Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Studying Muslim Head Covering

The politics of hijab - A bit of black cloth, By Karen Estes, September 27, 2008, from "altmuslim.com". Concerning recent history (from the 70's in the US), personal testimony, and about non-Eastern converts. Opening paragraph:
The hijab (headscarf) has burst into the passionate and often confused discussion of current events and has become a highly charged battle standard on both sides of the veil. It has become an object of rage and indignation for many non-Muslims who see the practice as a backward custom, but one which is defiantly elbowing its way into the popular culture with increasing demands to be respected along with the identifying dress of other world religions. The phenomenon which most interests me, is the western woman convert to Islam with no experience of veiling growing up in the West who embraces hijab. It is however a phenomenon with what appears to be a remarkably short and identifiable history.


Acceptable Hijab Part II: The Niqab (Mustahaab), posted on Beautiful Muslima, September 26, 2008. Very thorough study, examining the Quran and Ahadith. Link to part I: the jilbab, is included.
I was asked the other night by a sister why I don't wear niqab (a face covering). I had mistakeningly told her I believed it was wajib (obligatory) to do so since I knew from Islamic evidence and history it had a place our religion (unlike some people claim, who say, it is a purely cultural thing). I don't wear it for a number of reasons (and at the time I WISH to wear it for a number of reasons), some of them being, that while I believe it can benefit me personally, it can hurt and alienate a number of people around me. When I first converted I was told by a few women that I should cover my face because it was "beautiful". Alot of Arab women seem to think white skin is a sign of beauty in itself. Even if I wore niqab my pale eyes would show, and I don't think even niqab can hide a woman's full beauty. So I reject the "beauty concept" of niqab with a laugh. Men should be lowering their gaze anyway, and at the same time, the few times I DID feel is was necessary for my modesty to wear niqab, one of the sisters at the Masjid came up to me and said "do you really think men are staring at you like that" meaning do you think you are pretty enough to wear that... LOL, I know for a fact she hasn't said the same thing to the Sheikh's wife and daughter, so talk about contradictions. So let us instead look at the Holy Qu'ran and the sayings and actions of the Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) in which there are no contradictions, to research the issue (please read this post first insha'Allah): http://beautifulmuslimah.blogspot.com/2008/09/acceptable-hijab-part-i-jilbab.html to get some of the foundation of jilbab before moving onto niqab.

Questions on Islamic Dress and Head-dress for Men

Ditulis Oleh, Admin., September 25th, 2008, from Halal Product and Services Information Center (a .org site). Thorough discussion, quoting from Quran and relevant hadith.


We have come under criticism from “Salafis” for keeping Sunna dress in our present day and age. They claim that it is an indifferent and unnecessary aspect of Arabic culture and tradition which carries no reward in religion. What is the position of Ahl as-Sunna on the “Salafi” dispensation for praying, leading prayer, and giving khutba bare-headed and in Western-style clothes?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Head Coverings for Fun and Non-Profit, again

I found a similar fund raiser called a "hat day", where students pay to wear head coverings in school, back in March 2008, and reported on it here. This time the fund raiser is set in Maryville, South Carolina, and their cause was another elementary school in Galvaston, Texas, that needs help recovering from recent hurricane damage.

Maryville students raise $400
Written by Scott Harper, Georgetowntimes.com, 9/28/2008

Hats and caps were the fashion trend at Maryville Elementary School Friday and it was all for a good cause.

Normally, students are not allowed to wear the head coverings but, on Friday, they were allowed to buy their way out of that rule.

It was "hat day" at the school and for a donation of $1, the students were allowed to show off their favorite hats all day.

Some students forked over a buck so they could show off their favorite sports team -- 2nd grader Erica Placer was decked out for Clemson -- while others imitated their hero -- Damion Patterson was wearing what he called his Indiana Jones hat.

The money collected is all going to be sent to Burnet Elementary School in Galveston, Texas, said "hat day" organizers Patti Ward and Clay Cook.

Ward said because of Hurricane Ike, the school was filled with more than two feet of water and lost many of its books as a result.

"Because I love to read, I cannot imagine losing all those books," she said.

According to the Galveston County Daily News, it is expected to take at least six months for the needed repairs to be made to the school for the return of students.


Hmmmm: Maybe if the girls in Turkey could figure out a way to convince the universities there to accept a small gift (to be donated to charity, which is a secular virtue as well as an Islamic virtue, don't you know), they could be allowed to wear their "hats" to school? ....

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Persian History of Headgear

"History of headgear in Persia"
Sat, 27 Sep 2008
By Tamara Ebrahimpour, Press TV, Tehran

Anyone interested in histories of various headwear, and photos of statuary and such, will appreciate this short article. Please click the linked title above to read the entire article on ancient Persian headgear.

