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When Muslims Pull Fellow Muslims Away from Religion

The Enemy Within

Read part two

Maya was a convert to Islam.  It had taken her a great deal of courage to start wearing a modest Islamic wardrobe, including a headscarf.

She was the only one in her family and circle of friends who dressed that way.

It made her feel like an outsider almost everywhere she went.

It had felt awkward to show up to work with a headscarf and to answer the questions of dozens of co-workers and clients.

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And nowadays, strangers on the street — who had always ignored her before — frequently stared at her with hostility or made rude comments.

When Muslims Pull Fellow Muslims Away from Religion - About Islam

Nevertheless, Maya persevered.  She truly wanted to please her Creator and was convinced that hijab was a necessary part of her deen.

She came to accept that most non-Muslims would not understand or support her, but she was counting on the encouragement and guidance of her new Muslim sisters.

Maya was shocked, therefore, when it was two Muslim sisters who managed to shake her confidence more than anyone else.

She had removed her hijab at a ladies-only event, and the following conversation ensued:

Maya, you look so much younger without your hijab!” exclaimed one Muslim sister.

Yes, you look beautiful!” added another. “It’s a shame you hide all that thick, wavy hair under a scarf!”

The baggy clothes you wear make you look at least ten years older,” asserted the first sister, in a confiding whisper.

You’re still young…and you hope to get married someday, right?

Something a little more form-fitting would be much more flattering,” advised the second.  “And perhaps a bit of makeup to brighten your features.”

Maya could hardly believe what she was hearing.  Here was a born-Muslim woman who knew and understood Islamic rules, and yet they were encouraging her to dress less modestly?!

When Muslims Pull Fellow Muslims Away from Religion - About Islam

It was not enough that they chose not to cover themselves, but clearly they were also on a crusade to convert other sisters to their opinion.  Maya had never expected that.

Although she was not very vain, Maya could feel her self-confidence evaporating after that encounter.

Her goal had been to dress like a believer, not an unattractive old maid! She began to question how she looked and what she wore more than ever before since her conversion.

Days after that ladies-only event, she found herself scrutinizing her wardrobe and looking critically in the mirror, seeing a tired old woman instead of a young, fervent believer.

How would she ever find a husband if she looked dowdy? She began to resent her loose clothing and to lament the “imprisonment” of her beautiful hair and the plainness of her unadorned face.

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About Laura El Alam
For the past decade, Laura El Alam has been a regular contributor to numerous Islamic publications. Her articles have been published in SISTERS Magazine, Al Jumuah, About Islam, and Muslim Matters. Her Facebook Page,  The Common Sense Convert, offers advice, support, and education for Muslim women, particularly new converts.