We set up a table with Qu'rans and pamplets on hijab and other Islamic women's issues, and set out food on another table, and a spread of my clothing, for inside, and for out, on another. People were shocked that I owned sweatpants and cocktail dresses, as well as barbie shoes, for inside wear. NOTE: I don't wear those pink pumps out.D made a power point presentation explaining important things about Islam so hijab could be addressed in context, and she also showed pictures of her life as being the only woman wearing hijab in her school in Egypt, and being the first woman, mashaAllah, in her family to do so. Then she interviewed me (BTW these are pics of my little sister dressed up in me and Aalia's things---please don't re-post her picture anywhere--and she doesn't look a thing like me---below is an oil portrait of my little sis J without hijab mashaAllah though she always looks sad when asked to sit still LOL).
Anyways, onto the interview:
What is your name and profession?:
My name is _______. Everyone calls me _______ (you guys of course know me as Pixie). I have a half-finished degree in history that I never finished.. and an English-As-a-second-language-teaching certificate, which I used instead of finishing my history major, taking off to volunteer in Africa as a school teacher. Coming back to Canada after this experience, I put on the headscarf, and it limited places that would hire me. During the period of my education, I had paid for my schooling by working in teen fashion stores by doing the window displays and doing personal shopping. I have always been good at fashion, and dressing windows and other women was so much fun for me. I went to a few past employers who I had a very good record with, and despite my past experience as an Assistant-Manager for a very popular chain of companies, no one hired me for even the most basic job in fashion retail. So I started writing about my experiences, and what I was learning about the religious requirements of wearing a headscarf, while posting items of Islamic fashion on a shopping blog for Muslim women featuring modest clothing. At the same time as running this website dedicated to Muslim women like myself, I was hired as a teller by the RBC bank, and have worked for the company for two years now as a customer service representive.Were you born Muslim?:
(That is a portrait of me as little girl, but I feel safe posting it, cuz it TOTALLY never turned out and ALSO doesn't look a thing like me---the only things right are the necklace and the eyecolour). Funny thing is, when you put on a headscarf, you automatically get people trying to guess your ethnicity. I get, typically, Bosnian, Afghani (this only when I wear a red scarf like on that famous cover of the National Geographic, mind you), Lebanese, Syrian, or Iranian. When you tell people you are Victorian, Canadian (I am very much a native of this city), they insist to know where your parents are from. I say from here. Though my Mum lived in Regina for a few years, and my father, Vancouver and Edmonton. But they are both native to this city. No, people insist, where were your ancestors from? Mine are French, Russian and Irish. My father is French-Canadian two generations back (that's how long we've lived in Victoria because no one speaks French), and my mother is Irish and Russian. If you go back more than our great great grandparents who were pioneers in Canada, there wasn't a Canada really. That's how Canadian I am. I have no Arab in my ancestry, and neither of my two parents (or any one else in my family) are Muslim. My father hates faith of all kinds that is not based on what he can see and major organized religions are enemy number one for him, and my mothers calls herself a Christian, but I have met Christian women, and I would say my mother is only Christian in name and by holidays.Why did you choose to be a Muslim?:
(This picture was taken of my two bestfriends before I went away to the places where I first encountered Islam---me and Miss Sunglasses are still close, me in an abaya, and her in a bikini). I chose to become a Muslim, first, because hearing the Qu'ran (our holy book) read aloud was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard and I wondered how people could ever get anything evil like flying planes into buildings from that, and because the more I tried to disprove the religion with science and history and psycology, the more I knew it was the truth. I encountered the religion on a holiday in the Gulf where I meant to only go shopping and swim at the beach, and I came home knowing something that there was a religion that actually documented all of the beliefs I have ever had (such as women being equal to men and that races and nations weren't important and about how women should be treated in society), but had no idea someone else besides me had had them. The thing is, when you know that something is the truth, you can't just believe it in secret. It'll tear you up that way. So I had to live it, live what I knew was the only right way for me to live my life. I made my shahada (said some words to testify my beliefs aloud), and became a Muslim.
