Sorry if you feel I'm being overly judgmental, but if you put your private life on display in a reality show, I think you're pretty much asking people to have an opinion about what you do and why you do it. If you don't think that's going to happen, you're extremely naive. And just for the record, I'd have the same reaction to anyone converting to any religion whose heart just didn't seem to be in it. I think converting because you've honestly changed your beliefs is fine. Converting so you can marry someone is a bit different, at least to me.
I'd also like to know if they did any kind of premarital counseling at all before getting married. I have no idea what Islam requires, but I know a number of ministers and priests who won't marry a couple unless they've done some premarital counseling, during which issues the couple is likely to confront during the initial stages of marriage as well as long term plans are brought up. The dog situation, for instance, may seem easy to resolve for some people--if someone has allergies, you give up the dog, because you love your spouse more (implying, I guess, if you suggest any other possible solution, you love your spouse less). To others, it's a huge deal, especially with an elderly pet. I know I would have a really hard time getting seriously involved with someone who was anti-dog, particularly since I've been involved in pet therapy for nearly a decade, and I know I'm not alone. I also know people who have opted to deal with their allergies so they can have dogs--and not all Muslims have the same views regarding dogs, as it depends on the branch of Islam they follow. If Shadia and Jeff were likely to come to an impasse about Wrigley, it should have been worked out prior to the marriage, and certainly if Jeff, a dog lover, was converting to a branch of Islam that disallowed having dogs in the home at all, he should have known that prior to his conversion (and should have looked carefully into all the tenets and requirements of his new religion before converting, period). I just have a really hard time believing that if the dog were both a health and religious issue that it didn't come up a long time ago if they'd thought things through at all and wonder what the next unexpected obstacle is going to be for them if something that obvious wasn't worked out ahead of time--and whether Shadia is ever going to be the one asked to change her lifestyle significantly for Jeff and what her response might be if she were asked to do so.
Out of idle curiosity, I checked to see if Muslims have a problem with assistance dogs, on whom a variety of different people, from vets with PTSD to the blind, depend. Apparently, there have been some significant problems with some Muslim cabbies and bus drivers refusing service to people with assistance dogs or berating them because they (the Muslims) will now have to cleanse themselves after coming in contact with the service dogs. In one instance in Minnesota, a student left the technical school he was attending after a Muslim student threatened to kill his black lab service dog (black dogs, in particular, are abhorrent to some Muslims because they are regarded as familiars of the devil).
I'm sure not all Muslims, and not even all Muslim cabbies or bus drivers or students, would react in the same manner. In fact, the student in question said that at his previous school, the Muslim students eventually grew to understand the importance of his dog and some of them even chose to pet him, though they kept a piece of paper between their hands and the dog's fur, which he understood. But those that do are causing problems for differently abled individuals who are dependent on public transportation and taxi service to get around or who are afraid of how their dogs might be regarded on campuses. So, apparently, the dog issue is a bigger deal than just whether or not to keep a dog as a pet.
I'm not sure how such a problem would be solved, except to explain to Muslims unfamiliar with American culture that it is an accepted part of American culture (and many other cultures) that service dogs are allowed everywhere their owners go and that they don't need to interact with the dogs (in fact, it's better that people in general let service dogs do their jobs and not touch them without clearing it with their owners) but they do need to respect their legal right to be there. If they really can't be around dogs for religious reasons, then they need to reconsider whether driving a bus or cab is something they can choose to do for a living.
As someone who does pet therapy, it does worry me what this could mean in other places where dogs (and cats and other animals) have done tremendous work in helping people. It's simple enough to keep the dog out of the room of a Muslim patient or any patient who doesn't want him there, but would that mean just that room or the whole wing or the whole facility? I mean, it's unlikely to affect me personally, since the facility my dog and I have been working in is run by a Lutheran organization and doesn't get a lot of Muslim residents, but it's always a possibility. I know my dog has always been more than welcome on a local college campus too, but increasing numbers of foreign students who may or may not be Muslim (I have no idea) now attend there. I don't want to offend anyone, and he's always on a leash, but he's also extremely well-liked by other students who miss their own pets and like playing with him. I suppose that's not officially pet therapy, but I also know that a campus counselor has brought her dog to her office for years and has told me that students who might never come to see a counselor stop by to play with the dog and then eventually start feeling comfortable enough to ask her for help. On the other hand, maybe a Muslim student wouldn't come near her office (not that she's the only counselor available) because of that.
I also have no idea how Muslims who are particularly offended by a dog's lack of cleanliness manage public parks or other places/events where leashed dogs are welcome. I've gone to a local multicultural fair any number of times with my dog (again, leashed) and thought nothing of it before (it's held in a public park where dogs are allowed). To be fair, he's also been fussed over and petted by people of all nationalities there, so obviously some people were perfectly fine with him being there, and I've never been asked to leave because of him (and he's definitely not been the only dog in attendance). Then there's the whole issue of search and rescue dogs, police dogs etc. What about them? Would it be okay to use a search and rescue dog to locate a missing Muslim child? I know some working dogs (hunting dogs and guard dogs, for instance) are okay for almost all Muslims, provided they don't share the home with their owners, but I'm not sure how a search and rescue dog would be viewed, particularly since, depending on the situation, they'd come in close contact with the child.
It's just all very confusing.
I agree that the dog thing (in Islam/Arab culture) is confusing. Some say there is something in the Quran about dog hair and some treat it more like tradition or cultural thing. Not being a dog owner, my conversations with Muslims haven't really delved into this issue as much as other ones.
I do think Jeff might have more of an argument if the dog were a service dog maybe, but it isn't- it is a much loved pet so I would have hoped his relatives would have taken it in, but they didn't.
