I think I should stop apologizing for the things that I write. There will always be someone out there who is offended by something and not to sound callous, but I can’t concern myself with how everyone else feels. That courtesy is rarely returned, anyway. It’s ironic how the people who have the most unapologetic, insensitive things to say are often people you would least expect it from.
I used to think of Muslim Sisterhood as an unbreakable bond. Back in the day when I wore rose-colored glasses, that is. I loved to spot another hijabi when I was out in public and even if we didn’t know each other, we had a special connection. I remember inviting random sisters over to my house for lunch after just meeting them in a five minute conversation in the checkout line at the grocery store. Looking back, I am sure someone thought I was as nutty as squirrel poop, but I met some pretty amazing friends that way.
I received a cartoon picture recently from a woman who calls herself my sister in Islam. It looked like a comic strip with two frames. One frame had a picture of a woman in a hijab with a long skirt with a long sleeved shirt. The other frame had a picture of a woman dressed from head to toe in a black abaya, hijab and niqab. Black gloves covered her hands. Underneath the second frame, the caption read:”This is proper hijab.” So now I feel all warm and fuzzy inside because I look nothing at all like the woman dressed in black, and apparently my hijab is insufficient. Is this what I am being told, or am I looking too far into it? Why am I getting my panties in a bunch over a stupid cartoon? And who is she to judge me?
I don’t think I ever saw such division amongst Muslims until I moved from small town Buffalo where every one knows each other, to Orlando where we don’t all know each other. I guess in a place where the community (and I use that term loosely) is so big, it is hard not to feel the need to form a clique. Everyone wants to belong somewhere. I wanted it desperately when I first moved here. I left a close-knit sisterhood behind and was anxious to find it in Florida. Thankfully, I have discovered that such a thing does exist here, but I did a lot of stumbling in the process. As a woman who worked outside the home, sent my children to public school, and didn’t attend the masjid every Friday (despite the fact that Jumah is not wajib for women), I was sort of an outcast. I would hear secondhand about the gathering at sister so and so’s house last week and oh how much fun everyone had, and I my heart ached to be a part of all the excitement. I did my best to make sure my kids never found out about the sleepovers they didn’t get invited to. The worst was when we went to the masjid for Eid and goodie bags were being handed out. Obviously children get excited about candy in any form, so they surrounded the box of goodie bags anxiously. Although the bags were handed out in the musallah for everyone to see, it was made clear that these bags were only intended for the children from one masjid in particular. And although it was the only masjid I had ever attended here, my children were no longer considered” members”.
Needless to say, I only bother going to the Masjid when it is deemed absolutely necessary (meaning eid). There will always be the exchange of superficial greetings and polite small talk (very small talk). We will always leave each other with the reminder not to be strangers but deep down, we are all more comfortable that way. I have just come to accept that I won’t fit into every circle, and I am okay with that now.