The Infinite Suffering of the Flying Nun

A moral pseudo-parable about religious attire in the United States of America.

Hebah said she has been kicked off planes by nervous flight attendants and shouted down in a Wal-Mart by angry shoppers who called her a terrorist. Her sister was threatened by a stranger in a picnic area who claimed he had killed a woman in Afghanistan “who looked just like” her. When she joined the Curves gym near her home in Edgewood, N.M., some members threatened to quit. “They said Islamists were taking over,” Ms. Ahmed said.

Her choice to become so identifiably Muslim even rattled her parents, immigrants from Egypt.

“I was more surprised than anything,” said her father, Mohamed Ahmed, who lives in Houston with her mother, Mervat Ahmed. He said he raised his daughters with a deep sense of pride about their Muslim background, but nevertheless did not expect them to wear a hijab, a head scarf, let alone a niqab.

For the flurry of non-descript clothing options for Muslim women, I found a Wiki.  That’s right.  A Wiki on Women’s clothing for Muslims.  I see that as a small victory of Wiki over Wacky.  Hi Yo!  Also, here’s a visual guide by the BBC.

Seriously though, no one should have to be ostracized because of their religious attire.  Especially in the insensitive way that Americans are renowned for.

The New York Times piece quoted above is a great feature story following a true American Muslim, born in Tennessee and raised in blue jeans that decided to adopt traditional Muslim clothing.  It’s filled with incidents of true Americanisms, like this one:

WHILE driving on Interstate 40, heading home, Ms. Ahmed wedged her cellphone between her khimar and ear, then joked, “Look, a hands-free device.” Sarah rolled her eyes.

The ultimate goal is to try to humanize, and perhaps secularize, who these niqabis are.  At the end of the day, the toll comes down to religious kookery.

“I do this because I want to be closer to God, I want to please him and I want to live a modest lifestyle,” said Ms. Ahmed, who asked that her appearance without a veil not be described. “I want to be tested in that way. The niqab is a constant reminder to do the right thing. It’s God-consciousness in my face.”


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