Denzel Washington recently appeared on Instagram Live with Brooklyn Pastor A.R. Bernard of Christian Cultural Center to talk about his relationship with God and his faith journey. Washington, who is devout Christian, shared that he had given his life to Christ three times when he was younger, Fox News reported. The Academy Award-winning actor described […]
By Zoe Ferraris, author of the new novel “City of Veils”
I sometimes think Islam is all about the rules. When I lived in Saudi Arabia, I discovered that there are rules for everything. How to tuck your feet when you pray. How to dispose of old bread. How to trim your eyebrows. At times I found it comforting, other times it just got in the way.
I grew up in a Christian environment where you were allowed to limit your religious thinking to once a week on Sundays from 11 to noon. Outside of that, no one said “Jesus” unless they were swearing. But for Nayir, religion is a constant influence, a living prayer. Can I look at this woman’s shoes and not commit a sin? Is it right to go to a café where men and women intermingle? When he feels overwhelmed, he turns to fatwa-online.com, where imams lay down edicts on even the most trivial things, such as whether a man should pluck his beard, and which parts are okay for plucking.
With such specificity, you can often rest assured that you’re doing the right thing – in everything. But Nayir seldom feels assured, because the rules have so circumscribed his life that he finds himself facing a contradiction: the Prophet Mohammed encouraged his followers to marry and reproduce, but in Saud Arabia, interacting with unmarried women comes with some heavy guilt and sin. So how is he supposed to meet a wife?
Zoë Ferraris moved to Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the first Gulf War to live with her then husband and his extended family of Saudi-Palestinian Bedouins, who had never welcomed an American into their lives before. She has an MFA from Columbia University and is the award-winning author of “Finding Nouf.” Her new novel, “City of Veils,” has just been released. She lives in San Francisco. Visit her online at www.zoeferraris.com