Center of Genesis
Tiffany and her sister, Emily, were in the car travelling to their parents’ house in suburban Denver.
“How is work at the hospital?” Emily asked.
“It’s alright. I have to say, I didn’t expect it to be like this when I was working on my bachelor’s,” Tiffany told her.
“Is it better or worse than you expected?” Emily asked.
“I enjoy helping people, but it is more stressful than I expected,” Tiffany told her.
“Do you think I should go into nursing?” Emily asked.
“I would look into some other things first,” Tiffany told her.
“I was thinking about teaching,” Emily told her.
“There’s still a lot of demand for that. Personally, I wish I had gone into ministry,” Tiffany told her.
“What would you have done with that?” she asked.
“Work at a church. Or maybe do more missionary work. Something that would get me out of Colorado for a while,” Tiffany replied.
“I’m thinking of going on a missionary trip to Honduras next year. Do you want to join me?” Emily asked.
“I’d rather go back to Morocco for my next trip,” Tiffany told her.
“You’ve been there three times,” Emily reminded her.
“I like to stick with the familiar,” Tiffany alerted her.
“Besides, I don’t know very much Spanish. I studied French, and I know a little Arabic,” Tiffany reminded her.
“They didn’t always allow Christian missionaries,” she told Emily.
“When did they start?” Emily asked.
“To get foreign aid and other international benefits they had to be more open to allowing missionaries,” Tiffany told her.
Tiffany’s hair was either wavy or straight black, depending on how she styled it. She had always been well-liked. She was a family that never had trouble with money. Her parents tried not to spoil her, but Tiffany never went without anything.
Emily was Tiffany’s blonde younger sister, who she taught everything.
“Don’t you think that’s a little loud,” Emily told her.
“It’s American Girl (*), my favorite song,” Tiffany replied.
A lot of guys wanted to date Tiffany, but she turned them all down. She hadn’t dated anyone seriously since her prom date, Jordan. Guys since him thought she was stuck-up; she thought she was just waiting for the right one.
She had a lot of successful friends, all of them as Christian as she was. Some of them worked in the film industry. Not the major motion pictures, but the subculture of movies that catered to evangelical Christians. She received a phone call from Rose Tanner, a high school classmate who was now relatively successful in Hollywood.
“Tiffany, I have a great opportunity for you,” Rose told her.
“What is it?” she asked.
“They’re making a Bible movie about Isaac and Rebecca. They gave each of us a free audition to give to a friend, if they’re qualified and meet the requirements for the part, of course, and I think you would be perfect to play Rebecca,” Rose told her.
“I don’t have much experience acting,” Tiffany told her.
“You’ll be fine. You know the story. I just need you to get out of to California in two weeks for the audition,” Rose told her.
“Ok. When is the audition?” Tiffany asked.
“The twelfth of next month. I’ll call you later with the place and time you need to be there,” Rose informed her.
“I’ll take off work and get out there,” Tiffany told her.
Tiffany suddenly had the opportunity of a lifetime land in her lap. If this worked out, she could have a career in Hollywood, and wouldn’t be stuck with the long hours at the hospital. Acting also requires long hours, but she would be doing something she had more passion for. She discussed it with her parents.
“If you get this part, what are you going to do about the hospital,” Mr. Smith asked.
“I’ll ask for a leave of absence,” Tiffany told him.
“You haven’t been working there long enough to ask for a leave of absence,” her father pointed out.
“I’ll convince them,” Tiffany told him.
“And what if you can’t? Are you sure you want to risk losing your job for a movie?” Mrs. Smith asked her.
“There are plenty of nursing jobs, but few opportunities to become an actress,” Tiffany told her.
“Honey, there are tons of girls who go to Hollywood hoping to become big movie stars but then they end up becoming waitresses for the rest of their lives,” Mr. Smith pointed out.
“It’s not like that. And I haven’t even auditioned yet. Let’s wait and see if I get the part,” Tiffany told them.
“Just because one of your friends called you with this one in a million chance doesn’t mean you should risk your whole career at the hospital over it,” her father told her.
“It isn’t just some friend. It’s Rose Tanner. She’s probably gone farther in life than anyone else I went to school with,” Tiffany pointed out.
“Being an extra in a few movies isn’t exactly ‘going far’ in life,” Mr. Smith pointed out.
“Why isn’t Rose trying out for this role?” Mrs. Smith asked.
“She already has another part ready. She’s going to be a supporting character in a major movie,” Tiffany pointed out.
“Tiffany, make sure you pray about this, so that you make the right decision. Your father and I will also pray for you,” Mrs. Smith told her.
Emily listened in on their talk. She thought about getting involved, but decided that it wasn’t her concern.
Tiffany flew out to Hollywood for her audition. Luke, the director of the upcoming movie, sent a driver to take her to the hotel. The next day, she arrived at the studio for the audition.
“I’ll water your camels, too,” she said.
She repeated those lines many times that day. There were a dozen girls trying for the role of Rebecca, and some even had movie credits under their belt.
“I’ve already been in three major films. They were small parts, yes, but I’m already a professional actress,” Michelle said.
“Don’t be so arrogant,” Hillary told her.
“Some trying out for this role have never acted a day in their life. And it shows…” she replied.
Tiffany heard all of this, but she tried to focus on the role and not on anyone else Tiffany was the favorite, as she knew much more about the Bible and she was willing to learn for the role.
The next day Luke, the director of the upcoming Bible saga, called everyone back.
“Girls, you were all wonderful in your tryouts for the role of Rebecca. Unfortunately, there are twelve of you and only one space for that role. Before I announce who will play Rebecca, I want to wish the other eleven of you luck in your future acting endeavors. If you need a reference, feel free to contact my secretary and we’ll work on getting you a letter of recommendation,” Luke told them.
