Islamophia

Radio talk host Alex Jones is confused about what a burqa is and what a hijab is.

If there is a Muslim woman in North America or in Europe who has her face covered by a burqa – a full covering except for her eyes – she is unique. Essentially, a burqa covering is so extreme that it is not even worn in Saudi Arabia or in Iran.

If a Christian nun is still wearing a habit, she is probably covering her neck and ears in addition to her hair just like many Muslim women. This is called a hijab in Arabic.

A somewhat more conservative head covering than a hijab is a niqab. A woman wraps longer fabric over her mouth and nostrils (sometimes a little higher on the nose).

I almost dressed like that today when I went outside. Here in Kansas City, the midday temperature (as I write this) is 18° (Fahrenheit). Besides a ski cap over my ears, I would have covered even my my mouth. But, for this former Chicagoan, 18° and no wind is fine.

The temperature now in Chicago, though, is 12°. If I were standing on an El platform waiting for a train, it’s not unlikely for me to pull up my scarf over my mouth. Some platforms – especially where I used to commute from – are entirely exposed to bitterly cold wind. So at times I protect my face with a ‘niqab’.

How do I know what I’m talking about? I would often sit in a study area at the University of Missouri – Kansas City that was popular with Muslim young people. So, I checked that what the young women were wearing were hijabs.

One time I was sitting across from a young lady who was wearing a hijab, and I asked her what a niqab was. She lifted a longer end of her hijab over her mouth thereby showing me a niqab. So I speak with authority.

Interestingly enough, it came up in conversation that she was from Saudi Arabia. In my nosy way, I told her that I was surprised to see that she was alone. In truth, she told me that she had come with a brother, but he had already finished his studies and had returned to Saudi Arabia. “My parents trust me,” she said. “It would be sad if they didn’t.”

I believe that G-d trusts us. It would be sad if he didn’t.

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* I sometimes listen to Alex Jones (carried on radio here) so that you don’t have to. It’s possible that he will be my bête noire for March.

* a study area that was popular with young Muslims. The women wearing hijabs is one give-away. The other clue was that several were speaking Arabic. I don’t speak Arabic, but I recognize it. I can be an amateur linguist since I’ve heard plenty of Arabic in Israel.

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