The Importance of Islam and Trans-nationalism in Regards to Moroccan Culture


I learned many new fascinating things about Moroccan culture and identity through the Orientation class and the films shown this quarter. One of the historical concepts I found most interesting concerned the history of Islam through the film Faith of Islam and the lectures Dr. Segall gave about this religion and it’s influence in Morocco. My previous studies emphasized learning about the history of Christianity, but I lacked any substantial knowledge about other prominent religions. This film revealed that one forth of the world respond to the call of Islam. The religion stresses the importance of tolerance—for a substantial amount of time Christians, Jews, and Islamic people co-existed quite harmoniously. This was surprising to me because Western culture often projects the idea that Islam, particularly in the Middle East, is violent and hateful. This film demonstrated how this is a false illustration of Islam. Western culture also teaches that modern thinking stems mostly from Europe, when in fact Christians were learning Arabic because that is where the knowledge was found and learning was prosperous. Islam places high importance on taking care of the orphans and the widows. This is partially interesting because Muhammad himself was an orphan. I was captivated by how the film revealed that the Islamic people took in children without parents, creating a strong and stable community with love and support for the disadvantaged. Despite the fact that Muhammad was an orphan, he was obviously able to not only survive, but also succeed in life because the society taught that it was the responsibility of others to step up and care for the helpless. Contrary to what Western culture might say, Islam values and respects the women in their society. In fact, Muhammad’s wife, Khadija, proposed to him. She had an extensive impact on his success, as well as being highly successful all on her own. She was a mentor to him, partially because she was older and wiser, and she was a prosperous businesswoman. Khadija is now known as the “mother of Islam,” and undoubtedly respected, strong, and valuable woman. The veiling of women can be very misleading to Westerners because the true meaning is not explained in Western society.  The forced veiling of women is actually due to backlash against Western culture, not out of hatred or disrespect towards women in Islamic culture. Islam is overflowing with wonderful values and ideas such as the importance of social justice and reconciliation. Through the film Faith of Islam I discovered that everyone, regardless of religious beliefs or geographical location, could learn and benefit from the philosophies that Islam teaches and practices.



Another new idea that I discovered due to this course was the concept of trans-nationalism, in this case pertaining to the connections between Morocco and Spain. Laila Lalami’s novel Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits demonstrated this through numerous characters that were trying to illegally leave Morocco and go to Spain for various reasons. Each one of the characters was changed by their trans-national journey, whether they successfully crossed into Spain or not. This change is drastically revealed particularly through Faten and Halima, whose identities are entirely altered by their journey. Before the journey Faten is a highly religious woman who wears a headscarf by choice despite what society tells her to do. Her strong opinions have great influence on her friend, Noura, who follows Fatan’s example closely. This angers Noura’s powerful father, who had different expectations for Noura’s future. Therefore, he proceeds to have Fatan fail her final exams, leaving her with few options outside of attempting to make a life for herself elsewhere. Fatan is successful in illegally immigrating to Spain. But the economy in Spain proves to be no better for Fatan; she abandons her beliefs and turns to prostitution. Another character, Halima, risks her life and the lives of her three children to escape her abusive husband. They are caught immediately after they cross and returned to Morocco. Interestingly enough, Halima refuses to let this hold her down. Her husband finally grants her a divorce and the right to keep her children. Through this trans-national journey Halima is made stronger, and proves that she is willing to stop at nothing to gain her freedom. Lalami’s novel emphasizes the influence that this journey has on each individual character, and how trans-nationalism goes both ways, affecting Spain and Morocco both.


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