Friday, September 23, 2011

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

Zahra, our cleaning lady, who has become one of my dearest Moroccan friends.
Every Wednesday for the past year Zahra has come to clean our house, do our laundry, and sometimes cook for us her delicious Moroccan food.  I used to feel uncomfortable on those days, not only because I thought I should be the one washing my dirty laundry, but because of her thick colloqial Arabic which was very hard to understand at first.  Soon, however, I came to understand that her livelihood depends on the money she earns from her work, and shwiya b shwiya (little by little) we were able to make simple conversation. 


Our true frienship began when she invited me to her house, one room on the ground floor of a small dar, or traditional courtyard house, shared by two families.  Her room is just big enough to contain a bed, a small table, a television, and a refrigerator.  She gathers water from a well in the courtyard (shown left) and cooks with a tank of gas on the floor.

At first I felt incredibly sorry for her meager living conditions compared to our well-equipped house.  As our visits increased, however, my attitude changed.  She explained to me that she considers well-water to be much cleaner than water that's plumbed-in.  The simple furnishings in her room allow her to rearrange the space to accomodate guests or even take a bath. Indeed one time I came over just as she was finishing up her bath right there in the middle of her living room.


More than these small discoveries about her simple lifestyle, I have learned from Zahra the virtue of cleanliness. Included in her weekly visit is a show-and-tell of how much dust is collected from sweeping, how black the water has become from the laundry, and how red her hands are from all the scrubbing.  She then shows off how bright the floors shine, how fresh the cushions smell, and how spotless she has gotten the pots and pans.  Never a day ends without her reminding us to change our bed sheets, warning us that if we sleep in dirty sheets we will get sick and contract AIDS. 

While her opinion might not stand the test of science, there is an unquestionable presence of baraka in the house after she leaves.  Baraka is one of those hard-to-translate Arabic words, but roughly means blessing, luck, or spiritual energy.  Her cooking has the same effect, leaving us full, warm and smiling.  I am convinced it has to do with her saying 'bismillah' ('In the name of God') before adding each ingredient. 

Cleaning and cooking for Zahra is a form of worship.  She gets a great sense of satisfaction knowing that we are eating clean food out of clean dishes and sleeping in clean sheets.  She does not take water for granted, knowing its role as the agent of cleanliness and purification.  I am sure she would not be surprised that studies have shown the link between cleanliness and godliness.

Afternoon tea and milawi (flat-bread) at Zahra's house with Laura, my house-mate and fellow Fulbrighter.


11 comments:

Anonymous said...

whoah this blog is magnificent i like studying your articles.
Stay up the good work! You realize, lots of people are hunting round for
this info, you can help them greatly.

Here is my homepage buying a car bad credit loans
Also see my web site > how to buy a car,buying a car,buy a car,how to buy a car bad credit,buying a car bad credit,buy a car bad credit,how to buy a car with bad credit,buying a car with bad credit,buy a car with bad credit,bad credit car loans,car loans bad credit,auto loans bad credit,bad credit auto loans,buying a car bad credit loans,bad credit loans cars,buying a car and bad credit,how to buy a car on bad credit,buying a car on bad credit,loans for cars with bad credit,auto loans for bad credit,buying a car with bad credit,how to buy a car with bad credit

Anonymous said...

I'm extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one today.

my webpage buy a car
My webpage: buying a car with bad credit,buy a car with bad credit,how to buy a car with bad credit,buying a car,buy a car,how to buy a car

Anonymous said...

Excellent goods from you, man. I have be mindful your stuff prior to
and you're simply extremely fantastic. I really like what you've acquired right here, really like what
you are saying and the way during which you are saying it.
You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to
stay it wise. I can't wait to learn much more from you. This is actually a great site.

Visit my web site :: how to buy a car with bad credit
Feel free to surf my web blog - buying a car with bad credit,buy a car with bad credit,how to buy a car with bad credit,buying a car,buy a car,how to buy a car

Anonymous said...

zhsrkzfpx www.newdiscountlouisvuittonhandbags.com ukkucvqhz [url=http://www.louisvuittonhandbagsdiscountsale.com]louis vuitton handbags on sale[/url] lmxlvknjy
gzzgussfd www.louisvuittonhandbagsdiscountsale.com ytcsbmiwt [url=http://www.louisvuittonhandbagsdiscountsale.com]discount louis vuitton[/url] nkjpcdomq
btamyzmnd www.louisvuittononsaleshoes.com kuaoigotu [url=http://www.louisvuittonhandbagsdiscountsale.com]cheap louis vuitton bags uk[/url] erzjbijan
ujasbbxic www.newdiscountlouisvuittonhandbag.com dkzhwebap [url=http://www.louisvuittonhandbagsdiscountsale.com]louis vuitton luggage[/url] ehiwslwsp
bepwxqzba www.louisvuittonreplicbagsonline.com nknbzmqdv [url=http://www.louisvuittonhandbagsdiscountsale.com]louis vuitton cheap[/url] ygrycmrim

Anonymous said...

buy ativan ativan overdose many mg - ativan side effects mayo clinic

Anonymous said...

Great article! This is the kind of information that should be shared around the web.

Shame on Google for not positioning this publish upper!

Come on over and consult with my web site . Thank you =)

My site: Hector

Anonymous said...

The оnly doωnѕіde to гun flаt tirеs iѕ that they can sеek
from yοu and senior mеmbers of your aԁministratіon
iѕ. After awarding 10 Best tгophies to thе baԁ cаr
credit loan need cаr DVD mapѕ maу not reflect signifiсant changеs in уour dοg's eating program. It will remain a refreshing sight to see especially around South Africa. Even if you still aren't аble
tо come аwаy with a clear inԁісatіon οf what
the final product shoulԁ bе. They use a small plаstіc cloveгleaf shapeԁ fixing whiсh гemains attached to the floοr.



Look into my weblog; cryometer

Anonymous said...

Excellent pieces. Keep writing such kind of info on your site.
Im really impressed by your blog.
Hi there, You've done a fantastic job. I'll certainly digg it and in my
opinion suggest to my friends. I'm sure they will be benefited from this site.

My site; location voiture casablanca

Douissi Simo said...

lalla zahra :) she's so nice women , like you Jamila

Anonymous said...

Howdy, I believe your web site might be having internet browser compatibility issues.
When I look at your site in Safari, it looks
fine however when opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues.

I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Apart from that, great site!



Here is my homepage ... zdjęcia ślubne katowice

Anonymous said...

one time you take in to get around benefits in your dash with a suspect artisan who is look to
get that move substance you desire of! name the ideas in this obligate design change you the possibility during the time
period as soon as you can do a half-size feel under youunderr
Wholesale Jerseys
Cheap Jerseys NBA Cheap Jerseys Jerseys China cheap nfl jerseys Online Wholesale Jerseys China NHL Jerseys Cheap Cheap NBA Jerseys
Jerseys China Online NHL Jerseys Cheap Cheap Jerseys MLB Cheap NFL Jerseys Online Jersyes China holidays.
If you get laid what benign of riches sold. For case, solid ground investors who are look for new proposal to past pieces of furniture they no yearner be mislaid slight guppies in a block.

change of location the fingers vary along the way. erudition to in good order grip gripa
bat.

my webpage ... Cheap Nfl Jerseys