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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Head Inside

My kids often play on the back balcony of our apartment from which the windows and balconies of many other residents are in view. So I have to cover my head-and-all even to step out on the balcony for a few seconds just in case some male is out there.

My brother-in-law (my husband's brother) and his wife are coming to visit our apartment. So I'll cover my head-and-all in front of him.

A big part of my brain is saying, "come on, what's the big deal, here? why do I have to cover my head and all in these two situations?" Before I wore the headscarf, I never would have thought twice about showing my hair/neck/ears in those situations. But now, I turn to this verse in the Holy Quran: 024.031

"And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils
over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards God, that ye may attain Bliss."

So there it is, very clear. Husband's brothers and neighbors-passing-by are not on that list, and I understand the reasoning behind it--but that is not the point of this entry. The point is that I'm still experiencing new things on this "scarf team" as I called it on the first day back ;-) So that's that. Let's see what's next...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Colorful Pictures

Pangs and Bangs

Most of us women get pangs of nostalgia, right? About the way it used to be...even (especially?) about our appearance. As we get older, we remember our bodies being thinner and tighter--then we feel that pang. After we have children, we remember our chest and our ab muscles from pre-pregnancy days--then we feel that pang. For a lot of women, that pang turns into a sadness or an obsession--but I'm not talking about that kind of pang. I'm just talking about a simple, little, pang of nostalgia. I felt that about my hair the other day. I was looking in a mirror at home and thought, "wow, I'm having a good hair day, it's falling in curls here and looks cute!" Then I felt that excitement we feel when we feel good about our appearance, that excitement that somehow tells us to show it"look at me...see me...notice this cute hair!" and then PANG! i one is gonna see this cute hair day today or any other day for a long time (except my family). But it's still cute. Isn't it? If a tree falls in the woods but no one is around...does it really make a sound? :-)

The experience of that pang for my cute hair days felt a bit like a "before headscarf" and "after headscarf" moment. A moment of nostalgia of those carefree days of letting it all hang loose. But I got over it quickly. This time. I think it was harder to let go of those pangs when I was in high school. High school is about YOUTH..and youth is about beauty and shining and flaunting, at least in our society.

And that reminds me of something else. Someone I know mentioned that when she first started wearing the headscarf, the first 3 to 6 months were OK, but then things started getting more difficult and harder to deal with, in terms of how others treated her. That's also sort of like me in high school. The first few months with the scarf were OK...but after awhile, the negativity starts building up. The longing for acceptance and belonging grows...and lonliness and depression can set in. That's what happened in high school.

I hope that doesn't happen to me this time. It's only been a month, and so far so good. I feel good about doing this, I believe in this. And except for some pangs about my bangs...

It's still worth it.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Here I Am!

I finally got around to taking a few snaps of myself with the headscarf...

And I want to give a shout out to all the folks who I know for sure have been reading my blog, specifically, Kathleen, Jon Yusuf, Amir, Leslie, and Amber. Thank you all for your kindness and support!

Thankfully, I'm really feeling good about wearing it, and it seems I have nothing more to say about it! But perhaps there's still more to come. I'm surprised I had this much to say already. So stay tuned.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Back in the Day

I found an article I wrote for my high school magazine. The date on the front of the magazine is May 1993, exactly 15 years ago. And I was 15 when I wrote it. I was writing about wearing the headscarf, explaining it. Reading it now, with a new perspective, I would say I was a little self-righteous, judgemental, in denial, and overly sentimental. But I was also very mature, if I do say so myself ;-) If I have time, I'll be able to present the exact text here on the blog.

I also remember back then being part of a girl's youth group in which I gave a presentation on the importance and significane of hijab/headscarf. I also remember being told by one of the other members that if a man sees just one hair on your head, then that's very very bad. And I remember telling my friend that I did not want to go to the ice cream place with the group because it would bother me when the girls who did not always wear the headscarf would take theirs off in the store.

And I rememeber going to school every day and being laughed at, talked down to, and even physically harassed (objects thrown at me, people literally breathing down my neck).

But I also remember carrying "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" in my pocket and someone telling me I was cool. And several of the African American kids would say "As-salam-o-alaykum" to me in the hall. And one of the African American teachers was extra nice to me, even hugging me once.

My friend and I had both started wearing the headscarf at the same time at the same school. I remember starting to cry when I told her I could not bear to wear the scarf anymore. She put her arm around me and said it was okay. She kept on wearing the scarf at school. She was a lot stronger than me, the type that flipped off the big dudes who yelled at us as we drove home from school. Funny thing, she currently doesn't wear the headscarf, but she says maybe someday soon she'll wear it again.

Well it's wedding season nowadays. I'm looking forward to trying out my new headscarves at the dress-up parties. As a side note, in some cultures like mine (Pakistani) there is sometimes an "issue" with a single woman wearing a headscarf. Families with sons looking for wives sometimes frown on the idea of the headscarf, so the girls do not get as many "proposals." It's not always the case, in fact, sometimes it's the opposite with families wanting a hijabi girl only for their son. It's not a big deal. Just thought I'd mention it.

Ok, anyway, be back later. InshaaAllah (If God wills it).

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What Are You Lookin' At?

the cashier at target did not say hi to me. usually they say hi to me. the cashier at albertson's didn't turn around when i asked her if her aisle was open. did she hear me or not? the first thought that comes to mind is, they're acting this way because of my headscarf. before the headscarf i'd probably think they were having a bad day or just jerks in general. but now it's always gotta be about the headscarf. okay, it's not that serious. as long as i remind myself to stay cool and not paranoid, it's better if i just go ahead and keep thinkin' they're just jerks having bad days. anyhow, when someone is friendly to me or smiles at me now, i get a bigger amount of joy from it. it's like, "wow, this person is nice. this person is not disturbed that i look different from the norm," or even better, "this person knows i'm different, and therefore is trying to make me feel welcome regardless."

anyhoo...i'm glad i am a married stay at home mother. if i was in high school or had a out-of-the-home job where i had to see many many people every day, i'm sure my experience would be a lot more difficult. as a stay at home mother, i can choose where i go, how i often i go, and if i go. that helps when i'm having a "don't look at me cuz i know you're looking at me day--a bad day."

a good day is just going about my business with good intentions and thinking everybody else is doing the same.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


i went shopping alone the other day. i saw 2 other ladies with full head covers. i tried to make eye contact with the first one, but she wasn't looking my way. then, through the corner of my eye i noticed her notice me as i walked by. the second lady was busy with her son so she didn't notice me either. anyway, it was a nice feeling to not be the only one with the headscarf. it would have been an even nicer feeling if we had made eye contact and smiled, but better luck next time.

shopping is a bit more fun now for me. now i know i can just focus on long-sleeved shirts that cover (not sheer), so it's fun to hunt and actually find something that works and fits.

then yesterday my husband and i went shopping with the kids. my husband recently started wearing a "kufi" which is a crocheted-knit cap (photo)that some muslims wear out of tradition (not out of religious duty). but he wanted to wear it to show support to me, as he would stand out like i would as looking different. that was nice of him. he said he was self-conscious of being mistaken for a foreigner too, even though he looks like a white guy in general. so that helps him to understand my experience a bit. when he went to the islamic center with his kufi on, the islamic leader (imam) made sure to tell him that it wasn't a requirement of men to wear it. so now my husband doesn't want to be mistaken for an over-zealous convert. ha.

and just to qualify, of course i know, there's nothing wrong with being a foreigner or immigrant...the point is that we don't want to be mistaken for something we're not, right?

it's all good. no big deals.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

New Perspectives

I've been reading a book about women's issues in Islam. I've learned much from it. It's written in Q & A format and often asks the questions that I have had. While I read it, I feel more secure in committing to the headscarf and praying on time and learning more about my religion.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Chin Pin

So I've been wearing a triangle shaped scarf, pinned under my chin with the loose ends tied behind my head. It's been fine, I'm getting used to it (again). It's all good in the hood. Ha Hee. Ok, so the main thought of I've had is, "boy, I sure look different than everyone else," but then I recover by realizing, "well, I am different in a lot of ways than (most) everyone else," in terms of my current beliefs (a shia muslim), values (e.g. don't focus on looking attractive/sexy/staying young), and actions (muslim prayer, fasting, no drinking alcohol [never have], only eating halal foods [no pork, only islamically killed meat called zabiha meat], no naughty TV or movies, and even not listening to music on a regular basis]. So I'm different, right? It's okay. It's difficult, but okay :=) And yes, there are some shia muslims who are very similar to me, yet do not wear a headscarf. And yes, there are some other religious and non-religious people who share the same values as me. But if you put it all together, my identity is muslim and the headscarf just tops it all off.

I've also noticed that covering up completely--even in summer heat--somehow feels more dignified, more elegant. It's not easy to explain the feeling, but I get the image of those proper English ladies, with their big dresses, bonnets, and know what I mean? It's not a good enough explanation, but the point it...more clothes mean more dignity and elegance...just think about those men in their high power suits...the only things they show are their head and arms, the less skin...the more professional. you know?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Mummy Dearest

I think I may have mentioned before that the thing I find the hardest to get used to in wearing the scarf is how it must cover the neck...that fabric around the neck can feel odd until one gets used to it. It sometimes reminds me of a mummy or a large bandage. I can laugh about that now. Ha Ha Ha Hee Hee Hee :-)

Anyhoo...I am getting more accustomed to it. My parents know I'm wearing it now, and they like it! so that's one less thing to think about :-)