"When you're the only sane person, you look like the only insane person.” -Criss Jami,
When I was in my teens, I strived to look different and be different from my peers. Reason being was that I wanted to stand out amongst the rest. Honest to goodness, it was the attention that I seek. Being in her teens, any girl would be basking in the glory of the attention that she receives as it equates to popularity. Admittedly, my intention to be different then was not a correct one but quite the opposite.
Then, something happened that altered my notion of being different. One fine day, I was wearing a self-designed blouse to town. The blouse was full of tiny gold safety pins that I had painstakingly attached to. I thought I looked ‘cool‘ as I sat down at the bus stop waiting for the bus. While I was waiting, I saw a homeless man talking to himself and laughing alone. He was quite disheveled looking. I then concluded that he was not quite sane. As he drew close, I silently prayed that he would not come near me. Then, suddenly, he stopped in front me. I started to panicked. I said to myself that I would scream my lungs out if he were to attempt to do anything funny but instead, he stood at a distance from me, pointed his finger at my safety pin blouse and laughed his head off. Apparently, he found me funny! Imagine that! A mad man actually laughing at me because he thought I was being crazy by wearing my supposedly cool safety pins blouse. Who's the crazy one here ? Him or me?
At that precise moment, the bus came and I quickly hopped on it. When I reached home, I took off the blouse, chucked it to one side and vowed never to wear it again! If being different with the intention to gain popularity resulted in me being laughed at by a mad man then being ordinary was quite alright by me after all.
Then years after, the Old Wise Man told me that to be a Muslim IS to be different. He said that a Muslim should be different in conduct, dressing and outlook from a non Muslim. I suppose that it is alright to be different provided it is for the right reasons i.e. to please Him and not others.
Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar: The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) as saying: If anyone wears a garment for gaining fame, Allah will clothe him in a similar garment on the Day of Resurrection.
Sunan Abu Dawud
For many years, I was contented to being ‘common' but the day I decided to overhaul my wardrobe and wear only black abaya, it made me stand out and become different again. However, this time, hopefully I'm different for the right reasons. It wasn't easy at first as it invited some unwanted and some even downright nasty comments but, I have set my intentions to try dress modestly so I'm sticking to it. Well, at least, this time, no mad man is laughing at me !