A blonde-haired, blue-eyed Christian mother-of-two has decided to wear a Muslim hijab every time she goes out of the house during Lent to remind herself what it is like to be “other.” (How about experiencing female genital mutilation if you really want to know what it feels like to be a Muslim woman?)
Christian Today Jessey Eagan, children’s director for Imago Dei Church in Peoria, Illinois, said that in the US she was part of the majority as a white, middle class woman.
“I feel this is especially important now as there is increasing animosity once again from (white Christian) Americans towards Muslims in our communities, which honestly makes me nervous about the idea.”
“I want to remind myself what it feels like to be an outsider – ‘the other’… So, I’m practising hospitality this Lent by getting into the shoes (or hijab) of my Muslim friends and neighbors. (Why don’t you get your husband to throw acid in your face so you can really have the ‘other’ experience?)
Writing on her blog, #40daysofhijab, Eagan says that she was inspired to undertake the challenge afterliving in Amman, Jordan. She moved there about seven years ago with her husband for 18 months. “To say that I didn’t quite fit in in my new surroundings would be a major understatement. I was an outsider. I stuck out like a sore thumb. Being blond haired and blue eyed in Jordan was like standing up and screaming in a library.”
She describes how she went swimming in a burkini, that her children got used to it and that it broke down barriers between her and the local Muslim community. She also describes how often the “uncovered” stare at her then quickly look away.
Interviewed by BuzzFeed she said her aim was to help people, specifically white Christians, learn how to see difference, embrace it, and engage with it.
One thing she hopes to do next is darken her skin with make-up and go out into the community. “My friend told me that white Muslims and brown Muslims have different experiences, as do black Muslims, within the Islamic community as well as in the community at large,” she said. (That’s right, in the Arabic language, ‘black’ and ‘slave’ are the same words. Ever wonder why?)
She added: “Jesus said to love our neighbors, strangers, and enemies (That’s only because Muslims hadn’t been invented yet). I think this is something that is not often taken seriously by many Christians. We are so influenced by the media, that we allow fear to take over, and forget to love. Fear is the opposite of love.”
“This is all about helping my people, specifically white Christians, learn how to see difference, embrace it, and engage with it. That’s what hospitality does. It welcomes people who were once outsiders into a community with love and the desire to understand.”