Wednesday, December 14, 2011

All-American Muslim: First Day of School

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

This episode did a good job of paying attention to most of the families, especially those we haven't seen too much before. I learned about the dog hair thing... totally didn't know that dogs are "unclean." The hair of cats, however, is only unclean when it's wet, so it's not so much an issue to have a cat. You can't pray with dog hair on you, which is why many Muslim families don't have dogs. It was also interesting to see how Muslim families prepare for the first day of school... not that different from others, though I liked the scene with the hijab shopping and the parental concerns about peer pressure and bullying that go along with the choice to wear the headscarf.

As I cover what took place in this episode, I'll give a little reminder as to who's-who.

All-American Muslim "Muslims Moving On" (S01E05):
Aoudes - [Nader & Nawal are newlyweds in their mid-twenties with a newborn son, Naseem. Nader is a federal agent and Nawal is a respiratory therapist.] Nader feels like he's a natural father. [that's reassuring. I was sort of worried when he didn't want anything to do with other babies.] Nawal believes that, because babies are unpredictable, it is embarrassing to take him out places because they might cry. [fact of life. next!] Nawal thinks that taking care of a newborn is very difficult and it's not what she expected. [I wonder if there is anyone out there who really finds the experience of caring for a baby to be what they expected?] Nawal has been very contained in the house so they go to Nader's parents' for Iftar dinner, where the subject of more children is soon brought up. Nader is thinking he wants 3-5 total, but Nawal is struggling with just one. They are getting a lot of unsolicited advice, and although Nader tries to confront the problem, the words just keep coming. [that sucks.] Nader is worried that Nawal has lost her sense of self, and though she doesn't see herself as depressed, she is resentful of how things have changed. [hmmm... starting to worry about Nawal...]

Zaban - [Fouad and Zaynab have been married about 12 years and have four kids. Fouad is the football coach at the local high school, and Zaynab is a part-time secretary.] The family goes shopping for hijabs for the daughters, who each began wearing one in the third grade, when they were eight. (Zaynab was 21 when she began wearing the hijab.) Ayah is shy and wore a hoodie over her hijab when she first started. [this fascinates me... I wonder how accepted that is in schools... we certainly couldn't have hoodies up when I was in school!] Jamilah, 11, is in middle school now, and Zaynab is worried about peer pressure. Jamilah knows that there will be more girls not wearing the hijab than there were in elementary school. Fouad is worried that his daughters will choose not to wear the headscarf in their teen years. Zaynab wants to take Jamilah to school and pick her up, but settles for just picking her up and letting her take the bus to school. Fouad has no problem with their kids having non-Muslim friends, but hopes that the friends will understand that there are some differences, like when it comes to dancing, boys and girls mixing, etc. Fouad and some others go to scout out Dearborn High and see the competition. 

Bazzy-Aliahmead - [Nina, first-generation Lebanese-American, is an event planner who doesn't wear the hijab. She wants to open a nightclub in Dearborn. She has a husband and son whom we have not really seen yet.] We meet Diana, Nina's older sister, who also works in the same place and also doesn't wear the hijab. Nina talks to her about the night club situation, and Diana agrees with their mother - it's not a good idea. Nina gets a call that the owner of the building she wants to buy won't negotiate on the price, and Nina thinks that part of that may be because she's a woman. Also, Nina has a dog so her mom won't come over to her house. She also doesn't think a 9-year-old knows what they're doing in wearing the hijab. [I'm with her on that one. Being an outsider, I can't really understand everything, but nine does seem awfully young to make such a decision...

Jaafar - [Angela and Mike, high school sweethearts, have been married for 11 years. They have two boys and two girls. She's in marketing for an auto manufacturer and he is a Deputy Chief for the Wayne County Sheriff's Office.] Ryan is starting preschool. [they have a giant bathroom!] Angela is very upset that she has to work and isn't able to pick up her kids on the first day of school. [I suppose that would bother me, too. But she seemed much more upset than I was expecting.] 

Amen - [Mohsen and Lila have four grown children - Suehaila, Samira, Shadia, and Bilal. Samira and Shadia are married and appear with their spouses on the show. Suehaila is 32, unmarried, and works as a court clerk and in a PR/political realm as well; Bilal (also unmarried) works as an athletic director. The Amen siblings often have dinner together.] Sue gets a call to take part on a 9/11 panel for a conference in Washington DC. Sue had negative remarks made about her on the plane, and she confronted them. While she's there she meets with some friends from Dearborn who now live in DC. When she mentions that she feels stuck in Dearborn, they tell her that there are so many more opportunities in DC and that she should consider relocating. [I'm really split on how I want this to play out... I like Suehaila a lot and want her to be happy. While I think that moving would help her out in a few ways, I certainly respect her cultural decision to stay at home.] Also: Bilal wants a dog but Sue does not - she doesn't like animals. 

McDermott - [Shadia (Amen) has a son, Adam, from a previous marriage and recently married Jeff. Shadia has piercings, tattooes, wears a lot of makeup, doesn't wear the hijab, and is a special education aide.] Shadia doesn't want to bring the dog to her new (carpeted) house that they will be renting from Lila, as she suffers from allergies and asthma. But, Jeff has had the dog for ten years. Shadia makes and posts flyers to find Wrigley a good home. Lila thinks that Shadia should just deal with the dog, as it is Jeff's baby. [Shadia's son has Bilal's big ears.] They end up taking the dog to a sanctuary/farm of sorts, and Jeff cries as he says goodbye to the dog, who had always been there for him when he had nobody else to come home to. He struggles to leave. [poor guy. I'm sad for him. But they should have seen this coming, as I imagine that Shadia brought it up more than once in the past.] Also, Mohsen won't come over because of the dog.

Fawaz - [Samira (Amen) is married to Ali, and they've been trying to conceive for several years. Samira recently returned to wearing the hijab, having removed it post-9/11. She is a medical receptionist] Not seen this episode.
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