“Oh it’s almost like I’m announcing an Oscar,” he said.
A couple of the girls looked annoyed, while the rest looked nervous.
“The role of Rebecca goes to Tiffany Smith,” he announced.
“Congratulations,” several of the girls told Tiffany.
“Thank you so much. I will do my best to portray Rebecca accurately and honorably. I hope everyone here a successful future,” she said.
“Michelle and Hillary, if you are interested you will be considered for understudies,” Luke told them.
Tiffany returned to Colorado.
“I need to put in for a leave of absence at Mountain View General,” she explained to the administration.
“What do you need the leave for?” the administrator asked.
“I’m going to shoot a movie,” Tiffany explained.
“In Hollywood?” the administrator asked.
“Yes,” Tiffany told her.
“That sounds great. When will your leave take effect?” the administrator asked.
“I have to leave for California again next week,” Tiffany told her.
“It will be difficult to change the schedule on such short notice, but I think we can do it,” the administrator told her.
She worked at the hospital as long as she could before she had to return to California. She spent her nights reading the chapters of Genesis about Isaac and later his wife Rebecca, as well as the official script for the movie. She returned to California to begin preparations for the movie. Tiffany’s phone rang.
“Hello,” she answered.
“Tiffany, it’s Luke. In order to help you prepare for the role, we’ve arranged for you to spend a weekend with a Muslim family” he told her.
“I’m sorry,” Tiffany said.
“Sorry about what?” Luke asked.
“I don’t understand. This movie is set in Bible times and has nothing to do with Muslims,” Tiffany pointed out.
“True, but you need to know about how people in the ancient Middle East lived. Since we don’t have a time machine, the next best thing we can do is arrange for you to live with a traditional Muslim family,” Luke told her.
“Is this really going to help me prepare for the role?” she asked.
“Yes. We believe it is,” he told her.
“I’ve already done three missionary trips to Morocco. I’m very familiar with Muslim culture,” Tiffany told him.
“I pointed that out to the director and scriptwriters. Everyone still thinks that if you visit this particular family, you’ll have a new appreciation for ancient Middle Eastern culture,” Luke advised her.
“Ok, I guess,” Tiffany told him.
“Great. I’ll have your driver drop you off there on Friday night. Call my assistant if you need anything,” Luke told her.
Tiffany had some concerns about staying with a Muslim family. She had spent time with Muslims in Morocco, but that was with other Christian missionaries. She was used to staying with Moroccan Christians while in that particular Muslim land. This time she would be all alone.
Islam was a fast growing religion in America, and it was chipping away at Christianity’s dominance on the religious stage. Islam, atheism and religious pluralism, the belief that all religions are more or less correct, were reducing the influence of Christianity.
With the exception of a number of Muslim immigrants, most of Europe had arrived at atheism. South America and Africa were looking like the future homes of the Christian religion.
She considered herself an evangelist and a missionary, and had to reconcile that with staying in the house of those who worshipped differently than she did.
“I’ll just use this to learn for my role, which is in a Bible movie,” Tiffany told herself.
“I have never pretended like there are not other religions in the world. It won’t hurt me to learn about one of them, as long as I remember which one is the Truth,” she told herself.
That Friday night her driver dropped her off at the Khalifa home in Los Angeles. Like all of the other houses in the well-kept neighborhood, it was a medium sized house with a small yard.
She had been advised to dress conservatively for the Muslim family, showing as little of her body as possible. She wore a white sweater and a skirt.
She rang the doorbell.
“Welcome to our home,” Najet Khalifa told Tiffany.
Tiffany saw a middle-aged woman wearing a black veil.
“My husband and son are gone for the time being. They will arrive back later tonight. For now it will only be us women,” the mother explained.
“These are my daughters Farida and Yamina,” Najet introduced them.
“Nice to meet you,” Tiffany told them.
“Likewise,” they each said.
The girls were each wearing black veils over their faces like their mother. The only part of the body Tiffany could see was their eyes.
“While you are living in our house, you will be required to dress as a Muslim woman would in the company of men she is not related to,” Mrs. Khalifa told Tiffany.
“Alright,” Tiffany replied.
“We have some black and blue fabrics here. I will teach you how to put together a niqab,” Farida told her.
They put a covering over Tiffany’s curly hair to begin. Then they put the blue fabric over her face and another black cloth over her hair.
“Do you mind if I ask a question?” Tiffany asked.
“Go ahead,” Farida told her.
“Do you dress like this all of the time?” she asked.
“When we are outside the house, we cover ourselves. We do not normally dress like this inside the home when only our family is around, but for this weekend we will in order to teach you,” Farida explained.
“What is it like wearing that to school?” Tiffany asked.
“We attend a private Muslim school where the face veil is required for all of the girls,” Farida told her.
“Ok. I’ve heard many different things before, but why do Muslims women wear veils? I mean, what’s your take on that?” Tiffany asked.
“We wear them out of respect for Allah and submission to his will. We also wear them to avoid tempting men,” Farida told her.
“I will go over some other rules we have,” Mrs. Khalifa explained.
“We use black markers to black out the faces of women in all newspapers and magazines we bring into the house. We don’t want our son to see the faces of women he is not related to,” Mrs. Khalifa explained.
“What about his computer? There are pictures of women all over the Internet,” Tiffany explained.
“We have set his browser so that he cannot see any images on the Internet. He can only read writing. If he needs an image for homework, his father prints it for him off of his computer,” she explained.
“We have a box on our television set which blocks the faces of all women,” the mother explained.
“A box that does what?” Tiffany asked.
“It blackens out the faces of all women who appear on television,” the mother explained.
“How is that even possible?” Tiffany asked.
