A year ago I thought that the only thread connecting me to Islam was the garb I chose to dress myself in. Perhaps my decision to appear Muslim was due to an unwillingness to out myself, or a lingering sense of affinity to my community.
I have since reconsidered.
This past summer I have become reaccustomed to wearing an abaya, an item of clothing previously my sole outer-wear wardrobe choice. After shucking it off for the better part of the past year – determined to start the process of cutting ties with my waning religiosity – I have had a change of heart, and clothes. Covering myself is an act of convenience. It alleviates the worry of how I should present myself. It reminds me of better days when conflicting ideologies were not a daily struggle.
I dislike apologetics, yet I can speak from experience. I am an insider after all. There is a liberation that comes from turning your back on normative western clothing conventions. I feel composed and elegant, presenting a recognisable image to the world. Religious convictions may be derided but they are part of the fabric of a multi-cultural society. After spending much of my life abiding by certain tenets, a return to these rules, albeit without the convictions is comforting. My mental energy is better conserved for other things.
This is my norm. I like draping myself in layers of cloth. Hypocritical it may be to wear the uniform of the faithful. Yet, there is comfort in my cloak, and for now that is the important.