Halal Pumpkins…What?!?

As the holiday season is in full swing with glittering christmas trees, cooler weather and festive holiday lattes at starbucks I am reminded why I love this time of the year. As adults we enjoy the atmosphere but kids may not understand why we don’t have a christmas tree, or why Santa didn’t visit us this year. This may be  a challenge for families who have young kids and who are trying to build their Muslim Identities.

As a first generation American Muslim with a South Asian heritage, defining our family’s Identity has been an interesting process. As a mother of a curious three year old I am now faced with hard questions about traditions that I have grown up around but never thought as my own. This becomes particularly tricky as the children go to school and learn about different holidays. Although going to an Islamic preschool has made things easier it also means that I have to decide how to frame things for my curious toddlers.

A few months ago I was pushed into a sort of an identity crisis when Humza went to the fall festival with his school and came back with a grin and a pumpkin which would cause more trouble than I could have ever imagined As Humza excitedly jumped out of the mini-bus that had transported him from the Farm back to the school, I could see that he was clutching this little pumpkin like a shiny new toy, “Momma, see pumpkin.” He proudly raised it  to show me.

I nodded excitedly and wrestled the pumpkin from his hands to get him into the carseat, which caused the pumpkin to roll underneath of a parked mini van. The tears were streaming down Humza’s face and Hassan his younger brother joined in also now wanting that same orange pumpkin which was now somewhere underneath of that van. I quickly strapped the kids in and told the lady who was speaking in Arabic on her cell phone that I was going to go under her van since my kid had dropped his pumpkin. She nodded enthusiastically and I hoped she was nodding to me and not just agreeing with the person whom she was speaking on the phone with. Saying a quick Bismallah I got down on my hands and knees (ahh this reminds me why all my jeans have rips in them) and grabbed the pumpkin.

Tired kids, worn out mother and a little pumpkin in tow, we finally headed home. After the novelty of a little orange pumpkin wore off I had to decide what to do with that thing. Would I display it proudly outside my front door? Put it on my mantle on top of the fireplace? Make a Jack-O-Lantern? What do I do with a pumpkin??

I eventually put it on the fireplace it was so odd but I figured it would be out of the kids reach, I wrestled with the idea of putting it outside my door like other people do as part of the of their fall decorations. But then I didn’t because I was hesitant that I would be acting to “white.”  “Desi people don’t put pumpkins outside of their house,” I thought to myself. After some time when the pumpkin craze died down and the kids forgot to fight over the poor little pumpkin who was probably very thankful for the decision I had made to put him on the fireplace, I approached the subject of the final resting place for the pumpkin again.

After a few strong chai’s and some moments of clarity  I’ve finally made peace with the pumpkin. It is finally at rest on my dining table with some other fall folliage decor and my  little glittering rickshaw.

I haven’t figured out all the answers to how I want to balance and incorporate traditions from Pakistan as well as our American culture but I have a feeling that i’ll figure it out. Now I just need to break the news to the kiddos that the lights my neighbors have put up are in fact not Eid lights. One baby…step at a time.

 

 

Raising a Damaad

Damaad is the word for son-in-law in the Urdu language.  In the South Asian culture damaads are often treated like royalty. From my observation society treats the roles of a daughter in law (bahoo) very different from the son -in-law (damaad).  My thoughts derive from experiences, observations and maybe Pakistani dramas.
Although  this post may not describe everyones experience, I know that many people know of cases or can empathize with the double standards in our culture (at least most bahoos)Traditionally South Asian mothers raise their daughters to fit into the new family she goes into, and to treat her new family the way she treats her own.  However, when it comes to a son, I don’t think the mother instills those same values in him.

We mentally prepare daughters to embrace going into their husband’s new home which is their “real” home.  They must win the hearts of every single creature living inside the house, yes even the Jinn.

As the new bahoo in the family you are expected to delight your in-laws with your cooking, amuse them with your personality, be the first to help out and the last to sit down, beautify yourself with the finest clothing and of course adorn the gold with the newly wed-bride look.  You are expected to keep them before your plans and sometimes even before your family.

Expectations for the Daamad? Well lets just put it this way:

Do not swear/abuse/degrade your wife
Do not start arguments with your in laws,
Do not have a bad mood in their presence
Exchange a few smiles here and there
Show up to family dinners every now and then
= BAM you have yourself a great son-in-law.

Virtually no effort is required and all they have to do is meet the bare minimum requirements for a decent human being.  They do not have to go out of their way for their in-laws or even make an effort to take part in family discussions nor stay in touch for that matter.

They have to ‘not be bad’ in order to be considered good whereas a daughter-in-law has to be outstanding in order to be considered somewhat good!

I have a son, which now gives me the added responsibility of raising him to be that one heck of a darn good SON-IN-LAW.

Insha’Allah, I will teach him to make an effort to fit in with his new family, help them and maintain a high level of akhlaq in their presence. He should get involved in family discussions and find solutions to their problems and dilemmas.  It is not just about giving their daughter the bare rights but rather giving her the utmost happiness alongside being a good person to his in-laws.

He should be thankful for the hospitality his in-laws provide and not assume it is expected.  Sometimes in-laws may go above and beyond to please their damaad and  as a typical guy’s personality he may not even realize that, hence limiting his appreciation for the amount of effort put into pleasing him.

He too should know that his in-laws miss their daughter/sister and that she is still an integral part of their household. Just because she is married does not mean she no longer should contribute to her family.

Rather a good damad will not only appreciate the vital role she plays in his family but encourage her to provide any sort of support for her own family as well.

Does your husband fits the description above? If so, then please message me your mother-in-law’s contact info so I can get some pointers.

As for the rest of the boy-mamas, I say we dust off our akhlaq books and sit our boys down and drill it into their tiny brains.  Our upbringing may serve as a means to attain Jannah, Insha’Allah.

Meanwhile I am accepting applications for daughter-in-laws. (My son’s two but gotta start early these days!).

Something for boy-mamas to think about….