“The box takes the images from the television provider. It can tell when a face is appearing on the screen, and it can tell the difference between a male and a female face. It puts black over the faces of all females,” the mother explained.
“Ok. Do you mind if I ask why?” Tiffany asked.
“For our son. Islam teaches that men are not to see the faces of women he is not related to,” the mother explained.
Tiffany was not unfamiliar with Muslim culture, but she had never seen a family this strict in Morocco, let alone America.
“With all due respect, Mrs. Khalifa, don’t you think that is too much?” Tiffany asked.
“We take our religion seriously. Many Americans say they believe in God, but they take a casual approach to following what has been taught. Or they ignore everything. In most Muslim cultures of the world, the Qur’an and the words of Allah are taken very seriously,” the mother told her.
“Ok. I completely respect that. I just have one more question,” Tiffany stated.
“Alright,” the mother told her.
“How is he going to go his entire life without ever seeing the face of a woman he is not related to?” Tiffany asked.
“When he is an adult, he will have to go out into the world to work and he will see the faces of unrelated females. We are teaching him to have self control for when that time comes. We expect him not to look at a woman for longer than is necessary, just like his father does now. Abdul is just a boy, and until he is old enough to respect women and control himself when he sees their faces, he will obey our rules,” the mother explained.
“That makes sense,” Tiffany told her.
“Teenage boys need to learn self-control, and that is something most boys his age do not learn. The best way for him to learn is by denying him what he wants. He wants to see women’s faces, but we deny him that,” she explained.
“Oh,” Tiffany replied.
“Most American males are not denied anything. They see women completely naked all of the time. And look how it turns out. They have children with women and leave them. They do not respect their wives. They leave their wives when they see a prettier woman,” Mrs. Khalifa continued.
“We have one more rule. For the duration of your stay, we have decided that no one should discuss theology. We will not tell you about Mohammad or the Qur’an, but we also ask that you do not try to convert us to your religion, either,” Mrs. Khalifa told her.
“That is a great rule,” Tiffany told her.
They heard a noise.
“My husband and son have arrived. For the duration of your visit, please keep your words with them few,” Mrs. Khalifa explained.
Mr. Khalifa and Abdul walked in.
“Welcome to our home. We hope you learn about our culture while here, and it helps you with your movie role. Come, Abdul. Let us leave the women alone,” Mr. Khalifa said.
“I am already familiar with Muslim culture. I have been to Morocco three times,” Tiffany told them.
“I hope you enjoyed the experience, but that is still only one culture. We will provide you with a second perspective on Muslims,” Mrs. Khalifa explained.
“I look forward to this experience,” Tiffany told them.
Tiffany was really very wary of the experience she had just begun. She wondered how she was going to stay with the family of very serious Muslims until Sunday night. She was going to have to keep her hair and face covered the entire time. Even in the suburbs of Casablanca they were no where near that strict. She couldn’t say more than a sentence to either of the men in the house.
“Somehow I doubt that Isaac and Rebecca had a television set that blocked out the faces of every woman in existence,” Tiffany cynically thought to herself.
Tiffany slept better than she had expected that night. Saturday morning arrived and it was time for her to learn more about Middle Eastern culture.
“Good morning Tiffany,” Farida told her.
“Good morning,” Tiffany replied.
“The men are out of the house. It is alright for you to take a shower. When you are done you need to put your niqab back on,” Farida told her.
“Got it,” Tiffany told her.
“If you need any help, let me know,” Farida told her.
Tiffany took her shower and remembered how to put her niqab back on after it was over.
“We are going shopping,” Mrs. Khalifa told the girls.
“We’re going out in public,” Tiffany said.
“Yes dear,” Mrs. Khalifa told her.
“Umm,” Tiffany said.
“Are you worried about being seen veiled?” Farida asked.
“It just isn’t something I was planning for,” Tiffany told them.
“How many men have seen your bare face? You never worried about that. Why should you worry if there is a simple cloth covering it,” Mrs. Khalifa told her.
“That is why I’m here. To learn how things are different in other cultures,” Tiffany said.
“Do not worry. We are going to a market in a predominantly Muslim area. There are many veiled women there,” Farida told her.
They all got into the Khalida family SUV. They discussed things as they drove to the store.
“Are you looking forward to your movie, Tiffany?” Mrs. Khalida asked.
“Yes. It’s going to be a lot of work but I think filming it will be fun,” she replied.
“Is this your first time out in public covered like this?” Yasima asked.
“I’ve never actually worn a veil before. I’ve seen veiled women in Morocco and on the Internet, but I’ve never been covered like this. But there was this one time I had most of my body covered,” Tiffany told her.
“Please tell,” Yasima instructed.
“It was a really cold winter. I was wearing a hood and a scarf over my face. I walked into this one store. The cashier there looked like he was from the Middle East and he smiled at me. I kept wondering what he was thinking,” Tiffany explained.
“What was he thinking?” Farida asked.
“I thought he liked seeing women covered up,” Tiffany told them.
“A good Muslim man does like seeing a woman covering herself,” Mrs. Khalifa explained.
They arrived at the market.
Tiffany felt odd in the market wearing her veil. There were a number of women there who were covered, but their faces were showing. They almost looked like nuns. She had seen areas of Morocco like this, but never in America.
They arrived home and the women of the house taught Tiffany about Middle Eastern cuisine.
That night Tiffany discussed things with Farida and Yamina without their mother present. All of them continued wearing their veils.
“What do you think about your experience here?” Farida asked her.
“It has been an eye-opener. I know a lot of religious families, but none are as strict,” Tiffany told her.
“Do you enjoy wearing your veil?” Yamina asked.
“It’s different, and there are some parts I like,” Tiffany replied.
“What do you like?” Yamina asked.
“It was nice knowing that every guy at the supermarket wasn’t judging how I look,” Tiffany told them.
