08 December 2010

Day 256: Does My Head Look Big in This?

Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah.  ISBN: 9780439922333.

I actually love the hijab.  I think they're beautiful, both in appearance and for what they symbolize.  I'm sure some of my long time readers are a bit confused given my personal views on religion, but I can respect and appreciate a person willing to profess their faith in a relatively non-confrontational but public manner.  There is something so amazing about a person choosing to adhere to such a visible demonstration.  Perhaps I'm so impressed by it because my religion does not have many adherences to comply with.

I always have the option of wearing the chalice, which is the symbol of my faith, but it is not a widely recognized symbol.  People don't judge me based on that symbol unless they recognize it, and most people who do are also Unitarians.  There are certainly people who have misconceptions about who and what we are, but not on the same scale as Muslims.  I don't want my religion to incite the hostility that being Muslim does, I don't want anyone to be persecuted for the religious beliefs, but I do believe it requires more faith/perseverance than being in the majority or accepted belief system.  We are prone to try to fit in with others socially, and being stigmatized would just about drive anyone underground about any signs of their most intimate and basic beliefs.

But maybe having more subtle signs of belief as a Unitarian is a good thing.  I'm able to judge someone based on who they are first.  For instance, I started attending a knitting meeting at the local coffee shop awhile back.  I went to several meetings before realizing they were also all Unitarian Universalists.  How did I know?  Trigger words.  UUs have a special language regarding our faith.  Certain words that belong to us, mostly the phrase "worth and dignity."  A woman at the meeting said these words in regards to a law on the ballot this year and I immediately knew she was a Unitarian.

We all laughed about it, but I think it shares one thing in common with the hijab: they both express one of our shared beliefs.  There are many different kinds of UUs and many different kinds of Muslims, but when you strip away the different interpretations of a religion and the cultural additives, these are the things that are truly indicative of the faiths.  The hijab being a symbol of modesty, a sign of faith, a means of recognizing others of the same faith, and a means of maintaining personhood in relationships with men (by reducing display of sexuality). The UU language is, at least for me, a means of reminding myself what the basic tenets are.  Even if I forget the exact phrasing or what all 7 Principles are, I can always remember that everyone has Worth and Dignity.  I don't think I could be prouder to be part of a religion in which those two words are the ones that most easily identify its members and beliefs.

My review can be found on Goodreads.

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