Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Weight of Perception

   The summer heat is upon many of us already. This can be a particularly  difficult time for a lot of us hijabis. Sometimes it can really be the weight of perception that weighs heavier on us than the heat. If you have been wearing hijab for very long you probably have figured out a lot of ways to keep comfortable and dress appropriately for every season. Just because we are Muslim doesn't make us impervious to heat but we are dealing with it just like any one else. This is strangely a time where a lot of people feel comfortable commenting on our clothing. It can range anywhere from innocent questions about how we keep cool and why we cover to questions and comments that fall into the category of making unfounded assumptions or just down right rude.
    I certainly don't mind people talking to me or asking questions about my religion. But I can be left feeling very bothered or discouraged when I feel like what to me is a sign of faith and beauty is perceived by others as a sign of oppression or of being backwards. Sometimes I have to really fight to not let the weight of others perceptions weigh heavily on me. I believe in my religion and how I practice it. I know Islam is a blessing to me in every way. But I am human and what other people think of me matters even when it shouldn't. I think many Muslims have really felt the weight of perception in recent years. Perhaps in the past Muslims were looked at as a mild curiosity in the west. In recent years there has been a whole explosion of information about Muslims and Islam that has been thrust out into the media and unfortunately the vast majority of it has either been blatently negative or misleading at best. Many individuals have taken that and run with it. I honestly think the most hostile people and comments are a minority of people but unfortunately they tend to be a very outspoken minority. But that minority of people have succeeded in making Islam and Muslims seem alien and seem like something incompatible with modernity. It is funny sometimes how those perceptions affect us. I know that if I am out shopping with my husband and stop to look at something and fall behind him a bit he rushes back to my side so no one thinks he is making me walk behind him :). I dislike that people think that if you choose to cover your body you must be oppressed. It is certainly less oppressive than trying to live up to the impossible standards of beauty we see in magazines and movies. A woman's value is not determined by what she covers or uncovers. Our beauty is truly in our character and in our choices. But it is frustrating that my CHOICES are seen as a prison by some. Just by the merit of having the ability to make choices I am free. I wish so many more people had the chance to see and understand Islam. Islam is an amazingly progressive religion in terms of Women's rights , human rights in general and in the way we should treat one another and our environment as a whole. Sometimes I stop and think with amazement at how Mohammed (PBUH) was so amazingly ahead of his time in his actions and in his words and how amazingly revolutionary Islam was. . . but then I realize that Islam wasn't ahead of its time.  . . Islam and our Prophets are for anytime and all time. . . the truth is always the truth. . . and that beautiful thought helps lift the weight of perception.
Salaam Ladies.

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