Saturday, March 28, 2009

MY MUSLIMAH: moments

I had always considered Canadians very well informed about other cultures: until I, a Canadian, went overseas.

On my return I had a suitcase of souvenirs. I dressed up my friends in hijab and niqab and burqa and abaya and Omani hats and robes complete with curved khanjars and we posed for pictures and none of it touched me... I had heard the Azan and it was in the back of my head as the most beautiful sound I had ever heard...but it was in the back of my head as another language... words I could not understand.

The hijab was a cashmere pashmina that made me sweaty that I wore only to show off my pretty caftans when I was in Oman, and to visit the grand mosque there, until a friend here told me that someone had called him "a sand nigger". I didn't know how to wear a scarf but I immediately wrapped that bulky pashmina around my head until it choked me and I wore it to work the next day. A cab driver, who worked with Muslims, said "salaam alaykom". My manager told me to take it off.

It was "a safety hazard"--- it could "get caught on something". I looked around me. One girl wore a bandana on her head, another guy a baseball cap. One guy called my arab friend "a terrorist" when we discussed the subject. I would put the hijab back on whenever the manager wasn't there. I would put it on when I left work. I would take it off when I walked home. One day, my manager, R, he caught me wearing it again. He knew that an Arab student I knew from school wanted to win me over (as this particlar Arab was quite good looking and it was all the silly girls at my work could talk about) so in front of everyone he said: "You know a muslim man can beat his wife and can have sex with her whenever he wants to." I nodded but was too shamed to explain to him everything that I did know. R was Jewish and a soldier in Israel a long time ago, so I understood his prejudice (and everyone- one of my best friends in the world who taught me the most about prejudice was a Jewish girl I'd die for---so don't post any Jew dissing comments here). He talked to me later, but I still put in my notice. I didn't want to work for a place that would not allow a hijab but would allow a baseball cap or bandana. I couldn't.

Hijab has taught me alot about Islam. It is one of the reasons I read the Qu'ran with a heart for understanding. It has taught me that race doesn't matter, physical form is not the most important thing (I know alot of girls who lose weight when they start to wear proper hijab because they are no longer stressing about an ideal body image and they look more to their families than their peers for emotional support so develop more vivid goals for themselves, and pursue the creative facets of themselves that more adolescent girls are losing every day, sadly). Wearing it means I can no longer go out clubbing with girlfriends---as thin a peice of fabric as it has been, it has been strainer through which I have sifted my personal relationships: I have learnt those who have loved me for me, and those who only loved me because of what I could do for them. Friends that missed the drinking party me may have abandoned me for the next buzz, the next high, the next handsome stranger, but I have gained the knowledge of friends who get high on my presence, on my ideas, on my private non-alcholic crazy Africano township jive wannabe belly dancer Canadian dancing. I also get a gift not many white girls with white skin get: I get to know who is really prejudiced and who is not, something that can take years of knowing someone in our politcally correct environment, I can know in minutes.

There are good times. There are bad: There is the man on Halloween who saw me in my abaya and asked me to sing O Canada, and when I did, commented "Good, it's just a costume"-or the women seeing me pushing a baby stroller who whisper very loudly "She's too young be married off to make babies" when there is a teen mother with no head scarf sitting next to me, with no wedding ring who they do not want to do anything to help obviously fifteen -the woman who challeged me "to live my life" when she sees me wearing a niqab and reading Hirsi Ali's "Infidel" in Chapters... There are also the amazing: the homeless man across from my house who defended me when a man was harassing me about my abaya with the words "Leave her alone-she's a middle-eastern Audrey Hepburn!" (so sweet, and when does being compared to Audrey Hepburn NOT make you feel good???)- the women that tell me my hijab looks beautiful- the little girl who wants her picture taken with me at my work because she thinks I'm a princess in my abaya and shayla- the fact that construction workers who normally whistle at women walking by fall silent at the sight of my niqab and I hear them say "she is still beautiful... A real lady." When I walk to Juma (I usually don't wear niqab but if I wanna wear sparkly earring to Juma I wear a niqab over them so that all the Muslim boys outside will be as silent as those construction workers)- the people who honestly want to know why I became I muslim (they are worth it all)... My personal favorites are though, of course, those moments that make me laugh: the man that asked me straight-faced if I was a ninja (hiiii-yahhh!-when I was in karate they called me the ballerina so you can see why this far-fetched country boy made me laugh), and this sweet little old lady client of mine. She came up to the counter, and gently patted my sleeve. It was hot out so I was wearing my lightest hijab, a white cotton pashmina, and she patted my arm so that I would lean close to hear what she had to say. "Dear," she said to me. "You really should be at home. You shouldn't be working." I was confused. "I feel fine," I told her. "I want to work." I said this, because some people have this prejudice that muslim women aren't allowed to work, and their husbands force them to stay at home. LOL. That was not her point though. Honestly concerned about health as most seniors are she said: "You shouldn't be working with a head injury." LOL. Isn't that the sweetest, funniest thing?

