>With His Name, the Glorious One
My wife and I took a trip to a portrait studio for a photo shoot. At first, we were nervous about the service, thinking about how to explain hijab and other things to the photographer.
After our arrival and waiting for a few minutes, a lady approached us saying: “Salam Alaikom!�”
We were surprised and relieved thinking that we had found a Muslim photographer, but there were more surprises to come…
“So what can I do for you today?”, asked the photographer in a thick Hispanic accent. We explained vaguely what we needed, and were hoping that she could help us out.
“Not a problem, I will take care of you, insha’allah”, she assured us.
“Let me see, hmm…here is a catalog of props, but wait, you can’t use this and that one, cuz it gots crosses in them�”, she smiled, “you don’t want that�”.
We nodded, still confused about her identity.
She approached my wife pointing to the hijab: “Ma’am, if I take your picture like this, your hair might show, because of your hijab’s material. You can change it in the private room, I’ll make sure no man goes around there while you’re changing hijabs”.
Both of us were now smiling, naturally, no need for saying cheese or any other cheesey phrases for a fake smile.
“OK, insha’allah this picture will turn out great…give me a bigger smile please…oh wait, ma’am, put your hands together.. just like prayer…yes, that way…good…now smile gracefully…like a Muslim lady would…good…lots of honor and grace…excellent…one, two, three”, CLICK, she took the picture.
While waiting for the instant digital picture to develop on glossy paper, I could not resist to ask: “Are you a Muslim?”
“No”, she answered, “I am a Christian from Mexico”.
My wife smiled and said: “Then you must have many Muslim friends�”
“No, you two are the first and only Muslims I know.”
The puzzle became fuzzier for me, and I had to ask: “Then how do you know so much about Islam and Muslim culture. Do you read a lot of Islamic books�”
“No”, she answered in a hurry getting ready for the next customer.
“I’ll be right with you sir”, she gently told the new customer.
“It’s OK, I can wait”, replied the customer.
But I could not wait anymore and asked again: “How do you know so much about Islam and Muslim culture? Especially so many Arabic terminologies?”
“Oh, I know a lot of terminologies: alhamdolillah, bismillah, adhan for prayer, month of Ramadhan, iftar…OH LOOK, your picture turned out great!”
I could have cared less about the picture: “Oh nice, but you still haven�’t told me how you know these things? Did you take a class?”
She smiled and sensed my anxious curiosity: “No, no classes. I watch El Clon”!
“El Clon? What the heck is that?”, asked my wife.
She still maintained her smile, as if she didn’t want us to go away: “El Clon is a Soap Opera, most of it is about a Muslim family leaving Brazil for Morocco. They showed a lady just like you, wearing the hijab the way you do. I think your religion is beautiful, and always wanted to meet a Muslim.”
Obviously she thought she had found some celebrities. But neither of us had any time to chat, so we had to say goodbye and leave.
Not only I was puzzled by this experience, I was completely disturbed:
If one Soap Opera that showed Muslims in a positive light had so much of an effect, what about those thousands of films and TV images that show Muslims as the only terrorists in the world?!
If she had seen those images prior to El Clon, would have we received a different service?
Only Allah, the All-Knowing, knows.