My name is Jennifer Kabir and I am an American Muslim. I am that woman who people often look at with a mixture of curiosity and wonder. Maybe it's the blue eyes and sometimes blonde strands of hair that make their way out from my hijab-the head covering worn by many Muslim women, that tell a different story of who I am. I suppose my exterior speaks of a different kind of Islam that has been purposely chosen and embraced.
I was raised in Southern California in a traditional American family. My family attended church, trimmed the Christmas tree, spent days at the beach, and shopped at Gemco and K-Mart back in the days when no one had ever imagined a Wal Mart or the concept of a global world. Islam or Muslims were not a part of our reality as we had never known anyone who practiced the Islamic faith.
I've come a long way from the beach town of Southern California where I used to spend endless summer afternoons in flip-flops and shorts with the smell of the salty ocean wind mingling through my sun bleached hair. Today you will most likely find me sitting barefoot in the mosque, listening to the Imam recite from the Qur'an, and trying my best to keep my two young children quiet inside the walls of the prayer hall.
My journey to Islam may seem unlikely but to me it was inevitable.
For as long as I can remember I had been on a spiritual search for deeper meaning and guidance in my life. People have often asked me: Why Islam? Why not the faith I was born into? The only honest reply has been to say that on every level of my being, Islam resonated for me. Maybe it's the way Muslims are taught to worship-bringing our minds, bodies, and spirits into complete submission to God. It is the beauty that transpires with the constant remembrance of God and the immense rush of inner peace that comes from setting aside one's will or rather "the ego consciousness" by giving all glory, all praise, and all recognition of power to God alone.
One might say Islam freed me from my inner world to some extent, by giving me an awareness greater than myself.
It is my deep desire to see there be a greater understanding of Muslim women's lives and the veil. The hijab means different things to different Muslim women who wear it as part of their dress and the way hijab is worn varies from country to country and culture to culture. For some, it is an expression of spirituality. For others, it is an issue of comfort and achieving a personal desired level of modesty. A Muslim Mom may look on hijab as setting the proper example to her young children or a woman may be seeking a greater closeness to God. Ultimately, the hijab is mandated in the Qur'an by God so that a woman may increase her own faith and spirituality.
The hijab is about her faith, modesty, and the purification of heart. The act of wearing it is an act of worship to God.
Finally, it is my hope that we can go beyond the veil to understand authentic Islam and what drives women to share this expression of faith through their appearance.
Jennifer Kabir is a Journalist and Founder of TouchofShimmer.org: a unique site featuring modest style and beauty for the everyday Muslim Woman. Jennifer pens a Muslim Women's Style Column at Examiner.com. Hailing from Southern California she resides in Michigan with her husband and children.
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