- Posted February 9, 2009 by
Washington, District of Columbia
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Do you wear a religious garment?
Muslim with blue eyes
My best friend in college converted to Islam and married an Iranian guy. I happened to have dated an Iranian guy for two and a half years before we met so when we did, we found that we had that unique experience in common as we’re both white American girls. Oddly enough, my boyfriend was not Muslim so I came to study Islam through her. We would go to the Islamic Learning Center in Maryland on Friday nights to partake in Brother Adnon’s discussions on Islam. He is Iraqi but most of the attendees were Iranian, so the discussions were conducted in English.
Before we took the journey from George Mason University in Virginia to Maryland we would put our hijabs (head scarves) on. People did give us double takes. And Muslims would often approach us. Especially those who were not wearing
hijabs. On one occasion I was told that I was a better Muslim than she because of it. Of course, I was a three hour Muslim if you count the total amount of time I spent wearing hijab per week as
my being a Muslim. But on one occasion I did see the police profiling that occurs as I, my friend and another female friend were getting in her husband’s car – we were all wearing hijabs, he
wearing a kufi (the little white cap) - and the cops started to harass us in the parking lot to move our car. I’ve never had a cop come at me in such an immediately aggressive way so I realized
what was going on as my blue eyed white girl exterior usually allows me a softer approach by the police.
While I experienced nothing but acceptance in the Muslim community, the more you go outside of it with this identity, the more you receive scrutiny. In one circumstance we were doing the lunch time prayer outside of the largest mosque in DC, the one on Mass Ave in NW. This was a protest of the leadership so we were on the other side of the fence from the mosque, kneeling in the grass between the sidewalk and the street. And as DC residents strolled by on their lunch breaks, I recall quite clearly a woman shaking her head and muttering as she passed. I think as a white girl with a hijab you attract even more attention in that people think “Why would she
pick that? I mean, if you’re Arab you don’t have a choice, you’re the religion of your country. But why would a white girl pick that?”
And though I did not become a Muslim as I am an atheist (surprise), I always feel a connection to my Muslim sisters and brothers and to anyone who takes on a small part of their experience that a piece of cloth on your head provides. Alhamdullah.