Diaa Hadid, a journalist, raised a Muslim, but one who stopped practicing while a collage student, decided in mid-life, to make a once –in-a-life-time hajj, the five-day pilgrimage of rites and rituals around the holiest site for Muslims, the Kaaba. Her mother and sister who made the pilgrimage previously, warned her of the many unpleasantries that she would face, including men deliberately urinating in front of her, of men, not wearing underwear, trying to touch her and other unsavory things, like dehydrating, and not having enough to eat. Nevertheless, Ms. Hadid, plunged a head, sending daily reports of her encounters back to the New York Times.
I found her articles interesting and enlightening. Ms. Hadid’s most delightful experiences were her encounters with Muslim women from all over the world. As women of a shared Faith, and, in many cases, women not treated as equals, or, in the cases of extremists, women mistreated, Ms. Hadid was pleased to experience a kind of outstanding sisterhood. Realizing that Ms. Hadid was not very religious, but did respect her heritage, and lived more or less in the Western world, many helped her to over-come her ignorance of certain practices and insured that she was properly dressed at all times and under all circumstances. Often these women shared their food and drink, even when it meant a small sacrifice on their parts.
Many years ago when my husband and I visited Turkey, me being Christian and my husband, Jewish, we observed the kindness and affection with which Muslim women treated each other. In smaller villages, that kindness extended to me. For the first time in my life, I realized that all women of old had to behave in the same way. They were second- class citizens. This was the way that women sustained their dignity. Western women would do well to adapt this mode of behavior. It is a sign of strength, not weakness, even when equality with men s recognized in the work place. Even when, as in the 70’s, many women considered themselves “super women” , the kindness and affection of sisterhood is a huge building block for world justice and peace.