Because of… THAT…


After a not-so-pleasant encounter in a store, thoughts of Islam – it’s beauty and its practice and the place in our lives – flowed.

While on vacation in Jordan some months ago, I walked by a mall store and a gray with pink and blue polka dots hoodie caught my eye. I was pretty impressed, so I told my sister to go in with me. Heading straight for the hoodie, I picked it up looked at the material, and tried to find my size. For some reason, their sizes were a bit strange, but it was okay. I tried on a medium, and it was a nice fit, but a bit tight for wearing outside with hijab. So I asked the clerk who works at the store for a large. He looked me up and down, and having obviously assessed what size I should need, said, “Well maybe it’s because of -” and he threw a disgusted look at my outfit “- that abaya.”

Shocked. Confused. Annoyed. Angry. Everything you could possibly feel just rose up in my heart. How could he say that! I was wearing a hoodie when I walked in, and it was perfectly fine, it really didn’t have to do with my abaya.

My sister and I, our mouths wide open, turned around. I had such mixed feelings. What should I say? Maybe it’s not because of my abaya, maybe it’s because you don’t understand? It certainly has nothing to do with the abaya, it’s obviously from the sizes, and the fact that its winter, people wear a couple layers? I decided not to fight, and be calm instead. I answered him in English, unconscious of what I said. Until now I can’t remember exactly, and all I remember saying was that I wouldn’t ever buy from this place.

To me, that was the biggest insult possible. I’ve been living in Canada for quite some time, wearing my abaya and having a hoodie obsession. No one ever made such a comment to me. People actually love my abaya. My friends at school would ask me how I wore it and admire the embroidery on the sleeves. And they understood the reason why I wore it. How come non-Muslims ask and reason as to why I choose to wear it, and respect my thoughts… but Muslims, in a Muslim country, think I’m just too religious?

Subhan Allah, you see so many sides of people. So many opinions and thoughts. The day before I went to the mall, I had been on an abaya spree, and the lady was so impressed at the fact that we could practice Islam so freely and lovingly in “Amreeka.” She said she admired that fact and loved that about me. I was happy, alhamduliah, knowing yes, it can be hard, but I love it and it helps me try to increase my iman.

I thought to myself, as I remembered this, that maybe it’s not the salesman’s fault. I forgave him for the comment, and pray that Allah guides this man.  Ignorance is such a illness, and it’s spreading so rapidly. Even Muslims living in the Muslim world can’t seem to grasp the idea of Islam, and the beauty of it. I am seen as an outcast sometimes because, well, God forbid, there’s no music on my iPod and my closet has ten abayas and various hoodies.

A lot of people ask me in Jordan: How can you practice Islam? It’s really a foreign idea to them. They’re so used to the mentality of just fulfilling the teenage desire, then growing up and getting married… and then they can start to pray. People seem to be so insecure, rebellion to the max. It makes me want to cry at how sad some people can be. Lifeless. It scares me though, people growing up so spoiled and confused. Living just for people and not for the akhira. You begin to feel so scared for the next generation, and especially for your people. How come they haven’t figured out life yet? They know, oh so much, their schools teach and preach Islam all the time. Some of them are hufaadh of the Quran. But really do they get it?

It’s a thought that comes to mind, that we need to remember Islam is a way of life. It’s a full package. We judge too fast sometimes. May Allah help our Muslim ummah wake up. We get too caught up in this dunya, that sometimes we forget our purpose.

I’m so thankful to Allah first, and then to my family and community. I’ve had the blessing of attending seminars, and Islamic events, of seeing the true light of Islam, and man do I love it. The problem with some people in Muslim countries is the lack of true knowledge, and more importantly, the lack of confidence. They have such an inferiority complex. You meet such amazing people, yet they’re so confused. When you tell them about how women in Canada wear niqaabs and jilbabs, or how brothers lower their gaze, it puzzles them, at how Muslims are practicing in the West.

I realized on that day in the store with the polka dot hoodie, the beauty of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wasallam’s influence. The companions had the best of personalities because they had a leader, a role model, something we lack now. When I sit with my family, my cousins, I see their beautiful personalities, but there is something missing. I don’t have it in me to preach and talk and talk, and sometimes that can push them away. But I try with simple actions to show them the best life you can live, revolving around Islam. It’s the simple things we do that can truly affect a person.

I ask Allah to grant our Ummah guidance, and to bless us with the best manners in actions and speech.