Walk The Walk

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SAN DIEGO

"You know," Ahmad began, pausing to make sure his sister was listening as he stood in front of the bathroom mirror, wrapping a black turban around the kufi on his head. "One of the things I missed the most about being out there was all my turbans I left behind."

"Knowing you, you probably missed them more than you missed your family," Amatul-Kareem replied as she stood in the doorway.

"Your words, not mine, bum." Ahmad shrugged, keeping his eyes on the motions of his hands and the winding fabric of his turban. The pudgy teen scoffed and rolled her eyes behind him. "I video-called you guys all the time, but my turbans, it's not like I could wear them through the phone."

"Didn't you have your precious ghutrah with you? Can't you wrap that like a turban?"

"It's not the same. You wouldn't understand."

"Whatever."

Ahmad tucked the end of the fabric into the wraps, leaving a single tail hanging down his back. He checked the turban for evenness, ran his fingers down his beard, and turned from the mirror. "Everything good?" he asked.

"Why are you even wearing all of this for your driver's license picture?" Amatul-Kareem replied in question. "Won't they tell you to take the turban off?"

"And risk getting sued for religious discrimination? Nah, they wouldn't bother unless it was something like a regular cap or something outlandish. I took my last picture in a turban, no problem. In fact, it was this exact turban, if I'm not mistaken."

"Alright. I mean, a hijab is one thing, I have to wear that; but a turban, there's nothing in Islam to say you need to wear one of those."

"No, but they don't know that. Besides, even if there's no commandment or reward for wearing a turban, I still do it out of love for Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). As a Muslim man I'd like to emulate his ways in every manner, from his behaviors and guidance, to his manner of dress and eating. Plus, it represents a part of my identity. When the people see me dressed this way on the streets, walking with my thobe and turban, growing out my beard, even before they know my name, their first thought is, 'That guy is a Muslim.'"

"Alright, alright, you don't have to explain yourself to me, dude. I just asked one simple question."

"Sorry," Ahmad replied, walking past his sister and into the hallway. "It's a bit of a habit since I get questioned about it so much. Even Uncle Talut used to try talking me out of dressing the way I do."

"Yeah, I remember. I heard him and Abi arguing over you before."

"Speaking of Abi, why don't you come with me and Nafisah to visit him after we go to the DMV?"

"Pass." Ahmad turned to look at his sister and she gave a shrug of indifference. "I see Abi when I see him; I don't make plans to go over to his house."

"Um... okay? Is this about-"

"Yep. But you two have fun, I'm sure it'll be a blast. She may even be nice to you since it's been so long."

"Ugh. You know what, maybe I'll call Nafisah and pretend to be sick," Ahmad joked. Just then, however, the doorbell rang and he knew that Nafisah was downstairs waiting.

"Too late now."

"Ugh. You sure you don't want to come along? We could use you as an excuse to leave early. 'Amatul-Kareem has homework.'"

"Nope. I don't have any, and even if I did, I'd rather stay home and do it all day than spend an hour over there."

Ahmad sighed exaggeratedly before turning to his room and fetching the bag of gifts he'd brought back from Madinah. He said salaams to his teenage sister with a playful karate chop on the forehead then joined his other sister downstairs where she'd been briefly visiting with their mother. After Nafisah took a minute to have a drink of water and finish her conversation, the two set out to the DMV.

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