Being a Muslimah & a muhajabat in USA and Saudi Arabia…points to consider

Lately I’ve been thinking about my life in the US and what I hated about it and what I loved. I remember that one thing that always made me so upset was how there were always individuals who would be rude to Muslims, especially Muslim women who cover. Ditto for staring and just in general being ignorant. I was really so fed up about that! I always felt so “hyped” up and stressed out and on the offensive, ready for the next verbal attack. I was in an urban area and we all know urban areas get the adreniline rushing anyway simply because of the way everyone acts in small confined spaces. This was one reaosn why I pushed so hard for my husband to accept the job here in KSA. I wanted to get away from all that and be someplace where noone would call me a rude name for being covered up, or where I’d have to deal with annoying and ignorant evangelist types. When I arrived I finally felt able to breath and chill out. It’s a similar to how I feel when I’m in Iran. I’m around other Muslims, here I can be myself! alhamdullah.

But…the more I think a bout it, I do miss being a Muslim and a muhajabat in the US for a few reasons. First you’re free to choose how you want to dress! One day you could wear a black abayaah with a lemon yellow skirt peeping out nd bright yellow scarf or next day switch to a green tunic and jeans with a pretty scarf and no one would really bat an eye (they’d be staring anyway, regardless, because of the scarf). And sometimes you’d get random strangers compliment you on your style. I used to really like that because it showed to me that some people have respect for women who cover and think that our sense of style has value too.

You can go to the masjid and be actually involved in a Muslim community. like I remember the commeraderie of us all being gathered at the masjid for ramadan iftaars. As much as I was annoyed by how rude many of the women were, butting into the lines or their obnoxious children…still, we were united, in our little masjid and we all had that connection…Or being able to scoot up to the masjid for jummah, or just stopping by for a lecture, socialization or some extra rakaat. No matter the irritations, there is still a sense of community.

Unity, seeing the Muslim brothers in the thobes and beards vending oils & incense on the corners always made me smile because they were always saying a big salaams and always gave dawaah to those interested and anytime I saw another hijabi or Muslim sister I always got happy and excited and tried to give my salaams. Regardless of all the women who would just ignore the salaams and walk away, still…there was that connection of…wow…another Muslim!!!

r-e-s-p-e-c-t…yeah I know a lot of men have little respect for women, even a lot of women have little respect for themselves…but generally…if you were modestly dressed and “looked” like you could be a Muslim, men tended to not gawk, stare, try to talk to you and there was a sense of respect. Like, she’s a religious women, don’t bother her. Even a lot of Muslim men had hayaah, those who openly practiced tended to have a well developed sense of hayaah (modesty)

I could go on but those are the biggies of what I miss about being a Muslim in the USA, i’m not forgetting about all the hassles, hardships and rude people I had to contend with on an almost daily basis, but still…the feeling of community trumped all and thats something I really miss.

Don’t get me wrong, I like being here in KSA, definitely some perks to life here is that I can hear the adhan 5 times a day! Everyday I love listening to it. It really moves me and definitely sets the tone for life but what annoys is how much Islam is taken for granted. Islam just is…people are Muslim just because…the women wear abayah and shaylah just because…there seems to lack the same sort of effort that Muslims in the US have. Muslims in the US have to make a concerted effort and choice to live as Muslims. They can choose to either party and drink or NOT party and drink. Eat pork or NOT eat pork. Here there isn’t really any choice. Pork and booze aren’t available and you have to wear an Abayaah outside.

I donno, basically I’m just blathering on but these are some thoughts of mine I wanted to get out there. I can definitely understand how life is EASIER here for a practicing Muslim (who makes an actual effort to follow their deen) but I think being someplace like the US really TESTS the practicing Muslim and makes them realize how much effort must go into their deen and maybe even makes them more conscientious about following their faith!


5 thoughts on “Being a Muslimah & a muhajabat in USA and Saudi Arabia…points to consider

  1. I’ve been keeping up with your blog for a while now and enjoy it very much, mashallah. I couldn’t agree with you more about your sentiments on being a Muslim in the US compared to a Muslim country. I’m an American revert currently living in Morocco and find it much the same way you describe KSA, and the Muslims here have many cultural traditions ingrained in their practice that are complete shirk or otherwise against Islam. Forget going to a masjid for me here because I wouldn’t have a clue what is going on. Plus, Morocco’s state religion is Islam, but it’s a freedom of religion country so a lot of evil going on here (drinking, smoking, drugs, bars and a lot of nakedness among the younger set). I can’t wait to get back to the US to establish a community among Muslims and as you said have the daily struggles and reminders of being a Muslim, and at the same time fellowshipping with sisters and assisting in the community- whichever I find myself living in. And the part about being respected, or at least not being approached by strange men. The odd looks and comments are worth it to me too.

  2. I understand what you mean. I think part of it is simply being a minority. We have to work harder in the States, and we connect more with each other. We also must make our own decisions about who and what we are, and we have to learn more for ourselves. Nothing is spoonfed. It is nice to be in a Muslim setting and not have to explain ourselves or be on the defensive, but esp in the Gulf one tends to agree with Milton, that a virtue unchallenged and untried is not a virtue at all.

  3. I remember how when my family moved back to the States I felt a sense of relief. I met girls who really enjoyed being Muslim and were proud of it. In Saudi the girls would roll their eyes at having to wear hijab outside and would talk about how they only wore it in Saudi and dressed to the nines without it when they went on vacation. But at the same time I miss the Saudi weather, the sand dunes, the beaches and just feeling like life was really laid back. 🙂

  4. You miss the oil and incense men? Mashallah, never thought I’d hear anyway say that.

    Well, based on the comments, I guess the grass always is greener on the other side. Allahu-alium.

    • No I dont “miss” “them” in particular but what they represent…like proud Muslim men in thobes with beards and kufi’s standing on the corners vending and showing the world that they are Muslim men. In the US far too many Muslims both men and women are shy and ashamed to show that they are Muslim and you rarely see Muslim men looking like they are Muslim so those men are showing the people walking around that they are Muslim and usually there is some dawah too.

      No, not always grass is greener on the other side, I’m not like that at all, but there ARE some perks to being a Muslim in the US verses here, such as the constant testing of ones faith and strength in the deen and of course there are perks to being a Muslim here in KSA or in Iran, noone hassles you, everything is set up for an Islamic lifestyle. Just different.

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