaurant we were headed to.

  43. @amelia brown,

    I don’t wear the hijab, but then again i’m always capable of being fully dressed in under 10 min 🙂 not that i go around free as a bird …

    I think the key is setting expectations and also the cultural milieu you are in. no one coems to my house expecting complete segregation i do accomodate the occasion requests as in .. feel free to sit in the formal living room while your better half is elsewhere. some of the more discriminating women who insist do seat themselves there, i’m not against getting a plate for them and eating with them but i flit about in my house at will so men who don’t want to see my womanly face usually don’t visit my home and if they need my husband’s company they are kind of forced to tolerate me too 🙂
    like i said ,, i can be reasonably accomodating…and adjustable — helps in a marriage

  44. I find it incredibly sad that people are made to be so neurotic and twisted that they can’t visit a badly injured friend because there is somebody from the opposite sex around.
    Or that one spouse can’t bring home a friend without causing the other to go into a frantic deranged, disturbed, hebephrenic rush to get some piece of fabric to cover her sinful fitna-causing skin and hair.

    On the other hand it makes me realize how lucky I am that I am living in a normal, mentally and sexually healthy, balanced segment of society.

  45. If the environment is unsupportive he can make other friends. England is full of people. I lived near an unsupportive Muslim community in the west once. I didn’t have many Muslim friends and it was no big loss to me. During Ramadan I invited Christian or other friends over and we had a wonderful meal. I did wear hijab at the time but that isn’t a big deal if that’s what you wear. And there is no need to segregate because there is absolutely no reason to. It’s a two-gender world and I don’t see why people in England should practice unnatural mysogynistic tribal behaviors. Especially Muslims. Because others might get the mistaken idea it’s Islamic.

  46. Salaam alaikhoum. Thankyou for your responses so far. Sandy, your point about the wife telling the lady to come tomorrow when the husband was at work is exactly the way he thought is what should have happenned. Aafke-Art. Although they do not think things as forecrfully as you do, as they are trying to be good practicing muslims who try and fit in as best they can faith wise in a non-islamic environment they do try and conform to what is expected by the teachings, and so they realise that there are families out there that conform to the type you described in such colourful language at the end of your post; although these families naturally would not describe themselves as such! Sandy, you say that he could make other, non muslim friends. Unfortuneatly he has never had any of those either. He had “acquaintences” but these were only in respect of the certain circumstances in which he met them. In fact, he only ever had one person that you could call a real friend – one such acquaintence who his mother had also met (quite by chance), who supported him when his mother died, and this lady moved away not too long after! Radha, I would love to introduce you and your husband to them. Apart from the fact that the lady wears hijaab and you do not, you come across as having an almost identical attitude to there’s. Your point about flitting around the house when friends are about and not worrying about segregation is what they practice (although it is forced as they only have a one bedroomed apartment!). In fact this is something that any ladies that come have to be aware of – rather than the “extreme” attitude that that sister showed in my previous post. To this end they do have one such friend, an algerian born sister who is aware that muslims should help reverts – she also has better english than the mans wife, although she comes fom the same geographic area – and has no problems in visiting them, and them to her. Naturally the ladies will still spend most of the time speaking to each other in arabic, which makes him feel left out, but she is quite prepared to interpret between them and will speak with him directly from time to time (when she gets the chance!!) Maasalaama, Amelia

  47. Amelia Brown,
    I spent a decent amount of time both in Manchester and London. In Manchester, there were plenty of mosques due to its large Pakistani & Arab population. This is also somewhat true for parts of London that I explored. A lot of my Muslim friends I met through the university (and most were international students), but a lot of the local ones I met through things such as acting classes, walking around town, and renting a room. Of course, I didn’t meet them at a mosque.

    It may help the couple some if they make an effort to make more friends. Also, it may help if he learns Arabic and she learns English. Aside from learning from each other (which doesn’t always work out the best), it is also quite easy to do a language exchange via posting a note on the bulletin board at a nearby university’s international society. The university library is also a good place to post information (or even just a flyer in the language section). Otherwise, maybe see if the local mosque holds any classes in either? Arabic classes at the mosque might be a good way for the husband to meet other non-Arabic speakers at the mosque, possibly helping him to feel more comfortable there (though it may be more classical Arabic; he could always learn the colloquial at home). If he feels uncomfortable leaving his wife at home by herself, maybe some of her good friends could come over during that time? I can, however, understand wanting to be near her in case of an emergency. Some places that offer CELTA certification will sometimes also offer free English classes up to so many hours a week.

  48. Salaam alaikhoum. Strangeone, thankyou for your thoughts. The local mosque does do arabic classes at a decent time, but only for the children. If they do an arabic class for adults it is usually betwwen the times of the last two prayers of the day, which presently are 21.15 hrs. and 23.00 hrs approximately. Apart from the mosque being just away from the centre of the town where bus stops etc. are, as in any town the centre is where the night-clubs are, which obviously means the likelihood of alcahol induced violence, etc. etc. Not a good place to be at night. Apart from this he gets up at about 4.00 a.m. to have his breakfast and get off to work, so he would not be getting much sleep! With regard to your suggestion of posting something on the notice board of the univertity, would you send it by post to the headmaster and ask them to put it up, or what? Maasalaama, Amelia

  49. Amelia,
    Wa aleikum salaam. To post it at a notice board of the university, I would contact the international centre associated with the university. This information can most likely be found by searching on the university website under societies, associations, etc. such as the “International Society”. Depending on the university, there may be other societies that meet that are specific to a particular culture, such as the “Chinese Student Association”, etc.

    Otherwise, I noticed a few people had posted their contact information, such as email address and what languages they wanted to learn and teach, by taping a piece of paper with this information on it to the shelf of the language they could teach. In other words, if you know Arabic and want to learn English, attach the information to the shelf nearest to the “learn Arabic” books. I am not sure whether or not they contacted the university library first before doing so. My guess is that they did not.

    Another idea is to speak with the person in charge of the linguistics/language learning department at a nearby university in order to ask who’d they recommend contacting and/or where to post information in order to do a language exchange. You can also ask around to see if maybe there are any groups that meet in order to learn and/or exchange languages in the area. In the United States, I have found that http://www.meetup.com works nicely but I am not sure what the UK equivalent would be? Also, you could try couchsurfing.org, too. Couchsurfing is more international, and typically geared towards helping backpackers find accommodation and a contact in another city. However, it may also prove useful for finding someone to do a language exchange with.

    Hope this helps! Ma salaama!

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