Ask About Family

So you have “Smiled and said Hello”, you have asked “How are You?” and meant it. park, kids in park, children in park, picnic in park, family picnic, Muslim family in park

How did that go for you?

Now let’s ask about family.

This is not unlike our culture when we get to know somebody, so why should it be any different with your new Afghan or other Muslim acquaintance?  Much like our own culture we ask: Are you married? Do you have children? What ages are they? Where do they go to school?

Find the commonalities with your own family and talk about those things.

You will find there is a lot in common, they’re just the other normal from another culture.  I think you get the gist of this.

Here’s what to avoid.

Many Muslims find it culturally inappropriate or uncomfortable to ask details about the other person’s spouse. So hold off on that until you know their family well. The rule of thumb, if they ask about your spouse, feel free to ask similar questions about theirs.  Don’t ask things about their family that might be embarrassing to them, most come from an eastern cultural mindset where Honor is very important. Try to think about how to frame questions that won’t reflect negatively for them to answer. You’ll learn to sense this as you take the time to get to know your new Muslim friends by how they react or if they avoid your question.

They will often be gracious when you step on culturally sensitive topics because they realize you are different and you will want to be gracious as well. Don’t be surprised if you get asked how much money you make or how much you paid for something, that is commonplace in many cultures where Muslims come from. Don’t feel like you have to answer every question or answer every question directly, they won’t.  For example, I have found myself answering questions about how much money I make with answers like:  Not enough for what I do. Or not as much as you might think! Or those are not things we talk about freely in our culture, we don’t want to brag nor disappoint.

And sometimes I don’t answer and redirect to conversations about other things just like they do if they don’t wish to talk about something.  This is not hard, just do it!

You will be both a blessing and be blessed by your new friendship that is likely to begin.

–The Storyteller

See also:

Values: Redeeming the Time

Underneath This I’m A lot Like You (women wearing the hijab or other coverings)

Talk about Faith — Part 1

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One thought on “Ask About Family

  1. Pingback: Ask “How are you?” and Mean it! | Afghans Abroad

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