Monday, March 15, 2010

Beauties and The Beast

Last year some time an esteemed international speaker was giving a talk at one of the local Masjid’s in Johannesburg. A friend of mine was given the task of welcoming the ladies who were attending and directing them to where they were supposed to go to listen to the talk. She asked me and another friend to join her as she stood at the entrance of the Masjid, waiting to greet the ladies.

This was a very interesting experience, never before had I seen so many Muslim women wearing niqab (the full face covering) coming together in one place. As the ladies approached, they all greeted and embraced us and then moved on to find a place to sit. It was not the fact that so many Muslim women in Johannesburg actually wear the niqab that struck me, but the fact that all these women were beautifully dressed, and even more beautifully made up with stunning colours of eye-make up to lipstick and sweet smelling perfumes.
 Now, there’s a misunderstanding that Muslim women are not allowed to make themselves look beautiful, but in actual fact this is allowed, just within limits. If a Muslim woman is only associating with and meeting other women then this is allowed, and obviously, this beauty is encouraged within a marital relationship where a woman should beautify herself for her husband.
 As we took our shoes off to enter the Masjid, I looked at my plain black, flat shoes- in relation to all the Cinderella like slippers I saw around me, my shoes looked sad and ugly. There were pencil heels and pointed shoes, sandals with glitter, shoes with flowers and even some with crystals.
 The ladies wore stunning abayas in many different styles and shapes, with fancy sleeves and shiny fabric. Their headscarves were immaculate and tied beautifully as it elevated their natural beauty. Now, I am not going to go on about the description of my sisters because this is not a very good thing either and it might provoke more curiosity about what a woman looks like underneath her veil.

I will tell you this though, I thought about myself; a regular old plain Jane, and I could not help feeling very much like the beast amongst all these beauties!

I guess you never can judge a book by its cover, and just because a Muslim woman covers herself completely, it does not mean that she has given up her femininity or her ability to look beautiful, because one thing is for sure, these women who were completely covered, took more care of themselves and beautified themselves more than many of us ever do, and all of this was within the confines of Islamic law!

So, the next time you look at a woman who is fully covered, perhaps you will remember that she probably knows more about beauty and fashion than you do and I sure do hope that you won’t be inclined to feel sorry for her, and hopefully you won’t remain stuck on the idea that she is not allowed to be beautiful, or that her face covering means an end to her femininity, and finally I think that it would be great if you could look beyond her veil and realize that she is a human being, a woman who has feelings and needs like all women do, and maybe, just maybe you will begin to understand that there is more to her than what she wears on the outside. I don’t know about you, but I can safely say, that day at the Masjid will remain a clear reminder to me, if ever I was to forget this!

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