“What did you think about veiling before coming here?” Farida asked.
“I hadn’t really thought about it very much. Besides in Morocco, the only ‘veiling’ I’ve seen in real life before now was at a couple of weddings,” Tiffany told them.
“Brides do cover themselves, but it’s not quite like how Muslims veil,” Farida told her.
“I don’t know about that. They cover their faces, just with material that’s easier to see through than our niqabs. They cover their faces so their husbands do not see them again until they become their wives,” Tiffany told her.
“Do you see any analogies between brides and Muslim women?” Farida asked.
“Yeah, like I said, brides cover themselves because they consider their beauty to be special and needing to be preserved for the right person,” she reiterated.
“What did you think in Morocco when you saw women covered up?” Farida asked.
“I just thought it was part of their culture. Some people thought they were oppressed, but I was pretty neutral on it. I didn’t think they were oppressed and I didn’t think there was anything interesting about it,” she told her.
“Did you ever wear a veil in Morocco?” Farida asked.
“A couple of guides recommended it when I was out in pubic, but the most I ever put on was a headscarf. It was loose fitting; it wasn’t very tight,” Tiffany told her.
“What character are you going to play in your movie?” Yamina asked.
“Rebecca, from the book of Genesis,” Tiffany told her.
“Rebecca was the wife of Isaac, who was the son of Abraham, who we also consider the founder of our faith,” Farida told Yamina.
“Have we helped you prepare for your role?” Yamina asked.
“Yes,” Tiffany told her.
“How so?” she asked.
“I know that women in that time had to be more careful with what they said and did. They weren’t as able to say anything that was on their mind as people are today,” Tiffany told her.
“Have we helped you in any other way?” Farida asked.
“There is actually a brief scene where I’ll wear a veil,” Tiffany told them.
“When is that?” Yamina asked.
“The scene where Isaac sees Rebecca for the first time,” Tiffany told her.
“We hope the entire movie goes well,” Farida told her.
“Thank you. I had some other thoughts about the niqab and another Bible character,” Tiffany told them.
“What are your thoughts?” Farida asked.
“At the beginning of the Bible, Eve tempted Adam and caused him to sin. Throughout history, women have been considered temptresses who are trying to seduce men and get them into trouble. I think some people want women to wear veils to keep them from succeeding,” Tiffany told them.
“That might have a little bit to do with it,” Farida told her.
“How long have you worn your veils?” Tiffany asked them.
“I’ve worn my niqab for four years. Yamina just started wearing hers all the time,” Farida explained.
“How do you determine when a girl has to cover her face all of the time?” Tiffany asked.
“Our high school requires it for all female students,” Farida explained.
“Some say that when a girl begins puberty she must start wearing the veil. Others suggest that when she reaches her 14th birthday her face must be veiled,” Farida continued.
The girls went to sleep, only removing their veils after lights were out and it was dark.
Sunday morning arrived.
The family had all gone out shopping. Tiffany’s time with them would soon be complete, and she could soon proceed to the set to work on her movie. With her host family’s permission, she had spent much of her down time reading the chapters from Genesis about Isaac and Rebecca, as well as the script for the film.
“I’m here to learn about Muslim culture,” she thought to herself.
“I can’t go back in time and live with an ancient Middle Eastern family for a weekend, so this is the best I can do to learn about the culture of the Old Testament. I still think my time in Africa should have been enough,” she continued.
Tiffany sat on the couch alone, working through all that she was learning and experiencing here. She was living with Muslims, and in spite of their strict requirements she was enjoying it more than she had expected.
“I’m still surprised at how seriously they take what they believe in, especially when it comes to women,” Tiffany thought.
“There are over a billion Muslims in the world, and a lot of them must think like my host family,” she continued.
Images of Muslims she had seen before came to her mind.
“There’s a man out there somewhere. He’s a Muslim and he’s from a foreign country,” she thought.
“He believes that I should veil my face,” she thought.
“He wants me to wear a veil like the one I’ve worn for the family I’m with,” she continued.
“He wants me to wear a veil all of the time. He wants me to wear it voluntarily, but he would make it illegal for me to show my face in public if he had the power,” she thought.
“He doesn’t even know me or who I am, but if he saw a picture of me, he would think that I should wear a veil. Just because I’m a woman, and especially because I’m a young, attractive and single woman,” Tiffany thought.
“Wow. And there are millions, probably hundreds of millions, of people who think the way he does,” she thought.
Her host family came home.
“Tiffany, we all want to wish you goodbye. We hope you enjoyed your stay and learned a great deal about our culture. We all wish you luck with your movie,” Mrs. Khalifa told her.
Everyone wished her goodbye. She hugged the mother and the girls. Tiffany bid the men farewell by bowling lightly while taking her hand to her heart, as Mrs. Khalifa had taught her.
Her driver arrived on Sunday night and took her to her hotel.
It was time for Tiffany to arrive on the set and start shooting the movie. Tiffany and her partner performed the scenes from the lives of Isaac and Rebecca. After a few days of shooting, it was time for one of the most important scenes of the movie.
“Guys, I know I’ve been harsh getting you to play your parts well, but I must say we’re succeeding so far. Sean, I love how you’re playing Isaac. Tiffany, you’re doing a great job as Rebecca. Keep up the good work, and this could be one of the greatest Bible movies of this era,” Luke told them.
“Thanks. I really enjoyed the scene where Rebecca was watering the camels for Abraham’s servant,” Tiffany told him.
“Those animals stink to high heaven,” Sean replied.
“Getting back to the movie, it’s time for the scene where Rebecca and Isaac meet for the first time. It is crucial that we get this right,” Luke told them.
“And asked the servant, ‘Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?’ ‘He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself. That is from Genesis chapter 24 and verse 65,” Luke read.
