0194-Anwar: columns 051-060

060 – Wedding equipment

I attended a Dutch wedding. The word ‘wedding’ does not really match with what I am used to, because it was not a big party. We went to the town hall. There someone of the municipality said a few things, like the names of the couple. The husband and wife said yes, gave each other a kiss, after which it was finished. Afterwards we went to dinner in a restaurant. A wedding in Syrie does not seem to be far from here. It is common for the man to take care of the new house. Those furniture is brought to the girl’s house the day before the wedding. By the day, when twenty cars and hundreds of people get to the bride, the groom brings out the furniture with other men. Then the whole neighborhood can see what kind of decor the man has provided for his wife. Meanwhile, music is made on the streets and everyone dances. By that time my mother has been busy for years now. She makes the most beautiful pillows and looks for the most beautiful crockery. I have said to her very often, I do not want to wear furniture to show them around and I do not want a street full of dancing people. But she says it has to be because it belongs. After this whole ritual in the street, the wedding couple leaves for the party location. There are at least 1,000 people. The bride couple sits on a stage and can not kiss each other. Visitors do not give gifts, but money. Sometimes there is a ‘presenter’ that counts how much money is given. ‘Family Manlasadoon, 30,000 Lira!’ When our house was bombarded a few years ago, my entire “wedding booth” has been lost. I do not doubt my mother has started again.

059 – KING’S DAY

King’s Day, a day when the Dutch people do very differently than on other days. The municipality arranges free partying in the city, people are clothed in orange and are drinking a lot. Where the Dutch usually walk well to the trash bin to throw away waste, they throw it on King’s Day negligently over their shoulder. “Because that’s what the municipality will clean up,” I heard from my Dutch friends last year. That seems similar to the mentality in Syria, although the municipality does not get rid of it. We do not have a king in Syria and the president’s birthday we do not celebrate. No idea why, but no one knows when he’s born. Saudi Arabia has a king. King Salman. He is also the head of state. He has women, money and Lamborghini’s, nothing is too crazy. He is especially known in Syria as stupid. When he speaks on television, nobody understands him. If he is to read for it, it’s even worse. It seems like he can not read Arabic. He never has to study because he is the king. I have heard that our king in the Netherlands is smart, that he is even engineer in the field of water. What I do not know is whether the Dutch are so passionate celebrate celebrations because of their love for him or because they just like parties. Sometimes I think the latter. I was once in a show in the city theater in Arnhem, where a king’s aunt came to see. When she was announced, people clashed with flaws. Some did not hit at all. I shocked that reaction and wondered if we should not stand up to show respect. If you’re just going to party, I’d like to organize an Anwarday. Everyone drank the street in the colors of the Syrian flag, with a touch of orange.

058 – Professions

I am sometimes worried about how it all should be if I had children in the Netherlands. I do not know much about babies, I would e.g. give them a coke because I like it myself too. And should my house mate Achmed help us? I do not see it for me. He also knows nothing about babies. In Syria it would be easy, my mother and mother in law would teach us everything in the first few weeks. They have the experience and would take over the entire household for weeks, including the care of the baby. Recently I learned at school how Dutch people do that. They get a maternity aid. What a good system again. We also learned about midwives. Those in Syria are only for poor people. And for jealous husbands. A gynecologist is often a man, which is not acceptable for any spouse . Also many women do not like that. Female obstetricians often have to treat ailments that have nothing to do with pregnancy or birth. But the patient dares or is not allowed to go to a male doctor with his illness. In the Netherlands this is all better regulated. You can not go to the midwife with a sore ankle. Because I have to choose a new profession in the Netherlands, Dutch people sometimes think about me. “Why do not you become a dentist?” said a friend. “Then you will earn much money.” I did not understand that comment. In Syria, your profession has nothing to do with the amount you deserve. You can be a dentist with patients in a poor neighborhood, or a stone rich in another neighborhood. It’s all about your descent, your environment and your clientele. Funny that does not matter in the Netherlands. Thus, a student can choose how rich he would like to study before he studies.

