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, October 02, 2006

What’s my motivation?

I attended a workshop off campus today and sat down to lunch with the other participants, since I did not want to miss out on any shop talk by being absent. The other participants enquired about why I was not eating lunch, and I stated that it was Ramadan. After several moments of conversation about the issue of fasting, when Ramadan had begun, etc. I mentioned that I am not actually Muslim and proceeded to explain what I am attempting to do. Later I got to thinking “Why did I do that?” and I have no real explanation. Was I trying to impress them with the lengths to which I will go to try to be a better teacher and person? Was I uncomfortable with the notion that they believe I am truly Muslim? Did I want them to know the situation so that if I blundered at any time, they would understand why? Do I not feel that I am doing a legitimate job in my attempts to be Muslim, and therefore need to disassociate myself from the “real thing” unlike “pretenders” like myself? As I continue to ponder this unnecessary revelation, I still have no answers.

On another subject, I find that I am becoming increasingly comfortable wearing hijab. In the beginning, it took me longer to get ready in the morning as I have to pull my hair back and secure it, apply hairspray (I had to dig out an old and mostly unused can) in order to dissuade the wisps of hair near my temple from straying loose, then arrange the hijab, and secure it. Now it takes me no longer than my generally minimalist morning preparations used to take me. Additionally, I find that when I get home and take it off (usually in the bathroom in order to leave the pins where I can find them in the morning) and see myself in the mirror, I look weird without it. Time will tell if this remains true come the end of Ramadan. I have found that I sometimes have trouble hearing with it on, though, since several folds of fabric often cover my ears; and I miss driving with the windows down and enjoying the wind blowing through my hair.

I went to the mosque near school on Sunday with one of my students for Qur’an class. The several hour long lecture with question and answer times was focused on about half a dozen ayah (loosely but not entirely accurately translated as verses, the lecturer told us) dealt with the importance of free will when accepting Allah, choosing the right and not the wrong path, as well as honoring your parents. It was very interesting, and I intend to return next week. One woman there was a recent convert to Islam, and after this announcement was made, many women got up and gave her hugs and kisses to welcome her to the faith; so it seems that the openness and welcoming of the female members of the faith is broader than my experience alone. I say female because the three teachers I spoke with at school and who have been so supportive are female. There is one male teacher who is Muslim that I am aware of, but for some reason, I never thought to approach him with my idea. Anyway, that evening I went to the home of that same student and was again made to feel very welcome by her entire family – mother, father, two sisters, brother, brother-in-law, and niece and nephew. Upon my departure, I was given another prayer rug and more books and pamphlets on Islam as well as enough leftovers for breakfast and dinner today, with more for tomorrow. My list of thank you notes continues to grow, but I am very appreciative and pleased that it is so.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting website.
As far as the attention etc. you are getting from Muslims is concerned, you may discover that since Muslims believe that Islam is the final and only religion acceptable to Allah, anyone showing interest in it do so for their own salvation and thus must be lauded and helped in their path to the Greatest truth and most important decision of their life and after life:) May Allah show you the Right Path. Amen.

11:15 PM  

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