It’s a hot summers day and I’m dressed in my long cloak and headscarf, happily minding my own business, walking in the shopping mall, and then suddenly someone comes up to me and says; “Aren’t you feeling hot in those clothes!” Okay then! So I’m actually wondering what I have to do with them at all and why they’re coming up to me asking ridiculous and irrelevant questions, and would they like it if I went up to them and asked them something stupid about the way they’re dressed, I mean really, what if I went up to someone dressed skimpily and asked them; “Aren’t you feeling naked in those clothes?” They would wonder what’s wrong with me right, and they would probably give me some story about how they’re free to dress how they want to and how their clothes have nothing to do with me. So, how come they think they have a right to come to me and ask me about how I’m dressed? Nevertheless, I look at them, and smile, because deep down I know the truth about how good my dressing makes me feel, and I say, “no, I am not getting hot”, as politely as I can, because I actually have no need to be defensive and I know that if I respond in a negative way then this will just give them fuel to go on about how Muslim women are sad and oppressed, forced to wear long, hot clothes, even in the boiling heat.
Now, if they had actually really bothered to hear my side of the story before rushing off, then I would be able to tell them that actually I am the one better off, because when someone is covered, they are less exposed to the UV- rays from the sun, which we know could be very harmful. Also, I would be able to explain to them that because my clothing is lose fitting and not tight, my body actually does not keep the heat in and create more heat, and thus I am much cooler. Then finally I would be able to urge them to try dressing the way I do, just for a short while, so that they can experience what it feels like themselves and then next time they won’t have to ask questions that will be regarded as stupid. My sister likes to say that she would really like to say to the next person who asks that question that; “the hellfire is far hotter than I will ever feel in these clothes”. The opportunity has not yet arisen for her to do this yet, or for me to really explain things the way they really are.
Of course, we hardly ever get a chance to explain all this to people, because they look at us, make their comment, or ask their question without really truly wanting an answer and then they’re off again, without even bothering to take the time to understand. Why do they do this? I’m not completely sure, but I do know that if they had actually understood things better, they would not be making such statements or asking such questions.
Then there’s the point that’s far more important than even all the above ‘explanations’. All this seems futile and weak in relation to what it really means to dress in the manner Muslim women do.
You see, they’ve lost the true meaning of things, because dressing in a certain manner is not just about the physical. And since this is all that it has been reduced to, it’s no wonder people end up asking questions like this. Would anyone go up to a nun for instance and ask her if she is getting hot in her clothes which by the way very closely resembles that of a Muslim woman’s dress. People will most probably not do this, because it’s taken for granted that her dress is for spiritual and religious reasons. So why can’t they understand the same thing about Muslim women?
Our dress is not about whether we’re getting too hot, or whether it’s stifling or even whether it’s covering our beauty (many people make the comment that God made you beautiful, so why should you hide it). The way we dress is about submission to the will of our Creator, it is about our faith! When people realize that it has nothing to do with the physical and everything to do with the spiritual then they will understand that even if we are getting hot, or even if we did find our clothes uncomfortable, it makes us happy to think that our discomfort is a sacrifice that will please our Lord.
So whether we get hot or cold, whether we feel comfortable or uncomfortable, whether we love the clothes we wear or hate it, all this really should not matter at all, because IT IS NOT ABOUT THE CLOTHES AT ALL!
Once people realize this, then they will begin to open up their minds and understand, and perhaps then Muslim women won’t have to deal with people’s ridiculous questions and even more ridiculous comments. I don’t know what you think, but I have to admit that hearing people make such silly comments actually makes for good laughs, and of course it gives people like me something to write about!
Image from: www.clipartof.com/details/clipart/20876.html