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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Miss or Diss?



So it's been a year with the scarf. The weather is getting so hot and humid now, it's a big ordeal to get dressed and go out, especially being all covered up. I apologize in advance if this post is offensive, hurtful, confusing, etc. to anyone who loves wearing a headscarf. I started this blog as a way to cope with all the frustrations involved in starting hijab. And having an outlet has helped me to keep it on. Also, since I'm not an "all or nothing" type of person, getting comments from people that tell me that it is understandable to wear it while at the same time still have doubts and struggle and dislike for it also has helped me keep it on. Being able to be open and honest about my mental rumblings helps me feel less "two-faced" when it comes to wearing the headscarf, since the general assumption is that a hijabi has it all figured out in a very solid, committed way. It makes me think, what comes first, the chicken or the egg? In other words, should a Muslim girl wear the headscarf AFTER she's got her beliefs all figured out, or BEFORE as a way to help her solidify her beliefs? Anyhoo...

I miss the relief of cool breezes on my neck.
I miss having a good hair day and/or a great fitting outfit showing off whatever's left of my decreasing physical assets to get that ego boost.
I miss not wondering what other people are thinking when they see me.

If it weren't for 2 main things, I think I would have stopped wearing it by now:
1) My husband's high regard for hijab
2) Being a stay-at-home mom, I have the freedom to choose when and where I go (unlike at work or school).

When I struggle, these are the voices I hear in my head:

God: It's OK. I am Most Merciful, Gracious, Oft Forgiving. Remember Me and I will remember you.

Hijabi Police: She really should figure out who she is. What is her point?

Non-Muslim, Ignorant: 1. I should watch her/stare at her/glance at her to figure her out 2. I've got her figured out and it ain't good.

Non-Muslim, Enlightened: 1. There is a woman with a scarf. Perhaps she is Muslim.
2. It's refreshing to see diversity!

And, what I don't miss about not wearing a scarf: that nagging feeling of inconsistency when I thought about being all covered up to pray but not when out in public.

Sometimes when I'm sitting in traffic at an intersection, watching all the cars buzz by me, looking inside them to see people who dress nothing like me, I wonder, "Why am I here?" Shouldn't I be somewhere where the people, the women, dress like me, with headscarves and covered-up-ness? Why do I live here? Is there anywhere I can go and not feel like odd-man out all the time? Yup, sure, Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, India...Dearborn, Michigan? ...places where covered heads are the norm. So why did my family and other families come to America? Hmm... But I know that this kind of attitude is dangerous for America, it leads to the "Love it or Leave it" thing or "Go home!" or "Act like an American!" There is a part of America that says there is no one way to look like an American. But then there's another part that says, yes there is, and it doesn't include a Muslim headscarf, a Sikh turban, or a Hindu dot on the forehead. But it does seem to include a Nun's Habit. Hmm... It's interesting. It reminds me of how in some parts of Paksitani culture, the words, "American" and "Christian" are interchangeable.

I saw this Christian channel program in which they were sponsoring a "return the Jews to Israel" campaign, showing clips of people saying, "as a Christian, I feel very connected to my Jewish brothers." I thought...what about your Muslim brothers? Why is there no brotherly love for us?! I'm not going to get into the political problems/history of this issue here, but my point is that I was insecure for a moment, imagining a world with Jews and Christians against the Muslims, but then I felt this strength inside, a sort of "Well, if it's us against them, then, I will go down with this ship," which is a sort of nice feeling to have, instead of the insecure one I often feel when I think of those people who would rather not have Muslims around...

Anyway, back to my point about being in traffic. I'm just desperate to see some other hijabis when I go out, especially if it was a common thing to always see headscarves wherever I go.

STOP AND STARE by One Republic:

This town is colder now, I think it's sick of us
It's time to make our move, I'm shakin off the rust
I've got my heart set on anywhere but here
I'm staring down myself, counting up the years
Steady hands, just take the wheel...
And every glance is killing me
Time to make one last appeal... for the life I lead

Stop and stare
I think I'm moving but I go nowhere
Yeah I know that everyone gets scared
But I've become what I can't be, oh
Stop and stare
You start to wonder why you're 'here' not there
And you'd give anything to get what's fair
But fair ain't what you really need
Oh, can you see what I see

They're tryin to come back, all my senses push
Un-tie the weight bags, I never thought I could...
Steady feet, don't fail me now
Gonna run till you can't walk
But something pulls my focus out
And I'm standing down...

