As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.
This is mainly for sisters living in non-Muslim countries. How many of you have had people "decide" you must be a foreigner because you wear hijab or niqab? Your Muslim, so you MUST be Iraqi, Iranian, Saudi, Pakistani, etc. right? You may even have been advised by a complete stranger to go back to your own country. I know I have!
Well, I realized a few years ago that making a point to speak in public places such as the shops, park, etc. has turned some heads and minds. I usually have my children with me, so it's not like I'm talking to myself and others think I'm bonkers, LOL. But when they hear a clearly British accent, and for some friends a clearly American accent, it throws off their stereotype. Interestingly, I have been asked plenty of questions and been responded to with genuine interest and normalcy once people heard me speak. I even make a point to speak a few words to the cashier in the shop or raise a little laugh if the opportunity arises.
What has been the result of this, you ask? I have store personnel go out of their way to say hello and ask how I am now. One cashier even started asking me more about how to get whole grains in her diet because she'd been diagnosed with diabetes! I have been asked a variety of questions about why I cover, especially my face, and other aspects of Islam...while pushing my girls on swings and even mooching in thrift shops. I'm sure that many of you have had some kind of experience where someone heard you speak, picked up that you were a "native" of your country, and responded positively.
Dispelling preconceptions is a form of da'awah...so next time you want your children to get off the supermarket displays, don't whisper, say it nice and clearly so you are heard, insha'Allah.