Why did you decide to wear the veil?:
I decided to wear the khimar (headscarf) because it is in the Qu'ran, and as a Muslim, I believe the Qu'ran is the only surviving text given to a Prophet from God that has not been doctored to suit a political purpose. God has asked women who believe in Him (including Jewish women who cover their hair, and Christian women who in the Bible, Corinthians, chapter 11 verses 3-10 are told that their prayers are not accepted if they do not cover their heads with a veil) that covering their hair is an act that is beneficial to us, and that it is pleasing to Him. The Qu'ran was very specific how the religious headress of the Muslims (the khimar) is to be worn. It says when translated to english, that we are to pull our headdress down so that it covers our chest. This is how I wear my headscarf/khimar. I do so because a. God----- not any man---- asked me to. One cannot be punished by anyone BUT God for not doing what I chose to freely. and b. having worn modest clothing and the headscarf for three and a half years now, I have seen a change in how men and women deal with me in public. Men regard me for my beliefs and my actions before they are influenced by my haircolour or manipulated by the tightness of my clothing (believe me, being in fashion for so long, I can make anyone think anything of me just by what I am wearing and what colour I cut and dye my hair with---if I want women to promote me I dye my hair blonde and lose some weight that way they are not threatened by me, and if I want men to promote me I dye my hair dark. But if I want to just slide by and not have as much expected from me by a man, and still have them treat me kindly even though I want to be lazy at work, I could dye my hair blonde and wear very high heels and make up that made my face look kinda sad). I find in a working environment and wearing hijab, I am treated intellectually, and as I am not competing with other women to be the most attractive, the most beautiful, the richest, friendships formed with other women are real friendships, not superficial ones. I can develop ever facet of myself instead of distorting my own image into very conflicting ones projected by society. When I get to know a man who wants to marry me, I know he doesn't love me for how I look, so my relationship is gonna last way beyond wrinkles stretch marks and weight gain. He is also going to be wearing his veil, which is a commandment in the Qu'ran for Muslim men not to even LOOK at other women, except for their wives and daughters, sisters, and mothers. I can trust my husband with every ounce in my heart, and he can have trust for me in the same way, so our relationship is deeper than other peoples' who don't practice hijab. And I don't have to cover myself with headscarves or modest clothing in front of my husband or other women alone. So I can express myself in whatever way I wish, where it is safe too, and doesn't hurt anyone. My husband, who grew up in Saudi Arabia, where most women veiled every part of their bodies even their faces, says the few women he did see, his mother, his sister, and now me, are absolutely the most beautiful women in the world. He is not comparing me to an actress or a model. He is seeing me for me. I wear modest clothing because I want to please God, and I don't want to live my life being anybody else but myself. Hijab let's me be everything I am very safely, without exposing me to judgement or forcing me into stereotypes. You don't get suicidal/mylifeisaboutaman/i am not skinny enough teenage girls among Muslim teens that practice hijab. You get intelligent secure young women brave enough to stand up for what they believe is right. I couldn't see myself ever taking my hijab off. Even if my government ever makes it against the law for me to wear it public. It is my freedom.What kind of challenges do you face because of the veil?:
I don't face many challenges because of the veil. I get random prejudice. I mean, I've been assaulted once, by some guy that screamed my children would be black and was mad that Princess Dianna had been dating Dodi Al Fayed, but I consider this a benefit of hijab, that I get to know when a person is prejudiced, right off the bat, so I don't have to waste my time on them. This is something that your average upper-middleclass english-speaking white girl doesn't get very often. When I get told to go back to my country by someone with the same skin tone as me it makes me laugh really. Or when I get called a terrororist nigger, or people think I am suppressed when I know I am more free than they will ever be. If I saw someone following someone down the street hollaring racial or prejudiced slurs and insults to some random Jewish man or black man down the street I would get up and defend them, and it makes me sad that alot of people in Victoria don't for a helpless Muslim woman but they've made hollywood movies about that as early as the 1950s so it really doesn't surprise me, people's prejudice. It can be hard to get a job, but who wants to work for someone that is prejudiced anyway? I consider it a blessing that I have a tool on my person that lets me see a monster in his or her true form. The only challenge that had hurt me in any way is the fact that the scarf that I used to wear around my neck and have my father tell me it is beautiful, now that is worn around my head, makes him say I am forcing my religion on him, and I am not the same person anymore. It hurts when your family distances themselves from you and then accuses you of being the one causing the rift. It takes patience to deal with them and the prejudiced things they do hurt you more than any random attack on the street because they should know this was always you, now you just aren't afraid to live with who you are.What do you wish for?:
I wish for Muslims themselves to be more educated about their religion so that they stop confusing Arab, Indian, and African cultural practices with the religion of Islam. I wish my mother would start talking to me again, and that my father would see I am still his little girl. I wish women would stop looking down on me like I am a second class citizen when I pass them on the street. I wish I could tell everyone of them the story of my life and how much I had to go through to wear what I am wearing but I don't have that much time in my day. I wish the good people out there would defend the person being picked on, because all it takes for this world to go wrong is for a good person to do nothing. I wish I could wear a face veil as well, and still have employment, and have people understand that is just a statement of piety, not suppression. As it is, I cannot, because already when people see me walk with my husband in the black abayas that I love and feel are modest and stylish, they glare at a man that would never force me to do anything, though he is the kind that might warn me if I was doing something that might get me hurt. He says he would love for me to be able to wear whatever I want in this life, be it a full facial covering or a mini skirt, without anyone judging or going out of their way to harm me, but right now he hopes I don't wear a face veil, because he fears for my safety. I wish the world would stop thinking our men dress us and beat us and lock us in the houses. No man could dress me. If I didn't want to wear my hijab he'd have to cut me up into little pieces to fit me into it. Since I do want to wear it, I dare anybody to try and remove it from me, but pray that you can see in your hearts that I am not harming anyone by wearing it, that I am still the same human being. I wish people would focus on more important issues than the piece of cloth a woman chooses to wear. If she wears the scarf around her neck, or on her head, or over her face. Who is that between but her, and her own convictions? I wish the world would see the issue of hijab the way that I do---that it is betwen a woman and her own belief in God.
