An Excellent Point

In the Name of God, the Subtle, the Loving

After I made my response to Imam Anwar Al Awlaki, an anonymous poster made this comment:

You are speaking from the perspective of a man. It is more difficult for a woman who wears a head scarf. I am stared at with disgusting looks, and sworn at by random people in the street. No, you cannot practice your religion (completely) as a Muslim WOMAN in America. It is very difficult and everyday I pray no one hurts me or my kids for practicing a faith that has been so misunderstood in the media.

You know what, my sister? You are absolutely right. It is much easier for me to practice my religion as a Muslim man in America than it is for a Muslim woman. I can navigate the paths and roads of being an American without broadcasting my faith. In fact, I do just that. My faith is very important to me; it is part of my being, part of my constitution. But, I do not wear my faith on my sleeve. I do not publicly broadcast the fact that I am Muslim, although I won’t deny that I am, either. But, I don’t wear a sign on my chest saying, “I am Muslim.”

But my sisters, specifically those who wear the headscarf, do wear a sign saying, “I am Muslim.” That sign is worn on their heads. They can’t hide the fact that they are Muslim. Every day, they bravely walk out in public with their faith on their sleeves. Every day, they tell the world that they are Muslims who choose to cover their hair for the sake of God. Every day, they are much more brave and committed than I am.

And they face rage, anger, and hatred – on our behalf – on a daily basis. Right here in Chicago, a woman was charged after she tried to pull a headscarf off of an American Muslim woman. So many people have very little understanding of Islam, and when they see a Muslim woman who wears a scarf on her head, they project their fear of the unknown into hatred against that Muslim woman.

And our sisters take it – on our behalf. They are on the front-lines of the hatred against Muslims and Islam. Many of them feel this hatred firsthand. And I admire their bravery for it.

Now, this is nothing against those of my sisters who choose not to wear the headscarf. I neither malign them nor disparage their faith, committment to Islam, or anything about them. But, the sisters who do wear the headscarf are ambassadors – by no choice of their own – of Islam and the Muslim community. And many times, they are punished for it.

So, what should be done? Our country should understand that these Muslim women freely choose – out of their own conviction – to wear the headscarf as a manifestation of the modesty called for by God in Holy Scripture. They are not an oppressed minority who are forced to cover their hair in “submission” to the men in their lives. They don’t wear the headscarf so they can “disappear” from society. They don’t cover their hair because they are seen as “inferior” in Islam.

No. They follow in the path of the Virgin Mary who, in almost every depiction, has her hair covered. Just as no one would spit on, attack, hurl racial slurs, or malign the Blessed Virgin, no one should harrass these Muslim women – or any women, for that matter – for choosing to honor God’s word in the flesh. Our country is better than that.


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