Today some sisters and I went to a craft show. I love going to these things. There are so many creative people with beautiful things they have made. I am addicted to really nice pottery (although I can't afford to buy it anymore) and I love to see what the jewelers do as well.
I went to pick up 2 sisters and we were going to meet a 3rd at the show. We were there a bit early so we agreed to wait at the entrance for the 3rd sister. Time for question #1 from a perfect stranger:
Question #1: A group of women and children walked by. A little boy in a stroller said 'who are they, mommy?", she said they are ladies! One of the women in the back of the group turned around and came back to us and asked if she could ask me something. I said sure, and she said "How do you wear glasses when you roll like that?". So the question was, how does a niqabi wear glasses when wearing a veil. I answered that some of the niqabs are cut back wider just for that purpose. She thanked us and went on her way. So that was not so bad... A nice question from a curious person. No biggie.
Now on question #2, which really was not a question but more of a statement and greeting:
Question (statement) #2: We were still outside waiting when an older woman walked by and told me my scarf was pretty. I said thank you, and her husband said salam to us.... we said it back and that was it. They were not Muslim, but knew enough about us to say salam. Another nice interaction at the craft show.
So the 3rd sister arrives with her cute and cuddly baby, and we make our way into the show. We soon get sort of split up but we are not too far from each other. As we are looking at a booth, some other ladies come to us and ask question #3.
Question #3: First they asked if they could ask us a question, which is always nice (do people ever say no?). Anyway, they wanted to know why I wear a face veil and the other women don't. This was a bit more tricky but I explained that I think its an obligation in our religion but there is difference of opinion. I also said some women wear it and don't think its an obligation but wear it for additional modesty. They seemed happy with that. Asked if it was hot and then happily went on their way.
So another pleasant question from the masses. So now for more shopping fun. We really get split up now, and I'm with one sister and the other two are off looking at things on their own. I walk by a booth selling almonds with Cinnamon on them and the man offers me a sample to try. So I try it and like it and decide to buy a bag. Now on to question #4.
Question #4: The almond vendor asks if I'm pretty under there! My friend comes up and says yes she is and thats why she is wearing it. Only her husband and other woman and her family can see her. He joked with us some more and asked 'what about almond vendors, do they get to see?" I politely said no and we were on our way. A bit later when I walked by again he shouted out "come on, just one look, don't make me chase you!" I laughed a bit and kept going. Eeek.... not too bad but a bit scary.
So we keep shopping and we are now in the food isle of the show. There is a booth selling these HUGE eclairs. Of course we have to look at them! The woman behind the counter asks if she can ask me a question - Question #5!
Question #5: She asks, what is it called what you are wearing on your face? So I tell her its a niqab, she asked me to spell it, so I do. She said she met a woman from Iran that said she wears it to honor her... what do you call your God? I tell her Allah. She says yes, right Allah. Then she asks why I wear it so I tell her. Up until now its ok, but she then she says she feels sorry for me. I told her not to and that I'm very happy to cover and be modest like this. She says 'but men don't have to!' and I explain that they have a dress code as well. Then she brings up multiple wives. We explain to her that men can have more than one wife for many reason but that he must treat them all equally or he answers for it on the day of judgement. Finally she says 'well we were all born naked, and we were meant to be seen by the bird and trees and people'. I smile and say that the birds and trees can see me, but some of the people can't. So that was the end of that. Not too bad, but she was kind of argumentative about it.
I don't know what it is really. Perhaps people that go to craft shows feel more open and curious. It was such a surprise to get asked so many questions all in a couple of hours. It was kind of nice actually. Inshallah we were able to show some people what Islam was about. May Allah subhannah wa t'ala guide them to the straight path.