The Middle Path

This reminds me of a Saturday morning last summer. It was one of those pleasantly sunny yet cool Saturday mornings where we would go to the farmer’s market to get fresh organic local produce. In this city, as far as I am aware, I’m the only niqabi. So whenever I step out of the house, I immediately become a walking object of interest. Some people don’t even try to hide the crudeness of staring at me. I’ve learned to ignore it all, though. Whenever I could catch someone’s friendly eyes, I would smile. They usually smile back. Before I put on the niqab, this was my last and lingering concern that needed an answer from a veteran niqabi. So I asked a friend who wears it,

“How do I smile at people?”

“They can see you smile through your eyes,” she replied.

I only needed that assurance. I put it on.

That Saturday morning however, I was not the only object of interest, much to my amusement. As we walked past the stalls, weaving through people pushing their dogs in strollers, I suddenly spotted a group of nuns ahead of us. They were gathered around a musician playing his instruments.

Believe it or not, it looked like a scene from The Sound of Music! People probably half expected the Von Trapp family to make an appearance nearby. The nuns were doing a lively jig to the music, their habit swaying along with their movements. It was an amusing sight to behold in the midst of a friendly bustling farmer’s market. They were about five of them, wearing the full habit, some with shorter skirts that showed their ankles.

I immediately became one of those who stared. I couldn’t help feeling happy though, for some odd reason. Finally I was not the only object of interest in the farmer’s market. Now people had to choose who to look at; the Moslem lady with her face covered, or the five dancing nuns. Since this city is predominantly Catholic, I suppose they’re pretty used to it, though that was the first time I’ve seen nuns here.I didn’t expect them to entertain the population at the farmer’s market though. So lively and cheery were they that even when leaving the musician to his music, they danced their way through the crowd. They did bring a cheerful atmosphere though, because people were smiling and laughing along, including me.

On a more serious note, the veil is one of the many things Christians and Muslims have in common. The only difference lie in the way Muslim women are perceived with regards to it. Oppressed? I can’t say I totally blame people for saying this, as some Muslim men have abused the Quran and used it as they wished, which are not necessarily correct Islamically. So, it’s understandable. May Allah bring justice to my sisters and give us all taufeeq to help bring justice to them in the best way we can. Ameen.

Islam is a way of life, not just a religion that is practiced separately from the worldly life. A covered Muslim woman devotes herself to God by living life the way God instructs. If man says he doesn’t want his life dictated by someone else, he has to think of how he came into existence. The fact that he is breathing, living and even able to speak, think, eat is proof of God’s existence. How can one then not live the way God wants him to? A nun devotes her life to God and forsakes the worldly life. Quran, the final revelation, confirming what was true in the previous scriptures and correcting what has been changed by human hands in the previous scriptures, comes with the final legislation for mankind. It is like a manual for how to live life in this earthly world. It is a means of finding guidance so one can reap the benefits of living on this earth and the eternal  life in Paradise. In this final legislation, Allah emphasizes moderation and balance. One is to devote herself to Him, but also live a normal life; get married, have children, be a part of the society. The devotion to Him lies in worshipping Him in many different forms; specific legislated rituals and general good deeds with the correct and conscious intentions. Having marital relations becomes a form of worship. Having children becomes a form of worship. All general acts becomes a form of worship if consciously done in obedience to Him, meaning they are allowed and do not harm anyone. Obedience to Him itself is devotion. For a woman, covering oneself is devotion because He has instructed her to. So, as she obeys Him, she is performing a form of worship. She goes about her daily life while being devoted to God. Devotion to God and worldly life becomes one and in that is moderation that comes with Islam.

Image taken from Facebook’s Teaching of the DayIn the Light of Quran and Hadith‘s Hijab Photo Album.

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