057 – Patience

Patience, I have not always. Especially not when I feel that my neighbor is wronged. The last time I lost my patience, it ended not very well. My then girlfriend in Syria walked over the street. I saw her walking from a distance. A man came up, he started calling things to her. My girlfriend did not respond. The man walked towards her and began to pull at her. I ran over there and hit the man to the ground. Finish well, I thought. Later in the day, there came jeeps in our street, full with soldiers. They had big rifles in their hands and shouted in the street: where is “Anwar Manlasadoon? Where is Anwar Manlasadoon?”. What turned out, the man I had hit was a military. They found our house and took me apart. I was struck while my father was questioned. My mother had to cry and my father tried to explain that he had a stupid, stupid son. That of course has a lot of respect for soldiers and for Assad. In the end, I was not shot as we had expected. They were susceptible to the argument that I could not have known that he was a military because he was wearing civic clothes. I shall never have the tendency to hit a Dutchman . Because the Dutch do not do it themselves. If my Dutch girlfriend was to be bothered on the streets, I would (hopefully) be quiet and talk about it. Well, talk with noise then. So I make an impression. And if all of this does not help, well …. then it does not matter if there is a Syrian or Dutchman for me.

056 – The love between Anwar and Julie: it is complicated

When he does voluntary work in a nursing home in Arnhem, he meets the 21st of July 2016 Julie Droeghaag. A sober Dutch woman. Love begins simple, but becomes more serious, the more complicated. 

Julie: “When we got to know each other I did a writing course in Arnhem. I lived as a student in a nursing home. Anwar loves the elderly, he came across the floor to walk with Arabic-speaking elderly people. We got a relationship. He soon started to talk about a marriage. I found that too fast, it was absolutely no option for me.”

The two see each other regularly. Even if Julie moves back to her birthplace Sittard. Although in Syria the status “in a relationship” does not exist, Anwar agrees to do so for the time being. Not engaged, not married, but together.  

Anwar: ,,I soon saw the benefits of the ‘Dutch way’ that men and women interact with. You do not have to get married right away, you must get to know each other first. Even on vacation together. I like it well. I also have no problems that Julie is not faithful. She may be as good as a Muslim.”

Julie: “Years ago, a friend of mine asked me or I believed somewhere. My sister answered directly from the living room with: ‘No. We are heretics. “I was not baptized and not faithfully raised. I came alone in the church with Sinterklaas and with carnival. When my classmates made the communion, I was one of the seven exceptions from two full classes. As a “replacement assignment,” I made a paper about another faith. I chose Islam”.

Anwar: “For me, faith is important. I believe in God and want to do what He asks of me. Now I am in the Netherlands, I no longer think that believers are better people than unbelievers, because here I see many people do good things while they do not believe in God.”

Spotless: As long as there are no future plans on the table, the relationship goes smoothly. Julie is deep in Syrian culture and Anwar is learning the Netherlands through Julie. Together they celebrate Christmas in Sittard, New Years with Dutch friends in Germany and carnival in Limburg. Then Julie will be the first to live together in the new school year. 

Julie: ,,Anwar accepts the unmarried relationship we have now. Now that I threaten to live together in the future, it starts to creak him again. He has learned for 26 years that he must first marry before he can live with a woman.”

Anwar: “For me, living together without being married is not an option. I do not have to marry the church, I’m not saying anything. An imam must connect us in real life. Then it has the approval of God. But then it will be complicated.”

Julie: “Muslims, Jews, and Christians can only marry women of the book. An unbelieving wife can not marry. We only know that syndrome. An imam will not really connect us. I’m not unbelieving. It just has no name. I believe there is more than just the earth and that things do not just happen, but if everything is settled by a man in heaven, I do not know.”

