Thursday, February 23, 2006

Alive and kicking

I guess it takes a little time to pick up the pieces and get off the ground. I feel like I'm ready to pick up and start running... but I'm not. Everytime I fall back on my behind, and have to get up and try again. So here I am, trying again to take two steps forward before I take another one back. That's progress, right?

How about I be specific? No. But life is hard. Islam is hard. Nobody wants to admit it... Islam is supposed to be easy. But it's not naturally hard, the way you could describe fasting. Fasting is hard, you have to overcome your body's natural desire and urges to eat and drink. In that way, it is hard. But it's not like people look at you funny, it doesn't make you look queer among your friends. Nobody can really tell, it's all on the inside. Breaking your day up to make prayers... not too many people notice that, really, so they can't say much to discourage you. Shahadah, that's all inside, nobody can fuss at you about it. You don't really tell people how much you give in charity. And pilgrimage? What's the big deal, it's only once a year, people can hardly give you too rough a time when they take vacations too.

Those are the pillars of Islam, right? That is faith.

But what about the dress code? You are apparently a transgressor if you don't follow it. It is more harshly enforced than any of the other pillars. But it is a daily and very public display, with difficulty akin to torture, in my opinion. Is that what Islam is about? Forcing adherents (and particularly women) to endure ridicule and shame in the interest of modesty? It makes me sad to realize that my hijab will never be enough. So I donned a headscarf, big whoop. My pants are probably too tight. And if I wear loose pants, then it needs to be a skirt, and then it needs to be longer. And then my shirt is too tight, and too short, so it needs be longer, thicker, looser, whatever. Regardless of the fact that I can't even afford new clothes, the thought of wearing "Muslim-style" dresses and such is appalling.

My philosophy on clothes is the following: function before fashion. Sometimes I would wear a hat. Mind you, I would have a nice hat, but it would serve a purpose--either to cover my hair (if I didn't want to style it), or to keep my head warm (on a cold day). So why a headscarf? Well, to cover my head, because apparently it is part of my "awrah" which means that nobody (except a select few) should be allowed to see it. And a woman needs to cover her awrah.

But what gets me is when it is not just enough to cover, but it has to be done in such and such a way that makes it still more difficult to do. As if I don't stand out like a sore thumb with a headcover, you want to make me wear a coat in the heat as well? When does it stop?

It stops when women have completely covered themselves, completely obscured themselves from the world with fabric. And then the fabric won't be enough, women would be kept inside, the hijab becoming the walls around her. I think the essence of "hijab" is seclusion, a way of hiding women from not just men, but from the rest of the world.

It's just not right. :-(

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