In September 2019, I dropped in on an old friend, Elaine Imady, author of ‘Road to Damascus‘. Elaine is an American Syrian who first went to live in Damascus around six decades ago with her Syrian husband, Mohammed, whom she’d met at New York University. Theirs was a true love story.
In 2010, Elaine wrote for ‘Syria Comment’
Since last Sunday, March first, marked exactly fifty years since I arrived in Damascus, my thoughts have naturally gone back to that unforgettable day and the events that led up to it. Half a century has passed since my arrival with my husband Mohammed Imady and our daughter, Susu, after a three-week trip from New York to Beirut across the rough Atlantic by freighter in the dead of winter followed by a wild taxi drive in the dark over the two mountain ranges separating Lebanon and Syria. Traveling to Syria meant leaving behind my mother and my two sisters and uprooting myself from my small Hudson River town where my mother’s family had lived since 1765. How surprising that I would end up thousands of miles from home in a country where I did not know a soul and could not speak the language and how even more unlikely that I would still be here today, fifty years later.
Mohammed and I met at NYU in December 1955 and we knew from the first day that we were destined for each other. I told my mother that night that I had met the man I would marry and she laughed. Seven months later we were married. We felt our meeting and marriage was maktoub – that it was written, ordained.
When I first met Mohammed, we talked a great deal about Islam and, as a disillusioned Christian, I listened with interest. To tell the truth, at this time in my life, my understanding of Islam was quite superficial. I merely felt that if Islam was Mohammed’s religion, it must be good. I had my letter of confirmation in the Palisades Presbyterian Church removed and made the shahada, the profession of faith in Islam, in front of two witnesses. That is all there was to it. I was now a Muslim.
In this podcast, Elaine and I speak about what we believe set Syria and its people apart.