Before I came to Turkey, everything I knew about Islam was taught to me by the American media. There was a heavy emphasis on how Islam holds back women's rights and doesn't promote critical thinking.
People must be getting something out of it as a religion though, otherwise why would it have become so popular so quickly in this region of the world and remained so. I wanted to learn more about it from people, rather than media sources.
I needed someone who knew my culture to guide me because I wanted someone who knew where I was coming from and my culture's standards of critical thinking and equality.
Luckily, I came across a blog written by a woman of Egyptian heritage who grew up in the Vancouver, Canada area. She too, had, North American standards. Daliah is a financial and economics reporter for a Western corporation, but she is also on a journey to explore her own faith of Islam and to submit to it deeper.
Learning about Islam makes me a better friend and expat. It also allows me to get more out of my time here. With each year here, I understand the festive feeling of Ramazan better and participate more. When I take the time to learn more about the dominant belief system in this country, I am treating my friends and hosts with respect. Most importantly, I find Islam and Islamic people way less threatening than I used to before I lived in an Islamic country. They are not a monolith.
Here's a sampling of blog posts from Daliah's blogs that I enjoyed.
This is single best description I have ever read on how to honor your father and mother:
Daliah explaining the act of fasting:
Daliah explaining how hard it can be to pray five times a day:
This post helped me understand the spirit of Ramazan (Turkish name):