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Saturday, July 7, 2007

I'm Nobody

At one of the wedding festivities I recently attended, a female Muslim friend of mine who had not seen me in a long time (and does not wear a headscarf) asked me when I had started wearing the scarf. I was surprised that she asked because I forget that it wasn't long ago that I did not wear it. Anyway, I said, "About two months." And then I went on to tell her how religous my husband is and how he encouraged me to wear it, and how some other girls in the community wear it so that encouraged me as well, and how my husband is getting more involved in our local Muslim community, so I figured it was a good time to start wearing the scarf. As she answered me with phrases like, "Oh, yeah, we try to be more involved too, my husband..." I became aware that I might come across as "bragging" about my religiousness, or making her feel self-conscious---afterall, her hair was styled--no scarf. And I was surrounded by other Muslim-borm females in beautiful, flowing, curly, straight, colored, long, and short eye catching form figuring clothes. So I tried to regroup and say, "but it is very difficult...". And when she finally graciously ended the conversation by saying, "yea, it's a good thing," I felt aware that I need to be careful as to not come across as "holier than thou," because I am far far far from perfectly religious. This headscarf is sending a message, yet the message is received differently by each receiver.


Now that I wear the headscarf and now that I've attended a few parties where born-Muslims ladies are all dressed-up and have began to notice their attire in contrast to my new wardrobe, I sometimes feel embarassed for my old pre-headscarf self. And even though I have always been lazy about all that girly stuff (hair styles, make-up types, clothing trends, manicures, etc.)...I was still totally oblivious to the comformity of dressing-up for parties--totally wanting to look young and perky and beautiful (tight clothes usually did the trick). So now when I see those dolled-up girls...I see them as being foolish. So then I feel relieved and proud that I'm no longer a part of that "flaunt it" group. But then it does not add up...why should I feel proud? Afterall, I still desire to look pretty and put-together through my clothing...I still wear make-up to beautify my face...I am still them...I am still me...I am still vain.

"Pride defeats its own end, by bringing the man who seeks esteem and reverence into contempt."
Henry Bolingbroke

There were a few Muslim ladies at the wedding parties wearing headscaves and long, loose, plain-colored abayas/jackets/ lady wearing all black...and none of them wearing make-up. It's not like they were completely drab. Their fabrics might have been expensive, the jackets tailored well, the headscarf perfectly matching the rest of the outfit.


So I think there is something dignified in dressing-up...nicely...but who am I to judge what's naughty or nice? I'm nobody.


Edana said...

I saw your site on a google search and felt compelled to write. I'm not religious at all (although I have studied Islam and Christianity some). I have always been facinated with head scarves and the concept of modesty. Of course, being non-religious (and in a male-dominated industry) I feel a bit wierd wearing any style of head covering (although I do once in a while & completely love it). You seem to understand all of the issues of switching to wearing one. What do you think--is it offensive to Muslim women who practice hijab that a non-believer also agrees with modesty ideas in Islam? I've never said to anyone that I'm Muslim, just that I like the modesty of the dress & head scarf. What do you think? Maybe an interesting idea for a blog entry: non-Muslims who want to practice modesty. I'd love your feed back!

Scarf Ace said...

thanks so much for your comments. i really appreciate you taking the time and effort to express yourself. i briefly discussed women of other religions who dress modestly in an april 29 th post titled:
but your suggestions have me thinking of addressing the view of non-religious women & men who choose to dress modestly. i'm working on it. check back soon, please :-)

Anonymous said...

Edana,modesty is not the province of any one faith, and all cultures practice some form of it.I've run into a few articles written by women who dress modestly just because they prefer to- no religious or moral reasons, just a personal preference. There'a actually a non muslim hijabi on youtube who discusses her reasons for wearing hijab, and though she has some vaguely spiritual reasons, it's mainly personal-check her out, she's interesting.Just type in non-muslim hijabi and she'll pop up.

There must be a gracious way to keep others from feeling judged by your hijab. Perhaps you could state your reasons for wearing it and then say that of course only God can read a woman's heart so you wouldn't presume to suggest that the listener is less holy for not wearing hijab, or something like that. Move the attention from yourself to the listener. It takes practice but it can be done.