Friday, June 30, 2017

Hijabis Persist

This play below to be produced is open for further productions./ Any Artistic Director interested please leave info in comment box on this blog and you will be contacted ASAP Hijabis Persist/ Cast of Characters:/ Sadiqa/ Rehana/ Character Breakdown:/ Sadiqa/ Pakistani born US citizen./ She is a Muslim in her twenties, studying American History in Portland University. /Medium height, petite looking, pale complexion. Brown eyes, same color hair cut to shoulder length./ Rehana/ American African classmate of Sadiqa, also Muslim, studying Computer Information Systems. /Tall, athletic looking, large, dark eyes, dark complexion. /In her twenties, wears hijab./ Scene:/ A dorm room scantily furnished with two twin beds and a couple of writing desks. /When the curtain opens, Sadiqa and Rehana are seen lounging on their separate beds with pillows propped behind their backs./ Sadiqa/ Don’t you feel guilty, Rehana, that two men died and one wounded just because you were wearing a hijab./ Rehana/ I only feel anger, that’s all. /How can you say such a thing, Sadiqa? /Have you forgotten those racial slurs thrown at us? /You don’t wear hijab though you claim to be a Muslim. Sadiqa/ True Muslim is one who curbs his or her anger, no matter how harsh the provocation, Prophet Muhammad said./ As to hijab, it has nothing to do with Islam. /Clerics and zealots have concocted this manmade edict to control and oppress Muslim women./ Rehana (Shocked)/ How can you malign your own faith?/ I am proud to be a Muslim and wear hijab to protect my faith./ Sadiqa/ Islam is not about what you wear or how you cover your head, but loving, caring, sharing./ Besides there is not a single verse in the Quran which says Muslim women need to cover their heads./ Rehana (Scoffing)/ I never thought you could be so ignorant./ Don’t you know this verse: And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display their adornments only that which is apparent, and to draw their scarves over their bosoms. 24:31 Quran./ Sadiqa (Smiling)/ Sure!/ Clerics succeeding in distorting Quranic verses and seducing Muslim girls to cover their heads, who cares about the bosom part, just look like penguins by wearing hijab, maybe that tickles the fancy of Cleric’s zeal, who knows. /That verse was revealed in response to pagan women going around Kaaba wearing low-neck dresses with their bosoms revealed./ Rehana (Frowning)/ I have never heard you talk like this before. /I guess we never discussed religion. How about this verse in the Quran: / O ye who believe! Enter not the dwellings of the Prophet for a meal without waiting for the proper time, unless permission is granted you. /But if you are invited, enter, and when your meal is ended, disperse. /Lingering not for conversation. /Lo, that would cause annoyance to the Prophet and he would be shy of asking you to go, but Allah is not shy of truth. /And when you ask of the wives of the Prophet anything, ask it from them behind a curtain. 33:53 Quran./ Sadiqa/ Another tool of tyranny and distortion in the hands of zealots. /This verse has nothing to do with hijab or veiling. It was revealed right after Prophet’s marriage to Zainab. /The wedding guests lingered over the food and didn’t leave until it was very late in the night./ Rehana (Desperately)/ How come then that so many Muslim girls wear hijab?/ Sadiqa/ How come that countless more who don’t wear hijab, yet they are devout Muslims./ Rehana (Confused)/ I don’t know./ Sadiqa/ I will tell you why, because they believe in living Islam by the example of Prophet’s own life and by his Message of love, peace and harmony. /Not by touting unIslamic hijab as a symbol of Islam. /It’s like shouting: Look at me, I am a Muslim!/ Rehana (Persistently)/ I don’t think that way./ Hijab is part of my faith and I want to preserve it against these sudden tides of hate and Islamophobia./ Sadiqa/ Extremists are cause of this Islamophobia and they are very happy to see the symbols of their zeal over the heads of the young girls. /Saudi Arabia funneling money into mosques to make zealots of Muslims and luring them to their dens of hate for killing. /Suicide bombers are promised reward of houris in heaven, though suicide is forbidden in Islam, not allowed under any condition./ Rehana/ How do you know that mosques are breeding zealots since you don’t even go to the mosque?