Remembering Uzza

If the story of Islam was told to me in a pub

(2nd draft)

1.3 No Scarf, No Service!

A slender dark-haired young woman with a tan complexion walks up the stairs and makes her way to the end of the bar. Archie interrupts his conversation with Bob and Gerry and comes over.

Archie: Hi. How are you? My name is Archie.

Uzza: Fine, thank you. My name is Uzza.

Archie: Nice to meet you Uzza. Uzza, that’s an Arabic name, isn’t it?

Uzza: Arab, yes, yes it is. It comes from …

Archie: And can I assume you and Allah are like this [crossing his fingers]?

Uzza: If you mean am I a Muslim, yes.

Archie: Then, I can’t serve you unless you’re wearing a scarf.

Uzza: I’m sorry …

Archie: Didn’t you read the sign?

Uzza: What sign?

Archie: The sign downstairs that says: “Women must wear scarves to be served if their religion requires them to be veiled.”

Uzza: But, I am not in a city that is part of the Holly Alliance of Muslim Municipalities.

Archie: I know, but we often get young men from an M & M coming here for a fruit juice – if you know what I mean – and sometimes they get all upset when they see a woman such as yourself not wearing a head scarf.

Uzza: That is their problem.

Archie: And did I mention that it’s the law. One complaint from these guys and I could lose my license; or they could legally take matters into their own hands, and you seem like a nice girl. So are you going to put on a scarf or not?

Uzza: I think I will go somewhere else. Thank you very much.

Archie: Not only don’t you read signs, but you don’t hear too well do you? There is no somewhere else!

Uzza: But in Québec, I don’t have to wear a scarf?

Archie: That is another country. They have a Charter of Values and we have a Charter of Rights.

Uzza: Why would that make a difference?

Archie: Values are values, they are what they are. Rights are different.

Uzza: What do values and rights have to do with my having to wear a scarf to get service?

Archie: Everything, in the weird times we live in. Rights can be ranked, and in the Canadian Charter of Rights, religious rights are right up there. Blame Justin Trudeau, the imbecile. In response to Quebec’s Charter of Values he passed a law reaffirming the supremacy of religious rights over any other rights. Talk about clueless!

Uzza: I met Mr. Trudeau at the pre-Christmas Reviving the Islamic Spirit Conference in Toronto in 2011. He was a very nice man. It was a bit weird listening to a Christian praise us young people only a few days before the celebration of the birth of the Christian messiah whose divinity we do not believe in. But I am sure he meant well.

Archie: Like I said, an imbecile!

Uzza: Still [showing signs of frustration], I do not understand what Parliament reaffirming what the Charter implied, that secular public institutions are secular only to the extent that religion allows them to be, has to do with my having to wear a scarf in a pub, for Allah’s sake.

Archie: Let religion in where it has no business, your business, and religion will make your business its business, and that is why you must wear a scarf or leave.

Uzza: I understand that religion wants to be everywhere, but how is religion now running your business?

Archie: Municipalities, especially those bordering M & M’s, to avoid problems with vigilantes, followed Trudeau’s lead and recognized the supremacy of everyone's god in their bylaws which regulate how businesses like mine treat you.

Uzza: Good, who do I complain to about you not wanting to serve me for not wearing a scarf?

Archie: You have to be kidding me! If your religion requires you to wear a scarf in public, I am required by law not to serve you if you are not veiled.

Uzza: Why would you assume that?

Archie:  For crying out loud! Doesn't your religion require you women to wear a veil when going out in public?

Uzza: Only if I have to pee, or whatever, and men might see me. I assume you have washrooms for women only.

Archie: Of course, but what you just said, that is stupid!

Uzza: Are you calling the Prophet Muhammad stupid?

Archie: Of course not! Only an idiot or someone with a death wish would call your messiah stupid.

Uzza: The Prophet Muhammad was not a messiah, but a Messenger of God to whom Allah sent the angel Gabriel to tell him how we must live and how He wants to be worshipped, if we don’t want Him to send us all to Hell to burn for an eternity.

Archie: And God wants women to wear a veil if they have to do their business in a coed can, if they don't want to have to do their business in Hell. Sounds like a sensible solution to me.

Uzza: Don't be ridiculous!

[The following dialogue is substantially based on what the companions of the Prophet reported he said and did, Bukhari 5.148 and 60.318:]

The wives of the Prophet used to go to Al-Manasi, a vast open place at Medina, to answer the call of nature at night. One night Sauda, one of the Prophet's taller wives went there and was recognized by Umar one of the Prophet’s companions and future caliph when she squatted and he made fun of her saying “I see you Sauda”. This was not the first time he did that.

Sauda had had enough, and complained to her husband who was eating a bone covered with meat at the time. Then and there, Allah revealed the verses of "Al-Hijab", after which the Prophet, who had still not finished eating, said to Sauda: "You (women) have been allowed to go out for your needs". And, I would add, if you have to answer the call of nature where men might see you must wear a veil.

Archie: Unbelievable!

Uzza: Believe it! The whole discussion about scarves in a country with women-only washrooms is all very silly.

Archie: Silly or not, the religious nutjobs who cruise the bars looking for women breaking Islamic law say otherwise, and we do not want any trouble with these guys, and the law is on their side.

Uzza: Show me the law.

Archie: I know the law, it’s part of a bartender's mandatory religious sensitivity training. But if you insist [reaches for the remote and clicks until a bylaw appears on one of the screens near them and starts reading it out loud]:

In the event of a disagreement between a Muslim man and a Muslim woman as to the applicability of one or more Islamic decrees as they pertain to your business establishment and their presence there in, the male’s interpretation shall always prevail, in accordance with Koran revelation 2:228 which states, in part, ‘women have rights equal to what is incumbent upon them according to what is just, although men are one degree above them.’

Uzza: But, under a strict interpretation of Islamic law, I should not even be here, especially without a male guardian watching and approving everything I do and say.

Archie: It will probably come to that, it's only a matter of time.

Uzza: How depressing. I am sorry, I just came here to relax a bit, so if you wouldn’t mind …

Archie: You can relax, but not without a scarf.

Uzza: I don’t have one.

Archie: That’s okay, we keep a few, just in case.

Uzza: What colors do you have?

Archie: What’s your favourite shade of black?

Uzza: Surprise me.

[Archie hands her a black scarf.]

2.2 A Shirley Temple Anyone?