Muslims like Jews don’t question the validity of the earlier prophets Adam, Noah or Jesus. But in Islam ين الاسلام , Mohammed was the most recent messenger of God. So for the last 1,000 years this Prophet has been the final say on the matter. And today, Islam ين الاسلام is the second largest religion on Earth
Much like Judaism or Mormonism, Islam ين الاسلام has strict rules for believers. I am not a religious person, so I wonder. If I can be a bad Christian in this life, could I have been a bad Muslim in another? This would require:
- Shadahah شداحة – Profession of Faith
Much like in Christianity I would need to profess a belief in God and his #2 (swap J.C. for Mohammed) – I could do that!
- Salat صلاة – Praying toward Mecca
5 times a day I would need to bathe and pray. Hmmmmm, yeah I guess. It seems like a clever way of enforcing hygiene in a Bedouin culture where water is scarce (like Kosher food laws).
- Zakat زكاة – Say Goodbye to your stuff
You give away 10% of your possessions. Yeah, not happening.
- Ramadan رمضان – Fasting
Not eating for 1 month – nope not happening.
- Hajj الحج – Pilgrimage to Mecca
I look up Mecca vacation packages on TripAdvisor. None of the hotels have a mini-bar, or for that matter a bar. Not happening.
Yup, there is no way I could cut it as a Muslim. Even the whole polygamy thing isn’t what internet porn has led me to believe. Instead of having one wife telling you to get your shit straight, you’ve now got four. And they’re constantly commiserating with each other. There is no way I am strong enough for this culture.
I unpack and change quickly, heading back downstairs to attend the Gulf Food Expo. At the hotel front desk, I ask a young lady named Veronika to make a dinner reservation for me. I explain that I don’t speak Arabic. In perfect English she says “Not a problem.”
Veronika then calls the restaurant. She speaks English the entire time while making the reservation. When she hangs up the receiver, I ask if everyone in Dubai دبي speaks English. Veronika replies yes and asks if there’s anything else she can help me with? The Fairmount’s level of service is so good that even irony is above reproach.
I walk outside to the exhibition. It is still winter in the desert. So though wet, the weather is mild. Billboards decorate the buildings, I guess featuring Emirati athletes. I say guess because honestly, these guys look like they’d get beat up by any American female athlete. But to be fair, so would I. Maybe once you remove all the steroids and doping, this is what normal sportsmen are supposed to look like?
The Dubai دبي Food Expo is like most European food shows. As I enter the Pavilion I see a huge U.S.A. section courtesy of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. Sadly, there is no gourmet food here. Today’s ambassador’s for cheap American cuisine stereotypes are the poultry and egg industries. I move on.
At the Za’beel زعبيل Culinaire Pavilion, I am struck by the smells of exotic cooking. Foreign men walk by in suits. Foreign women show some skin, wearing skirts above the knee. The Arab men are decked out in white tunics, walking barefoot in sandals. The keffiyeh كوفية (turbans) that they wear, like wristwatches in a nudist colony, seem to be how to stand out. One gentleman’s turban’s has a design identical to the red and white picnic tablecloths of my childhood. Another sheikh’s heavily curled hair accidentally peeks out from the side of his keffiyeh كوفية . I’m not sure. But I could swear that I saw a pink hair roller in there. Except for the clicking of a Caucasian women’s high heels, everything is quiet.