Wednesday, 23 May 2012

May I See Your Hair?

In my last post, I answered a question raised by one of my readers about the donning of the hijab or some other form of head covering.
Growing up in Boston, I was use to seeing both men and women with their heads covered. Men wore hats to work as well as to church or temple, taking them off when they entered the building. Women kept their head gear on.
I remember Catholic women wearing the mantilla, the beautiful lace scrave, so soft. So holy. First communion is usually given at age eight or nine, the age of reason, when the child decides they wish to following the teachings of the church.

I remember going to the First Communion of a friend. All the little girls looking like mini brides. My friend Christina told me the mantilla she wore was handmade by her great-grandmother and passed down from mother to daughter for their first holy Communion since. I remember seeing the various older women wearing the mantilla, the ones will the comb sewn in that raises the lace to look like a crown, going about their day of shopping, stopping to exchange the latest news.
During this time, the Nation of Islam was also growing in Dorchester. How often I would see these women, daughters of Islam going about. A childhood friend of my (who sadly I forgot her name) came from a Muslim home. I still remember the lemon-aide her mother would make. I never saw her hair, because it was always covered. I remember asking, one day, "why can't I see your hair?" She told me that all holy women cover their hair. Like Sarah, Abraham's wife and Mary, the mother of Jesus. I never forgot that.
Years later, it is I that is now asked from time to time why do I cover my hair. Many times, the question comes from women like Rebeca, who are thinking about veiling. Others it is curiously. They find it beautiful, exotic though not for them.
For others, the hijab, prayer cap, snood and veil are anti-woman, just another way for men to oppress woman. To control what we wear. Because they can't control their lustful thoughts, they drape us like store window dummies.
How often Mark and I have visited a church or temple and people move away because they think there's a bomb underneath my shawl. Or some very nice lady comes over and pointing to my snood day, "you know, if you would just accept Jesus, you wouldn't have to wear that."

Many think Mark insisted I cover my hair; he didn't. It was my choice.
A few weeks ago, Mark and I were speaking to a rabbi about visiting his congregation. When asked if there would be a problem with me wearing a scrave, the answer was; "as long as it isn't the Muslim looking ones."
And that is the real issue. I look like a Muslim.
Next post; what does a Muslim look like.

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