Share your funny hijab moments here, please.

21 comments:

أم ترافيس said...

HAHAHAHA so cute :)

I remember when I was in Canada, it was so hard to wear niqab there, specially in a small town every one snickered and laughed I wanted to drop kick them seriously! UGH!

But the funniest was when we were at the CN tower and I was looking in the gift store, I turned around and a young boy is like "WHOA" and his mouth falls to the floor, he is staring at me and his mom drags him away LOOOL kids are cute. But the ignorant ppl really tick me off !

MuslimahonaDiet said...

"You must be an African nun, African are very colorful folks, I should know I have been there!"

MuslimahonaDiet said...

oh forgot to mention that the woman said she like the color of my scarf, hence the comment!

aisha said...

Well i live in central eastern Europe,im arabic in half and going to be muslim as soon as possible i love hijab and all philosophy of islamic way of dressing,i dont wear hijab regulary because im not muslim but i cant wait to make it my obligation and to put it on evrday because of religious reasons,one day was freezin and rainy so to protect my hair i put on head my scarf which usually wear around neck,entered mall and than what i call ''hijab effect'' had started,smhow i felt those shy glimpses,people pretending not to look,but finally look,but the funniest happened in toilet,i entered it wearing scarf on my head,suddenly a line of uncovered heads turned to me,but the significant was not that those girls didnt wear scarf-the funniest was the rest of their outfits-skinny jeans obligatory showing back well,high heel boots weared over them,short jackets-well its winter so short jacket is the best choice to keep provocative even when its cold,they looked to me like to museum exhibit,hah i felt they were so sorry with me,gosh how much they still have to learn?

Aminah said...

What a lovely post it really made me smile :) aww the old lady - so damn cute!
I remember a paticular 'muslimah' moment at work where an older white, woman kept on glancing at me. Theres me jumping to the worst conclusions - oh god, she probably thinks that i'm some radical youth thats been brainwashed by muslim extremists / her father forces her to wear that thing.
Anyway she came to the till and paid, as she was about to leave she said,'thats extremely pretty' pointing to my hijab, and left. Man, i had the nicest feeling inside of me all day. It just goes to show that the general public arent as ignorant as i thought- these lovely moments prove it.
Of course there are some that we simply can't please but the majority remain respectful and understanding despite daily exposure to the biased media reports and tv documentarys that have become a norm in our lives, subhanallah we should be thankful and proud of our 'muslimah moments!'.

aisha said...

a Pixie i've watched ur blog since many months,hah but this post pushed me finally to speak out,great job i think ur blog is the best when it comes to muslimah lifestyle,no day without checking ur posts!

Amirah said...

