by Karen Elliott House, Newsweek, September 24, 2012
Doing Allah’s will is Lulu’s consuming focus. At age 19, when her husband offered himself to her family, Lulu willingly chose to be a second wife. “I prayed to Allah, ‘let me do this if it is good.’?” Even when her husband and children are out, Lulu almost never leaves home. Asked if she would like to drive, she seems truly puzzled. “Why would I want to drive? In Islam it is a man’s responsibility to drive his wife and children.”
At home, this genuinely devout woman focuses on trying to save me. Converting an infidel to Islam entitles one to paradise, she believes. And just as my conservative Christian father forbade shorts and pants, Lulu tells me that my pants and sweater are not pleasing to God because anything that reveals the human form is forbidden. My floor-length black abaya similarly is gently criticized for its fit and decoration of a blue and orange braid on its long sleeves. Fingering the offending braid, she says, “This is wrong. Your abaya shows the body, and this decoration attracts men to look at you.” Outside the home Lulu and her daughters shroud head to toe in shapeless black abayas that are akin to wrapping oneself in a black bedsheet. They also cover their faces with a separate black niqab that features a slit for the eyes, but these devout ladies cover even that slit with another black cloth, which can be flipped up or lowered depending on the need to see clearly.
To assist her conversion effort, Lulu sits me before her computer to view an hourlong video on YouTube of a fundamentalist Christian preacher from Texas explaining his conversion to Islam. When this doesn’t produce a convert, she issues a stern warning: “It is very bad to die believing Allah had a son,” debunking Jesus as the son of God. When I observe that Christians, like Muslims, believe in one God, she rejects any equation between the two religions. “No,” she says emphatically. “You must believe in Islam. Allah says this.”