Stop and stare
I think I'm moving but I go nowhere
Yeah I know that everyone gets scared
But I've become what I can't be, oh
Stop and stare
You start to wonder why you're here not there
And you'd give anything to get what's fair
But fair ain't what you really need
Oh, you don't need
Stop and stare

I think I'm moving but I go nowhere
Yeah I know that everyone gets scared
But I've become what I can't be
Oh, do you see what I see...

******************************************************************************
POST 2:

I couldn't decide whether to call this post SHAKE YOUR HANDS ALL AROUND or DEAL OR NO DEAL.

Okay, so a couple weeks ago, me and my hubby were leaving his brother and his brother's wife's house. His family (non-Muslim) usually hugs good-bye. So my hubby hugged his brother, and then I also hugged his brother. It was a quick, distant type of hug, but still a hug. After we left, I told my hubby that it felt awkward to hug his brother (mainly because I'm not comfortable with hugging people, especially male people). And then my hubby said that he tries to avoid hugging his sister-in-law. Avoid? Hmm. And then he brought up the Muslim religious practice (behavioral hijab)of not touching anyone of the opposite sex that is not an immediate relation such as in-laws, which means NO HUGGING and NO SHAKING HANDS (unless wearing gloves, which prevent the skin to skin contact). He said that we should tell his family that from now on he won't be hugging his sister-in-law, and I won't be hugging my brother(s)-in-law. I immediately went all rolly-eyed and stated my usual mantra:
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? And then I said, OH NO, THEY'RE GOING TO THINK WE'RE SO WEIRD!
Then my hubby said "We'll just tell them it's just part of our religious rules and we're trying to follow the rules more often now." So then I said, "THEY'LL JUST THINK RELIGIOUS PEOPLE ARE STRANGE. IF IT'S NOT ONE THING IT'S ANOTHER!" He said, "Um..you're over-reacting."

Then that same night we went to a friend's wedding. At the goodbyes, a non-Muslim female hugged me and I hugged her, then she went to shake my husband's hand and he shook her hand! Busted! He told me later that he did not expect her to shake his hand so he was unprepared and so automatically went to shake her hand. He said he'd try to remember "to avoid it" next time. I was still like, "what's the big deal?," and I do not understand why shaking hands could be wrong, especially where here it means goodwill and friendship?! And we got into a heated discussion about it, the rules are the rules for a reason, even if I don't completely agree/understand. He said I should not try to pick apart every situation but just try to follow the principles involved. Hmm? Hmm.

So then yesterday we went to my Mormon friend's wedding reception. I was a bit nervous of course knowing that it would be mostly Mormons there, so I would be only one of two Muslim woman hijabis there. Just nervous in the sense that I would be different and draw attention to myself. But I was also a bit nervous about the whole handshake thing. I thought about wearing gloves, but then thought it would be too hot for that. And even though I could wear gloves in a stylish way, my hubby couldn't!

So the bride (my good Mormon friend who is familiar with Islam) went to shake my husband's hand, but she seemed to suddenly remember or understand or know about the "no handshaking rule," and there was a little awkwardness as she withdrew her hand quickly and nodded as if to say, "oh yeah" and muttered something like, "you don't..." Then I said to her, "oh, good. I was worried about an awkward moment," and we all briefly laughed. Then it was her new husband's turn to greet us, so another potential awkward moment presented itself. I had kept my hands behind my back, and my husband swooped in and shook his hand which seemed to nip it in the bud. There was another Muslim couple there who DID shake their hands, so I'm sure that creates some confusion to the non-Muslims, "Okay, that Muslim shook my hand, but that Muslim did not...Um, what? Why?" My hubby thinks the solution is for all Muslims to NOT shake hands. I think there's no solution. It is what it is. religious people are weird!!! You never know what to expect from us. One of us will hug you, shake your hand, the other one will say, "No we can't." You just never know what you're gonna get...I guess I should call this post...MUSLIMS ARE LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATE :-)

Since the bride was my friend who is familiar with Islam, I wasn't worried that she would think it was weird for us not to shake hands, but I did feel concerned that she would have felt embarrassed. It is sort of a rejection to put out your hand and then have the person decline to shake it. Maybe she felt the same sort of embarrassment as I did when I asked her if I could see the videotape of the marriage ceremony, "There isn't one," she said. "Video cameras aren't allowed in the temple because it is very sacred." And then I asked, "What about pictures?" "Nope." I felt dumb because I should have known that about the Mormon temple, since she has been my friend for years. And then I felt dumb for asking the second question because why would they allow pictures if they didn't allow video? Duh. I think I asked the second question just to cover up the awkwardness from the first question but just ended up making myself more embarrassed by trying to "keep talking." Haha... It's hard to be comfortable with other people's religious rules even when you want to be as much as possible...it still gets confusing at times for everyone involved! So, to my non-Muslim friends I say, "Thanks for staying so kind and respectful, even when the things we do, do not always make sense to you!" (And the same attitude would be nice for Muslims to have towards other Muslims)!

