TIME: Muslims in America

Really beautiful collection.

And beautiful article:

Friday, Apr. 04, 2008

Being American — and Muslim

It was evening rush hour in New York City. 42nd St. was packed, and I was hoping I would make the bus. His voice came out of the crowd.

“Take that rag off!”

Huh?

In my four months of working in New York, that was a first. Actually, that was a first in the seven years since I started wearing a hijab. A lot of people turned to look at me as he shouted those words. I don’t know exactly what I was feeling — some mixture of anger and embarrassment — but I knew I wanted to stop and explain to this man the significance of what he dismissed as a “rag.” He didn’t understand the one thing I cherished most, the thing that I took so much care in making sure I did right — my religion.

It’s second nature to me now, but in the beginning, learning how to put on my hijab was a challenge. I taught myself how to tuck my hair in neatly, where to fasten the safety pin, and what material would best stay put. It is now the thing that people notice first when they see me. As a 23-year-old Muslim woman, I can’t imagine walking out of my house without it.

The explanations for wearing the hijab often start with modesty. But modesty, like religiosity, is relative. Who am I to say that I am more modest than someone else just because I cover my hair? I cover because God commanded it in the Qur’an. Wearing the hijab is first and foremost an act of worship and obedience; after that, it serves to check my modesty.

Read the rest.

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