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Hijab, Feminism, & Interfaith Dialogue

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dania is an intern with me in Chicago - she works on the floor below me at Chicago Interfaith Committee on Worker Issues while I work upstairs at the National IWJ (Interfaith Worker Justice) office. She's the beautiful French-Canadian Muslim, veil-wearing girl who frequently stated throughout orientation week how fascinating she thinks America is.

During orientation week, I had several enlightening conversations with her. Even though she is a practicing Muslim and I am currently ambivalent about my faith, through speaking with each other, we discovered we have many of the same beliefs and ideas. Through these conversations, we both realized we were reading the same book - Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose." The book describes, "how transcending our ego-based state of consciousness is not only essential to personal happiness, but also the key to ending conflict and suffering throughout the world," (Amazon Review).

Before speaking with Dania, I cannot recall having an actual conversation with a practicing Muslim. I consider myself very in tune with feminist ideals and I could never wrap my mind around the idea of wearing a veil and staying entirely covered-up in front of men. This practice seemed strange to me and I felt it rather sexist. But by talking to Dania and being prompted to look into the ideas behind wearing the veil, I've come to new conclusions. Now, I can draw parallels between the wearing of the veil to particular feminist movements when women demanded to be taken seriously not because of their feminine beauty and external looks, but because of their thoughts and ideas. Additionally, so much of superficial culture is in effort to define one's identity through clothing - "this is my style," "this is who I am because this is how I dress," when in actuality, no matter how unique your fashion is, it can clearly never come close to defining anything real.

Hijab on Wikipedia
Islam & Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth (Message Board)



frenchy said... We'll have more interesting convos, believe me.
By the way for those who don't know, I'm Frenchy, as in Dania, as in the French-Canadian muslim that where's the veil. June 23, 2008 3:26 PM

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