Muslim Woman Discovers Friendly New World When a Winter Scarf Covers Her Hijab

Chicago's bitter cold temps led to an impromptu social experiment when Leena Suleiman bundled up in a knit scarf and cap.

Leena Suleiman | Source: leenamielus.blogspot.com
Leena Suleiman | Source: leenamielus.blogspot.com

A south suburban Chicago woman who hid her hijab beneath a fluffy knit hat and scarf found an entirely different world around her when others couldn't see the traditional Muslim garb.

"I didn't understand what was happening at first. People started talking to me more. Women would speak to me like I knew them since forever. Men looked at me like I was actually approachable," Leena Suleiman wrote of her experience on her blog, Facetruth. "And I was made to feel like I was actually from this planet."

But with the hijab hidden, Suleiman also learned the familiar place she inhabited comfortably for so many years, the world of American Muslims, no longer was warm and friendly.

"The Muslim taxi drivers who would almost always say "Assalamu Alaikum," ask me where I'm from or if I'm single, or not allow me to pay for the fare became cold and dry. I would simply give the address, and the only dialog thereafter was at time of payment. It was puzzling," she wrote.

But the wrap around her head made all the difference. And so she decided to conduct her own social experiment, much like skinny people who don fat suits or white people who darken their skin to see how others react to their new "body."

"I started paying more attention to the difference in the way people treated me. It was fun feeling like everyone around me believed I belonged in their culture by default, and not as part of the begrudgingly adopted diversity piece of the pie. It was a good feeling. I secretly started looking forward to venturing out into the cold to further explore what it meant to be 'normal.'

"I became even more confident walking in my city. My city. All the stares were not racially related anymore. I was addressed as 'lady' and 'little lady,' something I had never heard before. Men would hold doors for me. Women would crack jokes with me. I became respectable, lovable, and accepted."

Suleiman, a 25-year-old architectural designer in Chicago who graduated from Illinois Institute of Technology, was born in Oak Lawn and lives in Chicago Ridge. A large population of Muslims, many with roots in Palestine, is concentrated in the south suburbs.

Her blog, posted on Feb. 7 and titled "I Took Off My Hijab," has more than 200 comments as of Feb. 13. Suleiman goes on to write that the realization, only made possible by this winter's record-setting cold temperatures and windchill in Chicago, saddened her.

"I immediately began to despise the inequality, and it dawned on me that I acted like someone who was bullied for years, and finally was accepted by the mean girls ..."

Commenters on her blog found the experiment thought-provoking, however.

"Sounds quite adventurous! Perhaps the fact that the 'hijabis' ignored you because you were not visibly Muslim may indicate both sides of the problem .Too often insularity is what keeps people from being treated as 'normal,'" said one.

Adds another: "Honestly, I think many non-Muslims in America aren't quite sure how to approach someone in a hijab. It's not that you're Muslim. It's that you simply dress in a way that is different and it's a bit intimidating."

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What do you think? Share your views in the comments.

