Warning for long intro, but this will explain the reason behind this story:
Don't judge a book by its cover. That is one of the most used tag-lines of people in any situation when they are faced with stereotyping of judgmental egoistic humans brought about by prejudice. But do people really take this to the heart?
So many kinds of unjust treatment and strains within the community are due to the fact that people fail to accept differences and seem to unfairly associate mishaps of some groups of people to their entire race, religion, nation, or culture. For example, if a Black man is seen doing a crime, ethnocentric non-Blacks would conclude that all Blacks must be dangerous and they must not even be worth mingling with. If a Chinese woman was known to have aborted a baby by flushing him or her down the toilet bowl, then, other nations would perceive Chinese people as harsh and inhumane.
Who hasn't heard of the terror brought by ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? I think everyone shivers in fear when they are mentioned. There is also the Boko Haram, the Al Quaeda, and so much more. These are only a few examples of terror groups that have tainted the name of many innocent Muslims all over the world. Yes, there is no doubt that these horrific terrorists have done a lot of chaos in this world and they also claim to represent Islam, and even call themselves Muslims. They even use Allah's (their God's) name to justify their brutal killings.
I am not Muslim and I only know a handful of Muslims in our community. However, I was able to find friendship, love and peace from this handful of Muslims that I have met in my life. This goes to show that many of these kind, gentle Muslims, who fast every Ramadan, who pray five times a day, who dress modestly and who have been doing good in society, are being ostracized and blamed for the evils that they weren't even responsible of. They were wrongly associated with these terrorists, who in fact, in my point of view, do not even represent the true meaning of the word "Islam", which is "peace".
Yes, this is my lengthiest introduction to a story to date, but I have decided to write this story to give support to people who are being bullied because of their race, gender, or physical disabilities. No one has the right to put down another person because he is gay, Muslim, Christian, Black, White, or any of those labels. Ever wonder why when a random guy killed someone, in the papers, they would say, "Guy kills…", but if the killer happens to be Muslim, they would say, "Muslim kills…"? This is prejudice in today's society that we must fight.
This story is about a Christian girl who tried wearing "hijab" (the Muslim veil) for a week just to show support to her Muslim friend who was bullied throughout her high school days and also to put herself in every veiling woman's shoes to be able to understand them more.
(I myself have done this a few times every World Hijab Day, that's every Feb. 1st of each year. I had a wonderful and liberating experience when I veiled myself. ^_^ I mostly got positive feedback from others. I was actually inspired to do this because of a kind Muslim lady whom I have met in college. I am proudly Christian, but I believe in the one universal religion which is love.)
PS: This is a fictional work and anything resembling real life is coincidental.
I Got Myself Covered
A Fiction Story By: Miyano Ran
Chapter 1 – My Best Friend Yalina and Scarves
Hi, I'm Abby; I'm a nineteen year old sophomore in the Crinkles College of Science. I came from Archer's High and there I have made so many great memories and I had lots of cool friends. I have this friend named Yalina Amir; I met her in my junior year and we have been great friends ever since. She's a Muslim Arab; I'm Christian Filipino, but that didn't stop us from being really close friends. We are both really devout in our respective religions but we respect each other's beliefs. Yalina says her name means "soft and gentle", and well, yeah she really is a sweetheart, but once you get to know her, she isn't really quiet and boring like what others say. In fact she's really cheerful and so talkative!
I haven't had much time to see her ever since college started because she moved to Pennsylvania with her whole family. She had her first year of college there and my other friends, Allie, Lauren, Paily, Belle and I really missed her. But then, I recently got a call from Yalina and she said that she'll be moving back to Cali this week and she'll be transferring to my college! I'm really excited to see her again but then I started to worry if "those things" still happened to her and I hoped that they won't, now that she's back.
