Monday, May 3, 2010

Hijabi Monologues

We recently had a Hijabi Monologues performance at my school and it was pretty awesome. If you haven't heard of HM it's basically a play wherein monologues are performed about Muslim women who wore the hijab. They are all true stories but the actresses are not necessarily Muslim, and they are not necessarily the ones whom the stories happened to.

At first when a close friend of mine told me about HM and how we should bring it to our school I was a bit hesitant. We are both part of the MSA so it would be sponsored by us, and I was concerned whether the content would be "Islam-friendly" or not. Early on in one of the pre-organizational meetings I learned that one of the monologues contained swear-words and another was about a teenage girl who had an illicit intimate relationship with a guy, became pregnant, and after struggling eventually removed her hijab. "These are bad representations of Islam, why should we be showing this side of Muslims to non-Muslims..to Muslims...to the world?" I thought to myself.

I voiced my concerns and it took me a while to wrap my head around this but I realized that Hijabi Monologues is indeed not a 'Dawa (outreach) Event' or an 'Islamic Lecture.' It's not telling you how a Muslim should be, should not be, or what is halal (permissible) or haram (impermissible) in Islam.. It's simply real stories that happened to real Muslim women who wore the hijab.

To say outright that these stories are un-Islamic does not apply here. What does that even mean anyways?  These stories happened in real life. Should they be changed, not told in their entirety, or altered to leave out 'un-Islamic' details like how the naive, low self-esteemed teenager was knocked-up or how the f-bomb was dropped by an ignorant racist on two innocent hijabis waiting in line just to appease the disillusioned ideal that we are all perfect Muslims and none of that stuff happens to us?

I'm actually glad that some people respond negatively to Hijabi Monologues, and some positively, because this sparks dialogue and discussion, which I believe is very lacking in the Muslim community nowadays. For those who disagree with showing this side of reality of living as a Muslim woman, how else will we relate and learn from each others' experiences if we are sweeping things under the rug? Yes, there are illegitimate Muslim pregnancies. Yes Muslim and non-Muslim men do hit on hijabis. Yes, Muslims are confronted with scary incidences and angry/ignorant comments. Yes, Muslims do face heartbreaking situations dealing with death. And yes, apparently niqabis do go to college football games? (this was new to me)

All in all the Hijabi Monologues was at some points funny, and at other points tragic and serious. I feel it is a lifeline for those who struggle with being a Muslim in America. It's for those whose voices are silenced by the idealistic cultural microcosm Muslims have created for themselves. It's for those who have even more shocking and tragic stories that they are keeping inside because they're not socially or 'Islamicly' acceptable to talk about.

It's for those who have yet to realize that we are all human deep-down and undergo experiences that connect us all. We are all slaves of Allah and we can only do our best, let's talk, let's grow, let's help each other out on this temporary journey...

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