Recently I was having one of those days.
You know the ones when you’re really feelin’ yourself.
Outfit was on point, weather was nice and I had a fly cheetah print hijab on. Not only that but it was Friday so I was in a really good mood.
There was nothing more I could ask for. My red car glistened in the sun as I drove down Stony Island Avenue. In my Ice Cube voice “It was a good day.”
I was thankful and blessed.
You couldn’t tell a sista nothin’…
I was on the south side of Chicago and I decided to go to jummah nearby. I rolled into a mosque I was somewhat familiar with and soaked in the sermon. After jummah, I gave the greeting to the familiar faces I saw put my shoes on and made my way out.
I was walking back to my car. I crossed the street and headed towards the open parking lot. First thing I noticed was that my car was blocked in by two vehicles. It looked like it would be a game of Tetris trying to get out of that lot. I thanked Allah under my breath for having a small car. I was strategically parked at the end all the way in the corner.
I pulled my keys out of my purse as the gravel crunched under my shoes. As I opened my door I heard someone say “Asaalamu alaikum sister.”
I looked over and realized there was a brother sitting in the car next to where I was parked. Like myself he was patiently waiting in the post-jummah traffic jam. He poked his head out of the window and smiled.
I returned the greeting and kindly smiled back before closing my door.
It was mad hot outside. I got in my car, started the engine and rolled down the windows.
“I like your car.” He said. I couldn’t tell if he was looking at my car or at me because of his huge sunglasses. One thing though, I could tell he was slightly nervous by the almost unnoticeable quiver in his voice.
“Thanks, its a good car. Very reliable” I said shyly.
I could hear the reggae playing in his car. He turned the music down.
“I’ve never seen you here before. So you come to this mosque often?” He asked.
I knew where this was going but I thought let me not shut the brotha down right away. He had the guts to initiate conversation and he did so after jummah for that matter! Plus, it would be kinda awkward ignoring him as I was stuck in the lot. A sista couldn’t run even if she wanted to.
Plus you already know the deal…
Muslim men say Muslim women (specifically hijabis) are hard to talk to. Muslim women say Muslim men never attempt to initiate conversation.
“Naw, not really. I was just in the area and decided to stop by. The khutbahs (sermon) always seems to be relevant here.” I said.
I looked in my rear view mirror to see if there was any progress. The cars were still empty. I guess folks were trying to get their Friday blessings in and putting extra sunnah prayers in.
I could see him in my peripheral. His body language indicated he wanted to say more. During the eleven minute hiatus he told me about his family and profession.
As folks headed back to their cars and the sound of engines echoed in the parking lot he said this, “Sister, I’m really just looking for a wife. I know its forward of me but I have to start somewhere. No better place to meet a sister than at the masjid after jummah, right?” This came out of his mouth with such sincerity.
The brother had a point.
After much thought I realized I wasn’t mad at him. He was simply doing what he needed to do in order to find a partner. He made his intentions perfectly clear.
No disrespect involved.
I know y’all ain’t gonna admit it but we’ve all scoped the scene out after jummah, Eid prayer and at lectures.
You see, the way some men approach women makes us feel violated at times. Most women have felt like that at some point or another.
I didn’t feel violated or grossed out after our conversation ended. My dignity and self-respect was still intact.
Then I thought about how a couple of years ago I would have totally written this brotha off. I probably would have flipped my cheetah hijab, said “astagfirullah” under my breath, given him an eye roll (maybe with a neck roll for added emphasis) and zoomed off in my mini red car. Getting older, wiser (hopefully!), and experienced has honestly allowed me to see the “human” in people.
Many Muslims like to view themselves as the ideal Muslim (at least in public) but no one realizes that this is something we all aspire to become. We all want to reach a level of religious perfection and utter obedience.
But what does being a “good” Muslim really mean? Why do we deny ourselves the right to emotionally express our human needs and then equate that with religiosity?
It just doesn’t make sense to me. Acknowledge your basic needs as the human that Allah created you to be.
It’s not a weakness and at that moment I realized that,
I could not fault him.
I could not ridicule him.
I could only empathize with him.