This was one time when Tiffany’s stay with the Muslim family would definitely come in useful.
As her partner Sean approached, playing Isaac, Tiffany got her clothes together and prepared to cover her face. Rebecca did not want her future love to see her face immediately; she wanted to keep the beauty of her face a mystery at first so he would wonder what was underneath the cloths.
Tiffany put a white cloth over her lower face and left her eyes visible. The veil was very slightly translucent, and it was very clear where her nose was. She covered her hair with a gray headcovering.
“This is the woman you are meant to be with,” the servant told Isaac.
“Cut!” Luke said.
“What is it?” Sean asked.
“Tiffany, why are you being so stiff?” Luke asked.
“What?” Tiffany asked.
She removed her veil and headcovering.
“You don’t seem very excited about seeing Isaac,” Luke told him.
“I’m sorry. I was just thinking how different this is from our culture. Today women put all kinds of makeup on and do their hair and pick out a sexy dress if they’re expecting to meet a great guy. In the days of Genesis Rebecca covered her face so the guy she was interested in wouldn’t focus on her looks the first time,” Tiffany explained.
“Ok. When you’re promoting the movie later, you might want to tell a reporter that during a magazine interview. But for now, you’re not an American woman playing a Biblical woman. You are Rebecca, who lived in the deserts of the ancient Middle East. In Biblical times,” Luke explained.
“Got it,” Tiffany told him.
“Don’t let my praise from earlier get to your head. That goes for you too, Sean. Ok, let’s take a five minute break and then we’ll shoot the scene again,” Luke ordered.
Tiffany went to a table to get a bottle of water.
“Hi, I’m Jasmine,” one of the assistants introduced herself.
“Hi, nice to meet you,” Tiffany replied.
“I wouldn’t worry too much about Luke. He’s famous for being difficult to work with,” Jasmine told him.
“I can see why,” Tiffany replied.
“This is your first movie and you’re doing very well,” Jasmine told her.
“Thanks,” Tiffany replied.
“I have to ask, you never froze up with any of the other scenes. Not even the ones with the camels. What’s different about Rebecca meeting Isaac?” Jasmine asked.
“It’s just a lot to live up to. It’s one of the pivotal parts of Isaac’s life and…” Tiffany explained.
“I heard you tell him it was about the veil,” Jasmine told her.
“Oh, that. To get ready for this role I spent a couple of nights with a Muslim family,” Tiffany explained.
“Really?” Jasmine asked.
“Yeah, because they’re as close to a family living in the Bible-era we could find,” she explained.
“What was that like?” Jasmine asked.
“I observed their way of life and how the father, mother and children interacted. I paid attention to how they spent their time, how they ate, and how they dressed,” Tiffany explained.
“Were they fully covered?” Jasmine asked.
“Yes, and they had me dress like them,” Tiffany explained.
“Oh. Did you wear a veil like the one here,” she asked.
“A similar one, yes. A black one with a blue headcover, though,” Tiffany told her.
“Rebecca only wears a veil for a couple of minutes in the movie. I wonder why they wanted you to cover for a whole weekend,” Jasmine wondered.
“They’re strict Muslims, and as their guest they wanted me to live like them,” Tiffany explained.
“So when you’re covered here you’re thinking about them,” Jasmine speculated.
“It does make me think back to a couple of times I was there and I wondered about why Muslim women veil themselves,” Tiffany asked.
“Everyone back on set!” Luke ordered.
“We need to get back to work. Talk to you later,” Tiffany told her.
They reshot the scene. This time Tiffany was much more open as her character saw Isaac for the first time. She was clearly smiling under her veil, and laughed and giggled as she met her soon to be husband.
As was described in the Bible, Rebecca and Isaac married in a tent soon after in the movie. To keep everything as accurate as possible, Tiffany kept her veil on until the ceremony was over.
As they were shooting the scene, Rose Tanner walked onto the set and watched in the background. After the shooting was over, she went to greet Tiffany.
“Tiffany? Is that you?” she asked.
“Rose? It’s great to see you!” Tiffany told her.
“I didn’t recognize you under that veil,” Rose told her.
“Yeah, that is the point of the thing,” she told her.
“What an odd twist. You used to search for a fancy dress and put on tons of makeup to go to the prom with Jordan. Now you’re playing a woman who put more clothes on when she saw the man of her dreams,” Rose pointed out.
“Yeah, the irony,” Tiffany said.
“I can’t stay long. I was just in the area and wanted to say hi,” Rose told her.
“Thanks for dropping by,” Tiffany told her.
After the shooting was over, Tiffany met Jasmine again.
“I kept my face covered during the wedding to keep it accurate. Later in Genesis Leah and Rachel were veiled while they were getting married to Jacob,” Tiffany explained.
“I haven’t read the Bible in a while. That’s neat to know,” Jasmine told her.
“You should read it. It’s great,” Tiffany told her.
“Back to the family you were living with, what were you thinking as you were covered?” Jasmine asked.
“There’s a lot from the experience I’ll never forget. One of the more striking things was when they told me that because I’m a female over the age of 14 my face had to be veiled,” Tiffany explained.
“Wow,” Jasmine told her.
“Yeah. Could you imagine living in a country where everyone thinks like that?” Tiffany asked.
“I guess that was part of the point of why you were there. In Bible times there were probably lots of women covering their faces,” Jasmine explained.
“Shortly before my stay was over, I thought about how the father, and really the whole family, believes I should cover my face all the time. If they had their way, I would,” Tiffany told her.
“You’d also be a Muslim and probably wouldn’t be in a Bible movie,” Jasmine pointed out.
“Yeah. I was only there to learn about their culture,” Tiffany told her.
