I would love to say no but sadly yes I was treated differently, by strangers as well as people I knew. I lost a few ‘friends’ though looking back they weren’t good friends if they ditch someone because of their faith. Also neighbours and general people in the community that I would normally smile and say morning to avoided eye contact with me now. While I was pretty sad about it at the time, you do grow to accept it. I remember being in Asda (Walmart in US), standing in the queue to pay and people in front of me vanished to longer queues to avoid standing near me. My mum was like look at it positively you finished getting your shopping quicker, but I was bummed out. How could a bit of material on my head make people run away from me?
Some friends took a little bit of time to adapt but then they were cool, especially as they started to understand my thought process behind it. Some people do not seem to see the difference between embracing Islam and becoming a terrorist, and as much as you will try to make them understand they still see it as ‘you say tomato, I say tomato’. The worst thing I think a converter to any religion can do is to shove it in peoples faces. I was learning so much and just wanted to go “hey you know what? oh I learned this today isn’t it amazing!” but I didn’t, I had hated being plugged with religious talk and knew its not how you go about things. Those that are interested will either read about it or ask a person of said religion questions. Just because your interested doesn’t mean everyone is. I joined a reverts forum online at the time and asked a ton of questions as well as answering some, it was an outlet for everything I wanted to say without bothering anyone.
My parents were amazing, they treated me no differently and my mum even let me try a hijab on her to see how it looked from the back 😀 My brother who was about 12 at the time really didn’t even seem to notice ought was different other than my hair not showing, he would pass the room while I was praying and not be bothered, each to their own was his attitude.
Don’t get me wrong and think that I was super not caring and strong willed. Quite a few times in the beginning especially at home in the UK I wore hat and scarf instead of hijab when the comments and stares got too much. Plus when I visited home one summer I dawned my hoodies hood to cover instead. I cared too much about what people thought and put aside my wants. I was always saying to myself, why are they acting like this, I’m still me! The problem is not the people themselves generally but that they do not know much on the subject and what they do know is either from the media which is all negative and pretty conflicting in regards to the truth, or from rubbish hateful articles on the net.
I won’t go into details about what was said to me nor what I was called but needless to say some were Anti-Islamic, some racist (yes somehow I who am pale with a dash of freckles, light eyes, with all Scottish features became Pakistani, Arab and I quote kidding you not “Japani”, all by wearing a hijab) and some down right stupid. Plus if you think that I am from any of these countries why are you calling me out on my hijab? I was starting to think I must have being followed my a gorgeous Pakistani woman from the amount of comments I received about being one. Whether or not these people understood the difference between race and religion is beyond me and baffles me to this day.
I could could advise anyone that asks me this question regarding hijab, I would say to not treat people differently, if you are curious ask them about it, they are expecting questions. Everyone has their own belief system and we should all respect each other. The same way everyone has their own unique sense of style, accept and respect them.
As always I would love to hear your feedback, thought and questions 🙂