Then came question and answer period. We were asked about niqab, cultural Islam, translations of the Qu'ran into English (and beating), the marriage of the Prophet sallalhu allahi wa salaam to Aisha (r.a), fiqh, and one woman who asked me what I think of shariah. She seemed very surpirsed that I loved shariah but gave examples of how shariah works and places and cases of how it should have worked but a country or person for political purposed abuses it. We talked about Africa after, over baklava, mango juice, and vimto, since we had both seen the injustice of corrupt shariah intepretations there. Um, and right here I posted this post which you have all commented upon, though I meant to save it and finish it up this morning:D
Almost all the women AND the three men who came were actually very open to it, but my judge of characters was that one woman was not (I tried to smiled at her all the time but got a hard look back---but I mean, at least she came right). The Shariah questions woman actually was though, and she stayed to talk to me loooooooooooooong after the presentation was over. One Russian Christian convert and I spoke a long time about being attacked my neo-nazis (it is an experience we share) and the two of us exchanged emails because I totally love PRACTICING_NOT_PUSHY_PREACHING Christians. The ones who answer your questions but don't be like, may you be bathed in the blood... and both of us inshaAllah are applying for similiar jobs, albeit to different counrties. One mother and her twoo daughters stayed a long time talking to a few sisters who attended but did not present, and one woman who had travelled in Morroco asked for how to tie hijab lessons and I offered a niqab for her to see how it felt.
If niqab is NOT a cultural thing (mostly Arabic), how is it that non Arabic muslims (Black Africans, Malays, Indonesians, Muslims from the ex Soviet republics, Muslims from Bosnia...) do not wear it traditionaly? Except those who came in contact with the "Wahabis" from ....Saudi? Are they less Muslims?
First off, Wahabi is made up term that enemies of the sunnah (the actions of the Prophet Mohammed and the history fo his life) like to use. "Wahabis" do not exist, though people that practice the sunnah DO. Niqab is something that is within the sunnah for the Prophet's wives, and there is evidence that it may have veen been part of the original jilbab (which is commanded for ALL Muslim women). There is, of course, just as much evidence to say that it isn't part of the jilbab, and so, both stances are Islamically valid. That is why some Arab women wear it, but the majority don't. Islamically, one can say that since the Prophet's wives and some of the Sahaba (early Muslims) adopted the practice, there is reward for following their actions but no punishment if you don't. So of course, those that do not veil their faces are NOT lesser Muslims. Then there are those that believe niqab is part of the overgarment that the Qu'ran requires all believing women to wear until they are too old to have to worry about being harassed on the point of their beauty. These women WOULD be lesser Muslims if they understood this as a fard (obligatory) requirement but did not do it [this is where I am in my life right now so everyone made dua for me]. It totally depends on your understanding on the requirements. Now niqab would NOT exist traditionally before Islam in ANY of the countries you listed because they had none of the early Islamic traditions, but women that do study early women of the Sahaba and the Prophet's wives (R.A) in all those countries, often may choose (or choose not to---based on the evidence) adopt niqab, depending on their beliefs with it. This isn't because of them meeting "Wahabis" such as sister KakChik from Malaysia (as a Malaysian niqabi) or sister Nida from Bosnia can probably let you know about, but from studying our own Islamic history and sacred texts. That is why I (a person whose country has no history of niqab---though our native american pop. did wear masks) have come to see niqab as part of the religion, because I studied the history of Islam. Unfortunately, many Muslims are sooooooooo ignorant of their deen (faith).
Another point: equality between men and women. How is it that Muslims keep saying that men and women are equal when men and women rights are NOT the same? 1 = 1 that is equality. Not 1 = 2. Say that women have rights which are differents than from men but not that both are equal, this is just not the Truth. Would you be allowed to "correct" your husband ? No. Would you be allowed to divorce him jus by saying "I divorce you" three times? No. etc....
