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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Complain Pain

The other day at Wal-Mart, I saw a hijabi woman. She was wearing a dark abaya and scarf.
"There's a hijabi!" I remarked to my husband. "I'll have to mark this sighting in my blog." I said.
"What? I see hijabi's all the time," he said.
"All the time?" I asked cynically.
He said, "Well, it's not like it's so rare to see one." (He saw a hijabi working at Lowe's the other day--which is cool, I think, since Lowe's is a hardware type of store and seems like an unlikely place for a Muslim woman to work--so I was pleasantly surprised to hear that, and it opened up my mind to the possibilities of living in a place where Muslim headscarves were seen in every store---for a minute).

Then I told him that I want to see hijabis everywhere I go, all the time. So often that I wouldn't have to point one out every time I see one. I told him that I don't mind BEING different, I just don't like LOOKING so odd.
He said, "Well you're making it easier for the next hijabi to wear hers out."
I said, "But that's not my goal, really. I know for some hijabi girls that's important to them, to champion a cause, but I just want to..."
"Well, but, it's just a fact," he said. I wasn't so sure about that. I mean, 15 years ago I wore a headscarf in high school--did that make it easier for anybody else back then? If that was 15 years ago--then why haven't they multiplied in number?!

OK. So I'm going to stop here for a moment to discuss something. As I've said before, I started this blog as a way to vent my feelings, make sense of my conflicting thoughts and emotions, and to share my honesty with others. But now that I know that I have some regular readers, I am more self-conscious about what I say and the effect it is having on my readers. And I'm more sensitive to the message it is sending out into the world.

I realize that most of the posts are me basically complaining about how hard it is to wear a headscarf. I'm starting to wonder if my posting of these feelings and thoughts are doing a disservice, as one of the comments posted, "making a mockery out of something so beautiful." I sure as heck do not want to be doing that.

When I think about it, I realize that when I'm sharing my negative thoughts, my intended audience is mainly to those Non-Muslims who see a hijabi as someone with blind faith and/or as an unexplainable mystery. I think I'm trying (in addition to venting) to show people that we all struggle and we all need some empathy! And we're all the same somehow. Hmm.

When I was in high school wearing hijab, enduring terrible and constant harassment from my class-mates every day, I wrote articles and poems for the school magazine and even gave a speech or two at Islamic centers on the beauty and truth of hijab. But then, after I decided to take off the scarf because I couldn't handle the harassment anymore, I looked back on those articles and speeches and I still believe that? I guess I don't. I guess I've changed my mind. It was an embarrassing feeling--to sort of advocate doing something so strongly--and then decide to do the opposite. I don't want to do that again--which is probably why I stick to feeling and complaining about the difficult stuff.

I still do not see the light...but I want to keep looking. I hope this blog helps me do that.


bibliophilezing said...


I think that your blog is a service to others like myself. I just think that if I could once again have the strength to wear the headscarf again, it wouldn't be a matter of completely ignoring any negativity that I receive, but working through it like you do.

Ali said...

Dear sister, just thought id clear something up, in your latest post your have quoted my earlier comment... in which i said that i wish someone had guided me earlier so i could have stopped making a mockery out of something so beautiful... let me just tell you that, this was not intended at you, or anyone else... i was merely talking about myself... because when i was going through difficult times with the hijab i used to constantly take it off, when i would get really fed up... so i was pointing out my own short comings... No way do i think that your posts are making mockery of hijab... and in my comments i pointed that out... i really do not think that there is anything wrong with talking about the difficulties or the highs and lows of what effects us so much.... anyway hope that helped.... sorry for the confusion.

siouxsie said...

i dont think you doing a disservice or anything like that you are telling it how it is for you , i think there are a lot us who find it hard to wear but keep quiet about it, i know a lot people who find it dfficult where i live there are hijabis and niqaabis everywhere and i still find it difficult, i think its because i know i look so much better without it, with it on it ages me by 10years! and that is the upsetting thing for me remembering how good i look without it, and i know people will say this is temporary and your looks are temporary but it doesnt change the way you feel sometimes, by the way i linked you take care

Scarf Ace said...

thank you to biblo, ali, and sue for your supportive comments. ali: i related your comment to myself, thanks for wanting to clarify! and siouxsie: i can related to the looks thing. i have gained weight since having my children, and i think the scarf adds focus to my chubby face now! i know it's not important in the big picture of life, but it does bug me too!

eyes serene said...

