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Thursday, April 19, 2007

First Day Back on the Scarf Team

Ok, so I used to wear a headscarf in the Islamic dress code back in 1992, in high school of all places. Oh the hell I lived. I got picked on, poked at, and persecuted in a way only teenagers know how to do. Every day. I hated it. I never got used to it. So I quit wearing the scarf and transferred schools. I just wanted to be left alone. No attention please. Leave me the heck alone.

Then came September 11th, 2001. From then on, Islam and Muslims became known for it's tie to terrorism. Oh dang, I thought. That stinks for us Muslims. I just want peace. I don't want to be associated in any way with terrorism. But, hey, I'm scared. I don't want to wear the scarf, no way man. I don't want any haters hating me or poking me, or picking on me...

Now it's 2007. And I wanna give the headscarf another go. Let's see how it goes.

1st day.
My mom says I should wear a black headband under my black scarf so it will blend in better. I tell her I like the black and white polka dot headband cuz it adds more style.
My brother asks, "aren't you supposed to cover all that hair in the front?" He's talking about the micro-centimeter that is showing under the headband. Hey, I have a hairy face. I can't hide it all.
I'm already getting comments.

Ok, so I went out to the store with the scarf on. Went into Tom Thumb and felt as if people were giving me second looks. But then after 5 minutes, I didn't feel it anymore. It was fine. I was still the same. It was the usual. Then I went to the Dollar Store to buy my kids some goodies. I also got myself a Texas Longhorns t-shirt and an American flag ribbon to go on our car. I feel the need to express myself not only as a Muslim, but also an American.

One of my fears in wearing the scarf included the thought that non-Muslims would think I was either oppressed or a recent immigrant to the USA. I got these misconceptions a lot in high school. "Why doesn't she just take it off when she gets to school?" I heard people say, as if it was my family that forced me to put it on and since they weren't at the school then why should I keep the dang thing on? And as a brown kid growing up mostly around white kids, I guess I always had this perception I wanted to fight, the perception that I don't know America, that I just got here, that I'm foreign.

My scarf kept slipping off since I hadn't pinned it together. I felt like keeping it loose was a way to start this process again. Whenever it fell off my head and I had to put it back on, it brought back another fear I have in wearing the headscarf--judgements from other Muslims, especially those that wear the islamic hijab. These women judge each other, they say, "she's not wearing it the right way." And like my brother keeps noticing, "aren't you sopposed to wear it THAT way." The rule is to cover your hair, your ears, and your neck with the head scarf. You can only expose your face, hands, and feet (some disagree with the feet thing). Ok, I know that. But is it really all or nothing? I stuck with nothing for a long time because I am not ready to put on the full fledged pinned under the neck hijab and long flowing jacket called jilbab or ababya. I didn't want these Muslims, men or women, to look at me and think, "she's wrong." or come up to me and say "this scarf is on wrong." A Muslim guy came up to my friend who wears the scarf and told her that her jeans were too tight for hijab, and once when my mom and I met with the maulana (leader) of our muslim center, he later told us, "you don't even know how to wear hijab!" we had our salwar kameez and large chador (wide scarf) wrapped around us, but since our bangs showed or since we had not pinned the scarves under our chin---we were wrong and should be ashamed. Well that hurts my feelings. So picture this: I wear a turtleneck that covers my neck and a knit American hat that covers all my hair (in a bun) and my me, that is islamic hijab cause it meets the rules. But there are other Muslims who would say that it is NOT hijab because it is used in the "western" style and is not the usual traditional "symbol" of islamic hijab. I just don't think that way, at least not yet. Who knows how I may change my mind as time and experience go by. But my point is, even Muslims judge Muslims and even Muslims label Muslims and even Muslims misunderstand other Muslims. There is not just one face of Islam.

Anyway back to me buying the American flag bow for the car and the Texas Longhorns t-shirt. I told my brother that I want to express my American pride, but he thinks that it's a little too patriotic, like it's not our style. Oh well. The "funny" thing is, it's my identity as an American citizen was what inspired me to start wearing this scarf again. (I'll explain that later.) So my brother wants to make sure I'm not supporting the American governments foreign policy. No, I'm not. I just want to make sure the non-Muslims know I consider myself an American....because HELLO! I am.

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