Me: Thank you for agreeing to do this (on Gmail chat of all places)!
Muslimah: Lol. Not a problem. Well actually, I'm not gonna lie. It's kind of a problem.
Muslimah: I don't really know. I don't like to talk about it. Believe me, it's an uncomfortable subject.
Muslimah: Wearing the hijab is a wonderful thing. When people see you on the street, it feels so great to get that huge smile and the "salaam" from another hijabi, who recognizes you as a fellow Muslim. But I don't wear it. And I think people make the assumption that I'm a bad Muslim, or that I'm ashamed of Islam. I'm "whitewashed."
Me: Okay. If it's so great, why don't you wear it?
Muslimah: I have no religious objection to it. I think it's great! But it makes me feel uncomfortable. I feel suffocated and it gets painful and tiring throughout the day. It's not because I don't like it, or because I'm embarrassed of it. It's like wearing socks to bed - some people like it, and some people are up all night if their feet are covered.
Plus, I didn't come from a family that pushed it on us. I spent many years in Dubai, where girls would go out in groups and live life without a hijab. And yet - every time the azaan went on, they donned it and prayed five times a day. They were close to God, they just didn't cover their heads. It was natural - it was totally normal.
Me: So, how is it at U of T?
Muslimah: Gaaahhh. It's kind of stupid. Remember how you had that one reader way long ago who went off on the MSA? Ya, sometimes I feel like that. Sometimes I get such dirty looks and such judgment from some people. And when I put on the scarf to pray during the day - they scoff at me. Some people have even explicitly asked me why I even bother to pray if I have no modesty. It's so hypocritical.
Me: Hypocritical? In what way?
Muslimah: In my opinion, wearing a scarf is a teensy, tiny part of being a Muslim. And yet, some of these girls use it as an excuse - a crutch. They don't bother praying throughout the day, God's name doesn't come to their lips easily, and they wear such tight clothes sometimes.
It's like they've proved to the world that they are Muslims, so they don't need to actually walk the talk. I see it as a weakness. I feel like I challenge myself, I challenge my niyat every day because I don't have a visible symbol of my religiosity.
I have to prove to God and to myself that I'm a Muslim - not the lady next door. And sometimes its an epic fail. It's not easy, it's always a personal jihad. But I don't make excuses.
Me: One thing is for sure. When you wear a scarf, bad situations avoid you. You'll never find yourself in a pub, or in a position where people are presenting you with non-religious things of temptation.
Muslimah: So what? That just means I have to work harder to find good friends who will never do that to me. And I have to work harder to avoid temptation and to make sure people know that I'm a Muslim from my words and my actions, not just my head.
Me: Has this made it difficult for you to get involved with other Muslims on campus?
Muslimah: Definitely. Don't get me wrong - there are a lot of great Muslim people on campus. But sometimes, as a group, they develop a mob mentality. They preach and judge and make claims they don't fully understand. It's disheartening, and funnily enough, its bad for my imaan to be too close to them. I know how this all sounds, and I know how terrible it seems.
Me: I can see why you'd want to remain anonymous about it. Sinner!
Muslimah: LOL. Gee, thanks.
Me: Just kidding. Thanks for sharing =). I'm sure our readers will have a lot to talk about.
Muslimah: I just hope I don't get crucified in the comments...
Me: LOL. We'll have to see...