Fleeing war and government instability, many Yemeni immigrants arrived in the United States during the 60s and 70s. According to this report from The Yemen Times, those immigrant’s dreams of prospering while maintaining their Arab-supreme identity have been dashed on the rocks of an overwhelming, yet inferior, culture.
Due to the lack of modern education, Yemeni Americans seem to be drowning in a sea of dreams and fairy tales, thinking that America is the land of opportunities while they give themselves no opportunity to achieve education or knowledge. Many work in gas stations, automobile companies, and restaurants to earn their living.
The American culture is so indusive and full with attractions, in most situations it is almost impossible to ignore the way of life in a country like America. Many issues that are unnoticeable in a Middle Eastern society such as adultery, drinking, usage of drugs and so on are practiced openly and freely in The United States. These issues are at the same time prohibited and contradict Islamic teachings and Arab values.
Lest the reader be fooled – “unnoticed issues” in Middle Eastern society does not necessarily mean that those issues do not exist.
Nowadays, and after the 3rd and 4th generations, many Yemeni Americans have completely lost their identity. The difference in culture, society, values, environment, and habits has tremendously changed the structure of the once great Yemeni American society. “My children don’t even speak Arabic; they think it’s not necessary. They just neglect to understand that we are Arabs and that Arabic is the language of the Quran“, said Ibrahim Al-Ba”dani, who has been living in the United States for over 40 years. “It’s really unimaginable. I can’t even imagine how their children will end up”, he added.
Its very common now to notice Yemeni Americans who don’t speak Arabic at all and only understand a little of the language when being spoke to. “I couldn’t believe a day would come when my children forget their mother tongue and give no importance to it whatsoever”, said a concerned father in America.
Many of the younger generations of Yemeni citizens do not understand the Yemeni values until they decide to visit Yemen. Moreover, the visit could be unforgettable and full of exciting memories. They experience a culture similar to the one their parents followed, and from there, many start to realize the importance of their original values and try to live it for as long as they can. “I don’t want to be the one responsible for them losing their identity. At least for the next generation, I will make sure my children stay safe from the strong influence of the American society”, said a U.S. born Yemeni American Hafez Ali. “Our prophet Mohammed (peace is upon him) once said: “˜time will come when holding on to the practice of Islam is in the same difficulty like holding a burning piece of charcoal” and trust me we realize that every minute of our life in America“, he added.
The crux of the “problem” is that assimilation into an alien culture implies the negation of Islam. However, there is good news for these “suffering” ingrates. Read on.
A positive aspect for all of this is that even when going through hard situations, Yemeni Americans are probably still the most cultural people in the United States. Comparing Yemeni communities to other societies throughout America, Yemenis are known to have the Islamic centers and private schools there. Their mosques are very big and in some situations hold over 6,000 worshippers. They live in special societies where they are usually close to family and friends. Quranic classes are offered to youngsters in mosques and private schools.
Many good things are happening, but we have to keep in focus the problems that the younger generations are facing now, and the bigger problems the next generation of Yemeni Americans will surely have to deal with. Furthermore finding solutions for these issues.
Please read it all.