Men and women are equal before God in Islam, just as races are equal, because the only thing that matters to Our Creator is our piety and right action. Islam often accepts that woman while on this earth, can sometimes be physically and financially weaker than men (and sometimes stronger, in the cases of Sumaiyah [who stood up to be tortured] and Khadijah [who was the money-maker/provider]). Islam accords rights to women that make them provided for, and protected, as well as educated, and having a willful control of the direction in their life (such as the ability to choose who to marry and when to marry, to start a business, to work, to have children, and yes, to divorce). I can, and I DO, correct my husband, and often. Despite having had a formal Islamic education, he does not have the memory and the drive to learn about the early Muslims the way I do, and sometimes I correct his actions. I am always happy when he does mine as well, but I tend to be the one that does it more, so I don't know where people get this idea that a woman cannot correct a man. Umar, head of the Caliphate (say, like the president of the Muslims) was corrected by Um Salamah on two occasions. The Prophet's wives CONSTANTLY advised him. This is actually the sunnah. And while we did not ever lead salat (prayer) we did OFTEN lead teaching the men in Islam (Aisha R.A). Also, if I want to divorce me husband, I can say to my Imam, I am not happy. I want a divorce. He will ask me to try on it, but if I really am just unhappy, then I can divorce. Unhappiness in its self was a reason that one of the women of the Sahaba, was granted a divorce by the Prophet sallalahu alahi wa salaam. Unlike in other religions, where divorce is never allowed. This woman later went on to be happily married, and she would brag about how happy she was with her new husband all the time in various ahadith. This is why it is important for a Muslim woman to know the sunnah (those who learn niqabs place in Islam, for exmaple) because she often had better knowledge of marriage, and divorce, and her role in Islamic society, beyond being a mother.
The New Testament (from you pick what you choose...) say that there is no men or women or Greeks, or Jews ... for God on a spiritual level. Though it also says that, on the "earthly level", women are subjected to men which doesn't mean women are inferior to men. (Would you say that the PM is "inferior" to the Queen because his role is different?)Finaly: How is it that you consider the Bible as non reliable on some points but so very handy on other (the veil)? If tha Bible was so much tricked the mention of the veil would also have been "flushed" because it is a commandment of the Lord and "Satan" would have gladly flushed it right from the beginning...Sorry for the looong post!
No problem, my posts are often long too!:D Well, I don't believe Satan corrupted the teachings of Jesus (Isa). Jesus was tested by Satan (Shaytaan) in the wilderness, and passed with flying colours. No, the Bible was corrupted by men, THROUGH TRANSLATION and COMPILATION for political purposed derived from their own personal naffs (failings---such as greed and pride and envy). So I in no way depend on the Bible for any proof. The original translation never existed as the Bible that is now populairzed exists. Some books were left out, others changed... The library at Alexandria that burnt to the ground might have had some better historical copies but I will never know.Translations of the Qu'ran into any other language but the original Arabic can have the same thing done to them (they can insert words into the original text that were never there and change the whole meaning--even by accident this happens). Anyways, I don't use the Bible for any decisions in my own life. I have always thought of it as a corrupted text, but from a historical standpoint it can be good to see how the cultural practices of Judaism, why some of them surrivived in Christianity (hijab did because Roman men liked when women veiled but they DIDN'T like that they were equal to men and given certain rights that Roman women did not historically have so I believe that text was altered to say man is the head, while no other religious texts narrated by the same Creator say such a thing). I only use quotes from Corinthians (which I know are backed up by archeological pieces such as art from Jesus's time period) to show to Muslims that headocvering was ALREADY a religious practice, and that what we are commanded to do is in ADDITION to what Christian and Jewish women did/do. I could do the same thing with art from shortly after Pilate's stint in office.
Also I'm quite surprised your friend was the "only" to wear hijab at school...was it a Christian school? Because Egypt is known to be a country were a majority of girls wear hijab...I remember seeing a report about it and there was a school were only one girl was not wearing hijab (she finaly did because she was feeling left out...)
My friend is older. When she started to wear hijab, it simply was not done in Egypt. It was only common in the country-side, and that was for Christian, Jewish, and Muslim women in the country. It was veiwed by the whole of Egyptian society as "country" thing to do. She came to the conclusion that the headscarf was a commandment from reading the Qu'ran. Alot of women in Egypt do not wear Islamic hijab. The purpose of Islamic hijab is to wear it for the sake of Allah subhanhu wa ta'ala in the way commanded by Allah, and any woman that wears it for any other purpose than that, it will be rejected of her. So she has to understand hijab, before she can truly wear it, and she has to believe in it. Otherwise, it is all a show, or a pantomime of something other than her true self.