When fear conquers Niqabi’s faith
She grew up with a family who were embracing the words of the Holy Qur-an. She devoted herself to Islam. She dressed as to how a Muslima was projected to dress. She is a follower, yet was a Niqabi. But that WAS, started not long ago.
She could barely remember the howling sound of the wind that is pushing the bombs down to the soils of Marawi. Every ounce of the explosives’ consequence shattered her being. Seeing her family and friends flew away like animals crumpled her heart. “Bakit kailangan pa nitong mangyari sa lugar namin? (Why does it have to happen on our land?), she until today is left asking.
June 02 2017, ten days since the terror broke through the Islamic City of Marawi, Junairah Mangoda left her hometown to escape the raging exchange of bullets from both the Maute Group and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. She along with her family took down a shorter and safer course that cuts straight thru the Municipality of Balo-i.
On their way out of Marawi City, creepy chills of the wind dominantly crept into their spine. She was travelling with her mother and nine siblings. Her father, insisted to stay in their home, to look after their house with high hopes of saving their fortune.
As they passed by, she felt the pang of the destruction in her city. So awful for it used to be their safe haven. It used to be a place where she receives not a single racism. A place where her black garment is respected and labelled with perfection. And a land where she felt real security, away from the eye of a treacherous society.
Hence, the roads were like being taken by something the eyes cannot see. The supposed foggy midcourse was replaced with dark smokes coming from charred houses. And an indistinctive stench was starting to wrap the City’s town. She recalled, “Nung pababa kami dito sa Iligan, grabe yung amoy na nasalubong naming (When we were on our way down here in Iligan, we smelled something very malodorous). Sobrang baho, iba sa amoy na kadalasang naamoy natin (The odor is very different from what our nose usually perceives). Kaya mas lalo pa na tumindig yung balahibo namin (That’s why we had goose-bumps everywhere).”
The silent yet happy place which used to mold her into what she is now, is dying. Houses burnt down to ashes. Establishments broken into pieces. Towns so lonely and isolated, and all she could do now is reminisce the past and indulge herself with the memories she had in the abandoned land – the Salat they performed, their visits in the Mosque, the happy thoughtful years she had in Madrasa, and the day when she started wearing her sacrifice.
She’s one of the many women in Islam wearing black long garments paired with black cloth that covers their faces, non-Muslims used to label these women with the term ninja. But no, they apparently aren’t the ninjas we saw on televisions armed with sharp slashing swords. Niqab however, is an Arabic word for veil or “ruband,” a cloth that covers the face as a part of tailored hijab. It precisely conveys the level of modesty displayed by a Muslim woman. But when all of the sudden, she had to give it up for something.
As they we’re driving close to the checkpoint in Iligan City, suspicious eyes directly pierced her. She caught herself so afraid with questions hanging around her mind, “Ano’ng nagawa ko? Ba’t para silang nakakita ng kriminal o multo? (What have I done? Why does it seems as if they just saw a criminal or a ghost?)”
She was then reprimanded by one of her relatives, advising her to take off her niqab and wear a much normed dress. She was taken aback, afraid of what she heard, “Kaylangan ko ba talaga gawin yun? (Do I really have to so that?) Pero para na rin daw to sa kapakanan ko (But they say it’s for the sake of my safety),” Junairah spoke.
Thus she thought, even if she does so, would their means be justifiable in the eyes of ALLAH? The young Muslima expressed her resentment, “Nasaktan ako sa kailangan ko’ng gawin (I’m in pain, with what I have to do). Feeling ko na tinanggal ko na rin pati ang pagkatao ko (I seems as if I am also giving up my life).”
She felt so unsure when they told her that it’s for her own good. But how she be so confident when she felt like she is wearing but none?
Despite the continuous help coming in from the different sectors, both non-governmental and governmental for the refugees, Junairah, the 24 year old woman, so afraid of what more could possibly happen to them exclaimed “Ano na lang kaya ang gagawin namin? (What are we going to do then?)”