Thursday, April 21, 2011

Of course we accept you...if you look like us.


Ok so here's the thing, I don't think anyone should ever have the right to tell me how I have to be, and yes, I'm particularly referring to people's choice in dress. And please, don't tell me about how 'some' countries have been doing that for years, because I think it's wrong. I've always thought it was wrong. But I don't understand how some countries' backwards thinking gives any other country any justification for essentially doing that same thing (all the while still condemning those very countries). I'm sorry if this is getting confusing to follow along but I'm trying to be subtle...actually I don't really care. I'm pretty sure everyone know what I'm talking about: France and several Middle Eastern countries. Here's the moral of the story: two wrongs don't make a right.

For anyone that knows me, I'm in love with a place called France. I've always dreamt of living there and inshallah one day I will. And to be honest I still love France just as much as I always have, because I refuse to judge a country and its people based on the few that run it.

Anyways, here's a little context as to why I'm writing about all of this. So I was getting ready to go on foreign exchange to Paris in the coming fall '10. Ryerson accepted me, and we were getting everything set up. I've already looked into some places I want to go to, picturing all the little cafes I would visit and enjoy, basically dreaming up my upcoming Parisian experience--one I've been mentally preparing for most of my life. Until I received an email.

Yesterday, on Wednesday April 20th, the university I was going to attend there said that they "do not think it would be wise for an exchange student to be the first and only one [wearing a hijab] in view of the current context." And just like that, my dream was shattered. I'll be honest, when I first received that email I was devastated, but alhamdulilah I'm okay now. Everything happens for a reason right? I think I'm going to take that advice myself this time. Although I don't actually think that this means that I have no future in Paris, because I know that that email is not at all representative of the population (especially not in a country that hosts the most Muslims in Europe). People are not black and white, far from it. I don't deny that some (maybe even a lot) of people don't feel comfortable with that way I 'look'....but I firmly believe that that is due to a lack of understanding or interaction with people 'like me'. And I say that with caution because we are all different, everyone is, but we all deserve a chance. Remember "the mind is like a parachute, it only works when it's open".

I still wish I was leaving for France in a few months, to live and immerse myself in a culture that I so strongly yearn for. But hey, this is just a setback.

"The difficulties are intended to make you better, not bitter."


A Muslimah


  1. When you told me about wanting to go on exchange in France a couple of months ago, I wanted to tell you about the Hijab issue they have. But I'm surprised they actually said something because my other friend who went on exchange in France (you know her) wore her scarf. I hope you're not upset anymore. As with everything, inshAllah khair. And as you said, it's just a setback, and you will find other ways to grow inshAllah. Love your strength habeeba :)

  2. Dear Muslimah, I'm surprised that the French university would express their views with regards to your hijab so openly, as everyone is entitled to their belief and in expressing this belief, so long as you are not imposing anything on someone else. This just goes to show how narrow-minded they are, and although there might be some things that you admire about their culture, there are other things that you should not.

    Even so, I would like to say may Allah keep you on his path, and in standing strong by your beliefs, as it has only been a short period since you wearing a scarf, and what you have just been through was, I assure you, a test.

    Also let me remind you of Allah's words in the 216th verse of Surat Al Baqara: "and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, and Allah knows, while you do not know." (Shakir Translation)

    So do not have sorrow or anger, as the best may yet to come!