As a teacher, I spend most of my day around children. A child's view of the world is innocent and non-judgmental. While they may ask about your strange name or dress, they are just as likely to ask someone about someone's eyeglasses, wheelchair, or skin color. They are trying to figure out the differences among people, and as long as adults answer their questions with simple honesty, their curiosity is satisfied and they move on with a better appreciation for the diversity of humanity.
When Muslim women get together, we often share stories with each other - to make us smile, laugh, and sometimes shake our heads in wonder about how the minds of children (and adults) work. Here are couple of stories:
During Christmas season, an American Muslim woman was in the store waiting in line at the checkout stand. She was wearing a blue dress and a white headscarf. In front of her, a young girl tugged on her mother's arm and gaped at her in astonishment. The woman smiled at her and said "Hello," but the child kept staring. Finally, she gasped in hope and wonder: "Are you Jesus' Mommy?!?" Not wanting to crush the girl's spirit, she smiled and quietly answered, "No, sweetie, but we're kind of related."
As a candy-striper in a local hospital, another sister was tending to an ill elderly woman. The woman was dozing quietly when her phone rang. She sleepily reached over to answer, opening her eyes and looking around the room. She hesitated on the phone, then said, "I can't talk right now, there's an angel in my room!"
Other common (and not-so-common) questions and comments:
- "Are you a nun?"
- "See that lady over there? I think she's a saint."
- "Are you a priest?"
- "You look like an angel!"
- "Are you a midwife?" (Huh?)
- "You look like my cousin in Colorado." (said by a 9-year-old child when first meeting a fully-covered Muslim woman - see how they can look right past the dress?)