Just an observation- Muslims misunderstand the place of dogs in our society much as Americans misunderstand the importance of extended family in Arab and other cultures. Maybe we have a lot to learn from them. Or we can learn from each other.
As for Americans misunderstanding the importance of extended family in Muslim culture, I would point out that there are many groups in American culture who are well aware of the importance of extended families already. Many traditional Native American cultures put a premium on it, for instance, and so do others who are from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. I certainly know people who have taken in elderly parents or older parents who live with children and grandchildren. Economics alone have made that more common.
I'm not saying we can't learn things from Muslim culture. Obviously people can always learn from other people. But there are always those who refuse to do so too, and they're on both sides of the debate. Just as there are some Americans who refuse to believe there are any Muslim Americans who aren't terrorists, there appear to be some Muslims, immigrants or American born, who don't want to budge at all with regard to their customs. They obviously have the right to do that, but only so far as it does not inhibit the rights of others to do things that are legal and culturally acceptable to most Americans. If, for instance, they really can't abide to be around dogs, ever, then they need to arrange their lives so that they aren't, insofar as that is possible. I know that would be difficult, but extremely devout people of a variety of beliefs can sometimes find it difficult to live in any multi-cultural situation. But if they choose to go places or take up occupations where dogs are likely to be and have been accepted as having a right to be there with their owners and/or those they are assisting, they need to adjust to that. I thought the students at the school who simply accepted the young man's service dog as being his assistant, so to speak and/or who chose to pet the dog only with a piece of paper between their hands and the dog were doing that. They figured out a way to manage their cultural/religious beliefs without inhibiting the rights of another person. On the other hand, the student who issued a death threat against the dog, frightening the student enough that he felt he needed to leave school, did not--and the fact that the school officially regarded it as a misunderstanding is a little off-putting as well, as the threat involved violence and was obviously meant to intimidate another student. Considering that assistance dogs are legally considered an extension of the people they assist, the threat was legally a physical threat against the student the dog was assisting and should have been treated as such. Moreover, schools are required by law to abide by the ADA. Considering another student's threat against a service dog to be no more than a misunderstanding is hardly adapting the learning environment to take into consideration the other student's disability.
For my own part, if the multicultural festival I've attended were to ban dogs, because it offended some of the participants to be around them, I wouldn't bring my dog if I chose to attend. Fair is fair--it's their festival and they should be allowed to set the rules. I would have a harder time swallowing restrictions at the college or at the facility where I do pet therapy, because the majority of the people there are happy the dog is allowed there, and I would be fine keeping the dog away from anyone who was offended by him or just didn't want to be around a dog for any reason. I would also like to believe that if I were walking my dog down a public sidewalk or in a public park, abiding by the rules that allow him to be there, that I should be free from having to worry that I was offending anyone by doing so. Or, if I were dependent on an assistance dog, I would hope that I wouldn't have to worry about being told to leave a bus, have a cab leave me at the curb, or be refused service in a restaurant because others objected to my assistance dog's legal right to be with me based on their religious beliefs, because the First Amendment is supposed to keep any one group's religious beliefs, whether those beliefs are Christian or Muslim or whatever, from dominating the legal rights of all Americans.
And can be seen here: In reality, no stereotype - Philly.com
Sounds like she says different things at different times.
Does wearing the scarf somehow send the wrong message about her religion? I guess I don't think that much about whether someone's wearing a scarf or not--though I suppose if she's not wearing it, she's less recognizable to others as someone who might be Muslim (since there could be other reasons to wear a scarf--I have a neighbor who's an African immigrant, for instance, who's not Muslim, but who sometimes wears a head scarf when she's wearing a traditional outfit but normally doesn't). But if she's on a show where she's obviously identified as Muslim...I guess I just don't see why she feels that way. I think people would judge her more by her actions and words on the show than what she is or isn't wearing on her head.
Incidentally, I just saw an article about the show that indicated that while the premiere did pretty well, the ratings for the second episode dropped 55% from the debut episode--and that's before Loewe yanked its ads. Now I'm wondering if more than just the customer complaints played into Loewe's decision to yank its ads. Fifty-five percent is a precipitous drop and a decent economic reason for advertisers to think about whether they'd be better off spending their money elsewhere; certainly a network show couldn't bear that kind of drop without being yanked from the air. It was last ranked 74th in Sunday night shows, being handily beat by other cable shows like American Pickers and Moonshiners. Apparently people were interested enough to give it a try but not interested enough to hang around once they'd seen what it was like. Personally, I don't think the show is all that riveting either, so maybe it has less to do with the way the show's been done than it's content. If people were checking in initially, they probably were curious or intrigued or willing to get to know more about American Muslims, but if they left soon after, it's likely the quality of the show itself.
On one of the episodes, I think she or Jeff says something to the effect of-- She wore the hijab from age 6 to 19. It didn't fit her style after that, and she doesn't feel it's proper for her to wear the scarf.
This says she convinced her mom to let her wear it at 6, Kindergarten. In this article, it also says she took it off after high school. That would be 13 years.
TLC debuts 'All-American Muslim' reality show
In other articles (like the one you link to) it says she wore it for 13 years. She's late 20s or 30 something now, so from all she's said, it seems she indeed took it off after high school and not just for the show. I can't find her age, but I don't think she's just out of high school. Her older sister Suehalia is 32 and Shadia's #2 (I think?) with Bilal and Samira after her and who seem to be well out of high school.
I've seen that quote you have in bold in various places, too. It doesn't mean she took it off just for the show necessarily, it speaks to why she took it off regardless of when she did. You represent your religion, parents, upbringing in whatever you do and whatever decisions you make, not just if you're on TV. I think that's more what she was saying.