free stats Carmen's Web: The Zoraida Syndrome
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
The Zoraida Syndrome
In "The Man from La Mancha" Cervantes writes about the beautiful Zoraida, the Moorish woman who helped Don Quixote escape his imprisonment. Zoraida was Muslim, Don Quixote Christian. She had fallen in love with him from afar and snuck into his Algerian prison cell every night where he had fallen in love with her back. One evening she sneaks into his cell with a letter declaring her love for him and money she had saved to be used for his ransom. He buys his freedom the next day, kidnaps Zoraida, they move to Spain where she converts to Christianity and marries him.

The "Zoraida Syndrome" is now used to describe the taboo of loving a foreigner in the way this is lodged in the heart of a woman of Islamic origin.

In the late 19th century there was a princess by the name of Sayyida Salme. She was the daughter of the Sultan Said, Lord of Oman and Zanzibar. Sayyida fell in love with a German merchant and at one point it is discovered in the palace that she is pregnant. With the help of her brother she leaves her native land with her lover. She converts to Christianity shortly thereafter in order to be able to marry her Christian lover and gives birth to a baby boy in Aden before heading to Germany, publishing her memoirs in 1866.

The Islamic community today will never acknowledge these stories. Don Quixote will be dismissed as a work of fiction and Sayyida will be dismissed as a bad apple. Women like them will never be given a place in Islamic history because they rock the boat. They give other young girls too many ideas, threaten the foundation of Muslim religious sensibilities. A woman like Sayyida is considered an apostate. My cousin, who has fathered three different children from three different women and doesn't support any of them, who is a plain hypocrite, will forever be considered a Muslim in the eyes of the community. The crazy fundies blowing up the world are condemned, but I have not heard one person declare them apostates. But a woman who has the nerve to fall in love with a Christian will be kicked out. It's the women, not the men, who apparently are the maintainers of all things Muslim.

It's frustrating for me when I hear liberal Muslims discuss how Islam is the only religion that allows interfaith marriage. In theory, yes, that's true. Islam is the only one of the three monotheistic religions that allows for interfaith relationships. Under current interpreation it allows for Muslim MEN to marry non-Muslims. It must therefore mean that Islam promotes interfaith relationships if MEN are allowed to do it. But then, of course, who cares what women can and can't do.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 3:31 PM
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Who: Carmen

xx-something egyptia-yorker who's spent over half her life stuck in two worlds not of her own making. unable and unwilling to fully embrace one identity over the other, she created (is trying to create) her own place in the world where people love each other unconditionally, irrespective of artificial boundaries, and where dancing merengue is as necessary to life as breathing air.

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