Assalamu alaikom,
My eldest always says, "Mom, look, a hijabi!" everywhere we go... and we see a lot of them in this area, so it's funny that she keeps saying it all the time. So when you blog about seeing hijabis, it reminds me of my daughter. :)


Your blog is yours to use in any way that pleases you, and blogging seems to me to help you through your thoughts and feelings about this particular topic. Don't feel obligated to censor yourself here or whatever. (But of course, dialogue often leads one to *clarity* of thought!)

We all enjoy complaining sometimes. I enjoy complaining a lot. Ask my poor friends who have to listen to it. LOL

You're being honest and real. A lot of the material about hijab (or any Islamic topic) that I encountered as a new convert was of two varieties: "YOU MUST DO THIS!" and "OMG I am so happy, this is so easy, I'm in heaven on earth!" And it left me wondering if something was wrong with me because I was not over the moon, I was struggling with some things (and yes, hijab was one of those things.)

So... I guess in my long winded way I am writing to say that I support you and what you're doing here. I will admit that sometimes I feel badly for you, that the hijab seems to give you a lot of grief. But then I remind myself that this blog is for this topic and so of course, I have to take into account proportion!

Take care.

Scarf Ace said...

dear eyes serene,
thanks so much for your comment. it really warms my heart. i agree that usually the view on islamic topics are of those two varieties: do it. and it's easy once you do it. it really helps to know that others struggle so that one doesn't feel like something is wrong with him/herself or with whatever it is he/she is trying to do! jazakaaAllah and thanks again!

eyes serene said...

You're welcome, dear. :)

Carrotflowers said...

I love this blog. I am a non-Muslim who covers her hair--- and I'm not Jewish or Christian, either. =D I believe God is all around us, and although I don't consider myself religious I do have a high respect for my body, my femininity, and my individuality. I feel like SUCH an awesome woman when I'm out with my two kids, nice flowy skirt, scarf on my head. (I usually wear it more like they do in Israel, tied in a bun at the back of the head, but sometimes I experiment and wrap the ends around my neck or shoulders.) The most honest answer that I can give to the "why?" question is that I've come to see hair as a sexual part of the body. When I cover my hair up in public, and then shake it loose in front of your husband, I feel like I am the number one most beautiful woman ever. When I see women dressing modestly and wearing a scarf or a hijab, I definitely feel like we are on the same page as regards our womanhood. In a culture where everything is rapid-fire consumerism and loud-mouth flashiness, I think covering my hair is a nice, non-obvious way to feel good about myself. With my husband being in the Navy, though--- whoo boy, have we had some problems. As if every woman who walks around with a scarf is an immediate danger for all military personnel in the vicinity! It's good to have your voice here to keep me on track. Shukran!

Scarf Ace said...

dear carrot flowers, thank you for your comment--it was so interesting! it is admirable that you cover your hair based on your view of modesty . i'm glad u like my blog ! thanks again :-)

Muslima Maria said...


I appreciate your candidness about your feelings, it makes me feel normal about my feelings and thought. My only caution is not for what you write but for you. It is good to have an outlet for your negitive thoughts and feelings but be care that your try to maintain positive thoughts through out your day. Our day is shaped by what we think about it. If you think "I never see hijabis" then you will never see them. If you think "I always get harrassed" or "I hope I don't get harrassed" focusing so much on that negitive action will cause you to only see those people who mock you. Remind yourself that you are beautiful, you are strong, you are interesting, you are wonderful, and you are loved by Allah swt. this will halp bring more positive people into your path. :)

Scarf Ace said...

thank you maria--good advice!

Basbousa said...

I used to have the same struggle as you. I started wearing hijab more than 1 1/2 year ago, when I was living in Egypt. Then I moved, and 4 months after I started I had a hijab identity crisis. I was struggeling for some months to keep it on, but now, elhamdulillah, I don't wanna take it off ever! I have understood how to make it work, and how to work it. Look at my blog for some hijab fashion :)

Anonymous said...

Scarf Ace: Come to BC!!! Every place I go, I am comforted by the sight of other hijabi sisters, even though I am still on my journey to connecting with God, I appreciate the sight and hope that one day I will have enough faith.

-Kelly C.