"The Shield" is a poem about Islam, in particular about wearing hijab - the head covering worn by many Muslim women. It was written by Brooke Van Buskirk, an American writer who embraced Islam at the age of seventeen. Brooke has been a Muslim now for six years. Her poetry, songs, and essays are reflections of her passion for religion, politics, family, and those kind, fleeting moments in life where beauty can be known.
Below is a video of Brooke reciting "The Shield," followed by the poem itself.
THE SHIELD - by Brooke Van Buskirk
By day I wrap this shield around my head, across my chest
This world is a prison - my mind and heart I must protect
Why? Because without it there's no limit to be observed
What is modesty and decency?
Man can't properly determine
They say my choice to cover is old-fashioned
They say our religious practices are backwards
They spew cliché democracy and liberation
Little do they know there's little knowledge in what they're saying
My argument is that 'the times, they are a-changin'
And slowly but surely approaches an 'anything goes' day
When no rules apply
Whats wrong is called right
And crimes of the heart creep like a thief in the night
Modesty discouraged and nakedness condoned
We've forsaken the values mankind held long ago
Yes, history is riddled with mistakes and evil stories
But shall we not filter the good and maintain some of its glory?
Just think of it this way, I'm just dressing like Mary mother of Jesus
Or a nun
Or a woman who wants to be seen as an observant follower
A lover of Gods word
And you not mad at exploitation of femininity, but you mad that I cover
Sex may sell, but I'm not for sale
It's your path to bankruptcy, time will tell
My hijab...is an expression of self-respect
And a rejection of a misogynist culture daily breathing down my neck
Telling me all my value lies in the guise of my demise.
Flaunting what Gods blessed me with, its lies and I don't buy it.
Because I'm told I'm so much more.
So, to avoid distracting you with what my momma gave me,
I'll let you focus on my core
I say the passing of time doesn't determine my beliefs
Islam teaches that truth doesn't change with the year
What's good is good, and what's wrong is wrong
And those values don't change as the years pass along
Our standards are lowered and we become desensitized
But regardless of what time it is
Men should lower their eyelids
When I pass along my way minding my business
this shield reminds them that yes, I'm religious
I don't want attention and I don't want your compliments
I'm not looking for love, so save your games for them
I'm a Muslim under here, I don't mind being a stranger
Coz if the norm is lady gaga, then we're all in danger
I'll be called a trader
I'm not scared of that label
Ethnocentric discourse in the west is the only reason
I have to write a poem to justify way that I dress
The cloth on my head
Which I love to wear
I'm not forced, which I struggle with,
But my choice is solid as stone
It's my comfort
My command from God
So let it be
More of Brooke's work can be enjoyed at: http://www.facebook.com/brookevbk/notes