Historical documents and ancient inscriptions indicate head covers had different uses in different historical eras. In Persia, headgears often had ornamental purposes and were used to distinguish between the members of different classes and professions.

Early historical evidence regarding the use of headgear in ancient Persia has been found in the city of Kashan in Isfahan Province. Dating back to some 6000 years ago, the white stone statue, which has a cloth head covering, is housed in Iran's National Museum in Tehran.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fashion-able Head Covering

"Top millinery skills on show at London Fashion Week"

By Hilary Alexander, Fashion Director, Telegraph.co.uk

Check this article for links to the fashions in photos. Here's the introduction:

London Fashion Week's obsession with bizarre and extreme millinery continued on the final day yesterday.

Models showed off millinery skills by Misa Harada for Bora Aksu (left and centre) while Osman Yousefzada offered Japanese straw hats (right)
Bora Aksu’s collaboration with Misa Harada featured modernist bonnets (left) and black bows (centre), while Osman Yousefzada offered Japanese straw hats (right)

It has been a week that has seen everything perched and placed on the models' heads from metal and plastic "Pac-Man" helmets to shreds of fabric, fringed and draped into turbans and feathers and wisps of veiling tethered with pearls. Osman Yousefzada's spring/summer collection, "Savage Pagoda", shown yesterday, was no exception.

Inspired by the martial costumes of the Samurai, it featured sculpturally draped dresses and skirts, in coral, lapis-blue, nude, sand and black jersey, which appeared to be virtually seamless.

Midriff-baring jackets and sharp, cropped trousers, in wet-look rayon and white Neoprene, created the same rigorous, architectural feel.

The key accessories were Japanese straw hats, lacquered in London - a cross between satellite dishes and a large wok and inspired by those worn by farmers in the paddyfields.

Personally, I think the designers mess things up sometimes. But I suppose we should give them a respectful nod for acknowledging the fun of adorning the head and hair with coverings.


More on that kheffyeh...

"Chequered history"

Everyone from Leona Lewis to Colin Farrell has taken to wearing the keffiyeh, as fashion goes wild for this symbol of resistance. But with sales soaring, why does the only factory in Palestine that makes these scarves look set to close?

Read more in this article by Rachel Shabi, in the Guardian.co.uk
September 22 2008

photo here from the article, of Leila Khaled wearing a keffiyah. Photgraph: Eddie Adams/AP

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Coverings for Cancer Ideas

"A heady effort"

By Lacie Morrison, Mineral Wells [Texas] Index, September 19, 2008

Please read the full article at the linked title above. This is a portion:

A Fort Worth teenager is getting some local help from businesses in her quest to collect hats and scarves for cancer patients.

Dallas Productions’ Linda Lee said their company had received a letter from 15-year-old Beverly Vallance that “asked us to send a couple of hats. They were trying to get 150 by December.”

The donations from Mineral Wells alone exceeded that goal. Within two weeks, they collected 1,150 caps, hats and scarves to donate.

. . .

“She’s got 1,374 hats, 22 scarves and 50 bandannas from 199 different companies,” Amalou said. She explained that they are collecting scarves and bandannas because some of the older women don’t want to wear baseball caps. The donated hats go to people of all faiths, races and ages who are battling cancer.

. . .

To make donations of new hats, scarves and other types of head coverings, Lee said Double H Tire, located at 316 E. Hubbard St., has agreed to offer their business as a drop-off location. Lee added they intend to collect new hats and head coverings until Dec. 1.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Muslim Head Scarf

Denmark: Danish-Muslim fashion house

"Islam in Europe", at blogspot, September 18, 2008

Read the full review and interview at the title linked above (a blog reprinting in English from a Danish article). A portion follows:

New Danish designs for Muslim women combine the traditional headscarf with modern Western designs - but also send a signal to Danish politicians as well as Muslim fundamentalists that women should be free to wear a headscarf as they want.

How in the world can somebody combine ancient and traditional head covering with the latest new fashions from the western world's catwalks? That was the question which inspired 28-year old designer and color consultant Samar Safar to develop a design concept for Muslim women who wish to wear a headscarf, but at the same time, want to look hip and modern in their clothing.

Today she runs "Islamic Moon" - an internet based design company, which as the first of its type in Denmark offers designs which can be worn either with or without a Muslim headscarf - hijab.
The website "Islamic Moon", linked above, is Danish language: after loading, find the design circle to the right labeled "Designs" and from that page, click the Nueste word link in the Kontrol circle, to see more designs worn with or without headscarf.


Also read these short testimonies for wearing a head scarf:

Appreciating the barrier…..
September 18, 2008 by Saha, in "Yemen Journey…..and beyond" at wordpress.

