Monday, December 5, 2011

All-American Muslim: Suehaila is Unhappy

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I like this show, really I do. But I think that there may be a few too many characters. We didn't see much of the Jaafar, Fawaz, or McDermott family this episode, since so much emphasis was placed on the Aoude and Zaban families. Now, I don't think that the choice to do so was bad... after all, there has been some lead-up to Fouad getting some major screen time, and the birth of the Aoude baby should have gotten some attention. But I think that the we-play-football-during-Ramadan thing is played out now, and it's time to move on. I know that we'll see coverage of at least one more game, but I hope that future episodes could spend a little more time on some of the other families.

Looking closer at what is actually in this episode, the group-interview segment really pushes two things. First, that some Muslims find Islam easier to follow than others. Non-Muslims seem to think that it's a strict and difficult-to-follow religion, but it's not that way to many of them. Second, there are certain medical conditions that allow you to be excepted from fasting during Ramadan (such as nursing a baby), but there are make-ups and penalties.

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

All-American Muslim "Friday Night Bites" (S01E04):
Aoudes - [Nader & Nawal are in their mid-twenties and are newlyweds.] Nawal was in active labor at 6 centimeters when they got to the hospital. Naseem is born 7 pounds, 11 ounces, after only 20 minutes of pushing. [wow. good thing that they went to the hospital when they did!] Nawal breaks her fast to eat after delivery. [I liked that she and Nader joked about how she was able to eat and he wasn't, LoL. Why did Nader go to watch the football practice? I understand that he played basketball for the high school, but even that was years ago...] They host an Iftar dinner, where we learn a bit about Arab men and "garage culture." Nawal is very tired, pumping as well we breastfeeding, and has the event catered. [good move. Though I don't really understand why a woman with a newborn was hosting such an event anyway... must be a cultural difference.] Nader explains Arab time as typically casually late.[is it just me or is this not so much a cultural thing as an evolutionary thing? I find that many people, regardless of background, now find it acceptable to arrive at events well after they are supposed to being....]

Zaban - [Fouad and Zaynab have been married about 12 years and have four kids.] The day before the first game, they return to daytime practices. [I would have liked to hear about how many night practices there were...] School has started. The plan is to break the fast at halftime (it's a 7pm kickoff) with oranges. Catholic Central is a hard first game - Fordson has never beat them. [wow... never??] The team says a good luck prayer, even the non-Muslims. About 45 of the 50 players are fasting. It was 14-0 at the half. [what is considered "sundown"? just the official time that is stated by the local mosque?] They ended up losing 42-0. [which I found online since they didn't show the final scoreboard on the show.] 

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.] Nina doesn't usually fast during Ramadan, and rarely goes to the mosque. [I would have liked to hear how her husband and son feel about these same issues.] Nina feels like her mother doesn't accept her sexier wardrobe. [probably true.] She brings multiple option to wear to mosque, but her mother doesn't approve of any of them, mostly because of how much skin they show. Nina's mother is a haji, someone who has taken the pilgrimage to Mecca and doesn't miss prayers. Nina is bored at mosque and feels a little out of her element. She tells her mom that shes's bored at work, and her mom suggests opening a clothing shop or a nail salon. [a clothing shop is one thing, but how do you open a nail salon out of the blue??] She mentions that she wants to open a club and her mom thinks it's a bad idea... specifically because Nina is a woman. [...who wants to bet that Nina does it anyway?]

Jaafar - [Angela and Mike were high school sweethearts who have been married for 11 years. They have two boys and two girls. She's a liaison for an auto manufacturer and he is a Deputy Chief for the Wayne County Sheriff's Office.] No mention this episode.

Amen - [Parents 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 and unmarried; Bilal is also unmarried.] Suehaila works in the political realm. She considers herself progressive, and she's not the only one - Nina (who has known Sue since high school) doesn't consider Sue to be conservative, even though she wears the hijab and lives at home. Some of Suehaila's friends discuss how she seems more conservative than she is, which isn't attracting the right men. [I could see that.] Bilal says that Suehaila complains often, and we learn that she isn't happy with her life. She talks about working elsewhere, but as a single Arab woman, it doesn't work the same way. She hopes to be married in five years, and admits to one of her best friends (Josephine, a Christian Arab) that she cries when she looks at herself in the mirror. [depression, anyone?] Suehaila tells Josephine that she wants someone to lean on, but many men tell her that she intimidates them. [who hasn't heard that before? :(] She considers herself a good Muslim and wants to know why she isn't given the same things as others. [if I had a dollar for every time someone said that they deserve great things because they are more faithful than others...] Other fun fact: Bilal played football for Fordson.

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.] This episode didn't have much going on for them, but we do see Samira wearing a ruffly hijab.

McDermott - [Shadia (Amen) has a son, Adam, from a previous marriage and recently married Jeff. Shadia has piercings, tattooes, wears a lot of makeup, and doesn't wear the hijab.]
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