Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hijab Hotseat

We'll call him "Mr. Officer". And although he was below my height preference, he looked awfully good in uniform. *sigh* Yes. Yum. Well, shortly after our first meeting he texts "so I guess you don't cover?" Wow...for the record I do "cover" thank you very much. Despite my affinity for tight jeans, I do try to keep my goodies tastefully covered. I'm sure my mother would argue I could be more modest. Don't tell her, but she's right. I'm working on it. But I knew Mr. Officer meant my hair. I did cover my hair, once. It was my last year in college, and although my attempted style was more J-Lo tie-back or Lauren Hill remixed with a hat and scarf...I did it. For me. For God. For a year. I'm sure to many the decision was strange, but for me, it was a protection from vanity and unwanted attention. It saved me, and helped me graduate...and for the first time in my LIFE I made straight A's.

I uncovered my hair for graduation, and made the decision to assimilate to the norm of Corporate America. Religiously, I studied the schools of thought on hijab (click to Wikipedia it), the Qur'an and sunnah (reports on the life and teachings of Prophet Muhammad, may God be pleased with him) and perhaps for my own convenience accepted that the decision remains with the woman.

I responded to Mr. Officer, deliberately clarifying "My Hair? No. Does your mother cover her hair? Is that your preference?" Initially, I was caught off guard, but just as I WOULD PREFER that he were 3 inches taller, he has a right to prefer a hijabi, especially because his mom covers as I suspected. Now one thing is for sure, although I tend not to tout my knowledge of my religion...I'm no slacker. I know what I believe, why I believe it...and if you give me a minute I can also authenticate it with doctrine. Don't play me. However, this was only our second I'm giving Mr. Officer a pass for attempting to school me on what "God obligates" for women. Out of respect for him and my sisters who do cover their hair I concluded the convo stating this isn't about right or wrong, but two different understandings. I even said I would keep him in mind for any hijabi friends. It ended well...but truthfully the discussion got under my skin.

I immediately started researching the issue, poised to "school him" on the really real. But realized my issue was with me, not him. I deleted the email. I spent the next few days in the mirror putting a scarf on, then pulling it off... figuring out if I could wear one for the rest of my life. I have always loved what it represents, and the strength of the women who cover their hair for their beliefs, especially in the face of present day hostility. I think the conversation with Mr. Officer got to me because the real reason I don't cover is because I haven't found the inner strength to be so different. I love what I believe, and do long to be identified for who I am and how I've been raised. I wish I was brave enough to be the friendly, familiar face to work against the picture of insanity and extremism that has infected the image of a beautiful faith. But the truth is, I'm not. However, something within me has changed, thanks to Mr. Officer. One day I do hope to have that strength....not for him (absolutely not) or because I think I have to. But for God and for me. Because I'd much rather escape my vanity and be admired for my actions, words and my faith than anything else. Wow...message, lol. Throw a "ping." on that b...

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