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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bursting at the "Seems"

The other day, it seemed that a lady in a passing car was yelling something at me and my husband and it seemed to me it was something hateful and could only be because of our headgear. Now, my husband says he didn't notice anyone yelling. And I'm not even sure what she was saying or who she was yelling at. Still, just the fleeting thought that she was bashing us made my heart sink. I felt misunderstood, victimized, and scared. Thankfully, it seems that yelling lady incident was not about what was on our heads, but it was probably just in my head.

Then later...

We got to the store. We saw a Muslim lady and her husband getting into their car. My husband said "As-salam-o-alaykum" to the man, and he seemed to responded hesitantly while the wife did not turn around. Then we saw some other hijabis but they didn't seem to notice us...

Now, it's not uncommon for us to greet other Muslims based on our headgear/hijab identification as Muslims. It's nice. But sometimes it can be strained and akward also. When the other Muslim seems to look away or ignore me, it makes me wonder...why? In a way, I understand it. Sometimes we just want to go about our business, not bother with being friendly, especially if we are not of the habit of doing so. Sometimes we're just not expecting so see another Muslim, so we just look away, not knowing what to do exactly.

Anyway...that's that.

Now I'm thinking about this other "issue" which seems to be part of the headscarf experience. So, of course, "hijab" is not just a headscarf, it means acting and thinking and dressing overall with modesty. And I've been reminded that among the Muslim women who cover, it seems there is some judgement-like thinking and chatter going on...

For example, in addition to my scarf, I have usually been wearing loose pants and a long sleeve shirt that hits me just at hip level....Some Muslims will say proper hijab should include the shirt covering your entire backside when worn with pants or skirt. Still, some Muslims will say, proper hijab means wearing the long, loose, jacket-dress called an abaya or jilbab. Some will say, proper hijab includes covering the feet, or just the top of the foot. Some will say there is no place for "fashion" in proper hijab. Still others will say proper hijab means nothing tight fitting, especially at the backside or the bust, you know... BUSTing at the seams... ;-) The photos above illustrate my examples.

Many Muslim women do not wear make-up as part of proper hijab. Some do not wear jewelry. And some believe that plucking/waxing/shaving body hair such as eyebrows is anti-hijab.

A lot of these differences depend on the type of sect one belongs to. Shia and Sunni scholars/schools of thougts may differ on what exactly proper hijab is. Still, some of the differences are cultural and personal and circumstantial. The details may seem silly. Some details are silly. But that's the fun of believing in things, in laws, in codes. Fun Fun.

I fit in somewhere in there somewhere sometimes sort of. I will wear brown lipstick when I go out to the store. I will wear make-up if I go to a formal party. I will wear a long necklace and bracelets. I was wearing flip flops until last week when I was told that my particular sect of Islam considers covering the top of the foot as part of proper hijab. I thought the whole foot could hang on out there. And maybe it still can. I haven't done my proper research into the matter just yet. I know I don't have it completely covered yet.

So I hope no other hijabi seems me and thinks, "she's not wearing proper hijab," but I'm sure they are. Seems like they just might...

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

It's Hot, but Still Cool.

So when my brother=in-law and his wife came over, we talked about the headscarf a bit. And we talked about my husband's kufi a bit as well. Then after that, we were just chatting and laughing as usual about the kids and work.

And a few days ago, my husband and I went shopping at a store. A man walked up and said "As-salam-o-alaykum," which means peace be unto you and is the usual way for Muslims to greet each other. Then a minute later, a Muslim lady (all covered up) smiled at us and we all said As-salm-o-alaykum to each other. It was a nice, warm, friendly, and comforting few moments.

Today we took the kids to the park. It was hot. I was all covered up except for face and hands. Last year at this time, I would have been all covered up except for arms and hair and neck and ears. I'm sure I would still have felt hot. But I do indeed was more hot this time. Still, a good thing was that I felt more protected against flying insects and bugs, which was nice because I dislike them a lot. And my mother-in-law was with us and she finally asked (after not asking a few time before) why I wear the headscarf. I think she finally did because, well, it was hot, we were at the park, and I was all covered up. I had told my hubby to explain the headscarf to her before, but he hadn't. So today was the day. She was cool with it. Except she said it must be very hot. ... When we were getting ready to go the park, I had the thought of course that other park-goers would think I was outta my mind being all covered up in the hot park. I'm sure some folks think it looks quite ridiculous. I used an example in a previous post of a man being in a business suit. In that context, in an office, the less skin is shown, the more one is covered up, the more dignified and professional they appear. But imagine a man in a park, during summer, chasing after his kids---in his business suit--one would wonder--why doesn't he change his clothes?! Anyhow, that's how I must appear to some people...but it's okay, it's cool.