“But yeah, there are men out there who know nothing about me beyond the fact that I’m a ‘female who has reached her 14th birthday,’ and they think I should have my hair and my lower face covered with a veil,” Tiffany told her.
“I used to really hate it when I’d seen Muslim women dressed like that,” Jasmine told her.
“Yes. I mean, do they think that my nose, lips, cheeks and hair are so seductive to men that they can’t control themselves after seeing it?” Tiffany asked.
“I think it’s about controlling women. They are really afraid of women,” Jasmine speculated.
“They don’t look at a man and think ‘He’s so handsome. He has to cover his hair and a lower face because women aren’t going to be able to control themselves. They must think men can’t control themselves when they see pretty girls,” Tiffany thought.
“Maybe they don’t want men being distracted by a woman’s beauty. Or maybe they think that women are weak and need to be protected by veils,” Jasmine told her.
“An attractive man can wear whatever he wants and the world can see his face, but an attractive woman must cover her face to keep from distracting men and to protect the woman,” Tiffany reiterated.
“I guess that’s one way to look at it. I have to get home. Will you friend me on FacePage?” Jasmine asked.
“Sure,” Tiffany told her.
They went home for the night.
Later scenes in the movie depicted other parts from the lives of Isaac and Rebecca, including the births of Jacob and Esau, and Jacob stealing Esau’s birthright.
With the final scenes of the movie being shot, Brian – the producer of the movie – came by.
“Tiffany, Sean, it’s great to see you,” Brian told him.
“I’ve heard you’ve done a great job playing Isaac and Rebecca,” he said.
“Thank you,” they both told him.
“We do need to discuss some of the promotions for the movie,” Brian told them.
“For the poster, we were thinking Rebecca should be in the background wearing a veil such as when she saw Isaac for the first time. In the foreground, we’ll have Isaac looking to the left, as though he’s considering his immense contribution to history,” Brian told them.
“Ok sounds good,” Sean said.
“Do you have any other ideas for the poster?” Tiffany asked.
“That is really the one we want to go with,” Brian told her.
“It’s just that, when I put up a poster of the movie in my room I’d like to be able to see myself. And if I’m wearing a veil…” Tiffany replied.
“Don’t worry. We’ll make three different posters for the movie. The veil one will just be the primary one we’ll use,” Brian told her.
“Ok, that seems alright,” Tiffany replied.
Tiffany later attended a photoshoot for the poster. She did everything she could to smile underneath her thin white veil, and she felt that she succeeded at recapturing the scene from the movie.
The movie opened all across America. Although it was only a limited release, it still earned well above its budget.
After attending an opening ceremony for the movie, she returned to her Colorado apartment. The hospital had told her that she could return to work when she was ready. Life was uncertain at this point. Tiffany could not determine if she should return to being a nurse living next to the mountains she had known her whole life or if she should pursue more acting in the movies.
Her phone rang.
“Hello,” Tiffany answered.
“Hello Tiffany. This is Najet Khalifa,” the woman answered.
“Oh, hi! It’s so good to hear from you,” Tiffany told her.
“My husband and I went to see the movie. We were pleased with your acting,” Najet told her.
“Thank you. I had a great time making the movie, and living with you really helped me get to know what life was like for women in the ancient Middle East. It really helped me with the role,” Tiffany told her.
“You are very welcome, dear. We are pleased to have assisted you. We wish you and all People of the Book well. I hope you enjoyed your stay and think well of Muslims and Islam,” Mrs. Khalifa told her.
“I enjoyed my stay and I’ve very glad you taught me all of those things,” Tiffany told her.
“We took our daughters to see the movie, also. We did not take Abdul because, as you know, we do not want him to see the faces of women he is not related to until he has grown to the age of a man,” Mrs. Khalifa told him.
“Of course,” Tiffany
“We did find a piece of contraband in his room,” Mrs. Khalifa told her.
“Oh? What did you find?” Tiffany asked.
“It turns out Abdul had one of his friends print your picture off of the Internet. We found it in his room,” Mrs. Khalifa told her.
“Oh,” Tiffany said.
“He wanted to know what you look like,” Mrs. Khalifa explained.
“Oh. I’m ok with that,” Tiffany told her.
“It is against our rules for him to look at the faces of women he is not related to. We went to great lengths making sure you veiled yourself while you were here, and he went around us and got a picture of you,” Mrs. Khalifa said.
“It’s ok. Wearing the veil was a neat experience,” Tiffany told her.
“I’m pleased you feel that way. I’m going to put Abdul on the phone so he can apologize to you,” Mrs. Khalifa told her.
At this point, Tiffany did not want to argue and went along with it.
“Hello Tiffany. I want to apologize for printing your picture off of the Internet and looking at your beauty. My faith teaches that a woman’s beauty should be saved for her husband, and I have dishonored you, myself, my family, and Allah the most High,” Abdul told her.
Mrs. Khalifa then took the phone back from him.
“I’m so sorry about all of this, Tiffany. Abdul will be grounded for at least a month because of this ordeal. You should know that a man having to apologize to a woman is also very shameful in our culture,” Mrs. Khalifa explained.
“Thank you for the phone call,” Tiffany told her.
“Good bye Tiffany, and may Allah bless you for all time,” Mrs. Khalifa told her.
“Goodbye,” Tiffany told her.
She thought that was an incredibly strange phone call, but she could not help but think that this family was driving a real respect for women into their son. A kind of respect few American boys his age would ever have for women.
The next night, Tiffany went to see the movie with her parents and her sister Emily.
“Honey, I just want to let you know that I’m very proud of the work you did on the movie. I’m sorry I ever doubted you,” Mr. Smith told her.
“Thanks, dad,” Tiffany told him.
She hugged him.
“Did you like that boy in the movie?” Mrs. Smith asked.
