Saturday, July 10, 2010

Beyond the Hijab

“….People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7b
Peter noticed that six year old Hawa was wearing a hijab. He asked the mother, “She’s become a little Muslim girl now?” The mother smiled and said, “Sometimes she wears it.” The surprising thing is that the mother confesses to follow Christ and lives here in the West. Was the family turning back to Islam?

I was counselling Susan, a distressed single mom, who was struggling with her 8 year old daughter, Rashida. Although Susan was divorced from her Somali Muslim ex-husband he insisted that Rashida be raised a Muslim and wear a hijab. I asked Susan if she thought she would ‘lose’ Rashida to any possibility of being influenced for Christ because she now wore the hijab? She did. Rashida might seem lost and out of reach from Susan’s Christian influence but she wasn’t lost to Jesus.

Two year old Samira sat on my lap as her mother fed her. I had never seen such a young child wear a hijab before. It can seem like wearing the hijab signifies ‘the beginning of the end’ as far as guessing which direction a person will go.

Some of my Muslim friends came to Canada having never worn the hijab. Suddenly I meet them transformed into conservative looking Muslim women. It can be quite a shock. Like with Maryam. She was experiencing difficulties and not wanting bad luck to happen began wearing the hijab, believing it would somehow keep her safe. I thought, oh no, her moving forward towards Christ is now over…But that didn’t prove true. I was having Bible studies with one nominal Muslim woman when she shared how her Muslim neighbors were exerting great pressure on her to become a real Muslim and show her national identity by wearing a hijab. I thought, oh no, Bible studies will now be all over…. Not true. An Afghan woman, newly arrived in Canada, enjoying her freedom from being forced to wear hijab, complained that a Muslim woman was selling scarves at her ESL school, putting pressure on her to wear one and condemning her that she wasn’t a good Muslim(or true Afghan). Farzana wanted more than a hijab. Praise God! For some insights on how to dialogue with Muslim women about the hijab check out the subject ‘Hair’ in Conversation Ideas listed in this blog.

I’m tired of all the talk and books written about the hijab. It’s as if we let it define what is going on inside the Muslim woman or girl’s soul and we make assumptions and conclusions. Well, I guess she’s become a strong Muslim – our influence is over. God looks beyond the hijab so why shouldn’t I? For sure, the hijab makes some pretty strong statements but it doesn’t determine whether a woman is ‘lost or found’. We need to look beyond the hijab. We need to look at the soul and address soul issues that are of eternal difference. Wearing a hijab doesn’t make a person lost to Christ – just maybe to us, if we let it.

Dear heavenly Father, what joy to know that You look beyond the hijab and see a Muslim woman’s soul. Help me to do the same. In Jesus name, Amen.