Two Canadian Muslim girls told a reporter for the Toronto Star why one will wear the hijab and why the other prefers not to. Asmaa Abou Zeidan, age sixteen, is very careful about her dress and will not wear clothes that her mother believes are inappropriate for a Muslim. “She thinks everything I own is too tight. That is not the way a Muslim girl is supposed to dress. You’re supposed to be modest,” she says. Her parents, however, accord her considerable freedom and she is allowed to associate with anyone she desires. She has decided to wear the hijab of her own accord. “I like the way people treated m e when I wore it. I get more respect.” However, sometimes at night she goes down to the swimming pool in her apartment building, and when no one is around, plunges into the water and enjoys the feeling as water soaks into her bare head.
Zahraa El-Zalbak hangs around with a diverse group of girls at school, and often is asked why she does not wear the hijab. She doesn’t believe wearing or not wearing the hijab is a reflection of being or not being religious. She doesn’t believe a scarf has anything to do with one’s spirituality. “It’s not that I won’t wear one. I’m just not ready for it yet. I will wear it one day. Just not right now. For me, I want to be spiritually ready to do it and not regret it later.
These are two girls facing the same issues any immigrant group encounters living in a new land. Which values or traditions or customs are to be retained, which to be discarded, and at which point in life does one make or not make changes? These are common concerns for the traveler found in a new land.