Sunday, 19 March 2017

Encrypting Religious Scripture Within The Right Context

It is a tricky task to understand religious scripture. The ancient words have a tendency to get a variety of meanings as years pass by. That's why there is a huge discussion around who Mary Magdalene really was. Was she mentally disabled, a prostitute, wife of Jesus or the best follower of Jesus? In order to understand religious text one must know the history and also the context of which there scripts were written in. 

There are several points of dispute when interpreting the Quran. For instance, 'some' clerics interpret the famous Nisa 34 verse of Quran as follows:
When a married couple go through problems in their relationship, they should talk to each other. If that doesn't work, separate your rooms. If this doesn't work either, the man can pound up the woman a little. If the problems persist, they should seek consult from outside - like the elderly whom would be listened to by both the man and the wife. If you still can't find any solution then get a divorce.

The translation of the word "darabe" constitutes the basis of the argument which say "The Quran lets men beat their wives" however there is so much lost in translation. The word 'darabe' has 17 different meanings one of which is a 'temporary separation'. This meaning, temporary separation, is also used in verse Nisa 101. 

One should also know the context of which Nisa 34 was sent to Prophet Mohammed. It is said that a group of women have gathered around the prophet's house and they complained about their husbands' violence. In protest, they stayed at the masjid that night refusing to go back home to their husbands. In the morning the prophet calls for the husbands  and comes down on them for beating their wives.  Following this incident verse Nisa 34 was sent. 

So, what does logic suggest when interpreting this verse? Beat your wives or separate houses for a while? 

Nisa 34 actually reads as follows;
Step 1: Try talking to each other. 
Step 2: Try separating your rooms for a while
Step 3: Try separating your houses for a while
Step 4: Seek outside counsel 
Step 5: Get a divorce     

Another point of dispute is around the hijab, the women's dress code. There are many verses in Quran that dictate Muslims of both genders to be modest in their dress and behavior. There are 3 verses in particular which directly talks about how women should cover themselves. These are particularly vague verses leaving a lot for interpretation and stirring a lot of dispute. 

Samina Ali summarizes it quite well in er TED Talk. 

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Qatar Chronicles: Year in Review

1 year ago when I came to Doha I was full of hope and excitement. Being an expat was a dream I had since college. It sounded so cool to experience new cultures and learn new ways of doing business while teaching my ways to co-workers from strictly different backgrounds. It almost sounded like a paid vacation! It's a vacation alright but for a very different reason. 

In Qatar you don't get to experience the Qatari culture because they are so secluded, you rather experience a mixture of Arab, Indian and Filipino culture. Everyone is deliberately rude. Everyone reflects their frustration and disappointment at all times. Except for the waiters and waitresses who greet you in the most fake manner possible. You know when people are on a diet, they give themselves a cheat day on the weekends as if the calories don't count. People here are always on a cheat day. Due to lack of entertainment activities people just eat out their boredom.    

There is no middle ground. Things are either very luxurious and expensive or very low quality and still expensive. This holds true for housing, food, clothing and anything else you can think of. It also applies for the talent. As if someone handpicked the least educated and least open to growth people from each country and assembled a team of ultimate failures. There are of course some super smart, well educated people but they get frustrated quickly and leave at the first chance. 

Personally I feel like I have trapped myself here. I'm dating someone who has been happily living here for 11 years and has no intention to leave. My job is boring and frustrating but the pay is good so are the hours. Unless the circumstances push me, I don't see myself making a change and spoil my comfort.  

At work, I basically am a one-man-show; I write ad copies and press releases, I develop media plans, communication strategies and event ideas but I always finish by 6 pm. So, I really cannot complain. But its one hell of a lonely office. I'm used to having good friends at work who make the office more homey thus turn the long hours of overtime into long hours of fun. Now, I don't even have 1 person to talk to. It only engage in necessary conversations regarding the work. Sitting silently all day on your desk is a very suffocating task for me.

There is a big difference between friends and acquaintances. The biggest problem of my expat experience is that I have quite a few acquaintances but I don't have many friends. So, it's been a very lonely year for me. I literally spent 1/3 of my year on Facetime talking to my real friends in Turkey. Though its hard to sustain that long distance relationship. You just miss out on too many things in their life and its impossible for them to fathom yours. This isolation is going to drive me crazy at some point.           
So, the desert sucks. Its dusty, boring and lonely. My only consolation is that my partner is my best friend and its a good thing to have since we are hoping to spend a lifetime together. Ohh, and he is funny.