Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I want to explore the woman as a concept, not just a body.

By Shannon Capezzali

Dim lights in the night sky
who am i?
Strong words on thin paper
who am i?
God and jinn, whispering in my ears
who am i?

I want to explore the woman hidden.
It is not just a veil. It is not hijab.
Sometimes it is a liberator. Sometimes it is an oppressor.
It is not the cloth that oppresses, it is the people around it.
But beyond that issue, who is the girl who is hidden?
Why is she hidden? From what? From who?
I want to explore the woman beautiful.
the woman ugly
the woman 'other'.
I want to explore turning your faces away.
I want to explore the image of piety
the image of faith.
What is faith, and whos is it?
I want to explore the woman hidden.
When she cannot be sexualized
When she cannot be objectified
When she cannot be terrorized by the gaze of others
by the judgment on her body
perfect or imperfect.

I want to explore the woman as a concept, not just a body.
Blood flowing in these veins
the womb that gives life
the hands that heal
the words that soothe
her thoughts...these thoughts that liberate
the woman.

Here is my face, oh God. That you have created me to be a woman. And have granted me to see and feel and be what a woman is. Have granted me the tears of a woman, and the laughter. The pains of a woman, the sympathy, the compassion. Have granted me the selfishness of this society, the fear, and anxiety of what sad or evil things I see around me.

Here is my face, oh God. How shall I honor what has been given to me? That I may save my heart for the one who will not break it. That I may cover my breasts and conceal what would ignite the fires of lust. That I may show that I am a submitter.

Here is my face, oh God. What you created from the earth, that I may be a comfort for the one who loves me. You know each strand of hair, each lock, each tightly braided band, each thought.

And here, to push aside the beauty of each strand, each face, each human, which will one day fade and weaken, and return to the earth an empty shell. To cast aside vanity, selfishness, greed and gluttony. To set aside ill will, and fear of this life, and desire for acceptance from anyone but God.

This is a ritual of purification, the act of wrapping and unwrapping. The act of hiding what has been molested and raped by the eyes, the thoughts, the actions, the will of the unthankful people and the ungodly societies.
Here oh God, i wrap the cloth around my hair.
In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

I tie the ends together, this is a prayer. This is a ritual. This is the woman, rejecting the impure gaze, the judgements inflicted by self and others. This is the woman saying, 'my beauty is deeper than what will grow old and die'.
Here oh God, I tie the ends together.
Praise be to God, Lord of the Universe.

Each fold is like a flower, wrapped around the stalk. The creases overlapping, gently resting on their hinges, lifting up to the warmth. Do you remember the day of our creation? The day the heavens exploded into a million stars? It is deep within us, every atom knows the way home.
Here oh God, I make the folds.
Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

And now I bring the cloth around, to conceal what I do not wish to be seen, and to release the side of me which is hindered by onlookers. Each fold releases the knowing of Gods love. Each covering confirms that I am more than this limb and that limb. Each moment hidden in this way is freedom from others lust, from the sins that are expected of you in this country, from being the object they want you to be.
Here oh God, I bring the cloth around.
Master of the Day of Judgment.

Here God, is the face you made for me. The light which wakes it each morning. The signs within the sky and earth that show the way, these two eyes of mine, what they have seen, what they will see! Each knows the stars in the sky, and the seven universes and the water which is clear and which is salty. Each has seen the happiness and the sorrow. Of all the things these cannot be concealed.
Here oh God, I cover my hair.
You alone we worship. You alone we ask for help.

And now I bring it tightly round my head. It is like a parents safe embrace against the pounding winds on tiny faces. What do I conceal when I bring it near? And from which person, which entity do I hide this part of me? Or perhaps it is more than hiding. Perhaps it is the message. Perhaps, grant me my decency, my chastity, the parts of me which exist despite this body.
Here oh God, I bring it tightly round my head.
Guide us in the right path;

When all is tight, each end in place, dresses lengthened to the floor...
this is the putting on of cloth, the throwing off of sin,
the conceiling of skin, the revealing of...
what does this act reveal? It is the question
Who am I? What am I?
Here oh God, this is the great mystery.
The path of those whom you blessed;

Not of those who have deserved wrath, nor of the strayers.

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1 comment:

Small Blue Thing said...

Salaam Sara,

It's Small Blue Thing from Spain _I've drop by your blog through Rivi's one. I'd like to give you my gratefulness because your kind words have help me to understand the beautiful way to Islam. I'm spanish and _though I'm buddhist, I feel the Islamic heritage in my country deeply inside my heart.

I hope my blog can give you the half of what yours teaches all of us.

Blue Thing