"Those things" I meant were the horrible times in high school when she was bullied and ridiculed for wearing her "hijab". Hijab is the veil she wears on her head every time she's out in public or when boys are around. It's what the Muslims are known to wear. She wears different colours and shades of her hijab everyday but I know that her most favourite colours are yellow and pink. She is really girly. She always wears long sleeves and long skirts to school. Occasionally, when we have camping trips, she wears loose jeans. She doesn't like wearing tight clothes because she doesn't like to show her shapely figure. It's only us girls who have seen her without her hijab during sleepovers and she is really pretty and she has a great figure, too! But she doesn't like flaunting it. I really like how she is so modest. I noticed that some of my clothes are too short or tight so I changed them to more modest ones.
I wish other people other than my friends and I would see how lovely her modesty is. Because other kids back in high school used to bully her for her hijab. Those times really made us sad. I remembered how Derek, the basketball player heartthrob, tried to pull off her hijab when she passed by the court.
He and his two other friends cornered her to the wall and roughly pulled off her hijab. I remembered how we just left her for a second because we went to buy some ice cream and when we came back, we saw how those guys were pulling the scarf off her head while she was trying to pull it back. She couldn't stop crying then. She was so scared and she was shivering all over. Those dudes even tried to pull off her jacket, too! We saw how the pins of her hijab fell off one by one and her silky black hair and neck started to show. We ran fast towards her and my friends pushed Derek and his friends away while I embraced her, rubbing her back and hushing her to assure her she was safe with us. Her fingers were still shaking a lot as she tried to pick up the pins that have fallen to the ground. She tried wrapping her scarf around her head again in between tears.
"Yalina has a really beautiful angelic face! We think it's a waste if she hides herself under her scarf and her clothes!" Derek explained while still trying to approach Yalina who was crying and afraid.
"We just wanted to see her hair! And those clothes don't even show her body." The other guy chirped.
"We won't hurt her, but I think she shouldn't wear these kinds of clothes. Is she a nun? We're trying to liberate her by removing her scarf!" Another guy added.
"Don't you see, she's afraid?!" I recalled shouting at them while tears flowed down my eyes. "You guys are filthy! You just want to see her beauty! She's wearing her scarf because she is hiding her beauty from guys like you! She doesn't feel safe when men look at her with lust. So, can you be good Christians and lower your gaze?! Be ashamed of yourselves!"
I remembered how Derek and his other friends sighed and surrendered. They nodded and said a quick apology before running off. I still recall how my friends and I hugged Yalina one by one and how we brought her to the girl's bathroom to fix her scarf because it was really falling off.
When we got to the girl's bathroom, worse things happened. I recalled how Mandy, and her mean girls' clique laughed at her when they saw her messy scarf and her teary eyes. Mandy slapped Yalina on the cheek which shocked all of us! Paily, Lauren, Allie, Belle and I defended her from those mean girls. They said horrible things like she was flirting with Derek and how she was "pretending to be conservative" but she is "actually a whore". They called her many other horrible names like calling her a terrorist, and an abomination. They even said that she was probably so ugly that's why she had to hide under so much clothing. One girl said that maybe she is oppressed by her dad or her brother who forced her to wear the scarf. Yalina was just silent but she just kept crying and that day was awful for all of us. We had to skip next period because Yalina couldn't stop crying. Mandy was a total hypocrite because she and her friends show a lot of skin to attract Derek.
Being with Yalina for two years of my high school life has made me learn a lot about her hijab. She isn't forced by her parents to wear the hijab but they suggest her to wear it, like how parents can't force kids to stay away from premarital sex and drinking but give advice anyways because it is what they think is for their own good. These days, girls wear the shortest of shorts and revealing tops and sometimes, they are disrespected or they get in trouble because they are attracting the wrong kind of guys. Her family is really nice and they have taught her wonderful values that I think other girls will learn a lot from. Before meeting Yalina, I thought Muslim families were strict and scary, but when I actually met them, they are really friendly and hospitable.