My faith gives me inner peace
Sep 24 2008 by Emma Pinch, Liverpool Daily Post


And finally, an editorial commentary from Turkey:

The liberal's dilemma with the headscarf

September 22, 2008, by ÇINAR KİPER, in the Turkish Daily News.com

If you ever feel a need to bait the Dutch, try calling them intolerant. The Netherlands is a society that prides itself on its liberal and tolerant values so much so that even its most xenophobic public figure in recent memory, the late Pim Fortuyn, argued against Muslims on the grounds that they threatened the liberal Dutch mindset.

Yet this bastion of open-mindedness recently banned the burqa. More specifically, the Education Minister Ronald Plasterk issued a directive that officially banned burqas from all primary schools, an expansion of Holland's earlier ban on burqas in government agencies and public transportation.

To be fair, the Dutch weren't the first people this summer who's actions either promoted equality or infuriated God, depending on your values. This summer was a bad season for the headscarf all around, with Denmark earning the ire of both Muslims and Danes thanks to a controversial Miss Headscarf pageant and the French State Council's denying a burqa-clad woman citizenship on grounds of "improper assimilation." The latter decision was publicly lauded by a pious female Muslim French Minister who went on to call burqas a "prison" and a "straitjacket." Even across the pond, the Democratic party nominee Obama drew criticism when his campaign refused to seat two headscarf-wearing women in the front where they would be visible to television cameras.

Yet Turkey still wins the prize for "most histrionic reaction," with the Constitutional Court, an unelected body mind you, overturning a government decision to allow headscarves in universities and then using the administration's blasé attitude toward the covering as a reason to shut down a party with nearly half the electorate's support.

In fact, back when Europe was still debating whether to feed monotheists to lions or wolves, Turkey was at the forefront of the "women covering their heads for God" debate. Letters written by Paul of Tarsus from Ephesus in Western Turkey to the Christians in the Greek city of Corinths in the first century, which later became 1 Corinthians of the bible, state, "Every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head." This lead to about 1,500 years of an elaborate European female head-covering known as the wimple, which coincidentally, was another period that European women were being denied an education. It wasn't until the 15th century that women began uncovering their heads when Italians decided to show off their elaborate braids indicating they could afford maids.

Stuck between egalitarianism and tolerance

It is no surprise that liberals, who by definition are supposed to be progressive and eschew traditional institutions, would have a complicated relationship with religion and particularly with such a prominent religious symbol. On one hand, a liberal's moral compass calls for tolerance and freedom of lifestyle, but on the other, is outraged by such a blatant symbol of inequality. In a world where we are trying to emphasize the similarities between man and woman, where we are saying "a woman can do all a man can do," to give one gender an unequal burden seems unfair.

And so it is no surprise that with Ramadan upon us, even the Turks who enjoy shots of tequila with their bacon cheeseburgers remember that they are Muslims, and try to behave with a higher degree of tolerance than the other 11 months of the year. Not that there is anything wrong with that; to take another page from the conservative playbook, the Bible, Leviticus 19:18 expressly states that we are to "love they neighbor as thyself."

But it does become difficult at times, when values and identities are crossed, when the "conservatives" demand equality and the "progressives" preach intolerance. The debate in Turkey is not really about progressivism vs. conservatism, but about modernization vs. Westernization. In 'What Went Wrong,' Bernard Lewis writes that the emancipation of women is the touchstone of differences between modernization and Westernization, "Even the most extreme and most anti-Western fundamentalists accept the need to modernize and make the fullest use of modern technology. For men to wear Western clothes is modernization; for women to wear them is Westernization."

The liberal, caught between their egalitarianism and their tolerance, are stuck in the middle of the debate. But the Dutch, French and Turks all need to remember that regardless of whether you are liberal or conservative, the important issue to remember regarding headscarves in the schoolyard is whether it is disparity of education or diversity of dress that divides a society.

Art Exhibit Review on Clothing

Wearing art on our shirtsleeves
by Maxwell Price, September 19, 2008, in "The Hoot" - Brandeis University's Community Newspaper, Massachusetts

The exhibit is almost over, for those of you near Brandeis University in Massachusetts. Here is part of the review:

The art exhibit, Dress · Redress, at the Women’s Studies Research Center just gave the Brandeis community another reason to ponder those issues. The exhibition, on display from June 19-September 25th, examines how the clothing intersects with identity through the crosscutting lenses of gender, religion, culture, family, and trauma. The show was curated by Lisa Lynch and features a diverse array of contemporary artists from around the country.

On Thursday the Center hosted a panel discussion in conjunction with the exhibit entitled, “(Un)Dressing Religion, Culture & Identity.” This panel featured Lisa Fishbayne, director of the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law at the Haddasah-Brandeis Institute; . . .

Fishbayne discussed the Jewish tradition of female head-covering and its tensions in American society. She ultimately concluded that women have multifarious reasons for carrying out these rituals that society buries beneath oversimplified labels such as state repression and religious law.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Considering Christian Consistency

The following thoughts and experience with headcovering are found in LadyInTheLamb at wordpress blogs: "Looking for Christian Consistency . . ."

. . . I also thought I’d find someone else who covered her head in obedience to I Corinthians 11. No such luck. Didn’t even find anyone who felt it should be considered or discussed. But at least no one treated me like a misfit for covering my head like they did at Calvary Chapel. That’s why my husband and I felt comfortable staying where we are. Nevertheless, I’ve always been disappointed that my headcovering is such a taboo topic for discussion among the Christians at our church, when it is so obviously a peculiarity about me. I’m the only woman in church who covers her head. I stick out like a sore thumb, but I’m now way past that inner struggle where sticking out in that way makes me uncomfortable. I do it for the Lord, not to be seen by man.

I truly wish people would ask me about it. I love to share what God has taught me from I Corinthians 11. But since no one asks, I don’t go and bring it up. I wonder if I should. No doubt I’d be perceived as “pushy” and “divisive” if I did. Ironic. Bringing up certain Bible passages is considered “divisive” to certain Christians just as bringing up the exclusive claims of Christ (” . . . no one comes to the Father but by me”) is among most non-Christians. Do I see inconsistency here? You bet. Do I see hypocrisy here? You bet. Do I see a problem with the authority of God’s Word here among Bible-believing Christians? You bet. But I can’t blame them. I used to not cover my head. I used to work outside the home to the neglect of loving my husband and managing my home. I used to use contraception with my husband. I used to bristle with revulsion at “that submission bit.” But now I’m seeking to conform consistently to God’s Word in these areas. Why should it be considered “divisive” that I want to ask the church to confront these inconsistencies we have all excused?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Headcovering News in the US

Florida Jail to Force Another Haircut of Sikh Inmate

SIKHNN.com, Sep 08, 2008
Citing security concerns, a Duval County Jail spokeswoman said that a Sikh inmate who endured the forceful cutting of his kesh, religiously mandated unshorn hair, will have another haircut when his hair gets long enough.

“The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is committed to respecting and honoring the religious preferences of all persons… However, we cannot do so if the religious practices compromise the security and safety of the correctional facilities,” said Lauri-Ellen Smith, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, in an official statement by email. “As such, it is required that all sentenced inmates have short hair and not wear head coverings, in order to prevent hiding contraband and/or weapons.”

This jail policy is in direct conflict with Sikh religious practice, which requires men and women to keep uncut hair, and for men to cover it with a dastaar, a Sikh turban.
Full story at linked title above.


Jewish women make, wear prayer shawls

By BILL SHERMAN, World Religion Writer, Tulsa World

In the 80-year history of the women's auxiliary group at B'nai Emunah, a Conservative Jewish congregation, there has never been a program on making and wearing prayer shawls.

Until this week.

That's because through the centuries, prayer shawls, called tallits, have traditionally been worn only by men. That is still the case among Orthodox Jews in Israel.

But in the United States, among both Conservative and Reform Jews, more and more women are wearing prayer shawls.
Story continues at lined title above.


Faith Communities: Greek Orthodoxy: Old ethnic church finds new life in converts

by Dana Clark Felty, Savannah Morning News, September 13, 2008

This article gives a sketch and history of the Christian Orthodox churches in America, highlighting how things have changed as people "convert" from Protestantism, and bring the modern culture with them to change the "Ancient Faith". For example:

Chatham County Commission Chairman and lifelong Orthodox Pete Liakakis recalls when women were required to wear a hat or head covering to church.

"Then about 25 years ago, women stopped. Very seldom do you see a female wearing a hat anymore," he said. "I think the females in our community saw how other people were (dressed) at church."

Full article at the title linked above.


Health department gives tips to avoid lyme disease

By GORDON JAMES/Infectious Disease Coordinator Fulton County Health Department
Canton, Illinois, Daily Ledger, September 9, 2008
If you experience a bullseye rash or any unexplained illness accompanied by fever following a tick bite, you should consult your physician and explain that you were bitten by a tick. The best way to protect yourself against tick-borne illness is to avoid tick bites. This includes avoiding known tick-infested areas. However, if you live in or visit wooded areas or areas with tall grass and weeds, follow these precautions to help prevent tick bites and decrease the risk of disease:

--Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, boots or sturdy shoes and a head covering. Tuck trouser cuffs in socks. Tape the area where pants and socks meet so ticks cannot crawl under clothing. [emphasis mine - LM]
More tips and information available at the linked title above.

Muslim Veil Articles

Illustration borrowed from Hijab Style at blogspot.

What western feminists should do about the veil

"Abandon the obsession with clothing and focus on what really matters in terms of women's struggle in the Muslim world"

Faisal al Yafai, guardian.co.uk, September 08 2008

An article full of links, followed up with many comments. Here's a part...

The veil - whether you conceive of it as a scarf worn lightly over the hair or a cloth that covers the face (and most writers have not been clear about the distinctions) - has been a central theme in western feminists' interactions with the Arab world. Some have decried it as a dehumanising practice, others have argued for tolerance of the choice to wear it. Few have been able to ignore it. What, then, should western feminists do about the veil?

First, ask why there is such a fixation on one piece of cloth. Washington warmongers, feminists among them, invoked both the burqa and the Iraqi niqab as justifications for destroying entire societies, as if the veil made those countries modern Sodom and Gomorrahs. (A UK charity reported (pdf) this year how that has worked out: "Seven years after the fall of the misogynist Taliban regime, Afghanistan is still one of the most dangerous places to be a woman.")

... continued at the title link...


A woman at risk, post 9/11, has no regrets

"Noreen Rahman hopes her decision to wear a hajib will encourage questions about Islam."

Yvette Cabrera, Columnist, The Orange County Register, September 10, 2008

Read the full article at the title link. Here is one portion:

In high school, prior to Sept. 11, Rahman began embracing Islam more than when she was younger. She began doing the five daily prayers required of Muslims, and says she was open to everything, except wearing the traditional head covering known as thehijab. Then she headed to college, at UC Irvine, joined the Muslim Student Union, and began learning more about her religion's support of women in the workforce, their right to vote and other stances on gender.

It was in 2006, her last year at UCI, that she overrode the protests of her parents, both Pakistani immigrants, and started wearing the hijab. She was the only one in her immediate and extended family to do so.

"They were really concerned for my safety. My dad said 'why do you want to make yourself a target?'" says Rahman. "My stance was this is such a critical point for Muslim Americans, I don't want to start wearing it when things are OK, and people are comfortable with Muslims…I didn't want to sit back and let someone else do the hard work."

Why I Shed Bikini for Niqab

From the blog: "Tea Break Thoughts", September 15, 2008

Link to the story, and automatic radio starts playing (player is in the left column, if you choose to turn it off)

When I am feeling down, the thing I love the most is to hear inspirational convert stories. It reminds me of why I tread this path. I have come across this story many times, ma shaa Allah and I love it every time. In shaa Allah, I hope you will like it too


Muslim women crave stylish hairdos

"Observant women who wear the hijab are hard-pressed to find the salon experience in a male-free environment"

TheStar.com, Sep 13, 2008

Here's a partion of the story:

"It shouldn't be this hard for a Muslim woman in Toronto to get a good hair cut," says Chowdhury of her years of searching for a salon, from Yorkville to Markham. "We just want a place where we feel normal, and can get our money's worth."

Instead, she and many others across the city have accumulated a war chest of hijabi horror stories – tales of having men walk in on them, of being shunted into basements and backrooms, of mediocre haircuts or worse, and of being forced to pay a premium for even this accommodation.

Many yearn for what a high-end salon can offer. They want to feel good during the process, and come out looking even better.


Fashion show for veiled women

Saudi Gazette report, JEDDAH

Read the full (short) report at the title link above.

The first ever fashion show for veiled women will be inaugurated here on Sept. 18.

The fashion show, the brainchild of three young Saudi girls – Luma Al-Ghalib, Hida Al-Harthi and Lujain Al-Mu’allimi – aims at demonstrating the greatness of Islam and it intends to erase the stereotyped image about Saudi women and young girls in particular.

The idea to organize a fashion show for women was nurtured and developed while the three girls were participating in a summer camp last year in Switzerland. Their decent dresses and the simple designs attracted the interest of several foreign girls in the camp, Al-Watan said.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

She's a Keepah

EDIT 29/09/08:
Another article, more politically based, about Vanity Kippah, with more pictures:

Some Jewish Voters Wear Their Hearts on Their Heads
By SARAH E. NEEDLEMAN, Wall Street Journal Online, SEPTEMBER 29, 2008


I've reported on this phenomenon before. Male (and sometimes female) Jewish headgear being used for the multiple functions of showing reverence, announcing your faith as well as your personality. Thing is, many of us women who cover do the same thing - wear a head covering for spiritual reasons, but "personalize" the style, depending on traditions and personality. The point is, you are what you wear. A Jewish man has written:

There is no biblical command for anyone except the kohen (priest) to cover the head. And in the Talmud, though married women were required to cover their head in public (exposing their hair was considered to be an indecency), the practice of covering the head by men (other than those who were fasting, in mourning, under the ban, or afflicted with leprosy) appears to have been limited to scholars and other dignitaries, and to have been a voluntary act of special piety and humility. Indeed, for an "ordinary" man to cover his head was considered in some circles to be presumptuous.

