Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Make it a week

So today is the 7th day with the scarf. I haven't told my family or worn it around them, but nearly everywhere else, and everyone else. I never really said "Today I am going to start wearing hijab." I really just challenged myself, "How long can you wear it?" I wondered if I truly had the guts to wear it to my classes, and to work, when I would see a lot of my friends and coworkers. (I did try once before this, but most folks weren't there to see.) So my challenge was whether I had courage enough to wear it in front of them. But once I did, well, it was can I do it again? At first people probably thought it was a one-day thing, but by now they should be getting used to it.

Wednesday the 22nd I put it on. I wore a plain, square, white, cotton scarf pinned under my chin, with a giant hoodie. I wore it to all of my classes that day, and took it off when I got home. Nobody said anything. Thursday I wore it to class, and had one person ask me about it.

I asked if I could sit at his table in the lounge to finish my homework. "Sure, no problem," he replied so I took a chair and pulled out my books. "Amy, are you Muslim?" His hand gestured around his face to show the rest of the question, the words he didn't say: are you really wearing a hijab--because you are Muslim?

"Yes, I am."

"Salam alaikum."

I returned the greeting but tried to finish my homework. Rami was in a class I taught a couple years ago, and we have exchanged greetings but never spoken much--I didn't know he was Muslim. I told him it felt weird to wear this around so many people that I knew, but he reassured me. Maybe I just needed someone to tell me I didn't look weird. :-)

So I wore it to work. "Are you trying a new...?" I don't know what the rest of the question was supposed to be, but I answered "yes" to keep him from staring at me any longer. That might have been the hardest one. But this really is making me so much stronger in my faith.

When I wore it to the basketball game, my sorority sisters had a problem with it, you could say. One asked if it was a psychology experiment, the other said I looked different in my "head dress." But I told them then I was going to leave it on, and I did, without ever telling them explicitly why. The biggest challenge by far was telling the sorority. Walking in to the meeting room in a scarf and running the meeting without taking it off, and at the end telling everyone what it was, and why I was wearing it were the difficulties. "It must be windy. You look like an eskimo. I bet you're warm. Are you afraid you'll poke yourself with the pin?"

I became Muslim last year, and decided to start wearing the scarf. You'll probably see me in it from now on.

Yes, that's when I admitted it. I was actually going to keep trying to wear it. Oh God, please give me the courage to back up that statement!

Not everyone was happy for me. Most probably don't care, and some probably resent the fact that I left their religion, because most of these girls (actually, all of them) are Christian as I was. So I'll have to see how that develops... I don't think I've heard the end.

So wearing it to school again this week and to work, it is becoming clear to more people that I am Muslim. My boss, today, asked me about it. He wondered if it was some holiday I was observing or whether I just felt more comfortable. Comfortable isn't how I would describe the way I feel at work, never, and obviously there is no holiday, but I told him that I was stronger in my faith, and had decided to observe the scarf. And he acknowledged that strength, and assured me that nobody (here) should give me a hard time about it. Which is, truly, a relief. My boss's wife is a preacher, which puts him in a unique position. But since he is not going to try to convince me out of my religion by attacking the scarf, I feel much more at ease.

If you read my previous posts you'll see how I felt about hijab just a few days ago. Honestly, just wearing it has changed my mind. It has forced me to admit to the world that I am Muslim, and that I am actually choosing to practice that religion.

I can't say what is in the heads of the guys I go to school with. (I don't have many classes with girls in my major.) I won't say I'm getting more respect or being acknowledged for my brains instead of my body, because it would be a lie. I never had problems talking to them, and never felt like a piece of meat, and I can't say their behavior or mine has changed at all.

When people that I know look at me, they seem to look longer the first time they see the scarf. That is the adjustment for them. I hope they know they can adjust much quicker than I can. I wonder what they are thinking... but I smile and say hello since their minds have apparently gone blank of courtesy.

Maybe it is getting a little easier to wear it, after all.

But what is definitely easier is saying I AM MUSLIM! I've had to tell three people today alone, so I'll call that progress.

No comments: