It’s been a few years since I took a one-hour train ride between two major cities in a Muslim country.
When I got on the train I was quite sobered by a conversation I had just finished with a local Christian leader who said he had to report to the police that afternoon. It seems they wanted the names of all the Christians he knew, but the leader would not reveal them. The more the police pressured to get the names, the more the leader resisted giving them. A very distressing situation. It really impacted me.
I was so distracted by thinking about that conversation that I barely ' noticed the two young women who got on the train at the first stop and sat directly opposite me. I did see that one was Western in her dress while the other was covered in the Muslim way. I was attempting to read a John Grisham novel (hardly the place to open my Bible and have my devotions), but I was mostly looking out the train window, thinking about the difference between being a Christian in the US and being a Christian in the Muslim world.
Then a movement out of the side of my eye attracted my attention and I turned to see what it was. Much to my surprise the burka-clad young woman had transformed her head covering into a stylish turban--it now looked like a black tiara atop her head. Then she stood up and unzipped her burka, revealing a blouse and rolled up Levis beneath her covering. Next she rolled down her Levis, sat down, and took out her compact and mirror. Setting the mirror on the shelf between us, she began to apply make-up to her face in deft circular strokes. About that time the Muslim man sitting next to me got up and moved elsewhere. He had to be angry. I wonder what he would have done if she had been his daughter or sister.
Next came the eye liner, then the mascara followed by lipstick. Finally she took off her tiara, shook out her long black hair, and with a few strokes of a brush framed her face just as she desired. Then the coup de grace: wrap around sunglasses. The covered woman had become a Hollywood goddess in one short train ride.
During this time I altered my attention between my book, the scenery, and the metamorphosis occurring opposite me. Occasionally the young woman would steal a glance at me, a kind of a defiant, I wonder what you're thinking look.
What was I thinking?
Here is Islam uncovered. Beneath the burkas and the robes, hidden in the Arabic speaking heart, is a longing among some for more than they have now. For these women, getting rid of the burka and adding make-up offered the promise of a new kind of life, the uncovered life of risk, glamour and excitement. Tragically they were just exchanging one idol for another. You know what they really need? Christ uncovered. Think about it. How can we show Islam Christ uncovered?