So, even if it may be considered a devoutly spiritual act, to wear the kippah, by many Jewish men, it is more an identification of Jewishness for others. One may say that: "wearing a kippah makes us all like the high priest and turns us into a "holy nation."" But the size, the times, and the reasons become personal choices. And so, accordingly, the headcovering itself becomes personal.

Hence, the Vanity Kippah, one of the places which cater to individual Jewish headcovering personalities, when it comes to covering the head - pictures posted at the beginning of this article (notice notice the new headcoverings for the political ladies who wear kippah, rather than a traditional hair covering). The next 3 kippah are actually not from Vanity Kippah, but from Mazel Skull Cap, who also offer more traditional kippot as well as these I've posted.

(Quotes above from "COVERING MY JEWISH HEAD", by Rabbi Hershel Johah Matt, in: Matt, Daniel C., ed.,WALKING HUMBLY WITH GOD: The life and writings of Rabbi Hershel Johan Matt, Hoboken, NJ: KTAV, 1993;


the Jewish Virtual Library's article concerning kippah)


Also, see a personal experience from a woman who "kippah's" at "Half-Jew in Granite".

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Catholic UN soldier wears an Islamic headscarf"

Catholic UN soldier wears an Islamic headscarf during Ramadan
Saturday, 13 September, 2008 @ 5:51 PM in Beirut

Beirut - Sylvia Monika Wyszomirska is a Catholic from Poland, but in an effort to integrate better into south Lebanon's conservative society she has traded her UN peacekeeper's beret for a headscarf during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"Out of respect for the environment I work in, I feel I need to try to integrate myself" during Ramadan, said 37-year-old Wyszomirska who has been stationed in the country for four months.

"And since my contingent is deployed in a Muslim area, I have decided to wear the hijab," the Muslim veil, over military fatigues, the mother of a little girl said

Wyszomirska chose a veil in the same light shade of blue used for the berets worn by members of the 13,000-strong United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which keeps the peace along the tense Lebanon-Israel border.

A native of Krakow, Wyszomirska works as a translator for the 200-member Polish contingent of UNIFIL, and her job brings her into direct contact with the people who live in Shiite-majority villages across the Marjayoun region.

Her deployment to southern Lebanon is not Wyszomirska's first encounter with Muslim tradition. She has also been to Kuwait and Iraq and worked in Syria as well to perfect her Arabic.

"When I was studying Middle Eastern languages at Jagiellonski university back home we also learned about the customs, traditions, history and geography of the countries we might end up working in -- places like Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Kuwait," she said.

Wyszomirska's decision to wear the veil during Ramadan has helped to break the ice with local villagers, both for her personally and for her colleagues in the Polish contingent.

"At first relations were lukewarm, especially since we don't come from a rich country with things to offer the people," she said. "All we can offer them is respect and a smile

"But since I started wearing the veil, people have been more welcoming with me and also with my colleagues. This has opened more doors and opportunities to strike up friendships.

"They began inviting us into their homes for coffee or sweets. And when we pass by the children smile and wave at us," she said.

"Today I feel almost as if I have a second family in Debbine, Blat and Arid," she added of the mostly Shiite villages in the area.

Wyszomirska said that wearing the veil was "a gesture from the heart -- it was not imposed on me."

Her superior welcomed the idea that she don the veil during the holy month.

"He also suggested to me that I explain Ramadan customs to the other soldiers so they can respect the traditions and refrain from eating and drinking in public during fasting" between dawn and dusk, she said.

Another woman peacekeeper in the Polish contingent, a 36-year-old, said she thought "wearing the veil was a smart move, because it brought us closer to the residents," but also added that she would not do the same herself.

"It would change my look completely, and that's not something I want."

Some of the villagers were slightly taken aback by the sight of the fatigues-clad Wyszomirska wearing a veil.

"I was surprised to see Sylvia wearing the headscarf, because I know she's not a Muslim," said Zahraa Hijazi, a veiled student from the village of Debbine.

"But in any case nuns wear veils even though they are Christian," she added.

Debbine mayor Mohammed Sherif Ibrahim agreed that many of his constituents were surprised by Wyszomirska's decision to wear the veil "because it is out of the ordinary".

"But it is also a nice gesture that breaks down barriers between UNIFIL and the local people," he said.

Photo : Catholic UNIFIL Polish soldier Sylvia Monika Wyszomirska ( R) , waves during a patrol of the southern Lebanese town of Dibbin. In an effort to integrate better into south Lebanon's conservative society she has traded her UN peacekeeper's beret for a headscarf during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Comparative Headcoverings Photo

I found this photo in a forum discussion at ChristianForums.com - the posters in the thread are discussing various styles of covering, and how it can be difficult to begin to cover, or to be the only one who chooses to in your group.

