Friday, December 29, 2006


The imam began to talk about religious doctrine, explaining which local jobs were haram. “If you’re a drinks waiter, you’re poisoning people—that’s haram. But if you’re just clearing dishes it’s O.K.” He went on, “People in Somalia like plays and concerts. But every concert is no good, especially when they talk about love and sex. You are waking up the population. Big band is not allowed in Islam. The big drum, saxophone, trombone, xylophone—Satan created those things.”

Other Somalis in Lewiston take a less puritanical view. The young social worker told me that when Somalis asked him whether it was haram, for example, to deliver a pizza with a bacon topping, he told them to worry about keeping their jobs...


For some, religiosity is a reaction to cultural dislocation. One Somali college
student I met who wears the hijab—in her case, an ankle-length black tunic, worn over pants, and a scarf, covering everything but her face and hands—told me that she had begun to do so only six years ago. She spoke immaculate Gen Y English and could knowledgeably discuss hip-hop videos one moment and, in the next, citing the Prophet Muhammad, argue that music is haram. (“It deadens the heart,” she said.) For her, living in a non-Muslim country, she said, “My ethnicity is my anchor.”

Fatuma Hussein cast a kind of sidelong light on this issue when she described the shock that she felt on arriving in America. Having escaped the horrors of the civil war and spent years in a refugee camp in Kenya, she was resettled, first, in suburban Atlanta, where she was sent to an all-white high school. “And I tell you,” she said, “American high school is the cruellest place I’ve been.

- From New In Town: The Somalis of Lewiston, an article from the 11 Dec 2006 New Yorker about the adjustments of Somalis and residents of Lewiston, Maine, to a steady immigration of Somali families.

Definitions of haram on the Web:

forbidden, prohibited.

something that is forbidden to a Muslim, such as eating pork. (More serious than makruh).

anything that is unlawful or forbidden according to the Qur'an.

Definition from a define: haram Google search.

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