When God first called me to the unengaged, I had never met a Muslim woman.
I pictured them as two-dimensional images—shapeless figures shuffling along dusty streets, faces veiled and bodies hunched beneath the folds of excessive clothing.
But my first meaningful encounters with women in the Muslim world startled me. Suddenly, those flat, stereotyped images morphed into colourful, multi-dimensional personalities.
It started with an invitation to a traditional wedding reception. As a newcomer to the country, I had no idea what to expect.
MY FIRST MEANINGFUL ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSLIM WOMEN BURST MY FLAT STEREOTYPES.
Arriving at the house where the evening reception had already started, I felt the thrum of music beating in my veins. At the front door, men greeted each other with pecks on the cheek. I followed a group of veiled women around the side of the house. They slipped off their black veils in the darkness, emerging into the flood-lit, secluded backyard, where their bleached highlights and coiffed curls bounced to the beat.
A large woman in a tight black dress grabbed my arm, planted a couple kisses on my cheek, and pushed me into a plastic lawn chair. She grinned and yelled something at me, but the earsplitting music blasting out of the sound system drowned out her words. After several moments, I realized she was my neighbour Um Adel. Up until now, I had only ever seen her veiled.
On a makeshift dance floor, some women danced, shaking their hips in tight, sequined gowns. They looked like colourful disco balls, their faces beaming with both mischief and poise.
Up till now, I had viewed these women as static and demur. And here they were, loud and vibrant and gregarious in their most daring party wear.
THE WOMEN DANCED, THEIR FACES BEAMING WITH HAPPY MISCHIEF AND POISE.
I’ve become good friends with several women from that party. Like Nadia, a smart, independent, and educated woman. She enjoys helping me learn Arabic, and we’ve spent hours stumbling through conversations about religion, romance, and war.
Nadia has introduced me to a world of strange beauty treatments like threading facial hair and applying kohl for eye makeup. I cherish being invited into the local version of womanhood, and my friends delight in showing me the latest trends in headscarves. Like women all around the world, they are creative artisans embracing their beauty in a hostile world.
And hostile it is. Sometimes Nadia tells me about the day when the streets ran red with blood. The casualties of war have shrunk the pool of eligible men. Like many other single women in the city, Nadia’s afraid she’ll never marry.
I‘ve heard many heartbreaking stories from women who’ve experienced abuse, war, and death. I’ve cried with friends and prayed for them, calling upon the name of Jesus Christ—the One who comes to “wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 21:4). “Death shall be no more,” the passage continues, “neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Pray Nadia and my Muslim friends will know Jesus who wipes their tears and offers them the hope, peace, and joy of eternal life.
The first time she heard how much God loves her, Waheeda was brought to tears.
Now she has a vision to share the Word with others. Click the button to read her story.