Isn't this the best, most beautiful coat? Well, it's my new coat for the time being.
I made the mistake of telling one of my wonderful motherly students last week that I came to Jerusalem without a coat, just a few jackets. (If you've been to the Middle East you already know where this is going.)
As a preface, the first week of class it was raining and this woman INSISTED that I get a ride home with her instead of taking the bus. She really would not take no for an answer. I was very concerned with "professionalism" and so I said yes, but planned to turn her down in the future. But the truth is I like the ride home instead of taking the bus AND to boot she really wouldn't let me out of it if I put of a fight anyway. The generosity of Muslims is amazing, if un-turn-downable. As a Christian I feel like I have a lot to learn about charity from some of my Muslim friends. So I just accept the ride home at this point and everyone is happy.
So I was riding home with her today and as she dropped me off she reached into the backseat and brought up a white shopping bag.
"I think this will look nice on you" she says, handing me the bag containing a COAT.
Seriously. I argued for a while that I didn't really need it and that I really appreciated her thoughtfulness, but I just couldn't take it. But as always, Hakum won and I have a new coat. I made her promise that when the weather got better she would let me return it, but I think even that might take some serious persuasion. And it's not just something she had lying around, I'm sure it's the nicest, most expensive coat in her closet. Geez.
This moment echoes many we had in Amman last summer and that we have had in Jerusalem. In the West we have become so obsessed with the idea that Islam breeds fanaticism (which I reject entirely as any religion can be and has been exploited to encourage fanaticism) but we don't identify Islam with its many virtues, charity and hospitality being among the greatest in my estimation.
And don't worry, I'm not afraid to flunk her if she doesn't do well in class even though she is really nice to me :)