We learnt Islam in schools from Kindergarten. We memorized the short Surahs (chapters of Quran) and recited them like Christmas carols. We heard short stories of the prophets and day dreamed about them. And we studied the Seerah (personal history) of the Prophet at a very young age and it was our bed times stories or in some cases, fantasies.
One of these short stories is the story of prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and how he destroyed the idols of his people during their festival, in which he pretended to be sick to be left behind. Another story was the Prophet (the prophet here forth will mean Prophet Mohamad) destroying the idols surrounding Kaaba after the “Opening of Mecca” (the word opening – fateh in Arabic – is used for Islamic major conquest).
You have to be a son of a United Arab Emirates native male to be considered an Emiraty or to have the UAE citizenship. An Emirati mother won’t do, nor is being born there. It is a tribal society with all the pride and prejudice that come with its definition. Only about 11% of the country’s population are Emiratis. The majority actually (0ver 50%) are a working class South Asian … that is Indian, Pakistani, Bangali, Afghani, and others. We as foreigner Arabs were called “expatriates”. Most Emaratis and expatriates had servants, and so did we. We had a servant whose name was Leila, from Sri Lanka. In my opinion, it was just a modern form of slavery. The abuse of human rights inscripted in the work contracts for those servants is shocking, although the economic value to them is great.
At any case, Leila was a hindu, and I walked to her room with my brother Moe when in Ajman when I was about 7 years old, and found her kneeling down to one of the african antique wood sculptures my mom bought for our living room. She was practicing her religion, but given my little child indoctrination about idol worshipping infidels, and the influence of all the “idol destroying” heroes of my childhood, add to that a lack of education about tolerance, I found it an opportunity to do what Prophet Ibrahim did, and me and my brother Moe attacked the idols and smashed them across the wall, destroying them, and shouting “ALLAHU AKBAAAR”.
Leila cried, probably not because of our blasphemous act, but maybe because she thought she will get in trouble. My parents had a confidential talk with her. But then, we had a good traditional warm from the oven slipper beating (Arabs don’t use grounding as punishment) by our Mom for destroying her living room ornaments.
In 1982-1983, a new branch of National Bank of Abu Dhabi was opening in a small village called Khorfakkan, and my father was promoted to be a branch president and requested to move to it. A very important chapter of my childhood started in this small city surrounded and pushed by mountains into the dark blue of the Gulf of Oman. I was moving to Grade 2, and my brother Moe was entering kindergarten. There were no private schools in Khorfakkan. The closest city with a private school (25 minutes drive) was Fujairah. The tales of two cities unknown to most humans at that time started for me and my brother Moe.