The chilly winds of an early Fall morning in Toronto failed to numb her cheeks - they were covered under a thin black cloth. The woman in the niqab walked down the street, oblivious to the stares of other pedestrians; she was late for her volunteer shift at the food shelter.
Mona, the young girl who saw the niqabi cross the street shook her head. She was Muslim too, but why did the niqabi not integrate like Mona? The niqabi was probably born in one of those hardline Muslim countries, Mona decided.
She could be like her - Mona prayed five times, ate halal food, did not date, yet had a normal life. The niqabi could be like her neighbor over there, standing by the bus stop, wearing the pink hijab yet friendly in her appearance. As she walked to her office, Mona nodding a greeting at her hijabi friend.
"She probably thinks I am out to get attention," The pink hijabi thought. "I am not admonishing her for not covering her head, why does she never say salaam to me?"
The man behind the hot dog cart rubbed his hands in front of the stove on his cart. Business was winding down with the summer, and even early openings did not break him even. Abdul had thought the 'halal' sign on his cart would attract more customers, yet the many Muslims he saw exiting the mosque opposite the road did not even glance at him. "Must be because I am a shia," he thought.
"Should I, or should I not?" thought Tariq, as he got a coffee from Tim Horton's. "That guy is so tempting, and halal too!" He then thought of the barely subtle hints his wife had dropped about his growing waistline, and decided to skip a hot dog for lunch today. He passed another bus stop on the way back to work. A man with a thick beard was getting the looks from everyone. Tareq laughed, "Silly immigrants! Why don't they shave and be rid of the hassle?"
It was time for zuhr. Tareq made his way to the small room that served as the neighborhood mosque. He hadn't been there - just last week an old Somalian janitor saw him praying in the hallway and told him about it. He stopped.
The bearded man was the imam. As he removed his jacket, Tareq saw that the bearded man was actually a white guy, and sported a Maple Leafs jacket! Tareq took his place beside the hot dog guy. God! He smelled of hot dog! The women lined up behind.
They all prayed to the same God. For some ten, quiet minutes, there was no Shia, no Sunni, no hijabi, no niqabi - just men and women, subservient before Allah.
Outside, a man pointed at the building and turned to his wife.
"That's the Muslim mosque." He turned up his nose. "The lot! Why don't they go back home?"