04 May 2014
Hello, world! I'm back! And, I'm just going to pretend that this blog hasn't been on hiatus for about four months even after I said I'd be blogging more. Oh, well. So, where were we? *winks*
I'm supposed to be finishing an academic paper at the moment, but I had to take a break from the academic stuff. So, I thought of dusting off this blog and writing about any random non-academic thing that comes to mind. And, what comes to mind right now is a story I have wanted to share in this blog for quite some time now. I think now is a good time to finally get on it. I do hope we all learn from it.
One day, in Christian-dominated Metro Manila, a Muslim lady got on a jeepney. The other passengers in the jeepney knew instantly that she was Muslim because of the hijab (veil) she had on. Some of the passengers ignored her and some gave her the usual glare that, by now, she'd become so used to. Not that she could blame them, news on TV and on print kept using the word Muslim to refer to some terrorists in the South so, as a result, some people in the place she's in would have some sort of automatic antagonism towards Muslims. Somehow, she understood, or at least tried to understand, these people. Whenever she felt discriminated because of her religion, she'd always choose to take the high road and try to keep in mind that she knew better, that she should understand where they were coming from. She always tried to show through her words and actions that she was a good person, that she was a good Muslim, and that Muslims were good people. That was something her father always tried to inculcate in her and her siblings. People may be harsh sometimes, just stay good. Always be a good Muslim.
Anyway, back in the jeepney, a woman cradling a sick-looking toddler got on. The only space left was right beside the Muslim lady. The woman with the baby hesitated but, seeing that she didn't really have a choice, she went on to sit beside the Muslim lady, who was actually smiling at the baby. The mother glared at the Muslim lady and immediately turned to face the opposite way. A few minutes into the ride, rain started to fall in heavy drops. The weather earlier could not have given anyone a hint that a heavy downpour was coming. No one in the jeepney had an umbrella or a jacket. In fact, the only person who had anything to cover her head with was the Muslim lady.
The Muslim lady replied, "Mas kailangan po ng bata." (The child needs it more.)
This story teaches us to look beyond the physical appearance of a person or beyond what a person is wearing or even beyond a person's religious affiliation. After all, aren't we all just the same? We all judge, yes, but we all feel, we all suffer, we all understand, we all know. We are all human. And, that's what matters more than anything. More than one's clothes, more than one's religion.
We, Muslim women, consider the hijab as something close to sacred and it is one of the things that gives us our identity, one of the things that define us. Some say, or claim, that nothing in this world could make them remove their hijab because it is part and parcel of being a good Muslim woman. But, really, at the end of the day, isn't the hijab just a piece of clothing? Isn't it a tad too superficial for someone to define her faith or even her whole being by a piece of clothing? Yes, as Muslim women, we have to wear our veils, head-scarves and whatnot (I don't need to go into details as to why), but in a situation similar to that in the story above, I believe that what the lady did was right by any standard. Her wearing a hijab showed her as a good Muslim, but giving it up for someone who needs it more made her a better Muslim.
Humanity. That's what truly matters. Compassion for others. That is being human. And, being a good human being is what being a good Muslim truly is. My father always said so. :-)