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Sociological Memoir




Tocomplete this project, I interviewed aunt Amirah, a fifty-seven yearold woman from Saudi Arabia. She migrated to the United Statesseventeen years ago after she got married to an American. Her husbandheld a high US military position, and is now retired. In theinterview, I was interested in knowing the reasons that inspiredAmirah to prefer getting married to an American instead of a Saudispouse. In addition, I was interested in knowing whether Amirah stillupholds the strict religious and cultural practices that the shariahlaws that are used in Saudi Arabia.

Amirahmoved to the United States because she got married to an Americanman. On the other hand, I am in the United States on a student Visathat will expire after five years. For the last three months, I havebeen searching for a job, but I have not yet succeeded. I haveapplied for three part time positions that I thought I was eligibleto fill. On both occasions, I called the employers who conducted atelephone interview on me and claimed that I had the relevant skillsneeded, but when I told them my name and they saw my physicalappearance, their attitude and optimism towards my capabilitydwindled. Similarly, my aunt confessed that she also experiencedsimilar discrimination when applying for jobs. Each time she sent anapplication, the employers were impressed by her qualifications,especially the ones who interviewed her through telephone calls.However, they changed their minds instantly each time she appeared tothem dressed in a “Hijab” Despite the fact that my aunt ismarried to an American, and she has now become an American citizen,she still has limited access to some services such as loan facilitiesand wage level given to the white Americans (Mallat, 2003). Manywhite American women with similar education credentials andexperience earn almost three times her income. In addition, shecomplained that her employers sabotage her from getting promotionsthrough giving her scholarship or transfer to another storedepartment whenever there is a promotion opportunity.

Duringthe interview, I discovered that Amirah no longer upholds the strictshariah regulations women are supposed to follow in Saudi Arabia.Instead, she took advantage of the social and economic freedom womenhave in the United States to join college. Her husband supported herdecision to go back to school, and now she is a certified publicaccountant. She works for one of the leading internationalrestaurants corporate offices in the United States. Amirah claimedthat American women take their freedom for granted. Her backgroundtries to oppress women in almost every aspect of life, this hastaught her to appreciate her present life. Although she stillpartakes in Islamic practices, she embraces secular values that allowher to work in the United States’ society. For example, she drivesa car and even travels to other states in the US without her husbandaccompanying her.

Amirahis grateful to the 1990 Iraq war that made the US send her husbandinto the Middle East. He was Colonel with the American forces. Thecouple met during the regular pilgrim activities in Saudi Arabia(Mallat, 2003). My aunt was accompanied by her father while herhusband was on holiday with three of his colleagues. The decided tovisit Saudi Arabia as pilgrims, and fate made them a couple.Similarly, I also have fond memories of the 1990 Iraq war because Ihave been corresponding with my aunt for over ten years. She told meseveral stories about America, in addition to the extensiveinformation I read online and in the internet. I worked hardthroughout school because I knew my father would not object to send eto a University in the United States if I requested him. In addition,Saudi Arabia has a special program that allows it to send a givennumber of students to the US for higher education yearly. My aunt inthe US also convinced my father that I would get internationalqualifications if he could let me study in the US. Amira convincedmy father that United States offers international standards educationbecause she works as an accountant with an international basedcompany. She is occasionally sent overseas to continents such asAfrica, Australia, and Europe to help assist in benchmarkingactivities of new franchises of the country. My is also optimisticthat soon she will be promoted to a senior accountancy manager of oneof the international branches of the company just as many of hercolleagues have been posted overseas.

Inconclusion, Amirah’s lifestyle in the US is significantly differentfrom the way it was in Saudi Arabia. For example, she can interactwith men freely, have a full time job, and visit her friends in otherstates without the company of her husband. She describes socialfreedom and equality as her major achievements (Mallat, 2003). Fromher observations, I now feel that the strict sharia laws back athome, such as the regulations that require women to have malechaperones and to refrain from driving cars, should be abolishedbecause they are just unnecessarily oppressive.


Mallat,C. (2003). Islamicfamily law: [proceedings of a conference convened by the Centre ofIslamic and Middle East law …, University of London, in May 1989].London [u.a.: Graham &amp Trotman.