This post was originally posted at wood turtle’s blog.
The day my friend took off hijab was disappointing. While everyone was offering congratulations on the new look, I couldn’t help wonder if my friend was having a crisis of faith. And when I asked if everything was okay, I learned a secret truth that sent me reeling.
He never wore hijab in the first place.
Naive assumptions led me to stereotype my friend as the “type of Muslim” who sports a beard out of religiosity, modesty and a reflection of his spiritual commitment. But I can’t really be blamed for doing so, can I? He was president of the Muslim Students’ Association, led prayer, gave the occasional khutbah, took religious courses, and embraced being a recognizable Muslim.
And while his beard changed shape over the many years of our friendship – from a sleek Hollywood beard to a goatee and back again — it just seemed like a natural assumption that his beard was worn to follow the Sunnah. If he was outwardly “religious” in all other aspects of worship, shouldn’t his beard be a reflection of his inner hijab?
Nope. I was absolutely guilty of stereotyping a person based on their visuality.