Church Starting and Faith Sharing Ministries / General CBF / Internationals Ministries / Missions

Hijab is not for me, but it is for her.

We have ministered among Muslim peoples for twenty-five years.  Upon arriving in Texas we set about to learn the context of Islam here. Make no mistake, the way we practice faith, whether Christianity or Islam, is affected by cultural context. So we set out to visit area mosques and visit places frequented by Muslims. For the first time ever in our ministry, my husband was asked not to return, not once but by two different mosques. Now if you know him, you know he is a very quiet unobtrusive person. Also, he is very familiar with worship rituals in the mosque and acts accordingly. So this request was not because he was disruptive.

Yet, it hurt and it confused. I flashed back to when a Hispanic family was turned away at the doors of my home church years ago and how I hurt for them. They were informed that their church was down the street. Or when that same church told me that the deacons voted and I would not be allowed to have a black man sing in my wedding. (I married somewhere else.)  Rejection for whatever reasons hurts. Being pushed aside and told you are not welcome hurts.  My husband did not nurture a grudge however. We know the hospitality that is normal amongst our Muslim friends and neighbors. This was not normal. Sure enough, in a private conversation, one of the leaders of the mosque indicated it was because women were visiting and refusing to wear a scarf on their heads. They were also taking pictures during prayer times. They tried for a while to let just men come and visit, but were accused of discrimination. Hence a policy that no one outside their community is allowed to visit during worship times.

Now picture this with me if you will…you are in the middle of Sunday morning worship and a man in robes and a turban comes into your church and promptly kneels and begins to call out his prayers.  Then he begins to take pictures of Christians in worship. Would that be disruptive to you? We encourage people to seek to understand other cultures and faiths. We encourage them to engage with people who are completely different from them. We encourage faith conversations. We encourage sharing testimony regarding what God has done in the lives of his children. We do not encourage disrespect.

I have worn hijab (the head covering) when appropriate and honestly I don’t care for it. I struggle with it. I feel somehow diminished. But most of my Muslim women friends do not feel that way. It is an expression of who they are. It is an expression of their values and their faith. And indeed, compared to our Protestant worship, Islamic ritual seems strange and even picture worthy. That is what we are here for. Our task is to help churches and individuals walk through the strange and picture worthy demonstrating mutual respect. When we do, God uses other faiths to sharpen understanding of our own beliefs and practices. It is the month of Ramadan, a special time in the lives of Muslims. Do you have a Muslim neighbor who would like to know your respect for him or her? Why not go next door demonstrating a desire to understand, respect, and engage? After all, hijab may not be for you, but it is for her.

3 thoughts on “Hijab is not for me, but it is for her.

  1. Is this the Walter Weeks that came and visited in Brussels once long ago? Good to connect with you again! Thanks for the encouragement. Salaam, my friend…

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