The Dilemma of a Muslim Girl
Had Inaya really spent the entire day at school without hijab?
“You’ll need a visitor’s pass and a chaperone,” Raymond had said to Inaya as she waited in the school hallway for her parents to finish registering her as a student at the American high school.
At the time, Inaya was wearing hijab, and the black cloth was wrapped securely around her head, and she imagined that her abaya, the large black outer garment that she wore, looked like an oversized dress.
Inaya lifted her eyebrows. “A chaperone?” He laughed lightly. “I know it sounds like a first date, but it’s our school policy for visitors.” Inaya’s cheeks grew warm, and she averted her gaze.
“I’m sorry… I didn’t know. I just…” “Where are you from?”
“I’m sorry?” Inaya glanced up at the student ambassador, a confused expression on her face. Raymond smiled, and the long dimples in his cheeks made Inaya think of the singer Usher.
“I’m not good at judging ethnicities,” he said.
“I’m American,” Inaya said. Did her Muslim clothes make her look foreign?
“Do you want to take a look around the school?” he asked.
Inaya grinned, surprised by how comfortable she felt in the male student’s presence.
“I thought I needed a chaperone for that.”
A smile spread on his face. “I could be your chaperone.”
Inaya was silent as she rode in the back of the car after her parents finished the registration process. She sunk low into her seat until the car was far from the school. She couldn’t shake the feeling of shame right then.
Her mother and stepfather looked like extremists. She couldn’t imagine what Raymond thought of her stepfather’s obvious Arab appearance and large beard—and her mother’s allblack Saudi-style abaya and face veil.
A wave of embarrassment passed through Inaya as she wondered what Raymond must think of her. Ugh. Why did he have to be standing in the hall when her parents walked out of the office?
What Will She Sacrifice for Love?
Unfortunately, the internal struggle faced by the fictional character Inaya in the novel “Muslim Girl” is not uncommon for Muslim youth, especially for those who attend co-ed, predominately non-Muslim schools.
Beyond the Islamophobic sociopolitical contexts in which many of these youth are forced to live, these Muslim youth face the same struggles of any hormonal teen. Girls are attracted to boys. Boys are attracted to girls. And this physical attraction does not discriminate based on one’s ethnicity, color, or even religious affiliation.
Clearly, a natural physical attraction is brewing between Inaya and Raymond, a Muslim girl and a Christian boy. But for Inaya, her struggle goes beyond mere “butterflies” fluttering within. And it even goes beyond the natural insecurity that physical attraction ignites when someone is unsure if the attraction is mutual.
Rather, Inaya’s struggle strikes at the very core of her identity: her spirituality and “Muslim-ness.” Will the boy even find Inaya attractive as a Muslim girl in hijab? This is the question Inaya is essentially asking herself.
Regardless of the answer to this question, Inaya is in a spiritual crisis. If Raymond does in fact find her attractive in hijab, she would be compromising her religious obligations if she responds to his advances. If he does not find her attractive in hijab, she would be compromising her religious obligations if she removes her Islamic garb.
Unfortunately for Inaya, she ultimately decides to remove her hijab to “fit in” and appear more “attractive.”
The Real Dilemma For many Muslim youth who find themselves in predicaments like Inaya’s, they ask themselves the same question that Inaya asked: Will the boy (or girl) like me as a Muslim? To the youth struggling with this situation, their dilemma appears to stem from the answer to this question.
However, they do not realize that their real dilemma is the question itself. Once a Muslim teen reaches the point that he or she is seriously asking himself or herself this question, spiritual crisis almost certainly awaits.
This is because, for the Muslim, the real struggle lies in avoiding the question, not in answering it. While it’s natural to feel attracted to the opposite sex (regardless of a person’s religious affiliation), Islam has placed definite limits on acting on this attraction; and marriage is the only permissible context for actively expressing this attraction, emotionally or intimately.
But in the case of a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man, not even marriage itself solves their dilemma. This is because they are not ever permitted to be married to each other—unless the man accepts Islam.
Nevertheless, in social contexts like American public school, marriage is hardly on the mind of either the boy or girl feeling physical attraction. In fact, it is often part of the “excitement” that no serious commitment is attached to acting on this “innocent” affection, hence the infamous culture of “boyfriends” and “girlfriends.”
In Western cultural contexts, the seemingly innocuous titles of boyfriend and girlfriend actually allude to a commitment to engage in zina (illicit sex) with a specific person on a regular basis.Pages: 1 2