STRIPPED OF MY HIJAB! MY BRITISH ENCOUNTER By Waseelah O.

It was a warm summer morning. I had just moved to a new environment after completing my university studies. On that particular morning, I woke up, did my usual fajr prayers but didn’t go back to sleep as I normally would. I had an interview to attend. It was for my National Insurance (NI) number. Anyone familiar with the UK will understand how important this number is. My dear sister had described how to get to the Job Centre where the number was to be issued, a mere 20 minutes walk from my house. Interview done, I thanked the interviewer after he informed me of a four week wait for the number. Fidgeting over,%20now I can breathe. On my way home, I walked quietly, several thoughts running through my mind amongst which was my eligibility to work in the UK, and other “what ifs”. What if the NI number never came? What if I am rejected? What if my name was omitted?  What if, what if... . All of a sudden I heard or thought someone had removed my hijab, I quickly touched my head, trying to cover the bit they were able to uncover, I saw them. They were cycling fast on bicycles ahead and laughing. Four kids! They couldn’t be more than 11 years old. Cycling as fast as they could, probably thinking I would chase after them. I felt embarrassed, almost afraid, didn’t know what to do, looked back again to see if there were others behind. I only saw a lady coming behind me, a white lady. She was supposed to comfort me, I thought she would offer some condolences, to my dismay, she never uttered a word, she quickly walked past me. I retraced my steps and started walking home as fast as my legs would carry me, looking desperately over my shoulders. When I think of it now, I couldn’t but laugh at how afraid I was on that fateful day. On my way home, I gave my little niece a quick call,%20told her to be very watchful especially when going to the shops. I arrived at home and narrated the incidence to my sister. She was livid, especially with the stone cold white lady and warned me to take great care from there on. This is definitely the aftermath of the July 7th, 2005 attacks in London.   However, what really amazed me was what happened later that same day; I went out in the evening, did some shopping and waited for my bus home. Minding my business and really more alert, I noticed two children looking at me, nothing really told me they were Muslims but I thought I heard them say “salaam”. I listened again and they said “salaam alaikum”. I quickly replied “walaikun salaam”. Trying to figure them out, since they were accompanied by a white woman and these were black kids. Anyway, we got on the bus together, I was then informed that they were visiting their aunt from London - the white woman and they were indeed Muslims. Sadly, I got off the bus before them, but not before we said our bye byes. Those children certainly made my day. I couldn’t but think of how Allah had compensated me for my embarrassing encounter earlier that day. Indeed Allah is Great. Four silly children thought they could frighten me and Allah made two beautiful children brighten my evening. Alhamdulilahi, there is no one worthy of worship but Allah (SWT). Indeed He is truly with the patient one. Each time I go back to that area, I remember the incident; my initial visit was tainted by that experience. Will I ever forget that encounter? No. Will I ever in the world forget those cuties who saved my day? NEVER! Perhaps we might never meet again; perhaps we might meet but won’t recognize each other. Who knows?! Only Allah knows best. “………Truly in Allah let the believers put their trust”. May Allah rectify all our affairs in the best way! Salaam alaikum waramatulahi wabarakatu.

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