Anwar: “Maybe I could live together without being married, but if I already know that there will never be a marriage, it’s actually useless. I could never do my parents to stay married forever. Against God, I find it wrong. Maybe we find a liberal imam who wants to marry a Muslim with an “unbeliever”?”

Julie: ,,I do not know what I think about it. My thoughts have been a little war in my mind for months. That marital deduction seems a little trouble, but at the same time, it seems disrespectful to think so lightly. Nor do I know if it’s honest and sincere to marry a belief that I do not adhere to and whether it’s not too early.”

Anwar: “Now that I’m in the Netherlands for a long time, I notice that I do not want to stretch my boundaries any further. I want to change myself, but I do not lose myself and my faith either. I notice that there has been a boundary on the point of unmarried living for me.”

Julie: “It’s like, so often in the past year, a search for who has to adapt to the other person, I or he. Most of the time we find a golden middle way. It’s going to be stuck somewhere, but I do not know.”

055 – First God, then your mother

In Syria it is every day Mother’s Day. In the Qur’an, obedience to God is as important as obedience to your parents, especially to your mother. Syrians also experience that. A mother is number 1, 2 and 3. At number 4 the father comes. It is a statement by Prophet Muhammad. I also, like most Syrians, have the conviction that I can only be happy if my mother is satisfied with me. My mother only has to do with sons, but I’m the daughter she never had for her. She always says that. So I have to help my whole life in the kitchen, with the groceries and the brushing. If I were to marry, my wife would take over my job. My mother would then be served by my wife because of her age. If I was a little older, I would also call very strict ‘coffee’ to my wife. To show to my mother that I am a strong husband. But in my generation, that’s no longer happening, we’re laughing at it. This week my mother sent me a video of our house in Aleppo. At least, what’s left of it. My parents have done 20 years for the payment of the house. Now that it has been destroyed by the war they have nothing anymore, because there is no insurance. We have been pulled into the house of my aunt flown to the countryside, but she wants to go back to her own house. My mother was crying when I called her about the movie. Talking to her is difficult because she has become deaf all the time by all bombings. Good doctors have fled, so she has treated her ears by a doctor who has helped her hearing even further. My light, my beauty, you are the love in my heart, my deer and the glory in my eyes: all the greetings of a Syrian son to his mother, she hears more.

054 – Your parents and your grandparents are your lives

In the Netherlands people discuss the suicide pill. From the age of 70, you should have the opportunity to put an end to your life with a pill, because it has been beautiful. I think that very much because it shows that old people in the Netherlands do not like it. They are lonely and unnecessary. I know Dutch who visit their parents or grandparents only once a month and just drink a cup of coffee and make a puzzle together. Then they go back to their own lives. In Syria that is the other way around. Your parents and grandparents are yours. As grandpa or grandmother you are also in the main phase of your life. You are the center of the whole family. The most wise and the most important. In every case, the opinion of grandfather gives the breakdown. As grandparents there will not be a day without your family on the sidewalk. If you are too old to take care of yourself, you will live at your eldest son. Syrians do it out of tradition, out of family love, but there is also a financial aspect. If you lose your duty as a son or daughter, there is a chance that your legacy will pass by your nose. Cosy – Grandchildren visit faithfully their grandfather and grandmother. Every day you do not work, you go to your grandparents as a grandchild. On all public holidays, on all weekends. That’s no punishment, because it’s always cozy. It is the house where everyone meets. A suicide pill for the elderly is not necessary in Syria. They may be in the most beautiful phase of their lives. Should they nevertheless be tired, they do not need a pill. Just walk out and rebel against the government or any arbitrary rebel group is enough.