Assalamu'alaikum,
I really love this post. :-) I too, appreciate the opportunities that hijab has given me - as a white girl who blends in perfectly to the people around me - to really see what racism (or any sort of prejudice) looks and feels like. Like buying ice cream yesterday, where I was charged twice as much for half the amount of ice cream that others had ordered (which I did not take sitting down, by the way! lol). Or when a child smiled at me in the store and the mother rushed them away. Ugh. That's what I get for living in a small town in the midwest...some people, however are much nicer. My favorite is bi-weekly question of, "And where are you from?" When I say that I was born and raised in the city we are in, I'm always met with, "Yes, yes, but where are you FROM?" And I say, "This city! And, about two hundred years ago, my ancestors came from Northern Europe, just like yours!" lol. I always feel so bad, though, I know it is a disappointment for them. They want to meet someone from Morocco or Lebanon or SOMETHING! lol. I am just not interesting enough for them, I guess. :-)

Habibti said...
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Pixie said...

Umm Travis: I heard from Aalia the closer you get to Quebec the harder it gets to wear niqab. In Vancouver it is very easy, alhamdulilah. Vic is old world British though, and Imperialistic thinking remains in certain families.

Pixie said...

Muslimahonadiet: That is sooooo cute LOL. "Colourful folks" he he he.

Pixie said...

Aisha: May Allah S.W.T increase our knowledge of hijab and make it easy for you to wear it, ameen.

Pixie said...

Amirah: cute kids are the best!!!

Pixie said...

Habibti: I'll say it if they won't, mashaAllah you're dressing for the sake of Allah S.W.T and you look beautiful mashaAllah. I've seen your fashions sets and they ARE cute.

Pixie said...

Aisha: jazzakallah kheiran. InshaAllah people continue to be happy with this blog.

Habibti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megan said...

This preschool class walks by my bus stop every morning, and most of the little girls wave and say hi. I was wearing niqab and this little girl was peppering her mother with questions about me..."why doesn't she take it off to drink? do all her people (lol) have to wear that?".
I get truckloads of construction workers driving by and whistling at me though, even in niqab. I assume they're joking, I don't wear anything revealing!

A lot of people are puzzled at how I can be white AND muslim, I don't think Canadians are actually very well informed.

Ammoorraah said...

Salaamualaikum warahmatuaallah! this blog is sooo cute lol reminds me of some stories of my own. i'll tell one bad and one good :) even it out a bit!

One day, me and my family went to a conferance in Haggerstown maryland, and its a small town i take it because the local teenagers hung out at burger king lol. So me and my cousins who all wore niqaab (it was 5 of us) standing at dairy queen because our hotel was right nextdoor walking distance. so the horns are honking like CRAZY at us, and we were getting flipped off left and right, and a few people even screamed "GET OUT OF MY COUNTRY" and "I HATE OSAMAH BINLADEN" our humor is a bit different, we were all cracking up, because well... this is our country too (USA) and we dont really dig binladen either lol. but the ignorance is clear.


Another time,
I was with my mom and my aunt inlaw in target, and i was wearing the niqaab, so of course i was getting those "akward" stares but a group of men walked by, and i heard them say WOO THOSE ARE REAL WOMEN THERE!! cover up they're beauty!!! lol it was soo funny the way he said it, but i thought it was nice of them :)

Yasmin said...

I remember I was on the bus one day coming from the masjid. I was in head to toe black and waering niqab. The bus was pretty crowded so I was standing. I saw this little boy sitting down in front of me and he was staring at me, which is typical of little kids. He was probably about 3 or 4. Then he turned to his mom and asked her why is she wearing a mask, its not halloween. The mom took a quick look and said she's not wearing a mask. The little boy still inquistive well what is she wearing, and the mom said well ummmm I don't know. I was just standing there smiling cuz I thought it was so cute.
Another one was when I was at the doctor's office with my step daughter. I guess she was bored and outta hte blue said I wanna see your face. I told her later but before I knew it, she had pulled off my niqab. Maybe I shouldn't have been wearing a velcro-close niqab. Kids are remarkable. They do and say the dardest things.

Aalia said...

I luved this post and I luv uu <3 My sweet Pixie, always making people around smile!!

God bless uu hun!!

Pixie said...

Aalia: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I miss you sis. You are the best.

Pixie said...

Megan: you have a niqab?:D