Ayla’s last stop in Europe on her 3-month global trek was to the Vatican. She was able to enjoy this home base of Christianity just before jumping to another continent–and another religion. On February 11, Ayla arrived to Egypt.
In this week’s story she offers photos, another wonderful video, and some words about the culture clash and what she learned about Islam.
In Egypt, I stayed at my dad’s friend’s house. Aziz is Egyptian with a traditional Muslim family. His wife Asmaa chose to wear a niqab, and I looked forward to talk to her and hear the story. (That’s the reason I travel: to meet people in different life situations and hear new stories.)
Egypt became a real eye opener. Everything was so different, so opposite! For instance, moving out from your parents’ home. People I met in Egypt didn’t really understand why I was moving out. I told them I was 20, it’s way overdue! (I found this to be very different all over the world, but in my country Norway around 20 is the normal age to move out.) In Egypt it’s seen as disrespectful to move out from your parents, because it means they aren’t good enough for you. Back home, both me and my parents are reaaally ready for me moving out! (Hmm, that sounded awful, didn’t it? Well you get what I mean.)
I told my Egyptian family that if I met a guy at 27 who hadn’t moved out yet, I would have found that really strange. Asmaa’s answer was that if she met a guy at 27 that had moved out, she would find that really strange!
But don’t they want to learn about life and see how everything works before marriage and kids? I asked.
To this, my Egyptian uncle Aziz had the most valid answer ever: “I know family; that is all I need to know. This is the life I know and this is the life I want!”
Isn’t that what most people want? Why would you need to learn something else when you already got the life you want? I ended up thinking that both sides where equally good. It’s not better or worse; it’s just a totally different society! That’s the punchline for the entire week. I think we end up defining different as bad or good, while we need to realize that it’s just different!
For me as a Christian it was so empowering living in that house. They prayed 5 times a day, and I found myself picking up the Bible every time they prayed! I think the devotion and love the Muslims have for their religion is so beautiful. Even though the basic principle is opposite–with Christianity basics being it’s all grace and you can’t and don’t have to do anything to “please” God, and Islam where you have to follow a set of rules and do certain things–I do believe most of our main values are the same.
Asmaa’s choice to wear the clothes she wears is such a strong statement on who she is and what she stands for. I think it’s beautiful to be this passionate about what you believe in!
The kids thought it was funny that I’m suddenly wearing a hijab. I tried to explain that it is to dry my hair, but they are like three, so it’s not that easy.
My host family took me around Cairo (the capital), where I saw the local life.
Here’s my video about my Egyptian experience:
Next week Ayla goes south of the Sahara and into Tanzania, East Africa.
Ayla is a 20-year-old Norwegian who loves to learn new things and study new cultures. She’s Christian, and in her more normal life (when not eating donkey sandwiches in China and taking trains across Italy), she does dancing and karate. For any questions for Ayla or about travels, please comment below.
And if you’d like to share your story on The Periphery, please email me at Brandon@ThePeriphery.com. We’d love to hear all about your adventure.