Monday, October 11, 2010

Islam/Muslim Spotting - 3 random things from last week

It's weird. I was with my trainer on Wednesday and she was commenting on how much nicer I looked in clothes that fit and weren't...and I supplied the word 'tents'. We giggled, and then I was telling her about my abaya which I use as a robe and how it really is kind of a tent and I have no shape at all in it. So of course she wanted to know why I had a robe like that, which led to the explanation of what an abaya is, etc. And then she was telling me how bad she felt for 'those women' and how oppressed they are. *headdesk*

In between sweating and grunting as I lifted weights, etc. I tried to explain that not all Muslim women are oppressed any more than all Western women are 'free'. Men can be assholes no matter what part of the world they live in, and societal oppression comes in many forms. But her entire impression of Muslims comes from the media (which just *loves* them, don't you know!) and her one daughter's room mate who is dating a 'Muslim' man. I say 'Muslim' in quotes because though he claims to be Muslim, his actions prove otherwise. He's apparently terribly nasty to her, bordering on abusive, and from what's been described to be he's a Muslim in name only. So that was fun, I spent 45 minutes off and on explaining Islam (to the best of my ability) and defending Muslims as they are not all douchebags anymore than any other religious group. No group is a monolith, okay? There are good and bad people contained under any 'label'.

And on another note:

I watch NCIS:LA. Look, I like Chris O'Donnell, okay? I've forgiven him for the horror that was the Schumacher Batman movies and their psychedelic mess, and I still like him. Got it? Anyway. This last episode involved a Muslim man who was under suspicion for murder. Two of the investigators go to his house to try and find a murder weapon and *whoop* all of a sudden his wife comes from a back room. First, do these people not check the house for occupants before they start poking through drawers? If she'd been a bad guy she could have killed them or escaped or something. Dummies. But that's not the point. When she came out she was wearing hijab. The worlds *weirdest* hijab - she honestly looked more like a nun than anything else. It was all black and white - a white dress shirt with like a black over shirt, and the head scarf wasn't wrapped around her front but was left to hang loose flaring over her shoulders, etc. so it left her throat bare. Odd. But whatever.

The thing that bugged me was the female investigator called one of her team mates who was questioning the husband and informed him that the man was definitely 'devout' and some other words I don't recall, because he had a Qur'an, prayer rugs, and his wife wore hijab. The last one about made me spit out my drink, actually. *He* is devout because *she* wears hijab. I mean, I get that there are some men out there who force (through insistence or whatever, not necessarily abuse or anything) their wives to wear hijab and it's my understanding that they're in the wrong according to Islam. But she just assumed and implied by her words that the wife was merely an extension of the husbands religion and will. That's a very large assumption to make. Having *just* run into the women, *jump* 'she's only wearing it because he wants her to.' No proof, no nothing. Assumption. I found that very irritating.

And, my third random thing: I was at Wal-Mart early in the week picking up some stuff with my mother and we were in the automotive section to pick up the car (we'd left it to get an oil change while we shopped.) And in walks this lovely older woman in a bright red hijab/abaya (it wasn't actually an abaya but I don't know what to call it. It was obviously on over her clothes, like an abaya but it only covered down to her knees - kind of like a large khimar, but she was also wearing a matching scarf for her head/chest, so it wasn't just a really big khimar but something else) set. It had some small pattern on it that I couldn't quite make out, but she was lovely and very happy looking! She was probably grandma age, so her 70s? But a very spry little lady - she was outpacing the younger man who was with her (I'm assuming he was either a younger son or maybe an older grandson). Very cute! (The grandma, not the guy.) And I found myself grinning like a loon at her. :) If she saw me she probably thought I was a little nuts, but whatever. The sight of hijabis in their 'natural habitat' still makes me irrationally happy.


  1. I would think maybe what they were going for with the NCIS thing is that they assumed they were both devout, because you don't often see a situation where religion is incredibly important to one person and not to their spouse. I would hope. Or maybe they're just not that bright or not that good at research. Imagining a writers' meeting...

    "What do Muslim women wear?"
    "I dunno, those black tent things?"
    "No, but we don't want to stereotype. I mean over here. What do they wear here?"
    " a nun costume maybe?"
    "Oh, that makes sense! Let's do that."

    I do the same thing when I see Muslim women in stores. :D I somehow still feel this weird sort of solidarity like "Oh I'm not weird here!" ...And then I remember I don't even wear hijab anymore, so these poor women are probably wondering why this crazy girl is grinning at them even more than they did when I dressed like them. Oops. It is cool and makes me happy, though. :)

  2. LOL you are too funny.

    I wonder if they wrote the NCIS ep like that because that is what most people would say, as Sanil pointed out. And yeah the costumer did not do his/her research very well. I don't know any hijabi that dresses like that!

    Maybe the lady had the dress style shalwar Kameez on? There are some that appear like abaya but have pants and matching scarf.

    I too have to stop myself from yelling out to hijabis. I got really excited over finding the local mosque and my roommate thought I was nuts cause its not like Im going to go...but its nice to see Muslims. Makes me feel at home.

  3. I saw a hijabi while hiking at Stone Mtn. this weekend! I also get excited when I see them.

    I love Sanil's writers' meeting dialogue! :)

  4. sanil,

    You're probably right. Dammit. There I go jumping to conclusions again.

    Though I do love your imaginary writers' discussion. I'm certain that there're a lot of shows where similar conversations have happened.

    I don't know why it is, but I just love seeing hijabis! I don't cover any more, and still I see a hijabi and I want to glomp them. Good to know it's not just me though. :)

  5. LK,

    Yeah, sanil's probably right. Damn her and her rationalness! :p

    I wish I could find a screencap of this hijab. It was just weird. When she first popped out around the corner I really thought, 'hey, what's a nun doing there?'

    Hmmm...maybe. I've never seen anything quite like it, and I did sort of poke around on the net to try and find what it's called, but no luck. She was wearing a skirt or maybe a dress under it, but the long part that went to her knees and the hijab were definitely a set.

    Isn't it weird? I still have the urge to go glomp them and tell them 'HI' and stuff. I loved hijab long before I started thinking about religion, so I guess that's just never going to go away...

    I've never actually made it into the mosque here. Or even onto their property. :(

  6. Susanne,

    That's so funny! What is it about the elusive hijabi that makes us all go nuts?

    Sanil's dialogue is funny, awesome, and totally believable. :)


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