Sunday, 30 May 2010

Not So Different


I’m back! So soon, haha! It's cause I just visited Texan’s blog (Texan in uae), and I noticed that one of the persons who commented honestly wrote how they felt sad for Muslim women. Part of their comment: ““when i see a muslim woman, i always feel sorry for her. You just have to be a good person in and you will go to heaven. I don't understand why it's a must to cover your hair”

It inspired me to share a true incident that happened that I had written about a while back.

Not So Different

We enter the store at around the same time. We are dressed similarly in long loose fitting clothes, although my dress is somewhat longer. Our heads are both covered; a matter of choice for both of us. (Well, at least for me. I know not her story but am curious enough.) From a far, we could be mistaken for as relatives... We are of similar height and both of us are noticeably Arab. From a near distance though, the differences are more apparent. Her wrinkles betray her and she is exposed as the middle aged woman she is. I smile at her and then leaving her, tend to my shopping.


It is winter and all the clothes are snuggly heavy. I am searching for the perfect outfit. My sister accompanies me on this (perhaps unfeasible) mission. I know what it is that I am looking for. I can see it in my mind and yet…if you were to ask me what exactly it is that I am hunting for, my answers would be more vague and mystifying than a “fortune teller’s.” We march up and down the aisles. Up. Down. Shirts. Pants. Skirts. Dresses. Jackets. Sweaters. I am almost at the end of the store and I still haven’t found it. Instead, it seems like the only outfit I will be trying on today is Disappointment and frustration. I am really beginning to tire of the store. I am irritated that I forced my mother to drive me here and more irritated that there’s nothing to be found. Is that shirt cute? Should I buy it? Desperately, I begin to grab anything I see and admire it (although it didn’t look any different four strolls ago.) I feel this enormous pressure to buy something…anything…but at last, reluctantly, I begin to admit the sad reality- there is nothing to buy.


I am about to leave but I take a look one more time at the pajama section. I reach for this sweet and comfy looking pajama outfit, but a hand reaches out first. It is the woman I saw earlier. “Funny,” I think to myself. “We have the same taste.” Smiling, I watch her. And once again….she doesn’t seem so different from me. She’s just older. And I’m a Muslimah.

And she’s a nun.



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P.S. I was very glad that person asked a Muslim woman (Texan) what she thought. It is just infuriating when people ‘speak’ for us. Anyways, I asked that person to see the post of mine titled “An Attitude Problem”- read that, if you haven’t :D It's in "April's" archive :)

P.S.S. This is an interesting article that I read yesterday Cover Girl -a little girl decides to wear hijab (From Oprah's Magazine)

11 comments:

  1. i saw an old man come to me in a store when i was with my sister, in london and genuinly smile at me and say im sorry your forced to cover or something similar , i was kinda speechless and it shocked me how much people beleive everything they hear. atleast though if you ask a muslimah you may get the correct answer
    take care
    xx
    naz nice post

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  2. Lovely post..& it is so true.we've never complained about it, but some think it is an obligation to free us from "Hijab".
    We've chosen to wear it, but ppl think we're forced into wearing it.
    We're not different from anyone.

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  3. Yay finally I can comment, but you made me use IE :P This was a really sweet post, it's annoying when people think they can speak out for muslim women on hijab or any other matter. Let us speak for ourselves if we have a problem or not.

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  4. Assalamu alaikum!!!

    What a beautiful post!!!

    Few days ago I was rushing to an airport gate when I saw a nun sitting at a bench, accompanied by 2 monks. She was wearing a long dress so similar to my abaya, and as she saw me she looked into my eyes and gave me a warm smile. I felt as if she aknowledged our similarities. I wished I was not in such a rush, so I could stop and chat.

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  5. Mashallah. Lovely post. May Allah reward you abundantly :)

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  6. mashaAllah a cute story!

    i guess thinking we need someone to liberate us from hijab is quite universal, because i hear that here too. but the saddest it is to hear it from a born and raised muslimah, who has read Quran and knows we do it of our own choice.. 'why do you wear hijab when nobody force you to?' well.. what would your answer be? 'Allah told us so' is not enough..

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  7. Beautiful post Sarira..you're an inspiration :)

    I'd like to reply to @oldie goldie..what you said in the end, about answering someone about why you wear the Hijab by your own choice; you could simply say: "Same reason you like to wear that shirt or those shoes,or shop for anything; because it makes me happy & i like it" :)

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  8. Salaam Alaikum =)

    Beautiful post mashaAllah. At my old university, there were a lot of young nuns studying to be nurses. I would see them in groups with their long, loose, flowing white gowns and long veils. They were dressed more modestly than some muslim women who were just wearing hijab and no abayah mashaAllah. For other sisters who were wearing abayahs they looked identical except for the colors of the gown. No one would dare question the nuns or make a comment or suggest that they are being forced to wear a head covering and long gown. Non muslims turn a blind cheek and instead focus just on muslims and what the media says is fact (that muslim women are oppressed and forced to cover, etc). It has nothing to do with dressing modestly, the medias main goal is to oppress muslim women and force them to assimilate into mainstream society and dress like everyone else whose idea of "modesty" is shorts and a tank top. Dressing modestly (wearing hijab, abayah etc) reminds people of Allah (God) and makes them feel uncomfortable (for committing sins etc) therefore they do not want to admit to themselves or others that muslim women are free and liberated and following the commandments of Allah. They dont want to be reminded of their sinful ways and thus lie to themselves and believe that muslim women have no choice and must be oppressed and need to remove their "hijabs" in order to make them feel comfortable.