/ Sadiqa/ Because my friends tell me so. /They also tell their parents they don’t want to go to the mosque because mulla teaches hatred./ Rehana/ I don’t know which mosque they go to? /Our Maulvi is nice. He teaches us to love one another, how to dress, what to eat, say our prayers and stay away from sins. /Somehow I feel hijab is holy. /It’s my fight against all this hate and prejudice which many Muslims suffer silently. /If I took it off I would feel naked. /Yes, it’s my fight against bigotry and hate-mongering./ Sadiqa (Laughing)/ You are steering this fight in the wrong direction. /Fight the bigotry and hypocrisy of the zealots. /Discard all symbols of zeal and anger, and hatred and prejudice will melt away./ Rehana/ You don’t understand the sanctity of hijab./ You have never worn one./ Sadiqa (Laughing again)/ Yes, I have!/ Our mulla at the mosque, when I did go to the mosque, convinced me that hijab is Islamic and I must wear it to become a good Muslim. /My mom was so upset, exclaiming: /I would never get a good husband looking like a penguin. /Yet I persisted for two years until I went to Egypt to study Arabic./ My teacher over there, I discovered, was a great Islamic scholar and she told me that hijab has nothing to do with Islam, no mention of such a thing in the Quran or Sunnah. /She also told me that by not wearing hijab and teaching my friends to do so might help the plight of the oppressed Saudi women who are forced to wear niqab, abeya./When I returned to US without hijab, my mom teased: /How could you not believe your own mother but only your Islamic teacher in Egypt./ Rehana/ Amazing! What’s niqab or abeya?/ Sadiqa/ Wahhabi version of unIslamic hijab, niqab is a veil with only two slits for eyes. /Abeya is black, more like a death-shroud covering Muslim women from head to toe, and they must wear it if they leave their home. /Also they are not allowed to be alone on the streets unless accompanied by a male chaperone./ Rehana/ Awful! What is Wahhabi?/ Sadiqa/ Rather, Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia which has replaced Islam with its distorted version of manmade laws. /Oppressing women, breeding extremists, killing Muslims and non-Muslims in the name of Islam./ Rehana/ Can’t imagine such a dark country could still exist in this century twenty-one./ I feel I have been sleepwalking all my life. /How are the conditions in Pakistan? Do girls wear hijab?/ Sadiqa/ Not when I was growing up, I had never seen anyone wear hijab./ I didn’t even know what hijab was until I migrated to US./ At one of the Muslim gatherings I noticed one woman with this kind of head-covering. /I asked someone seated next to me why she was covering her head. I was told she was from India and what she was wearing was called hijab. /A decade later when I visited my hometown Lahore in Pakistan I thought I had entered a hijabi city. /Forty percent of the girls wore hijabs. /My aunts told me that Saudis were funding Islamic schools and their Wahhabi teachings were making Pakistani girls hijabis and boys zealots if not suicide bombers./ Rehana/ It’s frightening! /And I thought I knew everything about Islam. / Now that I am beginning to learn I can’t explain this sudden need inside me to help others./ How can I help?/ Sadiqa/ Take first step of feeling guilty, no matter how innocently you became instrument of the tragic deaths of Ricky Best and Taliesen Namkai-Meche./ This will jumpstart the rite of atonement and you will feel cleansed of all anger. /Simultaneously, look within you and start feeling truly and eternally grateful to Micah Fletcher, the wounded survivor of racially charged Jeremy Joseph Christian./ Rehana/ Oh, I feel so stupid and miserable. /Even now my anger for Christian is more than my guilt in wearing hijab which became the cause of tragic deaths./ I can feel this wild impulse in me goading me to hit Christian over and over again if it could make America Great Again. /As if that would avenge the deaths of two innocent angels who stood up to defend me against the barrage of racial slurs./ Sadiqa (Sadly)/ This impulse of yours reminds me of Christ’s saying: Resist not Evil. /Hazrat Inayat Khan, one of the Sufi teachers explains that Resist not Evil means, when there is resistance to evil of the other person, do not become angry with him./ When you foster the same emotion, you add to his, and you increase the same fire in yourself. /It is like infecting yourself with a contagious disease instead of curing it. /Anger and bitterness will die in time./ Rehana/ I need to learn more, about Christians too, and from learned Muslims, it is becoming obvious. /With no fault of my own and perhaps ignorantly, I became the instrument of two tragic deaths. /I need to do something, to help, to atone, what can I do?