Denise March 05, 2014 at 09:36 PM
Correction... I don't get my facts from the internet or tv. ( I don't make tv dinners either)
Diane March 05, 2014 at 10:01 PM
Dan. Thank you! Square- you just proved the labels I bestowed on you. And James, there are no words for some one as ignorant as you to tell me to go make dinner! Lol. I have probably done more things both dangerous and selfless without thought than you ever will waiting for your wife to serve you if you have a wife which i highly doubt unless she is happy being subservient to you. You profess to fight prejudice yet the other side of your two faces does just that by degrading women! In words of some of these geniuses on here. OINK,OINK, you are the epitome of a mysoginist pig. There can be no forgiveness for you who obviously feel that women are second class to you, the almighty male. You are simply a pathetic human being and I thank God you are less than nothing to me. I will happily return to "my people", the God fearing group of us that will work each day to reach the Kingdom of heaven by deed. And what I so with my hair is none of your concern so stuff it. Remember stay on topic! You and your "stars" need to look in a mirror and see yourselves as the hypocrites you are. And again James, after the 5:29 posting where I spoke of 9/11, your very next response was my"BABBLE". Short memory? I think I have debated the worst "Americans" tonight than ever before. You are all entitled to your own opinions bit not your own facts. After what I've just read from you people who are supposedly fighting prejudice, I'm astounded at the vehement prejudice you all wrote. Bury this thread already. And on the gravestone, the epithet should read "the James gang, and their weak attempt of being superior to all others". RIP
LSquarebird March 06, 2014 at 08:19 AM
OK Diane. And I will return to my rational, non-judgy and less hysterical people over here!
Diane March 06, 2014 at 08:21 AM
jack hess March 06, 2014 at 11:01 AM
For all the people on site who are defending ISLAM. Tell me why, when anyone makes a joke about ISLAMIC religion or prophet MUHAMMAD it is met with THREAT VIOLENCE? I don't see this with any other religions in the the WORLD. People make jokes about all other religions all the time an no repercussions of violence. All religions in the past have committed violence. But the no#1 religion for act of violence today against all other religions is ISLAM! FACT, Not Christian, JEWS or Buddhist combined all together commit the violence of today that ISLAM does! That why we live in the GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. The USA let everyone practice their religion without being slaughtered . FACT, this does not happen in MOST ISLAMIC COUNTRIES !
James Hamilton March 07, 2014 at 01:30 AM
Diane, Thank you! You have just proved your brand of Christianity. Revealing yourself as a judgmental, hypocritical, hateful bitch. Please go continue to wallow with the rest of the pigs in your pen. Although you are an insult to pigs. Don't bother to reply, I am thoroughly disgusted with your ignorant blathering.
James Hamilton March 07, 2014 at 01:36 AM
One final thank you. How Christian of you to bestow judgements on myself and others. Oh ye hypocrite.
mo March 08, 2014 at 09:19 PM
Wow, I am shocked that people can act this way assuming we are all adults. this is sickening. to the person I think the Deerfield resident who says we should go back to our deserts and all the other extremely racist crap, listen, you have issues man. Hatred is the root of all evil. I am not from a cave or desert but I have been to the middle east, even before I converted, and was met with some of the warmest nicest people I have ever met. I am a white girl from Chicago (well actually Frankfort) Irish, Italian, german, and scotish, there was no desert in my heritage. So hear is one of the biggest problems with your attack on every muslim about 9/11. They were not devout Muslims. They were extremists or pawns for bin laden. When the government did the investigation into the hijackers they found out they were doing things that were not consistant with Islamic teachings. They were going to clubs and strip clubs, drinking.. they were not good Muslim men. Most likely they were desperate and a very rich man wanted to pay them for his own agenda. There is no good Muslim who agrees with Bin laden, or any other terrorist activity. Islam does not condone the killing of innocent people, whether they believe in Islam or not. there is a Surah in the Quran that the media constantly uses to defend their attack on Islam and feed into the fear of people for ratings. this Surah does say to kill the infidels as you are all claiming but it does not give people the permission to just go randomly out