TALK by COLDPLAY:

Oh brother I can't, I can't get through
I've been trying hard to reach you, cause I don't know what to do
Oh brother I can't believe it's true
I'm so scared about the future and I wanna talk to you
Oh I wanna talk to you
You can take a picture of something you see
In the future where will I be?
You can climb a ladder up to the sun
Or write a song nobody has sung
Or do something that's never been done

Are you lost or incomplete?
Do you feel like a puzzle, you can't find your missing piece?
Tell me how do you feel?
Well I feel like they're talking in a language I don't speak
And they're talking it to me

So you take a picture of something you see
In the future where will I be?
You can climb a ladder up to the sun
Or a write a song nobody has sung
Or do something that's never been done
Do something that's never been done

So you don't know were you're going, and you wanna talk
And you feel like you're going where you've been before
You tell anyone who'll listen but you feel ignored
Nothing's really making any sense at all
Let's talk, let's talk
Let's talk, let's talk

7 comments:

eyes serene said...

"I miss the relief of cool breezes on my neck.
I miss having a good hair day and/or a great fitting outfit showing off whatever's left of my decreasing physcial assests to get that ego boost.
I miss not wondering what other people are thinking when they see me. "

Assalamu alaikom,
I've been wearing hijab about three or four years now and I can still identify with everything you've written here (except to be honest, I only rarely like my hair enough that I wish others could see it--mostly, I'm grateful that I don't have to bother with it.) And I live in southeastern Michigan where there are a lot of hijabis. So... you are not alone in what you are thinking and feeling. Always know that!!!

"Okay, that Muslim shook my hand, but that Muslim did not...Um, what? Why?"

Yeah, no kidding. My friend had an agreement with her bosses that she would not sell booze and lottery tickets, and all was well, until another Muslim began working there and DID sell those things. Yah, we're definitely a mixed bag, aren't we? Anyway, I'm totally with you on the bodily contact/hands shaking thing, especially since in American culture, shaking hands is so important.

I try to avoid shaking hands, too, but it happens sometimes. I observe hijab around my husband's family but to be honest, if they offer me a hand or a hug, I take it. They're family. That may make me a lesser Muslim in the eyes of some, but there you have it.

Jana's Journeys said...

"Non-Muslim, Ignorant: 1. I should watch her/stare at her/glance at her to figure her out 2. I've got her figured out and it ain't good"

I get this one a lot....not just from non-Muslims but from so many Muslims, I'm one of the whitest people you will ever see and people justy stare at me like "why is that girl "pretending" to be Muslim" I have been wearing my hijab for less than a year, and am still not sure about it, I get more attention with it on than I do with it off, and I have no more Muslim friends than I did before, so it's something I'm really going to have to look deeper into.

bibliophilezing said...

Salam,

I really appreciate you sharing your honest experiences. I actually have been missing wearing the hijab on a regular basis and I really admire that you are wearing it. I pray that Allah makes it easy for you.

Scarf Ace said...

thank you all for your comments. i enjoy hearing about how you are and what you've been through and are going through at the moment. i wish you all the best and look forward to reading your blogs!

Anonymous said...

I am working on a college textbook and we would like to reprint the blog "Miss or Diss?" from May 24, 2008. Does anyone know how to get in contact with the blogger?

thanks!
marcy

Scarf Ace said...

marcy--i am the blogger. u can send me more details by leaving comments, which i always check. or you can leave me your email and i can contact you. thanks!

Anonymous said...

So I am using the textbook in my classes and I just read the "Miss or Diss?" piece. It was good and it will be interesting to see if my students can detect the thesis. The syllogism of your thesis breaks down this way:

Major Premise (Fact or Warrant): Some Muslim women wear headscarves.

Minor Premise (Warrant): People should not assume to know all of the values and beliefs of a Muslim woman who wears a headscarf, nor should they assume the woman is not struggling with fully developing her own values and beliefs.

Conclusion (Thesis Question): Should a Muslim woman wear the headscarf AFTER she has her own beliefs figured out or should she wear it BEFORE as a way of helping her solidify her own beliefs?

However, you then do not actually explore that point in an attempt to answer the question. Still, it was interesting to read your somewhat random thoughts on the topic.

I also liked the picture of you wearing boxing gloves.