Thursday, August 9, 2007

Re: In the Name of Religion


*This originally started as a response to Mariam's post below but when i reached a page I decided that I should continue as a post even though I'm not in the Middle East at the present moment*

Mariam I read your post after a very long day of RA (resident advisor) training here in Chapel Hill. I'm tired from only four hours of sleep but with loads of still unfinished work on how to make sure my residents feel a sense of community.

and I'm crying.

It isn't sadness or even joy. Neither frustration nor anger.

It is catharsis.

Out of a staff of around 215 students who are resident advisers, only 4 are Muslim. This number itself seems large to me. But out of these 4 Muslims (all of them are my friends) I am the only one that is colorfully visibly Muslim when looking down at the packed auditorium. Those who know me know it helps that I'm also very loud and opinionated. :)

I sit in that auditorium happy about my hiring. I feel like a breakthrough has been made (though I don't know how accurate that is) for Muslim activism on Campus, or more bluntly, in regular life.

Everyday though I tire more and more from my battle to prove myself. All because of my hijab.

I feel the need to prove that I am not a stereotypical hijab wearing woman. I feel the need to completely break that stereotype. I am no longer only Maryam. I am now The Muslim Woman.

I am loud to prove that we are not quiet.

I am a leader to prove that we are not subservient.

I am smart to prove that we are not uneducated.

I am wise to prove that we are not ignorant.

And while I am proud that I can prove these things to the world, it is not why I wore the scarf.

I started wearing a scarf when I was 8 and by the time I was 10, I was abiding by hijab. It may seem extreme I know but it was completely by choice. My dad even tried to talk me out of it.
See my childhood was not ideal. It was hard. It was hurtful. It was lonely. It was sad. But through that, the innocence of my childhood shined. Accepting pain and hurt I connected to joy and happiness through God. He was the bigger picture. He was the one who would prove to me in the end that my suffering would not be in vain. He loved me, this caring God, loved me more than I could imagine all the people in my life put together. In my child's mind, the hijab felt like a big, warm, and loving hug from God. He felt like a father to me. A second parent.

So I would do anything for the only love I felt I had. To me it was worth the deepest sacrifices.

But all I had to do was abide by hijab. A partition.

That’s it? I thought. All this love from God and all I have to do is abide by a few simple rules?

You see, my upbringing made me realize from a very early age the scarcity but extreme importance of love.

And I accepted the hijab with a full, open, loving heart.

From that moment as a child to this very day my philosophy in life has always been one of self-responsibility.

It is not what life brings to you, but what you bring to life.

Each and every day I continue in this quest to discover what I can bring to life.

And if through the hijab I can break down of stereotypes to these 215 Resident Advisers this week then maybe I will have brought something to life.

But I need to remember why I first wore it.

Remember the eternal love that I can never lose.

Remember my gratefulness for this love.

Remember God.


Marium said...

its a battle really..trying to figure out life with the hijab and without it.

you have my utmost respect.

outspokenarab said...

i love you marium.

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