Ramadan offers a time for curious to see similarities

Oklahoman reporter Carrie Coppernoll takes time out during Ramadan to reflect on the day when several Muslim students taught her about how we are all alike.
Oklahoman Published: July 20, 2013
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I will always remember the time I saw Zoha Qureshi's hair.

It was maybe five minutes before class was about to start, and none of the boys had shown up yet. The girls who came early were chatting, and the focus had shifted to the small clutch of Muslim students.

Why did they wear headscarves? Was anyone allowed to see their hair?

The conversation unfolded during Newsroom 101, a class for high school students who are interested in journalism. It's sponsored by The Oklahoman, and I've had the pleasure of teaching it for several years.

Zoha and two of her classmates from Mercy School — Isra Cheema and Areebah Anwar — enthusiastically answered every question. They opened a window into a little corner of Muslim life, letting us non-Muslims peek in.

They explained that religious modesty keeps them covering their heads every day. In America, Muslim women are free to choose their own level of modesty. Some wear simply a headscarf, called a hijab. Others wear a loose outer layer, called an aba. A few wear a face veil that may show the eyes, called a niqab.

The other girls in class wanted to know more about their hair. My Muslim girls explained that a few people could see it, namely other women and male relatives.

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