“Sean Clinton?” Tiffany asked.
“Yes, the one who played Isaac,” Mrs. Smith asked.
“Oh, no. Not at all. He’s very arrogant and thought he was too good for the role,” she pointed out.
“He seemed so nice in the movie,” Mrs. Smith pointed out.
“He’s an actor. He was acting,” she told her.
“Well that scene where you two meet for the first time. I could tell you were very happy to see him, even with your face covered up,” Mrs. Smith pointed out.
“That was acting, too,” Tiffany pointed out.
The family prayed to thank God for Tiffany’s success as an actress and for the success of Center of Genesis.
“We all thought you did a great job. Do you have any more movies coming up in the future?” Emily asked.
“Not yet, but I do have an agent,” Tiffany told her.
“It’s a shame your face was covered with that veil on the poster,” Emily told her.
“Brian thought that scene really made the movie, and it was very important in the story of Isaac and Rebecca. So they wanted the poster to reflect it,” Tiffany pointed out.
“Yeah, but it makes it harder for everyone to know what you look like,” Emily told her.
“If they watch the movie, they’ll see plenty of my face,” Tiffany told her.
“You girls take a hint from Rebecca in the Bible. If you see a boy you’re interested in, cover your face so he can’t see it,” Mr. Smith told her.
“He’s joking, of course,” Mrs. Smith said.
Tiffany returned to her apartment and read some reviews of Center of Genesis.
Center of Genesis has received much attention as the most successful Bible movie not focusing on the life of Jesus in decades. Focusing on Isaac, the son of Abraham and father of Jacob and Esau, it chronicles his life from his childhood until his death. Sean Clinton, known for his roles in Ocean Mountain and Baseball Romance, plays the role of the adult Isaac. Hollywood newcomer Tiffany Smith plays Rebecca.
The movie has received some criticism for its graphic depiction of the near-sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham. Luke, the director, has stated that he was striving for authenticity and that no one was injured in any way through the creation of Center of Genesis. All actors and actresses were required to have a psychological screening to ensure they prepared for the roles of Iron Age characters.
Another part gathering much attention was when Isaac and Rebecca meet for the first time. Smith clearly portrays Rebecca as excited about meeting him, but conceals that fact by covering her face with a veil. Brian, the producer of the movie, clearly thought – quite correctly – that the audience would enjoy that scene. The image of the veiled Rebecca can be seen in the background of the movie’s three official posters.
Makeup artists did a wonderful job of making Clinton and Smith look decades older than they actually are for the scene where Jacob steals the birthright of Esau.
Although not as well known as Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses or Jesus, the characters of Isaac and Rebecca are given their fifteen minutes of fame in the world of Bible movies through Center of Genesis.
This movie is recommended for viewing, with a four out of five star rating.
“It’s getting great reviews. I hope this isn’t my only success as an actress. Where will God lead me?” Tiffany thought.
After a long day and reading the reviews, Tiffany took a brief nap. She awoke and did some minor cleaning of her apartment.
She looked at the official poster for the movie. The primary one; the one being posted in virtually every theater carrying the movie. Like all movies, a number of posters were made and released, with one being the primary one used.
It reminded her of the awkward yet enticing feeling she had the first time she put on the veil from the movie. She got her costume from the movie and put it on.
Then she thought back to her experiences with her host family in Los Angeles. She had gone out in public with them a few times. She obviously was not a member of that family. What little skin people could see was obviously lighter than the rest of them.
Her doorbell rang. She took off her veil and threw it on the chair.
“Who is it?” she asked.
“It’s Jasmine,” she answered.
Jasmine had come to visit Tiffany. She came in.
“How have you been?” Jasmine asked.
“Great,” Tiffany told her.
“Good. I went to see Center of Genesis. It was great,” she told her.
“It really turned out well,” Tiffany told her.
“It’s getting great reviews,” Jasmine told her.
After a few minutes, Jasmine noticed the covering on the chair.
“What’s this?” Jasmine asked her.
“Oh, it’s just my costume from the movie,” Tiffany told her.
“It’s the veil from the meeting scene,” Jasmine pointed out.
“Yeah,” Tiffany told her.
“You only wore that for a couple minutes in the movie,” Jasmine pointed out.
“Where are your other costumes,” she asked.
“They’re still in the closet,” Tiffany told her.
“Do you cover yourself often?” Jasmine asked.
“No,” Tiffany told her.
“Why don’t we put the veils on, and see what we look like,” Jasmine said.
“Ok,” Tiffany replied.
Tiffany put on her white veil from the movie, and Jasmine put on the blue covering the Muslim family had given her during her weekend stay.
“We would have made great Muslims,” Jasmine told her.
“That’s the weird thing. I’m not a Muslim. I’m a Christian,” Tiffany told her.
“Do you think being a Muslim is a bad thing?” Jasmine asked.
“No. Not at all, but I believe in Jesus. I don’t believe Muslims are worshipping the correct God,” Tiffany told her.
“My parents are from the Middle East. They came to America because they were Christians in a land that was mostly Muslim. They wanted to be around people who believed like they do. My grandmother wore clothes that aren’t terribly different from what we’re wearing now, except I’m not sure if she covered her face,” Jasmine told her.
“After staying with that family and learning all of this, I feel like I understand their culture and ways a lot better. I’ll always be a Christian, even if I do find some parts of non-Christian cultures interesting,” Tiffany told her.
“Whatever we believe, we look stunning,” Jasmine told her.
“There’s something about a woman who’s veiled,” Tiffany told her.
“What do you think it is? One minute, we’re just a couple of regular women. Then we put these clothes over our hair and faces, and we feel so different,” Jasmine pointed out.
“If I lived in a culture where all the women were veiled, I could save my beauty for my future husband. There would be something really special in that,” Tiffany told her.
