People often do not see the person under the veil, all they can see is the cloth that covers you.
Ever since veiling since my conversion to Islam I have noticed the difference in the way people deal with me. People assume that I am what many people call a “foreigner” or “FOB” (Fresh Off the Boat). When I speak many people say, “Your English is very good, you have no accent at all.” Ah well of course I don’t, I am a Canadian with an Irish and Scottish background and my family has been in Canada for many generations. I understand that stereotypes come into play, but just because I am Muslim and dress in Islamic attire, it does not mean I am an Arab, a Middle Easterner, from Pakistan or Iran.
I just wish that people would see me for who I am. Do you remember the old school playground saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Well isn’t that far from the truth. I do not know how many times that I have been called a terrorist, ninja, foreigner, been told to get out of the country because of my choice of dress and religion, even been told that it is not Halloween. I have even had an egg thrown at me once, actually just days of me donning the hijab and becoming Muslim, the egg splattered all over my new coat. In the West, there is rarely a day that passes by without having a negative or racist comment, a rude or eye rolling look, or starring, just because of my choice of dress. I have cried numerous times because of some people’s behaviour. The funny thing is that if I chose to be atheist, no one would care, if I chose to wear all black Gothic-style clothing, no one would care, or if I chose to dye my hair bright pink or blue, no one would care, but if I dress in the Islamic attire, all of a sudden people care.
I know and acknowledge all of the very kind and sweet people in the West, who tell me to be brave and to ignore all of the haters. Truly, there is so much more love in this world than hate. It just depends on how you wish to see it. But there are way too many people who willingly chose to hate and judge you by your looks, your gender, your sexual orientation, your ethnicity, the colour of your skin, or your socio-economic status, rather than who you are as a person.
So why do people just look at you, judge you, make crude remarks or looks, make assumptions of your character and beliefs, without ever speaking to you or dealing with you? How fair is that? Don’t they realize that under my veil is a woman with a heart, with feelings, who cries just as they do, who hurts just as they hurt, who bleeds red just as they do.
Life is way too short to spend it in hating someone or something. Treat others as you wish to be treated, its a very simple principle but if practiced it would certainly make this world a much better place for you and me.
As Mother Theresa once said, “If you spend all your time judging others, you will have no time to love them.”