Muslim for a Month

I teach Social Studies in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area at a very diverse high school. In an attempt to better understand a significant portion of the student population, I have undertaken the idea to become "Muslim for a Month"; hence the title for this blog.

Location: Fairfax County, VA, United States

Monday, September 25, 2006

Praying the wrong direction, a hoodie to the rescue, and hijab slippage…

On Sunday morning, I faced the wrong direction for my prayers. I was visiting a friend out of town and thought that I had put everything I needed for prayer in the hallway, so that I could get up and not disturb anyone. A robe, the prayer rug, the book I was using for the prayers and instructions. However, I forgot my compass. So I was standing in the hallway, trying to remember which direction North had been when last I looked at the compass, thought I knew which way was East toward Mecca, and went through the steps of the Fajr prayers. When I discovered later that I was wrong (and not a little wrong), part of me felt terrible because I know that an important part of the prayer is to face Mecca, but part of me felt that I was trying really hard, and surely Allah would understand my well intentioned fumblings.

This morning, I was reading a different instruction book on Salāh, and found out that I was supposed to have my head covered during prayer. Putting on a hijab is still a very time consuming activity for me, and I needed to pray before 5:44am, which was swiftly approaching. Then, hopeful inspiration! I grabbed a red hooded sweatshirt (insert mental clip of Adam Sandler singing his song of the same name) from the closet, donned that (with hood up) over my pajamas, and went about my morning prayers. I spoke with one of my “resource-friends” this morning who indicated that she also uses this at times for prayer. This instruction book that a friend gave me last night (The Beginner’s Book of Salāh) is much easier to understand, and gives clear instructions on body position (standing, hands clasped, bowing, prostrating, etc.) along with the text that goes with it (in Arabic, in English, and in phonetics so that I can attempt to pronounce the Arabic).

I hope that I will master the donning of the hijab before my month is over. Even if I feel like I have fastened it tightly at my throat/chin, it will still slide forward on my forehead. I tried to counter this today with a safety pin attaching the scarf to a barrette that holds my hair back; it is an improvement in that it reduces the slippage, but not entirely. In addition to my struggles with the proper positioning of the hijab, I felt vain when I first tried them on. As I mentioned previously, I was given a gift of four scarves to wear as hijab. On Friday afternoon, I went home to try them on and practice fastening them. I immediately decided that I liked two of the four better for two reasons: they are larger, so I can tie the ends and drape them around the back of my neck, and they look prettier on me. The other two make me look even paler than normal. Even as I was triaging the scarves in this way, I was feeling that I was not being “Muslim enough”. I understand that the idea of the hijab is modesty, and to “cover your beauty” as one of my resource-friends put it. I felt hypocritical deciding which was the hijab that made me feel prettier than the others, when that feels like it should be the opposite of my goal.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:33 PM  
Blogger bushraaa said...

Wow, I'm really enjoying reading about your experiences. But don't worry about wanting to wear the hijabs that make you look/ feel prettier. We do it all the time, because modesty and beauty compliment each other perfectly :)

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so excited to read your blog. It's great! But why trying to be a Muslim only for a Month?
Re: Hijab. When putting on some synthetic material hijab, they may slip off onto your face. So what I do with mine is to use a bandanna (bandana I think it's the right spelling) under it. If you have any triangular shape of cotton-material, reasonable big to be tied on your head, then all you have to do is to slip on your hijab and tied the pin as needed.
To make it even more easier, they now sell some hijab called Al-Amira,all in one piece. Very practical and great for prayers.
Hope this helps

2:54 PM  

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