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Papers for Islam while Christians (and Americans) Vote

I’ve spent the last week nearly non-stop in academic mode. Or attempts to remain in academic role, as some drama kept stealing my attention. Without our realizing it, our ICH teacher had assigned a 4000 word essay due this past Saturday, and I only keyed into that last weekend. I’m used to my papers being assigned in page numbers, so our first paper at 2000 words didn’t intimidate me. After writing that one, I realized 2000 more or less equals 8 pages when writing double spaced. 4000 words written and properly researched = 16 pages = AAAAHHHH!!!

So I didn’t really have time to spiff the paper before the deadline. It was all I could possibly do to gather a couple primary sources, three or so reference sources, and 6-8 secondary sources, synthesize an argument that related to topics brought up in class (I kind of stretched the connection), cook, clean up after myself, sleep, and get stuff done for other classes, plus we had a make up class (takes up 4 hours in class time and transportation) in ECA. {Strange, but apparently common. Here in Alexandria, if profs cancel a class, they expect students to come in some other time to make that class up. Not the case at Luther College, Rice University, or Oklahoma State University. Jeanette’s home institution of Evergreen State College does sometimes make up classes, but Evergreen in many ways is not your average US undergraduate institution.} So, here’s a snippet of what I’ve been dwelling on: the badly-proofed (I was sick of the paper at this point) conclusion:

“If, as in the case of music, hadiths do not clarify an issue, than individual Muslims are instructed to educate themselves and make the decision. Over the history of the debate concerning music, Muslims all over the world have been incorporating music into Islam to the degree that they see fit. Vice versa, Muslims have been incorporating Islam into their music, as in the Moroccan woman’s songs.  Throughout the long discussion of music’s appropriate place within Islam and pious Muslims, the discourse has connected with many other important discussions. Some diatribes against music can be read as diatribes against the mystics, who generally find music acceptable or even necessary. Women, refused access to approved forms of music creation, mystical enlightenment, even the non-musical Qur’an recitation or call to prayer, have created their own genres in private spaces. Many of the women’s music, along with veneration of instruments and the musical foundations for Qur’an recitation, are influence by pre-Islamic traditions while Islamic scholars shape history to forbid anything predating Islam. The debate on music is further complicated by separating Qur’an recitation and call to prayer from music, though both rituals are founded in musical styles and include melodies. All of these complicating factors in the debate on music result in a multifaceted discussion and plurality of acceptable decisions. Over time, pious Islamic scholars have supported almost every position imaginable on these interconnected issues. Muslims, then, are faced with the choice of making their own decision and adding to the plurality of Islams.”


In other news: I’m apparently done with another bought of knee-based arthritis, and to celebrate, I made cookie dough and began every-other-day yoga via YouTube videos. As I didn’t have Crisco shortening (I used olive oil), vanilla extract (skipped), brown sugar (white granulated sugar), or baking soda (baking powder)…my dough did not taste like I was expecting it too. A touch of honey, time in the freezer, and the addition of peanuts definitely helped. I currently have a small bowl of it left, and keep nibbling on it like I have ice cream. I like knowing I have something sweet that I can just take one spoonful of whenever I want, which tends to be more frequently than I planned with my current state of no-fruit-in-fridge-ness. (I’m currently taking a break from an incredibly dense reading for ICH which is part of homework, plus I had 6 hours of class without significant breaks, so my writing skills are little more than mush.)

Another update concerning living space. Long story short, my choice of compact decorations was a personalized prayer flag chain from camp. After a month of the flag chain lying on my room’s second bed, I tied one end to my chandelier and shut the other in one window. Yeah, I have to bend to get to my light, but I wake up and fall to sleep staring at the flag chain with photos of camp and family trips that I’ve taped to my wall. My room is ridiculously/blandly white, and these colorful decorations act as more than just spice to the room, they’re tangible reminders of my support network in the States. My beds are never made, though I only actually sleep in the righthand bed…


After reading some other IFSA blogs (oh, yeah, if you’ve not figured this out, click on Brannon’s name in the list of names on the left of this blog post. He’s also a blogger for IFSA, though I post far more often with more words than he does), I realize I should at least mention the US election. Yep. It was big here too, and the Consulate General in Alexandria invited everyone on the Cairo Embassy email list – which I’m on for security updates – to a big presidential election bash last Wednesday morning. With Daylight Savings Time ended in the States, I’m now 8 hours ahead of Iowa, so I woke up to the polls closing and results solidifying. I was on my way to class/in class when the victory/conciliatory speeches were spoken. We were asked in every class what we thought about the presidential elections, as our classmates are French, Italian, and Swiss. But, the BIG news early that week was the election of the new Coptic pope Tawadros II! He’s been working/being a monk (monking?) in one of the areas analogous to a diocese in the Nile Delta, which means that either Alexandria’s part of his territory or adjacent. One of our PSM profs knows him on a personal basis and is SUPER (she doesn’t do many things without enthusiasm galore) excited about his election. Both our Christian teachers are very joyful, excited about the future, and are taking off class to be at his installation mass on Nov. 18. Wow!!!

I set a high bar for myself last week showing my language partner the stories I’ve been writing in Arabics (short ones in MSA, a long one in ECA) that I’ve worked on in spare time since before Eid. I find I’m not learning enough verbal conjugations and sentence structure, so if I royally mess up stories, I’ll get corrected enough times to stumble my way into sentence creation rules. Last week I spent 3 hours at an ahwa (traditional coffee shop) an hour’s tram ride from the apartment correcting them all with my language partner. Today, she gave me new words to use in stories in both dialects, and is expecting creativity. They’ll be short stories, but hopefully I can fix some problems! I know technically I have just over a month and 10 days left in IFSA’s program, so I’ve got to watch my time management better, putting in more weekend trips, traipsing around to Alexandria’s Classical heritage sites and spending more time at the sea (I LOVED watching today’s big waves during our morning’s taxi ride while it rained!)…to that end, I’ll write more after going to Siwa Oasis this weekend!


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