Yalina has told me that she feels protected from lustful eyes when she wears her hijab. She feels like it is her shield from predators that might hurt her. She says that God has made a woman beautiful not for others to see her as an object but for her to be loved and respected. When she wears her loose clothes and her scarf, she is judged by her character, her talents, her good deeds and her intelligence, and not her body. She won't be attracting guys who would say, "Hey I like her cuz' she is so hot." because those kinds of guys who are so superficial can actually replace you real quick if another "hotter" girl comes along. With her modest clothes, she'll be attracting guys who would say, "Hey, I like her because she is sweet, tender and kind." And those are the kind of guys who will last.
Yalina has had a lot of wonderful memories with us during high school but she also had an equal number of pain and sadness every time she is bullied for her hijab. But, you know what impresses me? She is such a strong girl. She doesn't let peer pressure or others cloud her judgment of what she thinks is right and I think that's really admirable of her. Other girls show a lot of their body to feel "cool" and to be liked by boys. But, Yalina doesn't need any of that. She has very high self-confidence and self-worth; she doesn't need to flaunt her beauty, she covers up everything and doesn't feel insecure at all because she knows she's wonderfully made by God. She doesn't need others to affirm her beauty. She knows it.
Anyways, Yalina's coming back this week. I looked at my calendar and realized that she'll be here the day after tomorrow! Oh, I love to see her again! But I'm really worried because there aren't much veiling women in our campus, actually almost none, and she might be bullied again. Then, when I was on Facebook, I saw the "World Hijab Day" page. Apparently, it's a day when any girl, even non-Muslims, can try veiling to express their support to their Muslim friends or just experience what it's like covering up for a day. It's held every 1st of February, and well, now's September, and the new semester has just begun. In fact there are a few Christian and Jewish girls who veil themselves…and other religions, too. I just realized that Mama Mary wore veils, too!
I suddenly had this light bulb light up in my head and I thought of a crazy amazing idea. It's not February 1st, well, who cares? I wanna try wearing a scarf just like Yalina! I have known her for so long but until now I have never tried wearing a "hijab". I instantly got so excited. I'll wear it when she's here so that she won't have to face bullies alone. I wanted to put myself in her shoes. But then, I think a day isn't enough. What if I wore hijab for a week? Hey, why not?! I will totally try it.
I told my parents and siblings about it and surprisingly, they were really cool about the idea. I love my family, they are so open-minded! Of course, everyone in our family loves Yalina and Yalina and her family is always part of our prayers. Mom even gave me some cash for my scarf shopping! Yalina's coming to our house the day after tomorrow and I can't wait to see her reaction when she sees me wearing hijab. I have seen her fix her scarf countless times but I have never tried it on myself. I felt kinda nervous yet I was thrilled. Since I had a budget, I think I will go buy three scarves for myself…I will just have to wash them and reuse until the week is over.
I went to the mall and headed towards the department store. I asked the nice saleslady where they sell their pashmina scarves. She showed me the way and I saw a lot of scarves hanging around in beautiful designs and in various vibrant colours. I touched the cloth and noticed how thick it was. I think this would be too warm to wear, most especially since I sweat easily. I wanted to wear hijab but I didn't like it to be uncomfortable. Then, I remembered how Yalina mentioned that she personally didn't like pashmina as hijab because they were too thick. Her hijabs weren't this thick. I think she mentioned that the cloths she uses are made of chiffon?
I asked the saleslady again where they had their thin chiffon scarves. After walking a few steps, there they were! Oh my God they were beautiful! I touched the cloth gently and felt the silkiness and softness of the scarf. And, it was also cool to the touch! I spent a whole thirty minutes just choosing three scarves. They were all beautiful and if I had the money, I would buy everything! Kidding! But seriously though, the scarves had a feminine feel to it and they were so cute. I had a really hard time choosing but in the end, I ended up buying a baby blue coloured one, a white one with gold touches on the sides, and one with a floral design. I purchased them happily and I couldn't wait for Yalina to come! In the meantime, I watched Youtube videos on Hijab Tutorials and practiced.
Author's notes: So, what do you guys think of my unique new story? Feel free to comment and I hope you enjoyed this! Next chapter will hopefully come soon when I'm not lazy.