Tonight I was asked by a 50 odd year old Muslim male why I’m “so closed up”, referring to the manner in which I was dressed. Initially, I thought maybe he’s just surprised as the last time he saw me was when I was years younger, more careless, and “less closed” (lol). But then, I saw his expression; a mix of surprise and utter distaste. You know that look when you taste something you don’t like? That automatic expression? He didn’t even try hiding it.
I looked at him, smiled and said “Yes Uncle, it’s been a few years hey? I’ve been dressing like this for a while now.” And that’s it.
Now, as I sit in my home, I think of the things I could have said. You know how we do this. Lol. The could’ves, would’ves, should’ves. And what comes to mind is the following :
“Firstly, Uncle, I’m covering my head, not my brain. I can understand, with all the misrepresentation and misguidance from media how the Western world may think I’m oppressed, but you Uncle? You know me, since I was a child. You know I’ve always been someone who does what I want, does what feels right to me. You know I have the craziest imagination and I love to laugh. You know I become a kid in the rain and love to watch the stars. You know I can be very competitive and have a great love for working with people.
Uncle, you know I aim to do my best in all I do. So why, why is it so hard to understand that I’m trying to do my best in pleasing our Creator? Why do you make it harder, when it’s so easy to be happy for me? I do not expect, nor do I need your approval or appreciation. But I do expect your respect. I do expect your understanding, which is far beyond my years, of the wisdom behind Allah’s command of women covering up.
Now Uncle, I’d like to let you in on a little secret. DO YOU EVEN UNDERSTAND HOW LEKKER IT IS TO NEVER HAVE A BAD HAIR DAY?!! Nah, kidding, that’s not it. What I want to tell you is, since dressing this way, I cannot leave my home without wanting to be better, for me, for others, and for my Allah. This adds to the quality of the society I live in, it does not detract from it. I cannot even comprehend how He chose me, a worthless slave, to represent my Islam in how I dress. He chose me, Uncle! Do you understand this honour? It brings me to tears! I know I’m not worthy, but I’m trying. So please Uncle, don’t make it harder on those who are trying.
Next time you see me or any other female, however we may be dressed, try smiling politely and maybe even a nod of encouragement. And Uncle, if you can’t do that, please be quiet and keep a neutral expression. Women have enough to deal with, like becoming awesome at everything we put our minds to.
Lastly Uncle, you may never understand this, but these pieces of cloth covering my head and hiding the shape of my body, I LOVE it. It makes me feel free. It makes me happy. My covering makes me feel closer to Allah. And that should be enough for you; it is enough for me.”
Of course, all of this would be said respectfully, with a polite smile. Perhaps next time, God willing!