Sunday, February 25, 2007

We make plans but God knows best

Have you ever read a verse of scripture over and over and thought you really knew what it meant, then something happened to you later that made you realize it's true meaning?

That's what happened to me recently, regarding the following verse of the Qa'ran;

33:59 (PICKTHAL:)

O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.
This verse always seemed bizarre to me. Well, I guess I didn't really comprehend what it meant to "be recognised and not annoyed", or why this would be a good idea.
Most of the time as a muslim in America I've been terrified to "be recognised".
I always assumed that being recognised in the context of post-911 America would be a VERY BAD and dangerous thing.
So, since returing to my homeland last July, I chose not to don the muslim headscarf, and maintained modest dress otherwise.
We scheme and plan, but Allah knows best!
It all started when my neighbor, whom I met in passing in the parking lot a few times, asked me and my kids over for a play date.
Starving for friendship and yearning for the seemingly constant socializing I was involved with while in Qatar, I was elated that she invited us over.
It was really fun, the kids had a blast playing, and my neighbor and I really hit it off. She's in the healthcare profession and we have a lot in common that way, she even has given me some very sound leads on jobs. She is also athletic/works out ( she's a runner), aspires to being a stay-home mom, and we agree on matters that have religious overtones. For instance, we both dislike the "new" Disney because the stories focus too heavily on evil (why all the evil? Why can't there just be good guys?), and she and her husband don't watch television (thus the kids don't either).
However things became extremely awkward for me when one of her questions came out of left field and slugged me in the jaw. We were actually discussing childbirth when out of nowhere she suddenly asked me "So what church do you go to?"... Pangs of terror! What did she say? Well, I was stunned beyound belief. How was I supposed to just pop out and say, uh, we're muslim? She had let on earlier in the conversation that they were Baptist. AND not just Baptist, Southern Baptist! So, I just tried to start with the story of how I became catholic in college.... "Well, I was raised Methodist, and then converted to Catholic in College...." then she cuts me off and changes the subject again!
Oh cripe! I WASN'T FINISHED! THERE'S MORE! I was screaming inside my head....but couldn't continue. It was just too.....aggressive. Who just blurts out "So what church do you go to?" ....That's not a first playdate question! How could she just assume I even go to CHURCH? ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
I went home and told my husband what had happened. That essentially I hadn't told this girl the truth. He was really reassuring and felt she had been way too aggressive. She's baptist, Nur, he said. She'd be on a witch hunt if she found out you were muslim anyways. Remeber the Baptists you knew in Florida?
The Baptists in Florida. Goodness, how could I forget? I was taking a class at our local community college. Once a group of them in my class found out I was an Amerian who'd converted to Islam, they wouldn't leave me alone. They hounded me every class with this extremely false literature their church had created. It was about muslim women like me who'd married muslim men and "forced to wear the oppressive islamic dress", and were all subsequently beaten, kidnapped, and blackmailed under threat of never seeing their children again if they didn't do as their terrible muslim husbands said. Then they "found Jesus", were freed from the "oppression" they'd endured wearing the hejab, and everything was hunky dorey.
GOD, what kind of insane propaganda was this thing based on, that Sally Field movie Not Without My Daughter??????
So that had been my previous experience as a Muslimah with the Baptists. What should I expect with this neighbor?
That verse from the Qa'ran immediately popped into my head due to this incident. Recognized and not annoyed. Man, now it all makes sense, I thought. If I had been wearing the hejab, everything would have been clear to my neighbor. I wouldn't have been put on the spot in quite the same extreme way. She still could have asked about why I cover my hair...but it would have been a LOT less awkward than me sitting there with no overt signs that I'm muslim and getting asked what church I go to!
So it now is clear to me that God wants me to wear hejab. I've been mohejabiyya for about 2 weeks now and it's going very well. I've had to make minor alterations to what I wear to the Y to excercise but it really hasn't been too big of a change. I find that the Al Amira hejab are best for working out in, as they don't slip or flip up (and expose what I'm trying to cover!) while doing aerobics, in spinning class, or lifting weights.
Subhanallah and Allahu Alim.


nara said...

Mubarak my sister ..
i started wearing hiajb ,after being shy for i long time ..but now i wear it with pride and feel very prestigoues. that i became afraid of "kebber" showing off.
May Allah grant u Strength and Ekhlas.

peppylady said...

If a person isn't Christian including my self and have no problem teaching or following any faith of one choosing.
But here in United States they expect anyone to choice the Christian religion.
And if not "you better stay in the closet"
Well Thankful for blogs that other believes are coming out.

I sign up to take part in The Ultimate blog party (see my side bar for link) in all honesty I wonder if I made a mistake by join in. They weren't that many non Christian and the one who is putting on the event is a Christian.
I guess when the Ultimate blog party start. I'll find out how welcome I'll be.

Rockin' Hejabi said...

Yeah it's a common un-truth (aka LIE) that the Christian right wing is putting out there that this is a "christian Nation", that we were founded "one nation under God", "In God We Trust" etc. and so forth, all of which are completely NOT true.

The "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance along with the other references to God on the money etc. were all added in the 1950's during the Commie Red Scare, to try and differentiate the USA from Communist countries.

What a hoax!

I'm sure the Founding Fathers are all rolling over in their graves.

Baraka said...


That's such an interesting personal experience with the Qur'an - thanks for sharing that!


Rockin' Hejabi said...

Thanks Baraka!

Yes, isn't it wild how the Quran can reveal itself?


ThatDeborahGirl said...

Cincinnati can be a weird place socially.

"Where do you go to church?" or "Where did you go to high school?" would not be playdate questions anywhere else but here.

It's not so much a religious thing as a social/class sort of thing. And Black, White, Hispanic, Catholic, Jew or Gentile and your case, Islamic, you will get this question as a matter of course. Funnily enough, she'd probably have been just as nice either way. Cincinnatian's have this habit of "just wanting to know", maybe so we don't say something offensive unintentionally; at least not to your face.

Has anyone explained the East Side / West Side thing about Cincinnati to you yet? Child, that's a diatribe all it's own.

Rockin' Hejabi said...

East side, west side, all around the town... the tots sang ring a rosie London Bridge is Falling Down....Boys and girls together, Me and Mamie O'Rourke...we'll trip the Light Fantastic on the sidwalks of ....Cincinnati?

A friend of mine from Hyde Park tried to tell me about the rivalry, but I still just don't understand.... perhaps Skins Bar in Cheviot has something to do with the East Side's particular dislike towards the Westies?

We're thinking of living split down the middle in Finneytown to avoid the whole dilemma!

Salihah סליחה صالحه said...

Wow, uhkti, thank you for sharing this. Sadly, I have to wonder if you were wearing hijab from the start, if this woman would have ever even invited you over. But I know what you mean. I wear hijab and so I get the other side of the play date questions..."So, where are you from?" From? "Ah, Minneapolis." Stares. "Ya, but I mean, before that?" Why does it seem so strange that someone born in America would wear hijab?