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Jumana from Yemen


Pierre Crié

My name is Jumana Rajab and I’m a Muslim from Yemen. I met the photographer Pierre Crié while I was in Bab Al-Yemen (the old souk in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen) with my friends one evening and we were taking photos of each other. Pierre was observing us and told me that I’m not camera shy like all the other Yemeni women. I said that I liked photography and he asked if I would be interested in being photographed by him. Of course I said yes! We became friends in one month and I invited him to meet my family over my house and have a vegetarian lunch. It was meant to be, who would have thought that this partnership would produce so many beautiful memories and photos?! The happiness in my heart through being a free spirit is indescribable. I wear the Hijab (head scarf) because I believe it was created to protect me. We cannot deny that God created women to be beautiful, “God is beautiful and he loves everything beautiful” (1). From an Islamic point of view, this beauty is supposed to be preserved from anyone who would abuse it. I am engaged to be married to a man I truly love, and he is the only man besides my father and brothers and uncles who will be able to see my hair, he’s the only one who’ll uncover my true and complete beauty. This scarf above my head only gives me chastity and humbleness. It represents my purity and preserves it from being scratched. I like the feeling it gives me, as a form of worship, and protection from all the men who will not appreciate me and/or mistreat or disrespect me. The west suffers from so many problems such as teenage pregnancy out of marriage which sometimes results in children being born and growing up without knowing their fathers, this problem is very minimal in my part of the world because of family and women’s rights in Islam. I’m not saying that we don’t have major issues, but that we don’t suffer from them the same way the west does. There are a large number of Islamic laws that protect women and the family structure, yet so many people mistake Islam for being the oppressor, when it is the bad Muslims, not the religion. Women in the west have their manifestation of freedom, which is very different from ours. In Islam, freedom means the guarantee that the society is protected from sin and wrongdoings and the insurance of everyone’s best interest. Freedom doesn’t mean domestic abuse of women and children or child molestation. Islam is very flexible and open; it is as open as your mind is open, and that is why it is the fastest-growing religion in the world. I am a Yemeni woman who is very open-minded and who loves to travel and learn about different cultures. I love to meet new people and I’m very sociable. I am the way I am because of my family and the way they raised me. I was taught to be true to myself and God and everyone around me. As a child, I was encouraged to express myself and be outgoing. My mother showered me with her attention and lovely spirit, she always pushed me to go further and shine. I always loved to discover new things and I travelled alone for the first time when I was 7 years old! I know that I am one of the few Yemeni women who are free to travel by themselves and mix with men and be exposed to western culture and thought. I feel that I am blessed in the sense that in me, there’s a bit of both worlds. The first part is the part that likes to travel and is very open, and the other part is the one that is very grounded and considerate to culture and traditions and religion. Yemen is one of the few if not the only Arab country that still safeguard Islam in its original form, the beautiful Islam that spread all across the world and included so many cultures and races. It’s unfortunate that traditions still run the most part of Yemeni life, and this fact really bothers me. I try to stay as far away from closed-minded traditions as I can and just live my life the way I see fit, the progressive Islamic way. Everything I do and say and wear is the way it is because I think it’s the right thing, not because the society tells me so. This society sometimes accepts me for who I am, sometimes criticizes me, and sometimes embraces me. But it is unfortunately hindering to so many other young ladies. However, I never pay attention to the negative energy and I never let society or traditions hinder me, and I would only take what my mind and heart accepts. I’m strong in what I believe and I stand my ground because I have a strong support system, my family and friends, whom I will not be able to carry on without. On the contrary, there are so many lovely traditions in Yemen, like wedding, birth and death customs. We have very strong circles of people who support and help each other in good and bad times. We welcome tourists and foreigners to our homes and embrace them. We help the poor and needy and we have very strong family and community ties. I went to university in Jordan; most of the people I met there told me that I’m very innocent and pure, just the way God initially created humans. I mixed with Jordanians and people from different countries, and they all said the same thing. It’s just the nature of us Yemeni people, like our country, we are unchanged and unspoiled by modernity and globalization. We insist to remain original and true. A lot of foreigners and tourists who come to Yemen love it and appreciate its unchanged beauty and the kindness and rawness of people. Although I criticize Yemen, I am proud to be a Yemeni Muslim. But to me, my religion always comes before my nationality. In so many ways I feel that I am a citizen of the world and that I could live anywhere and adapt. I will always seek to learn and travel and experience new things in life. (1) Hadeeth Shareef: Sayings and words of Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him.


 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0292454

Covering my face with my headscarf at the Friday prayers in the President's Mosque.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

Ne pas publier en illustration mais uniquement dans le cadre d'un sujet magazine sur Jumana. Contacter le photographe pour autre utilisation possible.

