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

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Return to Earth

I just want to start off saying that I know the issues I wrote about in my last post are not the basis for the Muslim faith, or even at the center (except for the idea of equality of the sexes). They are, however, things that I have been pondering during this past week and previously as well.

On that note, I am taking a step back from the philosophical aspect of my experience and into the realm of personal experience.

People keep confusing me with another teacher at my school – the Principal, other teachers, students – because we are both fair skinned and wearing hijab (and they are accustomed to seeing her do so). The first time I saw some of my students this week they mistook me for a substitute. Some seem very interested in my endeavor, but one put it all into perspective for me: he wanted to know if I was still going to sell them breakfast even though I was fasting. For some it seems to make no difference at all; which is good, I guess, since that means I am no different whether I am wearing hijab or not, and I am the same person whether my religion is the same or different than theirs. That makes me really happy. Several female students I had never met came by to say that they thought what I was doing was really cool (they identified themselves as Muslim), and that they had heard about it from a friend.

I have gotten better at donning my hijab, and no longer end up with a mark on my chin at the end of the day the way I did on Monday. However, fasting is getting harder. Monday was really easy, I hardly felt hungry at all, but today I am hungrier than yesterday, and yesterday I was hungrier than the day before. I hope this plateaus, or I am going to be in trouble!

I have been invited to the home of one of my students (the President of the MSA) for dinner on Sunday. We are meeting at school in the morning to go to a lecture at the mosque nearby on the Principles of Islam. I am honored at the invitation in their home, but am a little nervous that I will be expected to know more than I do about the faith and the associated customs. Additionally, this student asked me today if I could convert. I told her that I am not saying I will never convert, but that it was a really serious decision, and one that I would not take lightly and have to think about for a long time before reaching a conclusion. I also told her that my goal was not conversion when I began this process; I am simply seeking greater understanding.


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