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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...

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

hey! i'm happy that you are doing what you want to do! you look lovely in the photos
:)
gianna

Safa said...

Assalaamu alaikum.....

The thing is....you work your way up the ladder. Today you wear lipstick with ur hijab...tomorrow you may not. The same with the clothing. The most important beginning is to cover your hair. Thats an absolute must. After that, just keep pounding away at it, and the rest will come. Allah is merciful!

Anonymous said...

Salaam
INteresting blog.
HIjab is much much more than just covering the hair..
its a whole way of life..and internalising it is a long and deep process..Alhamdulillah.
We think we are following hijab, by not partying and covering, but is so much more..Alhamdulillah.
May Allah guide us all.. Ameen

fatima said...

hello, I'm an Arab Muslim and I'm extremely happy to see that people in America are actually starting to acknowledge the fact that some Muslim women put on Hijab.

I think it's ok to put on makeup and to wear jewellery so long as it's not too attractive or noticed, know what i mean?

Oh and whenever you feel that your confidence is going down the tubes, remind yourslef that what Allah thinks of you is much more important than what people think of you... love to u all! :)

Scarf Ace said...

thank you all for your comments.

God bless you :-)

Kristin said...

I tend to wear jeans and long-sleeved shirts and tunics with a long, thin overcoat in the summer, and a long, wool overcoat in the winter. It's not perfect, but in such a small town like mine, you kind of have to make exceptions. (I guess my style is pacific northwest hijabi...polar fleece, birkinstocks and all) Go with the flow, try new things out, and it will all fall into place eventually. Allah knows you're trying, and that's what matters :)

Anonymous said...

Can you just smile at them and say something pleasant or complimentary to them? A kind remark will help them see that you're not judging anyone for hateful remarks or for not wearing hijab. It also helps them see that it has a positive effect on your disposition and that's much more enticing than those awful stern Youtube lectures about how proud muslimahs are to wear hijab,blah, blah, blah.

Even before being a practicing Christian judgmental Christians probably kept me back by at least two years.(Not to say that you're in the least judgmental)

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean. I am a Univesalist Unitarian. Living in America isn't easy when yu're not strictly one mainstream religion.