Monthly Archives: October 2011

The veil of my hand !

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If you have read my previous  post then you are probably wondering why it is that I don’t shake hands with men . This article is in no way going to be a religious lecture, instead it will reflect on  why I believe I don’t shake hands and it is an accumulation of all the explanations I have given over the years to people from all around the world , and here it is .

I am a veiled woman and when I chose the veil ( that’s a different story ) I chose a complete package and not shaking hands is part of that package   .   I do not shake hands because it is what our religion tells us to do . It is the same thing  as not drinking alcohol , or not eating pork .  Don’t get me wrong it does not mean that I do things without understanding them, but I obey what my religion tells me to do and I ask  why I don’t shake hands and  why can’t I eat pork and  I research and I learn and I discover my self along the way .

A lot of people consider shaking hands an independent issue from being veiled and even though there are a lot of veiled woman who do shake hands , I am from the veiled women who do not shake hands . My veil gives me strength , discipline and power and being veiled does not mean only covering your hair , it acts as the “religious police” that guides me . I wear another veil as well and although you can’t see it ,  a veil that preserves my hands and my hair , a veil that makes me satisfied that I have obeyed , that I have discipline to carry on my beliefs .

When I was in London , the three men asked me , well who can yo shake hands with ? And I answered them that I can shake hands with women and all blood related men and one very special person . They opened their eyes and were awaiting the answer , My husband I said , and I further explained that I knew my husband for 3 years before we were engaged but I never shook his hand and neither did he , we waited for our engagement and it was then that I shaked hands with a man ( who was not blood related )  for the very first time in my life . ” We wish we had something as sacred , pure and beautiful as that , a ” Hala

l Shake ” is what they called it .  One of them called his wife and told her ” remind me to tell you about

All of us have ” wake up at 6 a.m. , walk for an hour , eat healthy , read a book ”  written some where in our office or bedroom , and all of us look for discipline in our lives .  I do not shake hands not because of disrespect , or because I want to protect my self from others . I do not shake because I am obedient and I pray to god that I will always have the strength to be obedient and to spread my story .the Halal Shake !  We all laughed and looked at each other and I could see acceptance and respect and I was proud .

Esraa – Veiled and Proud

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Sorry – I don’t Shake hands

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 I was attending a conference in London back in 2010 , more than 15 nationalities were participating and I was excited to meet new people and to network  , and I did. I was so happy and comfortable with my self until a group of 3  men approached me and said hello , they all put out their hands and were waiting for me to shake their hands. I blushed and immediately put my hand on my chest and said ” I am sorry but I don’t shake hands with men ” . They immediately pulled their hands back and looked at me and said ” Why ” . In my entire life , this was the first time anyone had ever asked me why is it that I don’t shake hands . I looked at them and I was amazed because they were eager to learn about my culture and my rituals and I was happy to share it with them .

 We ended up talking for an hour and the 3 men became 15 and by the end of the conference when were saying our goodbyes , they all stood in one line and put their hands on their chest as if they were in the army and I was being saluted , they all looked at me and said ” Sorry , We don’t shake hands with women ” . I laughed and felt honored that I had met them .

These group of men that came from all around the world had the courage to ask , rather than judging or stereotyping , they simply asked ” why ” and that question enlightened them just like it might enlighten you if you simply ask why is that people do things the way they do .

“Why ” 3 letters that can change our perspective of people , so go out there and ask ” Why”

Social Media Week – Not So Social ( At least for me )

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A few months ago I heard about an event called  social media week that was taking place in Beirut . I was thrilled and excited especially since my work has a lot to do with social media . I thought to my self this is going to be a great opportunity to learn and network with new people . I registered for all the events during that week and made sure I emptied my calendar for this big event .

I went to the first session and I made sure I had my notebook and a lot of business cards , I entered into the building and waited in the coffee area where everyone was registering and getting ready . I started to look around and thought to my self , ” I hope another veiled woman shows up ” .  The sessions were almost done  and still no sign of a  veil in the room , ” It’s ok”  I said to myself  but deep down inside it was not ok .

Most the events I go to I barely find one or two women  who are like me , and it does make me feel unsecure , like an outcast and someone who doesn’t fit in.  I do confess that there are many times when I am strong and really don’t care . But for some reason this time I wasn’t that strong woman .

It was break time and I thought to my self that I should make the best of this and network , I stood aside while drinking my coffee, pretty confident that someone was going to approach me , but unfortunately no one did . I know that the basic networking rule states that you approach others not the other way around , but I wanted to give it try . And it worked after 30 minutes of standing all on my own , someone was coming my way . Back straight , smile ready , I was ready to network . ” Excuse me , where did you get your coffee from ? ”  he asked . Back down , smile gone , I was ready to leave .

A lot of you might blame me because I left in the middle of the day and didn’t attend any other event from social media week . I know I should have been stronger and that these kind of things should not affect me.  To some of you , you may not even see that there was anything wrong . But to me there was , this was the 50th or so event that I attend where I was  all alone and I was lonely .

I have nothing against social media week or any other event , and I am not saying that every event or conference needs to have a minimum number of veiled woman . All I am saying is that sometimes it is hard for us to cope into a society where beauty and image play a very important role .

And even though I left social media week , I still felt beautiful and confident that I was going to  shine and network in the upcoming conference,  and the truth is , I did. But that’s another story ! Until then .

Esraa

If you want this Job – Change the way you dress !

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” If you want this job – you are going to have to change the way you dress ”  This is what my potential employer told me back in 2008 when I had just graduated from A.U.B . Finding a job in Lebanon is hard enough as it is , try finding one when you are veiled . I looked at him with shock , ” Excuse me ” , I said ; ” Well the position you are applying for is a marketing position and we need someone who is presentable ” he said . I wish he had told me this before  I had gone through 3 stages of interviews and meetings . I stared at him for about 5 seconds and yes I did want to slap him in the face , but I took a deep breath and said ” Well , thank you for your time ” and I left .

I left feeling angry and sad that this is the way things are , maybe not every company in Lebanon is like this  , but some companies simply wont hire you if you are veiled . 

I went back home and I got in the elevator and a young woman was in there . She looked at me and said ” I’m sorry you didn’t get the job ” .  Who is this woman , how did she know who I was , where did she come from . She looked at me and said ” I am the wife of the man you just had an interview with and he told me all about you ” . I was still trying to understand what was going on , how was she in my building , was she stalking me ?  ” My parents are your neighbors on the 6th floor ” she said . And it hit me , when I was doing the interview the manager asked me where I lived , but I really didn’t think that the world was that small ”

” Good luck finding a new job”  she said  as she left the elevator ,  ” Thank you ” I said as I was admiring the veil that was on her head !