and kill people. there is a before and after to that surah that makes it make sense and it is inclusive to the time period that the Quran was revealed. meaning, it was giving people who were being persecuted for their religion at the time of the prophet Mohammed(pbh) to kill the people who were trying to kill them. Now if anyone is interested in stopping to slam the religion without knowing what they are talking about you can actually re search it your self or call a mosque and ask a sheik. These are extremely educated people, they didn't just go to a seminary school. Most are scholars and are very knowledgeable. if you are in the Oak Lawn area, Sh. Jamal a the Mosque foundation is an amazing scholar and does interfaith dialogue with other religions. OK, with that said, also research how Allah (god in Arabic) said that it is not ok to kill anyone unless you are defending your life meaning you are in a war, and even then there are conditions. You can not kill children, women, old men and so on. You can only kill who is standing before you ready to kill you. And if you don't follow that and you kill someone (as he hijackers did) it is as if you killed all the souls in the world. As for 9/11 there are no muslims in the US who are true muslims that don't feel for NY and all the people who died that day. Even overseas they don't understand how someone could orchestrate this horrible act in the name of Islam. Please stop calling people camel jockeys, it is not nice nor adult like and to be honest, most don't ride Camels anymore, they drive Mercedes and Audi's.
Dan Cox March 08, 2014 at 09:52 PM
Burn all Koran's and the world will be a better place.
James Hamilton March 08, 2014 at 10:03 PM
Perfect Dan, also include all Bibles, Torahs and other religious books.
James Hamilton March 09, 2014 at 12:22 AM
Peace will come when the last priest is strangled with the entrails of the last lawyer.
Dan Cox March 09, 2014 at 07:09 AM
No, just that rag of the Terrorists.
Diane March 09, 2014 at 07:29 AM
James Hamilton. You are flagged as inappropriate.for being so evil to suggest the slaughter of more innocent people. I won't stop until the Patch stops you from suggesting and hoping for the deaths of those who deserve to live even though they are Christians and Jews. You have really shown your true colors. A bigoted maniac.
LSquarebird March 09, 2014 at 09:50 AM
Mo, please know that many of us hear and understand your points. I completely get it. Diane, you like to think that you are some type of moral gatekeeper of this discussion, which is laughable. James, I think it's time we stop giving these two people with redneck values an audience.
Diane March 09, 2014 at 11:21 AM
Didn't I yell you once before that you bore me? ? Stop and go intoaway! Yuck!!!
Stephanie Brent March 09, 2014 at 12:56 PM
I want to know how to stop getting email notifications for this post. You've all invested way too much energy without much addressing this woman's original column at all. I'm sick of your hundreds of two-way, hate-fest comments crowding my email box.
James Hamilton March 09, 2014 at 07:11 PM
LSquare, I agree. I find it laughable that I have been accused and flagged for 'suggesting the slaughter of more innocent people.' She will find her reward when St. Peter pushes the down button. These incompetent 'church ladies' have no concept of what other post. As you said, they have set themselves as moral gatekeepers. I believe that those that responded to the original discussion see the idiocy in the 'church ladies' inane comments. See you down the road. I guess our only 'sin' was to annoy these silly ladies. 與豬不要搏鬥!
jack hess March 10, 2014 at 05:13 PM
This for low information people. Fact, the Muslim American Society is an overt arm of the Muslim Brother as (stated and proven by the F.B.I.). The leader of the Muslim American Society is Imam Abdullah Faaruug in Massachusett, who on May 22 2010 told followers they MUST (PICK-UP THE GUN and the SWORD in RESPONSE to the ARREST and CONVICTION of two Local TERRORIST ANFIA SIDDIQUI and TAREK MEHANNA. NOW THE CRAZY PART OF BEING POLITICAL CORRECT BY A LIBERAL POLITICIAN GOVERNOR (DEVAL PATRICK) of MASSACHUSETT EMBRACED THE RADICAL LEADERSHIP OF IMAM ABDULLAH FAAUUG. LOW INFORMATION PEOPLE NEED TO EDUCATE YOURSELF ON ISLAM. You can go to Youtube to watch IMAM FAAUUG HATE FOR AMERICAN.
jack hess March 12, 2014 at 09:58 PM
To find out more truth on ISLAM. Go to WND FAITH ON ISLAM!
mo March 14, 2014 at 09:58 AM
OMG, who let the crazies out. seriously? yes, if you want to find out more on islam go to a crazy site run by Republican Christians. That is exactly where you will find the truth about Islam. LMAO I even just looked up this guy and the only thing I can find is biased crap from watch dog sites which are never telling the truth. They love to insight fear into Americans to get their votes. Seriously funny sh*t
