Posted on: January 17, 2012
One of my favorite people to follow on Twitter is Jihadi Jew. I appreciate how he sees the similarities and beauty of Islam and Judaism. I appreciate how he openly and publicly embraces Islamic principles and uses passages in the Quran along side passages in Torah. Most recently, he handed the reigns of his blog to his daughter who shared her experience being a “Hijabi for a Day.” For an entire day this Jewish young woman walked around looking like a Muslim.
The other morning, after a particularly grueling fight with my hair (my hair won) I decided it would be best to wrap it up. I wrap my hair for a variety of reason, the fights are just one. I wrap my hair as a way to test out my personal comfort level with modest dressing. I wrap my hair because wearing a kippah feels weird. I wrap my hair because wrapping, like wearing a kippah, makes me feel close to Jewish tradition. I wrap my hair to remind myself that I’m only a human and that Gd is above (around, inside) me.
Last week, as I was wrapping my hair I bent down to retrieve a safety pin that escaped. There was already one securing the scarf at the base of my neck and gravity caused the other two ends to come forward around my shoulders. I straighten back up and looked at myself in the mirror-I looked Muslim. I tend to think I always appear Muslim rather than Jewish when I wrap my hair, because of my skin color. Even though my neck is always showing, hair is usually peaking out and I wrap the scarf into a sort of a bun at the base of my neck rather than how I look in this picture, I get more salaams than shaloms.
After spending time in Israel I realized that my hair wrapping is similar to the way that Israeli women wrap their hair, rather than a hijab worn by a Muslim woman. This, though, looked clearly Muslim. I was shocked and a bit fascinated. Could I walk around like this for an entire day?
I’m drawn to many aspects of Islam, the hijab, and why woman start to wear hijab is one of them. I’ve read many personal statements and watched YouTubeChannels of converts (reverts) to Islam. Why women, specifically women who chose Islam, decided to wear hijab is awesome to me. Like the norm of Orthodox Judaism, traditionally Muslim men and women have modest dressing criteria. Whether a woman chooses to wear hijab or not is not something that I’m an expert at. From my understanding, it is written in the Quran, and like many things written in Torah, I imagine that a Muslim woman decides what works for her and what does not. The only thing I do know with certainty is that if you wear a hijab, if you wear a sheitel or if you wear a kippah you are immediately identifiable as a person of faith. You are a person with a closeness to Gd, you are a person filled with love of religion.
Or a are you a person to be feared?
To be sure every religious groups has extremist. Followers who take the letter of their Holy Book to the extreme and use the words of Gd to do harm. I can’t actually think of a single religious group who hasn’t used Gd’s name as an excuse for hatred, ignorance, bigotry or violence. We think they’re crazy, we’d like to disown them from our faith, let the rest of the world know that they’re the small minority. We’re not like them. They aren’t a part of us. We’re different than that.
For the vast majority, Christians specifically, this seems to work. It’s the Protestants, we’re Catholics. Those nuts are the Evangelicals, we are Mormons. The Jehovah’s Witnesses think that, we’re Protestants. Fingers flying all over the place all in the name of Gd or his son. Except when that faith is challenged. Sometimes a Protestant will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a Mormon if their goal is to forbid LGBTQ people from adopting children. Sometimes a Jehovah’s Witness will shake hands with an evangelical if they’re standing outside of an abortion clinic calling a woman a whore. Perhaps they’ll all stand together to prevent a mosque from being built in downtown Manhattan.
I don’t have a problem with prayer in football, but I wonder if the world would care even more if the person praying looked like the picture of me in a hijab rather than a white man on his knee. Everyone from athletes to rappers to Oscar winners thank Jesus for helping them get to their special moments. The sign of the cross or a close up, slow- motion shot of a fist pump and the words, “Thank you, Jesus” on the lips of a linebacker aren’t new occurrences. But this Tebowing thing steps over the line. Maybe it’s his support of Focus on the Family, maybe it’s his prolife stance, maybe I just don’t like the way that he looks.
What if Tim Tebow were Muslim asks an important question, but I’m pretty sure I know the answer. If Tim Tebow were a Muslim he wouldn’t be allowed to pray on the field. If Tim Tebow were a Muslim (and carried the same conservative views) Focus on the Family probably would not use him in their advertisements. If Tim Tebow were a Muslim the Republican candidates wouldn’t support him and would warn Americans that he was trying to unravel the very fabric of our all-American game. Tebowing wouldn’t be a phrase, no one would post pictures of themselves “Tebowing”. The Broncos would be a no-name team with a terrorist throwing the ball.
What if Tim Tebow were a Jew? Would Americans embrace him if he wore a beard and payis? No. Blue-blooded Americans like people who fulfill our idea of who an American is. A good ole boy who throws the pigskin. A good ole boy who believes in the word of JC. A good ole boy who believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, that abortion is murder, that the Christian way is the right way.
When Rick Perry (in the running for asshat of the year) made his strong video we all shook our heads in disbelief. He’s a nut, he’s a wacko, he’s insane! Thing is, he doesn’t think so, he thinks he’s justified by the Bible no less. Some Christians groups even applaud him (and the rest of their lot) for trying to bring Gd back to American, but Gd has been here the whole time. Gd is stamped on our money, Gd is in our courtrooms, Gd is in the Pledge of Allegiance. Gd has always been a part of American life, but only one way of loving Gd is valid?
The dream Martin Luther King had was that all people be given the freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Regardless of our religion, sex, our orientation, our creed, ethnicity or race we are all Americans. So I don’t have a problem with Tim Tebow, per se, as long as Tim Tebow and the lot of them keep their politics and their beliefs away from Gd.