Posts Tagged dealing with professors and the niqab

“Just wave your finger”

Bismillah walhamdulillah

(Note: I’m using an alias for obvious reasons, so no, I have not revealed my real name here.)

How professors deal with niqab… lol where do I start

The most interesting response to the niqab that I’ve gotten from a professor, occurred yesterday. So I wanted to rush to get it down on paper (cyber-paper).
I recently started a Counseling degree program. I think it is safe to assume that I’m the first niqabi to ever be accepted into, much less to accept the offer of joining, this program.

I walked into my first class, just about a minute early. This is quite an achievement for me, so I was a bit disappointed to see that he had already skipped my name on the attendance.

“Ms. Rafique…?” said the professor in a super-polite way, (but I had already been warned that he was an extremely polite guy).

“Yes.” I took my seat in the front, true to my nerd-like self.

He finished up the attendance and began his lesson. He had joke after joke, until I began to think that he prepared jokes for his first lesson in order to make it less awkward. Appreciating a good joke when I hear it, I chuckled lightly under my niqab, as well.

At one point, he stood directly in front of me, and looking straight at me for about 2 seconds, he says, “If any of you are having trouble understanding anything I am saying, but feel too shy to stop me and say so, just wave your finger.” And he demonstrated by waving his own finger.

He’s talking to me, I know it… lol what should I do… It’s okay, he’ll figure it out eventually…

I continued to pay attention to his jokes — I mean, lesson. Since the class was a bit longer than a usual class, he gave us a ten minute break.

I pulled out my phone and checked my messages. Meanwhile, a classmate of mine asked about internet at the college, and being familiar with this college, I answered her.

The professor was not in the room when this exchange took place, so keep that in mind while you read the rest.

He walked back into the room and towards my desk. My head was down, looking at my phone.

“Ms. Rafique…?” lol this guy is so polite, it’s killing me


“May I please speak to you outside?”


I didn’t give any thought to why he asked me to step outside with him. I grabbed my phone, only worried that I might be robbed in my absence lol, and followed him outside.

He took a few steps away from the door and then turned back towards me and asked in a low voice, “Is English your native language?”

Keeping in mind that this situation was supposed to be an awkward one, and that he was a male professor, although quite elderly, I decided it was not wise to laugh. But I could not help smiling at his statement.

No way, he did not just say that…


“Okay — If you ever need to pray, you can just leave and do that, you don’t have to ask.”

“Oh okay, thanks!” I said, surprised at the courtesy. Later on I realized, he probably had to mentally prepare himself for asking me that question, and it probably went like this in his mind: “Okay, I’ll just ask her, and then I’ll quickly slide in something about her having to pray, and it’ll all look super natural. Yes, phew, I’m ready.”


We walked back inside and he began the second-half of his lesson.

I took my seat, a bit confused. I didn’t know how I should feel. Embarrassed? Offended?

All I could think about was how amusing it all was.

As he continued to talk, I began to get the feeling from him that he was in grave doubt. In grave doubt about whether or not I could actually speak English because so far my responses to all of his questions were so short, that I could’ve easily learned it in a week spent in the country.

I decided to put him out of his misery, and wow him with my English — the only language I’m extremely fluent in, mind you.

I raised my hand to answer one of his questions.

Looking super-excited, he said “Yes, ma’am?”

…Don’t laugh…

As I answered him, I became super aware of my accent — or rather lack thereof. I glanced at his face and noticed him squinting at me, as if trying hard to understand.

All right buddy, now you’re just playin

But he got to hear my English, and I got to sit back and relax the rest of the period.

He did seem like a genuinely nice and concerned fellow, may Allah swt guide him to the Haqq. Ameen.

And I had the chance to laugh about all of this that evening with my brother. He was cracking up even more than me, and giving me all of these funny suggestions for what I should’ve done to really confuse the poor guy lol.

Good times, alhamdu lillah :)


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