053 – “I’m a muslim, but I do not mind my girlfriend is not”

A relationship with a Dutch woman, becomes complicated if it gets serious. I’m a Muslim, but I do not mind my girlfriend being not. A non believing girl can be as good as a muslim. Still, I can not erase the Syrian culture for 26 years. I was raised with the idea that marrying is important. You can not live together in a house without an imam really connected to the girl. I think that is important and I believe that God wants to. My girlfriend finds it difficult, but would have it for me. She is not faithful, but would be married by an imam if I really need it. Now it is only apparent that an imam does not really connect people whose one does not have faith. A friend of mine has recently married a Dutch girl. That girl is Christian, he is Muslim. That may be possible. But marry a girl who does not believe in a God, that does not make imams. To me, this is a serious problem. I do not know what to do now. I have to marry in my life, I certainly do not want to remain an unmarried man with a girlfriend. For my family, I would not want that, but not for myself. Just pretend my girlfriend is faithful is also not an option. We would lie to Imam and to God. Since I’ve been in the Netherlands, I’ve investigated many things. I have not been the perfect Muslim that I might have been to. A relationship with a girl is actually something that can not be done from my background. I think so, and I think so. Nevertheless, I notice that I have reached a limit now. Unmarried living together does not fit me. Certainly, knowing that Islamic marriage does not belong at all. I still have some hope. Maybe there are imams that are less strict and really want to connect us in the future. At least, we have enough to think about.

052 – Exams

I am busy with my state examination at B2 level. I have acquired knowledge of society, I have to get the results from the listening and reading test. I suspect I did not get it, it was very difficult. In that case, I can not start a HBO study at the Hogeschool Arnheim Nimwegen in September. I’m already following colleges of physics. The content of the subject is not new to me, but to follow the courses in Dutch is difficult. The teachers speak quickly and use concepts that I do not know yet. The State Examination Knowledge of Society was easy. I had the trick soon. The answer to the questions is in most cases the last one that comes up to me.

Question: “Your mother in Morocco has died and you have to go there. What are you doing?

A. You report your child sick and leave for Morocco.

B. You do not report anything to the school and go to Morocco.

C. You make an appointment with the school director and discuss the situation.

The last answer would never come up in me, so that was the right one. Dutch people often think exactly the opposite of what I used to be, so I could easily answer each question in this way.

Question: ‘You will see a vacancy to apply for. You do not know how to write a good letter in Dutch.

A. You ask someone else to write the letter for you.

B. You do not ask for help and write the letter yourself

C. You are going to write a course where you will learn to write application letters.

The good answer, C, again does not come close to my first impulses. If I have passed the exams, I will have to get a good deal before September. Some classmates who follow the colleges of physics have decided to go to the mbo. Now, teachers take our tempo into account, no more. Reading lessons with Dutch people by Dutch seems a lot more difficult than I thought.

051 – Orphans

I have good news. Dutch will all be in paradise! Ever since childhood, I learned that the prophet Mohammed promised a place in paradise to people who care for orphans. In Syria is an orphanage for that reason a favorite charity. Donate money or time to essentially constitutes a ticket to heaven. I recently went looking for an orphanage in Arnhem where I can volunteer. Nobody could tell me of my Dutch friends where the nearest orphanage. “In fact, I think we have that do not in the Netherlands”, I got every time as response. An elderly woman was able to tell me that orphans are housed in the Netherlands with families. So they always live in a family. I got tears in my eyes when I heard that. I could not believe it. Dutch people have devised a system that essentially orphans always have a family. The most striking I find it incredulous Dutch to also participate in that system. So they catch a child of someone else, because they find it easy to do so. When I just arrived in the Netherlands, I assumed that all the people who helped me were believers. Gradually revealed that many of them adhered to no religion. Dutch do good deeds just from their hearts. Because they want to help others. Although Syria anyone assist orphans, is their inclusion in a family usually not an option. It would mean that a boy and a girl, not each other’s brothers and sister live under the same roof. And there would be so anything can happen. There is one exception. If a baby is so small that he or she is breastfeeding. If a girl could have drinks with my mother, she would be my sister in milk. And it is allowed.

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