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0298534

Women waiting for taxis outside the President's Mosque.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0292453

By the main entrance at the President's Mosque after Friday prayers.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

Ne pas publier en illustration mais uniquement dans le cadre d'un sujet magazine sur Jumana. Contacter le photographe pour autre utilisation possible.

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0298543

Woman wearing the traditional Sharshaf costume in Old Sana'a.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0292452

Laughing with my friend Amal at the Enterpreneurship class I'm taking.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

Ne pas publier en illustration mais uniquement dans le cadre d'un sujet magazine sur Jumana. Contacter le photographe pour autre utilisation possible.

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0292445

Catching up and drinking juice with my friends Taiseer and Ibtihal at the Coffee Trader.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

Ne pas publier en illustration mais uniquement dans le cadre d'un sujet magazine sur Jumana. Contacter le photographe pour autre utilisation possible.

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0292456

Walking in the Old Sana'a souk with my friend Nina.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

Ne pas publier en illustration mais uniquement dans le cadre d'un sujet magazine sur Jumana. Contacter le photographe pour autre utilisation possible.

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0292457

Looking at pictures on Nina's phone over a cup of tea in the Old Sana'a kabab market.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

Ne pas publier en illustration mais uniquement dans le cadre d'un sujet magazine sur Jumana. Contacter le photographe pour autre utilisation possible.

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0298541

Rainy evening in Old Sana'a.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0298535

Women's clothing in Old Sana'a bazar.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0292450

Talking about this Qat chewer's life. He chews Qat and works on his marble figurines night and day. His girls are educated and speak English!

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

Ne pas publier en illustration mais uniquement dans le cadre d'un sujet magazine sur Jumana. Contacter le photographe pour autre utilisation possible.

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0292461

Posing for Pierre in Old Sana'a.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

Ne pas publier en illustration mais uniquement dans le cadre d'un sujet magazine sur Jumana. Contacter le photographe pour autre utilisation possible.

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0298542

Young women in the old city of Sana'a.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0298531

Musiciens playing at Bab Al-Yemen, the main gate of Old Sana'a.

Yemen - 00/05/2010

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0298537

Old Sana'a souk. Men wearing the Jambiya, a dagger traditionaly worn in Yemen.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0292441

Talking about this large garden behind us. This man is the garden's keeper. He's explaining to me why it's not all planted, he said it's due to the scarce water resources.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

Ne pas publier en illustration mais uniquement dans le cadre d'un sujet magazine sur Jumana. Contacter le photographe pour autre utilisation possible.

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0292458

Talking about my dream to establish a Gallery/Studio in Sana'a with the Yemeni Artist Talal Al-Naggar at his atelier.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

Ne pas publier en illustration mais uniquement dans le cadre d'un sujet magazine sur Jumana. Contacter le photographe pour autre utilisation possible.

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0292459

With the Yemeni Graphic Designer/Photographer Ziryab Al-Ghabery at his studio.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

Ne pas publier en illustration mais uniquement dans le cadre d'un sujet magazine sur Jumana. Contacter le photographe pour autre utilisation possible.

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0292451

With my colleague Mohammed Al-Sanabani at the General Investment Authority.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

Ne pas publier en illustration mais uniquement dans le cadre d'un sujet magazine sur Jumana. Contacter le photographe pour autre utilisation possible.

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0292443

Driving my car at noon during rush hour in Zubairy Street in Sana'a.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

Ne pas publier en illustration mais uniquement dans le cadre d'un sujet magazine sur Jumana. Contacter le photographe pour autre utilisation possible.

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0292440

Knocking on heaven's door!

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

Ne pas publier en illustration mais uniquement dans le cadre d'un sujet magazine sur Jumana. Contacter le photographe pour autre utilisation possible.

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0292446

With my lovely family, Dad, Mom and my brother Yunis in our house in the guest room, Deewan.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

Ne pas publier en illustration mais uniquement dans le cadre d'un sujet magazine sur Jumana. Contacter le photographe pour autre utilisation possible.

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0292460

Praying at noon in my room.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

Ne pas publier en illustration mais uniquement dans le cadre d'un sujet magazine sur Jumana. Contacter le photographe pour autre utilisation possible.

 

Pierre Crié / Picturetank CRP0298530

Looking down from the top of Bab Al-Yemen, the main gate of Sana'a Old city.

Sana'a, Yemen - 00/05/2010

Ne pas publier en illustration mais uniquement dans le cadre d'un sujet magazine sur Jumana. Contacter le photographe pour autre utilisation possible.



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