The Woman Who Wore Her Hijab
By Mary Uloho, Prisonersolidarity.org
March 23, 2007
She entered the gates of prison for the first time and was told to remove "the rag" from her head. "No, it's my Islamic right to wear it," she said. "This is a prison, your rights mean nothing here," the guard replied. She stood even taller. When told to remove her hijab again, she responded softly, "No, it's my Islamic right to wear it."
They placed handcuffs and shackles around her wrists and ankles. They paraded her through the compound, where she was laughed at, scored, mocked. But she walked tall and smiling, still wearing her hijab. She walked into that "hole" with her head high, wearing her
hijab. "They'd find out," she assured herself, "that this woman is a true Muslim."
The inmates tried to destroy her. Some threw water. Others spat, yelled and cursed. But still she wore her hijab. She sat in that "hole" for so long, they forgot she was even there.
They knew they'd break her, or so they thought. They'd broken everyone before her. But when they finally came to see if she was broken, she only smiled and said, "As-Salaamu Alaikum." Her face glowed. They looked at the peace in her expression and said, "Take her to her dorm."
Mary Uloho #464534
PO Box 26
St. Gabriel, LA 70776
Author's Note: Try to feel as if you're the person in this poem--not knowing if you'll be beaten. Feel the pain in her wrists and ankles and the shame of being paraded around as though you're not even human. Imagine being thrown into solitary confinement and not
knowing where you are. Around you, women are screaming, crying, yelling, and beating their heads on the bars. Your only comfort is the silk scarf (hijab)that you wear.
About the Author: Maryam Uloho became the first to establish Islam at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women (LCIW), and now teaches Islam at this facility. She is an Ohioan, whose family and children reside in Dayton. She is doing time in Louisiana for a crime she did not commit. Her story is documented in New Trend Magazine: Mary would appreciate receiving your feedback and she is also looking for a penpal.
The following link offers tips for writing to prisoners: https://prisonersolidarity.org/TipsForWritingPrisoners.htm