jack hess March 14, 2014 at 11:10 AM
This site tells the truth its the Liberal that hide from the truth. This site give facts with with VIDEOS , about ISLAM , even Muslims have stated this site is true. Mo, asks yourself what happen to the (WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MALAYSIAN JET AIRLINER)? The plane flew out of the largest ISLAMIC COUNTRY IN THE WORLD! Mo when the last time you where in the Mid-East. I spent 6 years years there. Mo, what do you think of Muslim Women rights in the Mid -East? Maybe you need to educate yourself on SHARIA LAW! Liberals act on emotions not FACTS. Mo, why is most of the Muslim media control by the government? Why does some Muslim country still have Slavery? No insight of fear into to Americans Mo, your the low information person. You're like the ostrich with its head in the sand. Mo, maybe you think it funny, that most of Islam PREACHING VIOLENCE in Killing INNOCENT PEOPLE, even their OWN!
Diane March 14, 2014 at 12:20 PM
Jack. Mo don't know. I am crazy because I am a "republican Christian" is what mo knows. And then he likes to talk about how "tolerant" "his type" is. You won't get through to him. He believes the Nicholas Berg tragedy was staged by Bush. It's never ending. This guy has toys in the attic and calls everyone else stupid. Ugh! Someone please take Mo home. He's been loose far too long.
jack hess March 14, 2014 at 05:03 PM
Your right Diane. Mo an some others are very low informed on the what is reality. Democrats cover ups, Fast and Furious (two U.S. border agents Murdered) , Benghazi (four Americans Murdered) I.R.S. and NSA. Mo can't even answer the questions i asked him on Sharia law on Muslim women, Muslim countries still practicing SLAVERY, Government control of the Media. Christians Muslim being Murder in the Mid-East. Like i said before low informed people speak on emotion and not FACTS. They will use the Race Card , call you a Bigot when they can't produce FACTS. Obama promised change, but he just keep changing the promise. Here a Fact about Obama when he was an Illinois State Senator HE OPPOSED THE ( BORN-ALIVE INFANTS PROTECTION ACT). Low information Democrats do some RESEARCH!
Deerfield Resident March 14, 2014 at 05:19 PM
Lets put it this way...if you live in America and defend muslims (no caps) ...leave this Country and I'm not going to say please !
Diane March 14, 2014 at 06:27 PM
Jack and Deerfield- Amen to both of you for what you have pointed out. Jack, I researched what you mentioned and I get it. This is happening all over. But those others who have chastised me for being a "church lady" who needs to get the "husband's dinner ready" and "we should strangle all the priests" preach their tolerance of just islam and the muslims, (no caps intended as well), and are not only blind to the threats we have both foreign and DOMESTIC, but they condone the mass slaughter of the Catholic priests. I was highly offended by that but I was told to go back to "my kind of people". I do think, in this case, one proverb applies. "There are none as blind as those who cannot see". As for me, my eyes are wide open in all directions. I hope I don't live to see what I believe is going to take this once great country down. It sickens me to think these people who want to terrorize it had help from the likes of Mo, James, and SquarePants. There is nothing more disgusting than preaching the "strangling" of a religious figure who IS NOT preaching the beheading of the non-believer. That's why James has retreated back to his hole of hatred.
Denise March 14, 2014 at 08:24 PM
Mo. Did you see the video, several years ago, not on a Christian site, sent to me by a Muslim, of a six year old boy laying on the ground with his arm being run over by a large truck because he 'stole'? This took place in a Muslim country.
jack hess March 16, 2014 at 12:31 PM
Here another question for all these low information people, Mo ,James and SquarePants . What happens if you are GAY, in a Muslim Country, caught having sexual relationship with the same sex? The FACTUAL answer is (DEATH) under ISLAMIC LAW! No other RELIGION IN THE WORLD HAS THIS LAW TO GIVE OUT DEATH SENTENCE, ACCEPT ISLAM!
jack hess March 17, 2014 at 05:36 PM
I guess none of these low informed LIBERALS can reply with answers to any of my questions!
Diane March 17, 2014 at 06:11 PM
No Jack. They won't carry on a reasonable debate. If you don't agree with them, they call you all sort of names, attempt to dean and degrade and then they turn their cowardly tails and run. So very typical of them.
Diane March 17, 2014 at 06:12 PM
S\b demean not dean.


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