“That’s true,” Jasmine pointed out.
“In our culture, women walk around in shorts and miniskirts that show all of their legs and most of their thighs, they expose their midriffs, and even walk around in bikinis without a care who sees them,” Tiffany told her.
“Would you rather live in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, where you’d have to cover all of the time,” Jasmine asked.
“I wouldn’t go that far, but I do wonder how things would be different if God had told Jewish and Christian women to cover like this. What if Christians veiled like Muslims?” Tiffany said.
“What do you think?” Jasmine asked.
They continued looking in the mirror, adjusting their veils.
“I see girls and women going to school and church in their veils,” Tiffany explained.
“I imagine teenage girls with their faces covered going to the mall to buy niqabs. They buy niqabs and burqas of vastly different styles, qualities and prices. The girls would try them on, trying to find the best looking one and hoping to upstage all the other girls with the best covering for her face,” Tiffany explained.
“That’s a lot different from all of the malls I’ve ever seen,” Jasmine told her.
“Or maybe we’d spend a lot less money on clothes altogether,” Jasmine suggested.
“That’s probably true,” Tiffany told her.
“Would boys judge us on things other than how we look and dress?” Tiffany asked.
“I would hope so,” according to Jasmine.
“I think we would spend a lot less time putting makeup on and doing our hair everyday?” Tiffany asked.
“Definitely,” Jasmine told her.
“Would men get less distracted by our beauty? Would they treat us with more respect?” Tiffany asked.
“They would have more respect for us. Would they be less distracted? Possibly. Or maybe they would just have to know what we’re keeping underneath,” Jasmine told her.
“Girls could do better in school if they weren’t worried about how they look. Plus, in a lot of Muslim societies, men and women are kept apart from one another. Most studies in the area show that girls do better in school when boys aren’t around. Would it really help girls if they were veiled and boys were kept away?” Tiffany asked.
“You sure have a lot of interesting ideas tonight,” Jasmine told her.
“If you get past all of the propaganda about women being oppressed by an article of clothing, there are a lot of benefits to women wearing a veil,” Tiffany told her.
“It sounds like you want to create a church where women veil like Muslims,” Jasmine told her.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Tiffany told her.
“But that is the thing – if wearing a veil has such advantages, why didn’t God order it in the Bible? Or did he, and it was lost over the generations?” she thought.
“Jesus did say that if a man looks at a woman with lust he has committed adultery,” Jasmine pointed out.
“Even if I did want to wear this thing more often, I’d get lots of looks from people,” Tiffany told her.
They took off their veils, and the conversation shifted to other topics.
After Jasmine left, Tiffany went through her mail. She noticed a fancy envelope with a return address of FTI. The address underneath it was from Houston, Texas.
Congratulations on the success of your movie Center of Genesis. Your portrayal of the Biblical Rebecca was much appreciated.
It has come to the attention of the Foundation for Teaching Islam that in preparation for your role you spent one weekend living with a Muslim family and that you have previously spent time in the Islamic nation of Morocco. You observed the behavior of the family and dressed in their manner during your visitation.
The purpose of the Foundation for Teaching Islam is to educate the world about Muslim culture and the religion of Islam. This is primarily done through the interaction of Muslims and non-Muslims. We at the Foundation would like you to write a book about your experiences. If you are unable to write a full book, you can write a chapter which can be included in a book of several people’s experiences with Muslims.
If interested, please contact us to discuss content and monetary compensation further.
Public Relations Director
Foundation for Teaching Islam
“What is the Foundation for Teaching Islam?” Tiffany asked out loud, even though there was no one there to hear her.
“I suppose it’s exactly what it says – an organization with the mission of teaching Islam,” she thought.
“The opportunity to write my own book about my experiences with Muslims? What am I going to write? That I sat around someone’s house for a weekend with a niqab over my face?” Tiffany wondered.
“How would that affect my acting?” she wondered.
“If my acting career doesn’t go anywhere, I could use this book to make some money and keep my name out there,” she continued.
“I’ll write them a letter saying I’m not interested for now, but would like them to consider me in the future should I decide to write one,” she thought.
Tiffany went to her computer as she had been too busy to check her email very thoroughly in the recent weeks. She received one from Evangelism International, the missionary organization she had traveled to Africa with before. There were a number of updates about what the organization had been doing in countries around the world.
She read about a village in Morocco, and afterwards she left her laptop to make a cup of tea and let her mind put together everything she had learned and experienced recently.
Ideas for a book were simmering in her head. She didn’t have to write the book from a pro-Muslim point of view; she merely had to write about her experiences with Muslims. She could write about her time with the family and her African trips, but she decided she needed to sleep on it. She wondered if it was time for her to return to Morocco.
The next morning Tiffany concluded that she should return to Morocco for more material for the book. She called her organizer at Evangelism International.
“William, this is Tiffany,” she said.
“Hello, Tiffany. How are you,” William asked.
“Good,” she replied.
“I saw Center of Genesis. It was great,” William replied.
“Thank you,” she said.
“I was wondering if you could get me on another mission to Morocco?” Tiffany asked.
“Ok, we have some flights and missions going there,” William told her.
“What about that village in the last newsletter? Is there any way I could visit there?” she asked.
“Oh. We do have groups go there, but they are pretty conservative in that area. Not a lot of foreign women go there,” William explained.
“Do what you can to get me in a group,” she told her.
“Ok, since you are a nurse and they’re always short on medical staff I’m sure I can work something out,” he told her.
“I must make you aware that women in that area are expected to be covered all the time,” William told her.
“That’s ok. I’ll wear a veil,” Tiffany replied.
but the tale of Tiffany goes on in Veiled Tiffany.
(*) American Girl is by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.