When I was a kid I asked my Mom why she didn’t have a Jesus fish on her vehicle. She said it put too much pressure on her to be a good driver. An obvious, but not very well thought out aspect of this experiment for me was realizing the moral pressure of wearing a hijab. With that scarf, you are representing a community that already has an unfairly poor reputation, and that is actually quite a bigly weight to bear.
“ISIS is killing Christians on my computer screen AND this Muslim lady is an exceptionally rude customer? Next election, I’m going to vote that we disallow the burkini!” I imagine these small minds thinking.
You see, I had an incident. I am in the midst of dealing with The Oven from Hell. When we bought our house a couple months ago, it came with an obscurely branded oven. Everything has gone wrong with this oven and we have already sunk a few hundred dollars into it. Yesterday, we figured out that the identification numbers associated with our oven have mysteriously been ripped off so there is no way of knowing whether or not we can get the right parts to fix it. All we can do is guess, and they are expensive, non-refundable guesses. I learned the nature of this wager from the lady behind the counter at the appliance store. This lady had already sent me home twice to try to figure out these identifying numbers. And I was frustrated, oh so frustrated. I was also oh so conscious of the fact that I was wearing a headscarf. I made sure to let the ladies behind the counter know that I was angry with my oven and not them. But God forbid a woman in a headscarf have a bad day in public.
It is exhausting representing a religion that already has a poor marketing campaign in the West. Its worst than the task of “protecting your witness” that Christians remind each other to do because chances are, should you have a public meltdown, nobody will know you are a person of faith. Maybe that new person in your Bible study is nearby, and maybe they’ll see you acting badly and decide that Jesus isn’t for them, but probably not. However, as a Muslim in a hijab, you are ALWAYS on, always scrutinized. There isn’t a whole lot of room for grace there and that is a difficult way to live.