I had a conversation with my daughter in Phoenix the other day about fashion—specifically, the hijab. It was just a normal fashion conversation that could happen between any mother and daughter anywhere in the world. I hadn’t given it much thought until I hung up and started smiling to myself.
Suddenly, I realized how bizarre this conversation would probably have sounded to anyone other than the two of us. It was perhaps an everyday conversation between a Muslim mom and her daughter, but not between a Jewish Israeli/American mom and her religiously converted Muslim daughter.
My daughter converted to Islam after falling in love with her Palestinian husband about 8 years ago, a wonderful couple with deep faith and a life built around service to others. In the last year and a half, my daughter has finally begun to wear a hijab in public with grace and confidence. From the time she converted, I waited for her belief, faith, and confidence to grow to where she would feel comfortable with wearing her hijab in public. I can only imagine how hard it was for her to wear it around her Jewish Israel family and out and about in Phoenix, Arizona.
I realized how bizarre this conversation would probably have sounded to anyone other than the two of us. It was perhaps an everyday conversation between a Muslim mom and her daughter, but not between a Jewish Israeli/American mom and her religiously converted Muslim daughter.
The very first time I saw her in was at 5 AM one day, when I drove her to work, needing to borrow her car. I walked in to see her standing shyly in a full dark hijab. The only thing that came to my mind to say (if anything needed to be said, but moms always have to say something!) was, “It is about time you wore this and, not fair, you can get right up and head out the door without worrying about your hair! Reason enough to become a Muslim woman!” Well, we burst out laughing, hugged, and went on to work. See, just as normal and everyday as any fashion conversation between two women. Now that she has moved just 10 mins from her work, she can literally wake up to brush her teeth, slip on her hijab, and be out the door in 15 mins.
My daughter explained how freeing the hijab is, especially when it is an individual choice. You have the freedom of spontaneity, no huge hair product costs, and no huge clothing budget which allows savings for important things like extra charity. We both agreed the hijab is the opposite of oppressive; it is freeing in so many ways. You see, just a normal conversation about fashion between two women anywhere.
This is the way to peaceful co-existence: open hearts, open minds, and plenty of dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. No matter your faith, if you live it by example you will find so much more commonality between us than separation.
I realize few people get to experience the Muslim culture as intimately as I do, but if an Israeli Jewish mom can accept and see her Muslim daughter’s life as just as normal and mundane as anyone else’s, everyone can. Her choice may be different from the way I/you/we were raised, but as normal and everyday as any other mom and daughter anywhere and within any culture.
I am grateful my daughter’s choices have benefited the growth of my compassion, as all diversity is meant to do. We all want the same things for ourselves and our families. This is the way to peaceful co-existence: open hearts, open minds, and plenty of dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. No matter your faith, if you live it by example you will find so much more commonality between us than separation. Expose yourselves to diversity until it has become a normal habit and see the absolute wisdom and beauty within everyone you meet.
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