Home > Imprisonment > We dressed like Muslims

We dressed like Muslims

July 18, 2011

by Khadija Anderson

scarves and black abayas
beautiful shoes

no makeup yet under our hijabs
our hair was long and glorious

we were deliberate and pious
we lowered our gaze

and remained chaste
the world moved quickly

we moved slowly
through our five daily prayers

our husbands were enigmas
coming and going

through a curtain
touching us as if strangers

grateful for food, children
and purdah

we were God conscious and

we lived in our safe world
of sisters, masjid, and Arabic

holding our breath
from Ramadan to Ramadan

Abaya – long traditional over-dress
Hijab – head scarf
Purdah – seclusion of women
Masjid – mosque
Ramadan – holy month, dedicated to fasting and prayer, that absolves previous sins

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Khadija Anderson returned in 2008 to her native Los Angeles after 18 years exile in Seattle. Khadija’s poetry has been published in print and online extensively and her poem “Islam for Americans” was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Prize. Khadija holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles.

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  1. Judith Terzi
    July 18, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    This is a beautiful piece, Khadija. Still powerful after several readings. We need more poetry on this theme.


  2. July 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    beautiful (if also hard) images from under the veil.

  3. July 18, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Oh, wow, Khadija. To me as an outsider, this poem manages to simultaneously highlight, question, and celebrate some of these ideas of what it means to dress “like a Muslim.” (I’m reminded of that wonderful tumblr: http://muslimswearingthings.tumblr.com/) Beautiful.

  4. July 18, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Thanks friends. Rachel, I had hoped to do that, nothing is black and white, as we know…

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