A woman who is new to covering can be intimidated by these fully modest covering styles of head covering. But there is a great variety of headbands, hats and smaller scarves to choose from, so that no one has to appear for worship "wearing antlers". Read the full discussion at the link for that illustration (it's on page 2). ;)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Free Head Scarf Pattern - knit in Chinchilla™


See also the list of patterns for other head gear at Berroco.com


I also came across this interesting knitted head scarf idea, sold as a kit from MorehouseFarm.com


Also see the "Those Headcoverings Illustrated" page for links to sites with patterns and how-to's.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Check for Similarities

I know that I offend/make angry/uncomfortable with this blog. When I first began it - when I first began studying the idea of head covering as a spiritual or religious matter - I knew that many people considered that certain things really did fall into a "true" or "untrue" category, and anyone who is not for one particular understanding of Truth, must be, by necessity, against that Truth.

But still, the similarities I find are astounding. The very fact that Christians of all kinds of backgrounds, Jews of various backgrounds, Muslims of a wide variety of backgrounds, and even many Sikhs and Hindus (are there more that I have missed here?) find it important to either cover their head, cover the head of women, realize that the writings that they consider holy do at least make a point for the symbolism or broader understanding of the concept of covering the head, for religious and spiritual reasons - is amazing. Look through this blog's labels, and consider that I've missed several: you'll find head covering women and men everywhere from North and South America, to Europe and Africa, and all over Asia. (I'm sure they cover their heads in Antarctica too, to finish off the listing of continents, if only for the sake of their health.)

I won't take the time to write out a long essay myself. But I'll pass along a few links to some articles that I think make my point. Read an article about a follower of Islam and their understanding of the fear of God, and try substituting terminology from the Bible or Torah. I do it quite often. And, offensive to you or not, I often find that I could simply switch out a few of those words and reprint the article for a different believer, and the Truth of the matter could still be found.

Am I saying that I think that all faiths are equal? No. They are not. I am saying that the similarities are amazing enough to make me consider even on my most doubtful of days, that there is a Truth out there.

Try these articles:

What I Learned and Heard From Two Days Among American Muslims
Robert Parham, in EthicsDaily.com, 09-05-08
The headcovering quote from this article: Only one or two women wore the burqa. Most had headscarves. A number lacked any head coverings.

[often translated as "the fear of God"]
Wesley Ja'far Porter, in the blog: One Nation Under Allah, September 6, 2008
Excerpt of this article mentioning head coverings:
People who have taqwa first and foremost, obey what Allah (swt) orders of them, and they avoid whatever Allah forbids them. The lack taqwa in today’s world is very evident. There are so many issues that Muslims today try to question. Many Muslims today spend a lot of time trying to find loop holes in Allah’s commands in the Qur’an, and to try and find ways to make some of the evil influences of the secular world, permissible in Islam.
One example of this is the issue of the hijab [covering]. Allah (swt) is very clear in the Qur’an, “walyudhribna khumurihinna ‘alaa juyubihinna”, or as it means in English, “draw their headcoverings over their upper torso”. This verse is very clear and explicit as to what Allah (swt) orders of the Muslim women, yet today there are countless people who try to pick apart every little detail and nuance of the verses of the Qur’an to try to find a way that it can be interpreted differently in order to fit modern and secular ideas of women’s dress. We should remember the extent of the taqwa of the sahabah [Companions of Prophet Mohammed], where in this particular case, Aisha (ra) said in an authentic hadith [oral traditions relating to the words and deeds of the Islamic prophet] that when these verses were revealed, that the sahaba women tore pieces off their garments to cover their head, neck, and upper torso. In fact many of them, in their sense of taqwa, covered themselves completely. They obeyed the words of Allah immediately, and without question. This is true taqwa.

Women as Leaders Anywhere a Challenge to Partiarchy Everywhere
Pamela K. Taylor, in On Faith, from the WashingtonPost.com, September 4, 2008
[from the "other" side of where I come from, but still, compare this to articles criticizing the complementarian view of men and women anywhere]

Tear Down the Pulpit and Women Teaching Becomes A Different Discussion

by lionelwoods7, in the blog A Better Covenant, September 6, 2008
[short article and many comments made; a similar idea to the above article, considering the equality versus (?) the complementary nature of men and women)

