Is there anything more inviting than a spot of shade on a hot summer day? Recently my mind collided with the thought of it while I plodded through a sun-soaked, mid-morning jog. Beads of salty sweat dripped down my forehead, through furrowed eyebrows into my unprotected eyes. Beyond the sting, I saw a willow’s shade. I ran to it.
Its canopy sheltered me from the sun’s ravenous reach, and its cooled air soothed my burning lungs. I lingered there; I didn’t want to move. Beneath this shade, I felt cared for and safe. Everything about it was good.
Some Muslim girls refer to their veils as their shade. My friend Ikraam wears hers very responsibly. By doing so, she means to honor Allah and the community she represents. It shelters her beauty and protects her from the tempter. She wears it in preparation for judgment so that on that final day, Allah might be merciful and exchange her earthly shade for the shelter of Paradise.
With this modest sense of confidence, Ikraam comes to the States. She ventures into a grocery store. Covered in her comfortable shade, she pushes a grocery cart down rows of products she has been excited to explore. Numerous women share the same aisle in this massive, marvelously American store. She sees them speaking to other strangers, so she assumes they’ll speak to her, too. She looks forward to meeting new friends.
Surprisingly, no one even acknowledges her. She shops the same grocery store time and again, and no one ever cares.
Instead, they glance scantly and hurry forward. Ikraam is not so pleased to go shopping anymore. She is confused because this shade that has been friendly in her past gets her nowhere here. It seems to seclude her. She feels isolated and alone.
But God sees her like He sees me.
He reminds me of the shade I wear. It’s different from Ikraam’s cloth one, but it’s real. It is the shadow of the Almighty in which I abide (Ps. 91:1), the “shade at my right hand” (Ps. 121:5). It is where I am loved and valued (Zeph. 3:17). It shelters me (Ps. 57:1). It forgives me of my sins, and it offers me Heaven (Rom. 6:23). It becomes my righteousness (Rom. 5:17). It preserves me from trouble (Ps. 32:7). It dignifies me (Prov. 31:25). It is a gift that I am meant to share (Mark 16:15).
God’s shade. His hospitality. His care. His assurance of life forever with Him. Every day, there is nothing better for any woman anywhere. Let’s share it with Muslim friends.
Jesus, I want to see Muslim women as You do. I am ready to share Your shade. Please bless them through me. Amen.