/ Sadiqa/ After the completion of first step, the second in line is to take off your hijab and reach out to as many Muslim girls as you can to educate them in the true precepts of Islam. /Convince them to challenge the manmade edicts of zealots by making a pile of discarded hijabs and feed those symbols of zeal to the flames./ Rehana (Peeling off her hijab)/ What’s next?/ Sadiqa/ Continue reaching out to young Muslim girls till centuries-old lies of the zealots are replaced with the purity of Islamic truth./ Rehana/ And what is the truth?/ Sadiqa/ Truth is a relative term, yet during the lifetime of the Prophet, Muslim women participated in public life and didn’t wear hijabs. /The pagan women as well as women from Judo-Christian background wore veil and hijab as mark of wealth, status and distinction. /To instill the virtue of equality amongst Muslims, the Prophet Muhammad forbade the Muslim women to wear veils./ Rehana/ I think I will reach out as far as Saudi Arabia till the oppressed women over there are not forced to wear those death-shrouds while still living. /What do say those dark gowns are, abeyas, I guess./ Sadiqa (Cheerfully)/ What about Afghanistan where Taliban love to imprison all women in burqas./ Rehana/ What is burqas?/ Sadiqa/ Burqa, twin of Saudi abeya, you might say, white death-shroud, but it can be of any color with only mesh around the eyes to look at the world, breath almost choked. /When Taliban ruled Afghanistan, they used to flog women even if their one toe was visible from under the burqa./ Rehana/ So much cruelty in the world, unbelievable! /And women oppression worst of all in many countries./ Sadiqa/ Not as brutal as in Saudi Arabia. /Their Religious Police oppressing women on the streets and at home./Yet, Muslim girls themselves in other countries inventing their own zeal and mode of self-oppression or glorification, don’t know which one? Have you heard, burkinis?/ Rehana/ Yes, in France, those Muslim girls fashioning their own swimwear, even hijabis look down upon. /They do look ridiculous, even looking like penguins doesn’t look that bad. /Yet, now it makes sense why they call it burkini, sort of combination of burqa and bikini./ Sadiqa/ Saddest part is even name-brand companies are portraying hijabi girls as young Islamic models to promote their shoes, jewelry and clothing./ As to burkini, covered from head to toe, they seem to be proclaiming: Look at me, I am a Muslim./ Didn’t I say that before?/ Rehana/ At times I too thought it sad, but now the thought itself depresses me./ I am beginning to see that Muslim girls like me are going through identity crisis. /Our parents too feel threatened as if their religion is being swallowed by Western ideology of feminism, if not by Christian way of living. /I have not much thought about it, since the thought itself is gloomy./ Sadiqa/ Let’s discard our own present gloom too, and think of cheerful living in hope of a better future. /Together, we will stand against the hurdles of bigotry. /And even without our help, many more like Micah Fletcher will stay alive to make America proud as the land of Liberty, chivalry and compassion./ Rehana (Thoughtfully getting down from the bed)/ Not yet time to sleep. So, let’s find some halal place to eat in Portland./ Sadiqa (Sprinting down her own bed and laughing)/ In Pakistan they say:/All zealots go searching for halal meat in the market with haram money in their pockets. /Haram in this context meaning money obtained as bribery, extortion, drug-dealing./ The Curtain/ ‘What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.’ /Henry S. Haskins

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