Head Coverings
Posted by Kathy, in the blog Jackson Family News, September 5, 2008
[A post from an American in a foreign land; I was not able to discern the exact location, so I won't assume based merely on the wording here.]
Head coverings here can mean any number of things. Obviously, women from devout Muslim families keep their heads covered. There are several different looks, depending on which branch the woman adheres to. The Sunni women usually have very beautiful, colorful scarves arranged very elaborately. On occasion we see women wearing head-to-toe coverings, usually foreigners from neighboring countries. Then there's the babushka look, usually sported by very large, elderly ladies: dark brown, black or dark blue kerchiefs. Some ethnic groups have their own distinct style of head coverings. My Pentecostal friend is often mistaken for ethnic Chechnyan because of the way she arranges her scarf. The downside to that is that she's invariably subjected to a police search whenever she rides the subway. There's a general suspicion that Chechnyan women might have explosives hidden under their head covering. And then, there's one of the more common head coverings. Three or four days without water means a bad hair day. The young women here are generally very beautiful, and quite vain. A nice scarf looks a lot better than dirty hair!

That Veil Thing
By Sumbul Ali-Karamali, in TheAmericanMuslim.org, Sep 5, 2008
Discussing the questions: "But what’s Islamic dress? And is a head-covering required? Both Muslims and non-Muslims in recent years assume that it’s a clear edict."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Christian Headcovering

The View from the Veil: My Journey into Full-Time Headcovering

You just should read this whole article, is all.

September Is Alopecia Awareness Month

SARASOTA, FL -- 09/04/08 -- Alopecia is a poorly understood and under reported autoimmune condition which causes hair loss. It occurs in men and women of all ages but onset usually occurs during childhood, affecting 2% of the population. This condition begins as Alopecia Areata with small, round, bald patches on the scalp. The disease may progress to Alopecia Totalis (bald head) or Alopecia Universalis (total body hair loss). The cause is unknown and there is no cure. Alopecia is highly unpredictable, as hair loss and growth can occur at any time.

Susan Beausang, President of 4women.com and fashion head scarf designer, has lived with AU (Alopecia Universalis) for the last seven years. She comes from three generations of breast cancer survivors, and carries the BRCA2 breast cancer gene. After having a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy (pre-vivor), she developed AU and lost her hair. Frustrated by the lack of fashionable and feminine options available to women and girls who are experiencing medical hair loss, Susan began designing a scarf known as 'The beaubeau(TM) -- Beautiful Scarves for Beautiful Heads.'

The beaubeau scarf is a fashionable alternative to wearing a wig. Susan believes that a beautiful outfit deserves an equally beautiful scarf, which is her reasoning for producing scarves in colors, prints, solids and designer fabrics. It is her mission to unite the world of fashion to medical head wear. Her scarf creatively combines fashion and function. The beaubeau is offered in a variety of fabrics including rayon, gorgeous silks, workout fabric and even fabrics for cooler temps such as a luscious combination of cashmere and cotton. Susan fondly names all of her scarves in her collection. All scarves come with a matching scrunchie, which allows a variety of styling options.

Please read the whole article from The Earth Times, for more information on Susan, on alopecia, and to view an embedded video. Also see more information from the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF), including materials for Alopecia Awareness Month. For more information about Susan Beausang, 4women.com and photos of the lovely beaubeau(TM), including a listing of boutiques which carry the beaubeau, please visit: http://www.4women.com. Susan posted a similar personal blog post here: Blogher.com

See also: alopeciaworld.com for US events for awareness month.

Also, in honor of September being Alopecia Awareness Month, for the whole month of September "Jus Shar Designs" (knitting and crochet blog) is going to give 15% off all hat orders and purchases. You can buy them here, or here.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Snoods and Other Sweet Coverings

Garlands of Grace has updated their catalog of headbands, head scarves, and other coverings, and now includes some lovely snood styles. Please visit for some ideas...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Head Covering Discussions

Read up on all kinds of "Head Covering Discussions" at YahSpace.

The purpose of the "Headcovering Group," is stated is as follows:

"This group was created for women to come and discuss the subject of head covering together. Come and share with other women and let’s explore together what scripture has to say."

The statement above, to

"come and discuss the subject.......explore together what scripture has to say"

means to investigate, to find scriptural support for our position, whether pro or con.

If the statement was, "we wish to investiage how we are going to cover our heads" it would have definately limited this group to those who were only in favor of the headcoverings.

To be as Bereans, I hope you all agree, we must "search the scriptures" and let them speak to us, let them provide our doctrines, and that we not abide by or teach any commandments, doctrines of traditions of men (as though they were of YHWH).

Traditions are ok, as long as we understand that they are traditions and why we keep them, and that others are under no compulsion to follow us in our practices.

We are also told in 1Th 5:21 to:
" Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."

We are also told in 2 Ti 3:16
"All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness"

We should never get too old or too complacent or too content with our current state of knowledge, to refuse to prove or disprove/revisit our cherished traditions.

We also should always be ready to give an answer regarding any part of our faith to those who ask, especially those newly coming into the faith.