It was several years ago and my younger sister and l were living in an exclusively white neighbourhood down town. ‘There is a Muslim woman living here’ my sister said excitedly.
‘I have never seen a Muslim woman’ l said. ‘Anyway how do you know she is Muslim?’
She is Somali and she wears a hijab my sister said. I have seen her many times. I sat up, this also got me excited, not only was there a Muslima in my neighbourhood, she was also Somalian like us!
I imagined us going over to her apartment and making friends. She would be nice and motherly , my sister said she was mature woman.
We would bond over our deen and our Somaliness. The only three Somalis in Kings Cross.
It was many months later l saw the Muslim woman. She was wearing a black hijab and was fully covered. Yes, another Muslim lived in the neighbourhood. How nice?!
When she got near us, my sister and l said Asalamualeykum to her. The woman looked at us up and down, from my little sister and back to me taking in a good long look at the way we were dressed. She saw we had no hijab, hair exposed, jeans and blouses and decided to do something very unIslamic. She decided not to reply to us.
I always believed that it was polite, even wajib to say Asalamualeykum to a fellow Muslim whether you know them or not. The Hadith says that every time you say Asalamualeykum to a fellow Muslim, Allah gives you a mansion in heaven.
We didn’t know this woman from Eve, she didn’t know us either and l can only assume that she was judging us by the way we were dressed.
We didn’t have our bodied exposed, we weren’t showing cleavage or legs. We were decent just not wearing a hijab.
It is ignorant for Muslims to judge each other on appearance. Just because you are not in a head to toe abaya doesn’t mean you are any less of a Muslim.
It does not by the same token mean that because you are in a full abaya, you are a good Muslim.
We have all heard of the Saudi women who peel off their hi jabs to reveal tight trousers and miniskirts as soon as the flight is about to land in a western country. Are they considered good Muslims because they were wearing abayas when they left Riyadh? Is it not cool to wear an abaya on the streets of New York? Is Islam somethings that is only practiced in Muslim countries.
This brings me to Queen Rania of Jordan. A deeply religious Muslima, who gives thousands to charity and who has admitted to never missing the salaah. Is she a bad Muslima because she is not covered?
I’m not saying we have to stop wearing hijabs. Let us wear hijabs but let us stop judging other Muslimas who choose not to wear one.
The woman in the hijab could be harbouring too many sins and using the Hijab and abaya to hide behind. Whilst the non hijabi Muslima might be pious and God fearing.
As for the Muslima in down town Kings across who chose not to respond to our greeting, she is the loser. At least we wished her Asalamualeykum and we , my sister and l have each gained a mansion in Heaven. I.A.
And Allah knows best.