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  9. What an interesting discussion, and I love your story about you and the nun in her habit (that is what they call their veil). I suppose people are very quick to look at cultural and religious things from their own experience only instead of with a truly open mind, which I think is very much linked to a true sense of what freedom really means.
    There is this tv show called 'What not to Wear'. What bugged me about this show was that in the end, every person they took under their wing to transform into a fashionable person ended up looking like everyone else. I found that sad. True, some of them looked better in better fitting clothes and all that, but it was like the acceptable person only came in one model! Yawn.

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  10. Naza, hehe, at ‘genuinely smile’ at you and telling you that ‘he’s sorry’. I had to laugh. Nice guy, but unfortunately a little misguided.

    Your comment and Moon Smile’s, remind me- this is one of the reasons, when I was in school, because of all of our Western teachers who didn’t know much about Islam/women in Islam/etc.(and besides being the greatest geek out there and genuinely being a perfectionist), I would always do my BEST in every course. I would give 110% of what I had to show that them we are capable of thinking for ourselves. SubhanAllah, one time, the ignorant teacher I told you guys about (in the Step Outside of Your World post), actually came to me and the other 4 hijabs in my class. He said, “I don’t get it. You guys are the smartest girls here and yet, you’re the Muslims”. I told him- what don’t you get? There is no contradiction!

    Btw, I probably would have been speechless in that case, too, Naz,but we need to train ourselves not to be. It’s rare that we even get someone to ask ‘us’ how we feel/talk to us. We have to use that opportunity to dispel their notions of us!

    We should also be willing to for example, offer to answer the question before they even ask! Take the initiative with your friends, for example. Tell them, “hey, do you guys wonder why I wear this?” Etc.

    Jaz, that is so odd! I only use firefox! I’m a fellow ‘not iE” person, lol! Jazaki Allah for coming though and commenting! How sweet of ya and you’re totally excused for not commenting since my blog isn’t very nice to you :P
    And I love this sentence:
    Let us speak for ourselves if we have a problem or not.

    Pancake, awwwwwww, I loved that story! Ma’shaAllah! It would have been awesome if you did have a time to chat. Oh well, inshaAllah, khair. Btw, u need to tell me what you were doing in the airport? Are you traveling? :D

    Aww, Susanne and Xenia, thank you both so much!

    Oldie goldie, I wrote about that topic before, too. You want to read that? I honestly also feel like you said that it is the saddeset thing and it does put us in an uncomfy situation. Ms. Chutkus put nice answer, though.
    I guess as a convert can also say because God guided me to His path- how could I not follow it fully?


    Rene, I know what you mean! SubhanAllah, there are some who dress much more modestly than we Muslim women. It is a bit sad :( But definitely, you said exactly my whole whole point in putting this post up: No one would dare question the nuns or make a comment or suggest that they are being forced to wear a head covering and long gown.

    SubhanAllah, about ‘not wanting’ to be reminded about their ways, you’re not going to believe this, but I wrote about this, as well, (LOL, I just gotta write), but I wrote it about the Muslims who treat practicing Muslims as if they are extremists- question their wanting to follow all the commandments-hijab, etc.. I see that yes, people do that as a defense mechanism, because they don’t want to be reminded of their own ways!

    Oh yes, Rebecca!! That’s the word! I read that once.. I so agree with this: I suppose people are very quick to look at cultural and religious things from their own experience only instead of with a truly open mind!
    And yay! I’ve seen that show. The British version and the American one. I also felt like the end of the show was modeling all of the participants to look like only ‘one thing’- only one form of beauty is acceptable.

    But the worst show I ever watched was the Swan. Did you see that? They were literally doing operations on them to change them. OMG, I can’t tell you the stupidity of that show. After one of them did all these operations, then, I think it may have even been the winner, she was like “Now, with the psychiatrist of the show, I'm focusing on my inner beauty”. I was like “WHAT?? The shrink didn’t think about that in the beginning?” I remember one of the ladies’s husbands/kid/boyfriend/something, came and he didn’t like the change. He was like “Who are you?” I loved that.

    Thanks guys! I loved all of your comments <3

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Hey :D So am I talking to myself or...? Tell me what you think :D