I was thinking about this today. When I walk by someone on the street or as I stand waiting for my son’s gymnastics lesson to finish and see all the other parents waiting. These people I have never met and may never know, but with whom I share a few moments of time, our paths momentarily crossing. In one glance, I see their hair, their clothing, their posture, whatever, and right away I create a framework of assumptions. I classify them in my mind without realizing that I am doing it. Mostly it’s a blur, I don’t even pay attention to it anymore, all wrapped up in my own worries and thoughts. But sometimes, when I come upon an individual that sits outside my general assumptions, I take note.
Curiosity requires another glance, further examination. How many ways my second glance could be misconstrued? The individual could feel measured and thus analyzed become defensive and rude. Or do as I do, immediately detailing my many personal flaws and wondering which fault has elicited a second glance from a stranger. Often, I am surprised and gladdened by a third unexpected reaction, the individual acknowledges the glance with an open, heart-felt smile. The pull of that genuine smile flows into my heart and, involuntarily, I find myself smiling, too. For a moment, everything is good.
This all means something to me, because, literally I am that individual that sits outside of the common. I was born in America and I feel like America is mine, not only because I was born here, but because I have lived here for so long. I have always walked on America’s soil, fully confident that I belong here. I have never been a conformist, but neither have I demanded conformity from others. I love all creation and step through my world assuming the best of everyone I meet. My most powerful gift is a readiness to share my smile, a sincere wish for the happiness of all human beings, and an overwhelming drive to exercise intellect and spirit.
I am so comfortable with my journey that I falter, baffled when I rub up against open hostility, particularly a hostility inspired not by my actions, nor by my words, but merely as a result of my attire. You see, I am a Muslim and I have chosen to wear a head covering. As a young girl, I always felt drawn to beloved Mary, the mother of Jesus. Her purity and sweetness protected beneath flowing robes. Her head covering represented the peak of piety. For me to accept the head covering felt entirely natural and an extension of the deep love and respect I always felt for her. I find it ironic that a society that claims to love her, fails to see the beauty of her attire.
I do understand though. There are some who allege to be Muslim who have by their actions tainted the reflection of my selected faith. But they are not me and I am not them. I would hope to be judged by my own actions and interactions. I am a mother, a daughter, an aunt, a sister, a friend. I want the best for my children and all children of this world. Regardless of faith, we are all human beings.