Tuesday, May 31, 2016

When patrons have questions

A regular at the library came in the other day and asked me a question as I was checking out his books.

He asked, "What does the color of your hijab* mean?"

I have to admit, I was thrown off, as I usually am, when people ask me questions or make comments out of nowhere in regards to my religion and the way I dress. Depending on the direction of the conversation will determine how fast I recover.

Confused I said, "I'm not sure what you're asking me?" 

Truly, this was not a question I had been asked before nor knew of anyone who had been asked it. I wasn't sure what he was asking.

"Your hijab color, what does it mean?"

My hijab was black, it went with my outfit. That was all. And I told him so.

"Its what I found at the store that matched my wardrobe and was for a good price."

He responded with a awkward stare, picked up his books, said bye, and walked out. 

As I sit here writing this, I wonder if he thought I was being sarcastic with my response. I wasn't. I got my black hijab (scarf) from H&M, in fact, I took all the black scarfs from H&M that day for two very simple reasons. 1) they were on sale and 2) black is half of my wardrobe.

But it has been weighing on my mind. Is there now a new trend of what your hijab color signifies? Does solid colors mean something important? What about mixed colors, or floral, patterns and shapes and images and everything else you can find on a hijab that females wear. WHAT AM I MISSING OUT ON?!

I went to Google.

And found no such trend. In fact, I found plenty of articles and question/answer posts about how the hijab is worn based on the wearers personal taste and level of devotion. So I did have a right to be confused.

Most Muslim females dress according to their personal taste, comfort and what they feel is their level of devotion. However, there are females who dont wear the Hijab who are more religious than those who do. Now here is where it can get slightly confusing for those who do not have a Muslim friend who can answer these types of questions to the best of their abilities.

I will try to explain this to the best of my abilities and hope that I dont mislead anyone or say something incorrect. However, I will do this in a later post.

For now, I will leave you with an image of my friends and I. Not all of us are Muslim. This is just some of the different style of dress.

I will say one more thing, the word hijab means the scarf that females wear on their head. But it also can mean the full outfit that she is wearing, this depends on the context in which the word is used. I hope I didn't confuse you with this piece of information. But I will elaborate more later.

*Hijab is the correct term in reference to the scarf Muslim females wear on their heads.
*Hijab can also reference the full outfit of a Muslim female.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! 


  1. There are some religious clothes where the color has meaning, some Amish communities attach meaning to the color of clothes and caps (married, single, widowed). Maybe his thinking was something like that?

    1. Through the discussion that took place on FB I learned that a lot of different religions tie in color to mean something. This was something that I was not aware of before. Having that discussion was very eye-opening for me. I wasnt upset with his question at all, just took me off guard. Especially since we have no tie in colors.

  2. I'm delighted to see this blog! I have worked in libraries with hajabis as valued patrons, volunteers and colleagues. I learned much from them about many things (not just Islam). I do think that you have to be willing to field all sorts of bizarre and personal questions when you work in a library. (I spent five years in dreadlocks, and some of that pregnant, to boot!) The institution thrives on curiosity. Not all questions are well intentioned, but that says more about the patron than the librarian. Be strong.

    1. First, I LOVE your name. That being said, I agree! Questions do tell us a LOT about the person in front of us. You definitely do meet a lot of interesting people being a librarian.