In the heart of the west the question of religious fulfillment comes to all, but what does one achieve when dancing to “I’m sexy and I know it” with a head covering hijab?
The car came to a halt in front of a small building; an enormous board hung on the roof, emblazoned with the letters, ‘ISCS’. As I was informed, this was the only mosque in Colorado Springs. ‘Islamic Society of Colorado Springs’ was my presumed abbreviation of ISCS. Feeling a twinge of exhilaration at visiting the mosque for the first time in America, I stepped out of the car. My host mom was equally overjoyed to introduce herself to the rudiments of Islamic culture and of course, test the legitimacy of my words about Islam, particularly its key characteristic of ‘purity by heart’.
The place was not swarming with people; however, a myriad of teenage girls had clustered at a distance. No wonder, I was impressed by their attire. They were wearing hijab as they very elegantly await the mosque’s door to open. This led me to contemplation. Indeed, it requires a great deal of steadiness to practice your faith in US, with innumerable distractions at hand. I gaped at my own dress: jeans, shirt and a shawl to cover my body. Unquestionably not a ‘hijab’, nonetheless, an appropriate outfit.
I, along with my host mom, joined the small gathering.
“Assalamualaikum” One of the petite girls greeted me. I was taken aback and apparently, my face betrayed the bewilderment as the girl passed aggravated looks.
“Waalaikumussalam” I responded with a smile.
Later that day, I came to know that a majority of those girls were from Pakistan and had been residing in America since past 10 years or more. As I started a conversation, I was even more captivated at the thought of upholding Islamic values in USA. A new wave of guilt coursed through me as I had been in the states since four months and yet, was already so rapt by the lifestyle. In fact, I had failed to practice Islam properly.
Anyhow, we made our way inside the building. An imperceptible aura of tranquility wafted in the room; the finely laid ground mattresses and the adorned chairs added to the beauty. Shortly, the older members, along with my host mom, headed towards another room, leaving the teenagers behind. The next thing I knew, this was so not Islam. I was grateful my host mom was not with me.
The girls put off their hijab, revealing skin-tight, cleavage-exposing shirts. While one of the teenage girls was wearing a lucid blouse, the other had worn a mini skirt, exposing her extensive, ‘shiny’ legs. As if this was not enough of a bombshell, they started conversing with each other, passing a string of profanities, later playing ‘I am sexy and I know it’ on their iPods and belly dancing on the beat. Rage? Embarrassment? Shame? Innumerable feelings flooded my entire being and my mind, at a speed of light, began to reflect upon the disrespect towards the mosque and Islam, in general.
In the same mosque, I met a newly converted Muslim lady. She was an American and had embraced Islam two years back. Her clothing shared a similarity to mine, expect that it was accompanied by a head scarf. Not surprisingly, I felt a pang of chagrin at realizing that, in comparison to my own self, she was better informed about Islam. Not only did she possess a greater knowledge but in fact, she was not carrying a two-faced persona with regard to it. In other words, she didn’t want to act ‘Islamic’ to show the world.
This event directs me towards consideration and finally, some conclusions. Firstly, Islam is not confined to your appearance but also one’s intentions by heart. What’s the point of feigning your ‘religious side’ when inside, you are like a rotten apple? Irony! Isn’t it uproarious how a person prays five times a day, yet indulge himself in all kinds of unseemly activities? How is this not hypocrisy? What’s more, for most of us, including me, Islam is an inherent part of our lives. Only the few blessed amongst us understand the true principle and significance behind it. On the contrary, Muslims, who study and later convert to Islam, are more likely to follow its teachings. I bet more than half of our population does not even know the meaning of the word ‘Islam’. Lastly, mosques shouldn’t be built at every other place, especially if the holy purpose of Islam is not being taught. Simply ignominy!
By the way, ‘I am sexy and I know it.’ Like seriously? They were not even sexy.
Post by: Faryal Hasan