Life in the Country: Discrimination

Most people associate living in the countryside with living in a huge house from a Jane Austen novel. Or living  in a town/ village with a completely white population. If you belong to an ‘ethnic minority’ and happen to be Muslim, people also think you have to deal with the EDL.

Actually, country folk are very polite. In my experience they are very friendly, and if not, they appear very tolerant to other races.

As a Muslim woman living in the country side and adhering to Islamic dress I can say that I have never been verbally discriminated against or endured any racist comments. Okay maybe the next door neighbours aren’t so friendly, and there was that one time someone shouted something as they drove by- but going about daily business such as going to the local shops or walking the local trails, almost everyone has said hello. The people who live on our road are just as friendly.  In fact some lovely people have even greeted me and my mother with ‘As salaamu alaikum’. Yes, WHITE people.

For a lot of Muslimahs I’m sure they have a desire to go out and explore the British country side but feel they maybe discriminated. Don’t let that stop you. If I have ever feel disrespected it is more from the ignorant secondary school kids who swagger around the streets like they own it. They unabatedly stare and whisper… or perhaps I feel self conscious.

For me personally, due to my ethnic origin, I remind myself that I look just as English as they are, after all no one in this country is purely English… after how many foreign kings and sieges from abroad I don’t think ‘English’ as race even exists. They therefore, have no right to discriminate me.

There is no doubt that wearing hijab will draw stares- of course it will, you have come to a country town where sights like you aren’t common. You would stare too if you saw cloaked, hooded figure in black walking down the street.

If people say hurtful comments, remember they have been fed media lies and clearly their education has left them quite ignorant.  If they engage in conversation, calmly speak to them and refute anything disrespectful they say, you educate them.

I think this is more of a problem in the city and low class estate areas. Tourist destinations in the country side are full of a mixture of people, and most highly respected country towns have a well educated population who will most likely be open minded.

You as a Muslim also have a duty to break down stereotypes, consider it Dawah of a sort.

Me and my family always strive to be friendly and extend greetings with our town folk as we walk past each other on the street. We also engage in conversation- we don’t bite, and no we aren’t ‘terrorists’ as the media would like you to believe. We are friendly and love this country as much as you do- that’s why we live in the beautiful English (if not rainy) country side.

Unfortunately some Muslims do not present themselves with manners and respect to local customs, if you are going to be loud, disrespectful of the area, litter and be rude and inconsiderate, the people will apply that judgment to the other Muslims.

Sisters, don’t sit inside a concrete box and breathe in fumes, even little England has a lot of lovely things to offer. For Londoners, the Chiltern Hills is a 45 minute drive, and Surrey Hills for those down in South London. Go to the woods and enjoy it all.

Aaliyah

25 Uses of The Headscarf

25 uses of the headscarf

We’ve all the heard the typical questions of ‘Don’t you get hot in that?’ (the headscarf, shaila, pashmina etc..) and the all important ‘Why do you wear a headscarf?’ Moving on from the perception of the headscarf being a personal oven, over the years I have found that, in fact, it has many other uses.

So aside from the  repeated answers that are given to the enquirers, I have come up with 25 other uses of the headscarf.

1.  Firstly and most importantly it is: A cloth that is part of a Muslim woman’s clothing. Worn as an act of obedience to God and for modesty.

2. In cold bitter winter months the versatile headscarf serves as a two-in-one neck scarf and ear muffler.

3. The seemingly lovely drapes serve as a crumb collector for flaky pastries, cookies, biscuits and other foods that shed their layers. For those who tend to drop food you might get a few grains of rice nestled in nicely.

4. When called for, the headscarf can be used as a handkerchief. It is advised to use discreet areas for wiping the nose. We don’t want unsightly white marks anywhere.

5. Its a super-sized tissue when you are having an emotional moment. Or for when the kids have tripped and are having their dramtic moment of glorious attention.

6. When lifted to the nose it serves as a barrier between you and unpleasant smells. It also helps to know you aren’t breathing the foul air unfiltered through your mouth too.

7. A makeshift neckerchief (think cowboy and the Wild West) when you are caught in a cloud of dust by some inconsiderate vehicle. Also great for sandstorms etc.

8. If you suddenly feel dramatic you could go all ninja and pull it across your face- go stealth mode.

9. It’s great for dress up too, make it a fancy tasseled cloak, a Pirate bandanna, an amazing trailing princess skirt (for the girls), a sash, a turban, a flying carpet…

10. For when no blindfold is not good enough for Blind-man’s Bluff, you pull out the headscarf.

11. An emergency picnic blanket. Grab a few from the cupboard.

12. Room decoration, if you like the tented Moroccan style theme. I’ve also seen a headscarf used as a table cloth too.

13. You can make a tent out of your headscarf. (Be creative!) Just like those little triangular prism ones in the cartoons.

14. Seen someone you really don’t want to talk to? Quick! Cover your face! Or maybe an embarrassing moment- yup, cover your face. Hide the blush.

15. It’s a replacement for the oven gloves you can’t find in a cooking frenzy. Some people use the tea towel, you use the headscarf.

If you tend to watch Bear Grylls and other survival series the headscarf can in fact, be extremely useful! A life saver.

16. A nice clean headscarf can make a useful bandage.

17. A way to filter water to get all the main grit and gunk out (Bear used his socks.)

18. With some clever thinking a headscarf can be transformed into a rope, it might deliver you to salvation, out of the canyons or something. Make a safety line of some sort.

19. A make-shift hammock when you’ve been marooned on a desert island.

20. It can be used to shift unconscious persons to safety when hitched under the arms.

21. When dragged across wet and dewy grass, the headscarf will soak up the water, wring it and voila- you have some water to drink.

22. It can be used to swat mosquitoes, and why not completely cover your face as well to avoid being bitten? I’m not sure if it would work against killer bugs.

23. If your headscarf happens to be a wonderful bright colour you can wave it around hoping the search party will see it.

24. You can use your headscarf to catch fish too. (By now I’m sure the headscarf would be pretty tattered.)

25. Hot and sweaty after all of that? Mop it all up with the edge of your headscarf!

Thank you for reading. If anyone has got any other suggestions or things they use their headscarf for, comment below and I’m sure we would all love to read them!

Also thanks to my sister and mother for throwing in a few ideas.

Aaliyah

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