Am I just being paranoid?

Yesterday, as part of a day full of various “events” in a smallish group setting, I heard a female Imam speak.  It followed prayers, as last evening was a Muslim holy day.

I couldn’t see her directly, and eventually left the room since I couldn’t understand what she was saying.  She appeared to be very young, early twenties I would guess.  At first, I was impressed by how clearly she spoke, her crisp tone, and by how assertive she was.  Having met her only a couple of hours before, these qualities were quite the opposite of what I would have imagined from her.

As I sat in a neighboring room finding things to occupy myself, her voice boomed throughout the house.  It was all very interesting to me.  But then I heard the word “America.”  Not once, not twice, but several times throughout her monologue.

I couldn’t get it out of my head.  What could she possibly be saying about America?  It was a holy day.  She was invited to pray and to speak.  She had met me and knew I was American.  I had attended the prayer session, so she knew I was there, and close by as she spoke.  What’s the possibility that she was saying something other than Anti-American sentiments?

As you can tell, I am quite bothered by this, possibly more than I should be.  I try to devote my life to making peace and bringing people together.  Do you have any thoughts on this?  Is there something positive she might have been preaching?  Am I just being paranoid?

18 thoughts on “Am I just being paranoid?

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  1. I have a vauge idea that usually imams have set talks and everyone is preaching the same thing so you could probably find out (although this might only be true for the Friday-prayer speech). What gave you the impression she was saying something bad? – did people treat you differently afterwards? I don’t think you should assume the worst.

    1. I just can’t think of a single positive reason she would be talking about America during a prayer service. No, no one treated me differently. Although I must say, I did not feel warm about her from the first moment I met her. She did not say hello when I introduced myself, nor when a Turkish friend introduced me afterwards. She never spoke a word to me.

  2. To tell people to stop being paranoid about Americans? Maybe something to do with the mosque-world-tade-centre debate? (did they sort that out yet?) Could none of your Turkish friends explain it to you / have B ask them and pass it on to you?

      1. as another alternative, perhaps simply saying people should remember to pray for Muslims in America – I don’t have any experience of mosques, but churches like to pray for “Christian brethren” abroad.

  3. Maybe she was mentioning the American friend she just met? Meaning you, I would just put it behind you. The amount of times I’ve heard the ladies talking about me while I am in the same room, assuming as I don’t speak Turkish well I don’t understand! There is also the issue at the moment about the drone attack in the east where the Turkish government are saying it was the Americans so possible it was that she was talking about. Also President Gul is in America. Why don’t you ask your husband to speak with her if it will put your mind at rest. If it was me I would just let it go.

  4. Maybe she was saying how nice it was to have a person from America there at the festivities… could have been singing your praises!
    The notion of a “female imam” was the main highlight of this post to me. I didn’t know that was a thing. A hard-line female imam no less! (Or not, haha)

  5. Hi,
    Maybe she was talking about you as a friend or example. She could have been saying that you are open minded enough to come to a meeting of that kind, even although you are a Christian. Or she could have been commenting on your bravery at leaving your own country and living here, despite the hardships that come with emigrating. But if it is really playing on your mind (it would bother me too) ask someone who was there what she was on about.
    If she was talking in a horrible way or saying anti American stuff, I would stay away from there in the future!
    I hope I’m right and she was being nice.

  6. . . I think everyone who has gone before has said the same thing – without you bother to find out, this is all speculation and assumption. Perhaps it says more about your own perception of the actions of successive US administrations and the effects they have on others around the world. In my experience, people are not generally anti the citizens of the United States of Part of North America; they are anti the foreign and corporate policies of that country, and with good reason. My country of origin fares no better – again, with good reason. I also see no reason to feel defensive about it when it is attacked verbally by those who recognise what an appalling past and present record it has.
    An attack on the US government, on ‘America’, is not an attack on you personally – unless you support what it is doing.
    So, are you being ‘paranoid’? A little – but then we all have to be a bit mad to put up with all the crap in the world 🙂

  7. Thanks to all for your comments. You have made some very valid points and have made it clear how making assumptions can bring about a lot of negativity. Making assumptions is a key cause of everyday arguments.

    Perception is also a key point. Personal perception plays a very large role in everything we think and say. What we say is always a reflection of our personal perceptions. I had a very bad experience with an 8-yr-old boy here. He is being raised in a very conservative family and goes to a religious school. Upon discovering I was American, he verbally attacked me, screaming at me to go home to America. I was very disappointed by this and by the lack of response from his parents who were an earshot away. So my perception is certainly tainted.

    Both of these points, making assumptions and personal perceptions, are part of The Four Agreements – a book I try to live my life by.

    The facts: 1) no one spoke English; 2) the only person I knew there is too kind to ever tell anyone (even in Turkish) if in fact America or I were being insulted; 3) the imam can’t be looked up on the internet; 4) she was definitely not referring to her pleasure of having an American there that day. I know enough Turkish that I would have caught that. She actually never welcomed me, or even said hello at all – even after I introduced myself to her and was introduced to her again by another.

    So, I thank you all for your wonderful suggestions. And I’m going to take the advice to leave it behind me. I will pretend she was speaking of the drones, President Gul’s visit, or the mosque-world-tade-centre debate. I have to do this because there is one other point that was not raised by your comments – one that goes against the tenets of the Four Agreements. That is instinct. I don’t know about you, but my instinct is rarely wrong.

    Have a peaceful weekend!

  8. I am sorry to tell you that the world does not revolve around you. Uttering the word “America” does not necessarily have to mean she “dares” talk shit about your “precious” country USA. In Turkey, people are allowed to criticize anything about the US and you will never stop this. USA is not sacrosanct and neither shall you ever able to make it sacrosanct.

    1. Thanks for the input. I had no idea the world didn’t revolve around me. In fact, I was quite sure it did! (HUGE SARCASM INTENDED).

      Of course, anyone should be able to say whatever they want about any country. Unfortunately, that’s not the case about Turkey, Unless you want to be imprisoned and/or fined for insulting Turkishness.

      Nevertheless, it seems you missed missed the point of my article, or I did not make myself clear. To me, a holy person bad-mouthing an entire nation makes them seem unholy. And even stranger at a small gathering in a home on a holy day, to take the time to put down a nation. The real point though, is that I don’t want to be among a group, whose language I do not understand, if at that time hatred is being taught to them.


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