Niqab Solidarity

Umm Zaid on Sunni Sister: Protest

American Flag BurkaWith all of the recent negative attention on niqab, I have been considering ways to show my solidarity with our sisters that wear niqab. My experience with niqaabis has been mostly pleasant although there have been some bumps in the road. Niqabis are individuals just like everyone else but their clothing can evoke a lot of rhetoric and negative emotions from Muslims and non-Muslims.

Some Experiences with Niqabis:

I saw my first niqabi walking in the mall in Virginia shortly after I moved from New York in 2001. This was just a few days after 9/11. I remember being fascinated by her dress. She was wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt and a half-face niqab and she was confidently walking next to a guy who I assumed was her husband. I remember trying to look at her once or twice surreptitiously so that she didn’t think I was just baldly staring at her.

Some of the sisters I am closest to wear niqab or used to wear niqab.

A nice niqabi sister from Saudi helped teach me my alif, baa, taa in the Nurani Qaida.

A nice niqabi sister from Egypt volunteered to teach the New Muslim class I used to attend.

Some niqabis, I know were insulted by some guy passing by while a group of friends were having breakfast at a lake. And the hijabis sprang to their defense and confronted the guy.

Several sisters and I were shopping for winter coats and a non-Muslim guy came up to us (or more specifically to the niqabi sister) and asked her why she “wore that thing.” She had a pleasant conversation with him and he said that he would like his daughters to become more modest and observe hijab.

On Eid, I was waiting in line with another sister and her husband for quite a while at a Muslim shop, when a niqabi just cut in front of all of us and set her items on the counter with no shame whatsoever.

At the courthouse in Alexandria, where far too many of us have spent enough time there over the past few years to be on a first name basis with some of the staff, a lead prosecutor in one of the paintball trials said wryly during a recess to one of his companions, “Hey, check out that burka” motioning to a sister who was wearing niqab. Side Note: The security guards at the federal courthouse in Alexandria will ask sisters to lift up the niqab to verify your identity matches you id card.

A niqabi sister was the one who said to a group of sisters that the best thing about her new school was that there were “no black people”.

A niqabi sister and a former niqabi sister were among the first ones to give me eid gifts.

Another niqabi sister bought me gifts for no discernible reason and gave me money to pay the tolls on my way back from Canada.

Several niqabi sisters have been very hospitable to me and invited me to their homes for meals shortly after we met for the first time.

I am very conscious of the negative stares and comments from others when I am with other hijabis and more especially when I am with niqabis. I feel very protective of my niqabi sisters when we are out in public and sometimes feel like a tiger ready to pounce if someone tries to harm them.

The amount of discussion about wearing niqab in the West does not make sense considering that the percentage of Muslims that wear it is probably less than 2% and that is being generous. While the clothing of western niqabis may stand out, they are such a small minority that even if they all stopped wearing it and there is no reason why they should, all of the problems of dialogue, integration, assimilation, immigration, and tolerance would still exist.

I promise not to judge people by their clothing. I promise to defend the right of women to decide for themselves how they wish to dress. I promise to not take any positive or negative experiences I have had with sisters dressed a certain way to extrapolate and make generalizations about them or others with similar fashion choices. I promise to not sit idly by while people try to force you to uncover or cover to fit their perceptions of modesty.

Never Again Jack Straw

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Author: Ify Okoye

Muslim woman, RN, & rebel with a cause.

5 thoughts on “Niqab Solidarity”

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences with sisters who wear niqab; very interesting stories. For all the freedom talk, some people cannot allow the freedom for others to dress as they please. I guess freedom is for some but not all.

  2. Asalamu alaykum wa Rahmatullah,

    Koonj, in sha Allah I’ll send you an email about it because finding a good computer match depends on the individual and how they intend to use it. But all of the Mac laptops and some of the desktops are pretty lightweight. If you are really tech saavy I would recommend the Macbook or Macbook Pro line because they run on Intel processors and include the most innovative Mac technology and features. The next Mac operating system called Leopard should be out in 2007 so you may want to wait until then or you could always upgrade to the new system when it comes out, which is not at all difficult.

    If you don’t mind not having the latest technology but still something very good and functional then the iBook and PowerBook lines are still available at reduced prices and if you don’t mind having a pre-owned computer, Apple has some deals on their refurbished products page. I am still using my powerbook which is about 2 years old but I am saving up for a new or preferably refurbished Macbook Pro and to upgrade my desktop to the 24inch iMac.

    And when looking at the pricing, the Macbook compares quite well with some other computer manufacturers prices. And as for the Macbook Pro line, if one takes into consideration all of the extra built-in standard features, I think it is actually cheaper than most PC’s. And if you are still involved in education somehow, you can get an extra educational discount from Apple. Well, maybe I won’t write that email after all. But if you have more questions just let me know.

  3. Asalamu alaykum wa Rahmatullah M. Shahin,

    SubhanAllah, it’s amazing how the same so-called liberal voices are some of the ones who are harshest in their calls to limit the freedom of Muslim women to decide what they want to wear. And it is now, the so-called conservatives that “hate our freedoms” who are pushing to defend freedoms that the liberals claim to uphold.

    Congrats M. on Age of Jahiliyah, I saw you guys on the WordPress featured blogs list or was in the fastest growing blogs list? Well, it was one of those and you were in the top 40 mashaAllah.

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