Me and three friends (2 of them hijabi, one not) went to see a movie. These two other girls, dressed in short skirts and tanks asked us if we were from Pakistan. When they asked us, they seemed excited and interested in us. I got this thought: Maybe those girls look up to hijabis, want to wear a scarf, but feel too weak,too trapped in the pressure to fit in...and wish they were in a position to wear it.. maybe seeing three of us together, laughing, having fun, looking cool--maybe they start thinking they could do it too. (Or maybe they were thinking why are these hijabis at a movie theater watching THAT movie--see they're no better than us!)
I hadn't thought of this before. Instead of non-hijabi Muslims seeing us hijabis and thinking, "they're too religious," maybe they see us and have a sincere longing to be able to be true to the practice of hijab. Usually the non-hijabis I know now respect hijabis but sort of say "it's just not for me, " I'm not that religious," "it's not important/needed." But it made me feel a little proud at the thought that some non-hijabi Muslim lady might see me and wish she could BE LIKE ME--instead of the other way around.
BTW, my two friends who wear hijab live out of state and were in town visiting. If I could hang out with them more often--this scarf thing would be easier I think.
I saw a hijabi working at the library. It made me feel a bit more comfortable around the other workers at the library because I thought--well they must be familiar with her--so I don't seem too odd to them. I looked over at the hijabi, but she didn't see me, so I kept walking. Later, she asked if I needed help with my books, I said, "Yes, my card..." Then she helped me and I said thank you. I didn't say as-salam-alaykum and she didn't either. My hubby said, "Did you say salam? Why not? Go do it now?" Hmm. For a split second I thought--well maybe she's not Muslim! LOL. Oh well, next time. It's not that easy to say salam to strangers. Is it? If I wasn't wearing the headscarf, I would feel less of an expectation to say it. But if one scarf-head sees another--salam is expected! (AND btw, we saw some more hijabis at the store and at the bookstore too on different days).
The other day I was thinking that this blog should be called: Scarf Ace: Wearing a Muslim Headscarf in American even though I Really Don't Want To.
I was thinking how it was my husband who had convinced me to wear it, how he kept bringing it up until I ran out of reasons not to wear it. I remember telling him how hard it was going to be and how he said that once I started it then it would get easier on me or something like that. Hmm. He wasn't very correct about that, or was he? So what was the deal I wondered?
But then I thought about it and felt that I DO want to wear it, but I want the same ability to skip it some days when I do not feel up to it the same way I skip a fast during Ramadan when I'm too worn out or skip or delay a prayer when I'm too tired. I know some might say that makes me a "part-time" Muslim because that's not how the rules of Islam work, but it's just the way it is for me. But if I had that flexibility with the scarf, I don't think I would resent it as much.
And also as is with saying prayers, I've heard it said that if one's heart is not in it, or if one rushes it then it's like one is not really doing it. So is that same with the scarf? If my heart is not in it or I'm doing it half-way, then what's the point of doing it at all?
Mainly I feel vulnerable wearing it when I go out alone and I resist wearing it when it is very hot outside. So the other day, while driving to the store alone on a very hot day, I gave myself permission to not wear it once I got to the store. But by the time I got the store, I had thought about the scarf as something similar to fasting and prayer...something that's hard but something I will do as a Muslim because I believe Islam's rules to be better than worse. So I wore it into the store, pinned tightly and all. And I was fine. Alhamdulillah.
I was thinking that, yes, in the Quran and in Hadith it says that women should dress modestly, but how do I really really know that means I have to wear a headscarf in this day and age to be a Muslim? Then I compared it to saying my prayers. Yes the Quran tells you to pray 5 times a day, but it doesn't tell you exactly all the moves and verses to say, so why do I do it a certain way? Why don't I just make it up the way I want to? Because the rules are rules for a reason. Their foundation is the truth and we do it to stay as close to the truth as possible. So that helped me relate that idea to the scarf and I think letting my mind free from the commitment of having to wear it even when I didn't want to, let it clear up and I could see that on that occasion.
OK, so...big news. I finally got it. Up until now, I've been missing the concept of wearing the headscarf "to please God." I think since I grew up around Muslim women who do NOT wear a scarf, I thought it was really not "that important in Islam." And plus, since I'm naturally shy and modest anyway--I thought I knew what modesty really was and it did NOT have to include a headscarf. So. My hubby and I were having another conversation about it and he said something like this:
"Every culture draws its own line on what is modest. In America, a woman can basically dress any way she wants except for walking around without a top. But in Islam, God drew the line at only face and hands. If a culture of people decide what is modest, then the line goes lower and lower. 150 years ago, women could not dress the way they do now. You could not see a 10 foot woman in only a bra and pantie (referring to the Victoria Secret window display at the local mall) but now people walk by it and not even blink. It's like with alcohol. This culture decides that it's okay to drink--as long as you don't drive..."
So the idea that "God drew the line," finally clicked for me and made sense. Even though I have thought that the scarf is overkill when it comes to modesty, it's the same concept that we Muslims do not drink AT ALL. Social drinkers would say that is overkill because one drink doesn't hurt. One or two. They know their own limitations. But in Islam--it's no alcohol--ever. That never seemed unreasonable or illogical to me. Same thing with everything else in Islam. It's clear cut. So I can finally see that it's the same way with hijab. I mean, I knew that before--but it just hadn't clicked somehow yet.
I wonder if it will make it any easier for me to wear it...Hmm. Let's see. I know for sure that it helps me deal with my husband's concern if my neck or hairline is showing. To him that is making the line slip a bit further down. And he's really sure about the line. I get it.