My Arab & Muslim family

When I told BossMan and IronSweetie (Dynamo‘s brother & sis-in-law) I was coming to Dubai, they insisted I stay with them.

“Vanilla, of COURSE you will stay with us, you are family. Don’t insult us by staying anywhere else.”

You are family. Strong words. I wondered if perhaps the phrasing was slightly hyperbolic and dramatic, as is sometimes the case when dealing with Arabs, and especially with BossMan (#dramaqueen).


Dynamo’s wedding last year.

IronSweetie took me under her wing: teaching me how to dance & introducing me to her family. Showering me with love, despite us only having met twice, briefly. I was Dynamo’s friend, I had been a friend of BossMan prior to his move to Dubai; that was all she needed to know, to befriend me.

Dynamo insisted I participate in the wedding pictures, adjusting his bowtie. After the first dance, when the dance floor opened up to family and close friends, I hung back, until BossMan yelled at me to join them, because I belonged.


I cannot dissociate my mother’s sudden death with Dynamo’s incredible care of me. Which is perfect, really: my mother was Love. It is fitting that her death triggered one of the most perfect demonstrations of Love I’ve experienced.

Dynamo had to leave for a month-long business trip; he almost missed his flight, taking care of me in the immediate aftermath of my mother’s death. He was distraught that he’d miss her funeral. I tried to explain that he had misunderstood: his presence at her funeral, while lovely, was irrelevant. In the Russian Orthodox faith, a person’s soul stays on Earth for 3 days after their death – on the third day, it departs to (hopefully) heaven. Therefore, my mother had seen his kindness and help towards me and my father. She knew we were loved, and that would free her soul to continue on its journey. He had done more good than he could know – he had helped my mother.

2 days later, at the wake at the funeral parlour, I was surprised to see Dynamo’s sister arrive, alone. I’d met her a handful of times, over the years, but we were not particularly close. She bore a beautiful bouquet of flowers, with a card. She met my family, paid her respects, and stayed 30-45 minutes making perfect small talk and giving her support.

“Our thoughts & prayers are with your family. May God help you within hard and good times. God bless her.”

I assumed Dynamo had sent his sister to represent his family, since he was out-of-town and BossMan had moved to Dubai. I was wrong. She volunteered. Those beautiful – perfect – words were her own. I carry that card with me always, to this day.  (Yes, it is water-stained from my tears.)

Dynamo’s family is devoutly Muslim. My family, especially my parents, is devoutly Russian Orthodox. Dynamo’s sister found the perfect words to bridge the (irrelevant?) gap in our faiths. In the Russian Orthodox faith, we believe that praying for the forgiveness of sins of the departed matters, and contributes to their salvation – our human understanding of time is inevitably too narrow when compared to the Eternal. Similarly, I believe that the prayers of my Muslim darlings for my mother’s soul have contributed to her salvation. That they would care about her salvation, and pray for her, fills me with endless gratitude and love.


BossMan and IronSweetie hosted me in Dubai, treating me always, showering me with generosity and time, despite it being a busy work week for them. We traded stories, shared moments of vulnerability. They showed me their world. I spent time with each one individually and together and met some of their friends. They were the best possible ambassadors for Dubai – answering all my questions and explaining cultural differences.

Their love was so strong. I resisted at first: I felt unworthy of such generosity and kindness. But Love, when untainted by other human failings, is too strong to resist. With every day I spent with them, I grew to understand and accept that I am family. They are family.

This may have always been the case. But this trip finally made me understand.

I love them so.

May God bless the Dynamite family.


Recap of this trip so far:

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7 comments

  1. My boss is Muslim. I love his entire family to pieces. They are some of the most generous, giving, kind people I have ever met. It is because of my getting to know my bosses faith, that I decided to become a Theist rather than hang so hard-core to my Christian Faith. I love their religion and the kind of people that they are. Here in the states, there is so much hatred for Muslims, and it breaks my heart. People won’t take the time to understand what Islam is really about.

    The Russian Orthodox Faith is one that I know nothing about, but I like the 3 days on earth thing. That is really kind of cool to think about. I think my boss told me that with the Muslim Faith, they have to bury their loved ones within two days (?) because once they are so many steps away from the grave, the personal judgement of the deceased, before God begins. I find that fascinating. I also like that they believe that if you do good, you go to Heaven. Unlike my Christian Faith that believes in salvation through Jesus being the only way to Heaven.

    I don’t know. I wish people in the States could see Islam for what it really is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, it breaks my heart to hear the rhetoric coming out of the states. It exists in Canada too, but less pervasively and virulently. But enough that I feel very protective of my Muslim friends. If only ppl knew.

      While I will never convert, I approach my Christian faith with a grain of salt: we believe that He has asked us to perpetuate His church here on earth- and as inherently flawed humans, i believe it is likely we probably got a few/several things wrong along the way. Like how there is only ONE path to salvation?! Sheesh, how narrow minded: it will be revealed to us, upon our death.

      So I stay with my faith, and navigate my intense periods of drought and doubt, bc this faith is a framework that I understand and works for me. But I am not blind to other faiths and religions’ merits. Including Islam’s. Dynamo is the person with whom I can most freely discuss my doubts and troubles with my faith. A Muslim helps me be a better Christian. To me, that is beautiful.

      I feel like that Muslim timeline to burying their dead is a perfect example of the overlap in principles and dogma. 2 vs 3 days: seriously, who cares!! Both faiths believe in a timeline before finding oneself at the final Judgment. The details, in my opinion, are trivial.

      I hope that by sharing your experiences with your boss, and mine with the Dynamite family, we can incrementally influence some of that toxic rhetoric. I maintain that Love is always the answer.

      Liked by 1 person

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