Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Dance with Islam, Destiny's Bitch

He's a U.S. citizen since the year 2000. He owns and runs three successful businesses in the mid-cities area of HEB, Texas, convenience stores that house gambling machines (illegal except when winnings are gifts and coupons). These pay out in cash to locals who are known by the owner and his employees.
He is a charming flirt, laughs, and enjoys his customers. He is kind, open, and sweet. He will have an in depth conversation with someone he feels a good vibe from, which was flattery and taken for what it was, however appreciated none the less.
He has been married for 18 years, hails from Pakistan, has 2 daughters, one pre-teen, one fifteen, and is dedicated to Islam, as a Sharia Muslim. His daughter will marry through his pre-arrangement in collaboration with the "church" as he called it. It is a Mosque, and I don't know why he would not call it as such.
I found his English to be decipherable, yet incoherent when a subject might have been uncomfortable for straight up honesty to prevail. I never questioned the straight up honesty, as it's tone and even keel demeanor by (we'll call him) Manfred, to protect his identity, was evident.
He spoke about his work, and how happy he was when he was working, sometimes 21 hours a day. Yet he stressed how important it was for him to be close to and a big influence on his daughters. His residence was close to this convenience store, however, he has a gas station, another novelty store, and he had just been proud to announce his success as an entrepreneur led him to be able to purchase a shopping strip in the area, where his "American Dream" started almost eleven years ago.
Hard work, persistence and stick to itiveness proves this can happen, even in the worst of economic times.

He agreed with me, as I questioned the many societal ills that plagued this country, and how I understood how other cultures were disgusted by us, and our values. I played a bit of a part, but these were concerns of mine and things I questioned and rebelled against in my youth, and find to be a cause of lots of undesirable personalities and situations in this culture. The materialistic, shallow, more, more, more, greedy, empty, phony, narcissistic culture... Where we bow down to gangstas, coke sniffing, sex taping, kleptomaniac, baby spewing spoiled brats.

Yes, he was disarmed and comfortable and seemed to be flattered by my interest in him, his culture and his views on this country. There was no patriotism whatsoever. No gratitude for the opportunities granted, just a vibe of entitlement and opportunistic self aggrandizement. He felt he had the special qualities that made his opportunities his, and if our country allowed for this, it was for him to swim in it, despite his disdain for Americans and the U.S as a whole. If it's there, he's taking it. Nicely.

When I asked about his views on the presidents of recent years, he began in the 70's. He denied Saudi Riches, said it was our oil thirsty government that created all the problems, just for beginnings. Reagan was no good, not liked. The Bush Fathers despised, a giggle and dismissal of Clinton, and Carter was a good man. No mentioning Obama. I didn't go there, and he definitely discouraged it.

I told him how close 9-11 was to me, and my experience with it, and all the details. I admitted my complete political ignorance until recently, and that I wanted to understand more because of the hurt, and the discomfort I have with having hate in my soul, especially if it's based on misinformation.

He said 9-11 was God's plan. He said the United States pays for and funds the Taliban, and that he agreed there are no perfect answers to these conflicts.

All the while, he was very kind, said he saw a goodness in my heart, and that he enjoyed our conversation and would like for me to come by next time I was in the area to visit and talk some more.

I was not fooled by the super nice, complimentary, inviting, and friendly front. I wanted to be. I wanted to hug him, I wanted him to hug me and say that everything was going to be all right, and my worries and sadness were misguided. I also asked him how I would be received, or if it was a dangerous or unwelcomed idea for me to find my way to a religion that might fit my spirit, and he very openly said no, it would not be a good idea, or a safe thing for me to pursue the Muslim way. He said if I fell in love with a Muslim and learned about Islam through him, and accepted all of it, and it would be accepting of me, yes, maybe, but otherwise it was not something they invite openly.

He said his wife dressed in stylish American fashion. Jeans, much like I was wearing, and he dressed the same...In fact, I wanted his shirt. That's how we started the conversation in fun, but it was a nice shirt, and he had a nice pair of jeans on, with no burlap. or whatever they wrap around their parts. He told me they pray three times a day, and that there were many forms of Sharia ideolgies, I believe close to 60 or 70.

I felt, all in all, as a willing game piece in the charade. This man was very likable, and I would like to speak with him some more. I do not feel threatened by him, but I know his culture, and his Muslim faith is one to fear as far as Sharia Law becoming indoctrinated into our law. He was a friend for an evening, and I wanted him to cure me of my heart ache and pain over 9-11, and save me from any hatred, but he couldn't. He only confirmed what I feared, and that is that he believed in 9-11, that the U.S. brought it on to ourselves, and it was God's plan. I don't have any hate for this man at all, and I am a little bothered by this fact. But I think I'm more consoled by the fact that even though he was the enemy, there was no animosity or hate between us, if anything, quite the opposite.

I left there with a warm feeling, and then I learned that he was having extramarital sexual relations with two of his employees and a patron of his store.
He is married for 18 years, but he has no heart for his wife, no heart for his girls, no heart for women. This fact is truly deeply woven into the fabric of their culture, and his kindness and warmth were invitations to join the harem some time in the future.

I will return to the store if I need anything, but I will not be fraternizing with the owner, who in the beginning shattered the stereotype, only to put it back together with more precise perfection.

I know there are more lessons in that one tete a tete than meets the eye, and more will come to the top as time goes on, and that is enough for me to feel enriched by the experience.

Islam and Sharia Law has no place in the United States. All the best to Mr. Manfred and his family. I hope they achieve the wealth he set out for, and that they can enjoy it in their homeland of Pakistan someday soon.