When I was younger, I used to travel to Egypt every summer with my family to reconnect with cousins, brush up on my Arabic, and eat authentic koshary (aka — a bowl of heaven: pasta, lentils, rice all mixed together with onion and spicy tomato sauce.)
Every summer, my high school and then college friends would jokingly ask if I was getting married in Egypt. We would laugh and I would reply, “Of course not. I’m not marrying a boater.”
Those trips were always fun — and coming back to the United States to begin a new school year was depressing. Staying up late with the cousins and laughing until our stomachs hurt, making new friends, exploring museums and historical places, volunteering at local charities, and taking Arabic classes at local institutes were typical summers for me.
Now that I’ve set the picture of how my early years of summer in Egypt was like for me, let me proceed onto the summer of age. What’s that, you ask? It was the summer where I was at the “perfect Egyptian Muslim age for marriage.”
I mean, I was almost finished with college, young, single and still not sure what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So, of course, at weddings and gatherings I was introduced as “Aya from America.” Like that was the single most important thing about me.
At my cousin’s engagement, a young man heard about “Aya from America,” and asked my cousin about me.
He was a nice doctor in training and I was told that I should get to know him.
Why the heck not, I thought. So our parents talked to each other and we agreed to meet. I was going to go back home to Ohio in a day or two, so we decided on a last minute “get to know each other” and see if we are compatible (aka — halal date.)
This was one amazing #WallahBro.
We will call him Mohsen. He was a very enthusiastic young doctor. He was very interested in learning more about America… and food. He liked to talk about food a lot.
“What do you like to cook?” he asked.
“Ummm, I’m a college student who eats at Subway and whatever is free and cheap,” I replied. He looked at me like I had said I eat cockroaches for dinner.
So we talked hobbies, and besides food, he said he was busy with studying and rotations. Okay, so he is a hard-working person who wants to become a doctor. I talked about writing for my college newspaper and organizing newsletters for my MSA.
Then, he said the most ridiculous shit I’d ever heard: “I read Surat Al Baqara every day.”
I thought I heard wrong. This guy was just saying how much he works, more than 15 hours a day. Does he really read the longest surah in the Quran every single day after he gets off rotations? That’s two and a half Juz (parts) and 286 verses.
Okay, wow, I thought. Strange but impressive, I guess? Then, Mohsen talks about America and asks how life is there. I start to wonder if he is even interested in getting to know me, or if he truly wants an easy visa to the U.S.
But I thought, no, think the best of people. So maghrib (sunset) prayer comes and goes –and then we hear the call to prayer for isha (evening prayer). Somewhere in between our interesting talks about who reads the most Qur’an every day, I take a break from the bragging and go pray maghrib.
Mohsen is still sitting. He doesn’t get up to pray. He stayed in one place, either eating, talking about food, Qur’an or America.
This #WallahBro was talking about how pious he is, (Mashallah, Mashallah,) — so pious that he reads Qur’an for over two hours a day, and he didn’t even get up to perform a daily prayer? I mean, if that isn’t a #WallaBro, then I don’t know what is.
Of course that was a major red flag and I said absolutely no to Mohsen. I went back to America just a couple days after, and to my friend’s disappointment, I was still single. But I’m sure Mohsen found the girl of his dreams who also reads Surat Al Baqara daily, Mashallah.