Can we talk about the hijab for a second?
There is so much hypocrisy surrounding the topic of hijab. Muslim women cannot own anything without it being constantly scrutinised because God forbid Muslim women having the brain capacity to make decisions. As a Muslim woman who also happens to wear the hijab, I believe my opinions about the hijab are valid if not more important that those that fit in the category of male, non-Muslim and surprise, doesn’t wear a hijab. This blog post shall be split into a few sections, each that will briefly look into a certain aspect of the hijab.
“Hijab is oppression” A lot of people sadly to this day view hijab as a symbol of oppression. Women who wear a piece of cloth on their heads to hide their hair and wear modest clothing are seen as women who are insignificant beings in a male dominated world. In a place where nudity, immodesty and yoga pants are thriving, women who actually make the conscience decision to not follow this trend will be looked at strangely. The 20th century saw the rise of women empowerment and a massive symbol of this empowerment was clothing or lack thereof. I support the women’s movement 110%. The way the 20thcentury began and the way it ended in 2000 so huge positive changes for females. I am glad that in Europe I am able to vote and own property. I am happy that I am able to study if I want to or work if I want to. But have I missed the memo here! Why are we back at a point where we are shaming women for not falling victim to the western media’s portrayal of what a woman should be wearing? Surely, the problem before the women’s empowerment movement was that women just didn’t have a voice and there was a burning desire to want change and ASAP. Women have that voice now (or at least a louder one than before) so can they not speak the words that they want? In this case, can’t they dress the way they want? Most hijabis (a women who wears a hijab) you know wear one because guess what, they want to. Because they studied the Islamic scriptures and they felt that this is most pleasing to God. If someone asked me whether you would have God or people be most pleased with you, I would choose God and that’s the difference between people who love God and those who do not have the same relationship with God. The point of this section is a) women should make their own honest decisions and if you do not agree with it, it does not mean that she must have been forced to make that decision and b) stop with this hypocrisy where we chant for women’s rights but that can never be extended to out Muslim sisters.
“Hijab might be your choice but that doesn’t mean you should follow an ancient, outdated custom”
What makes something outdated? When it stops becoming compatible with modernity? What is modernity then and who decides what is modern and what is not? The West? White people? Who? Look, covering yourself as a sign of modesty has been around for thousands of years. Early Christians and Jews covered themselves in public and to this day, orthodox Christian and Jew women continue to dress modestly. The fact that covering one’s body and hair began many thousands of years ago does not mean that it is an outdated practise. Clothing has been around since the beginning of times. Should we have a revolution and become nudist because wearing clothing is too limited? Why don’t we get rid of monarchies then, they’ve been around a bit too long don’t you think? We shouldn’t tolerate the fact that a single family is given power, respect and money because of whose womb they’ve come out of. The point is, if a civilisation has a custom that makes sense and is useful then who are we to say that it is “barbaric”. Granted that I don’t care much for royals but I still do not seem to understand how not exposing more skin than your face and hands is so offensive that it is now being associated with the term “outdated”. We are controlled by the media which let’s be honest has quite hard core Western outlook on life. A hijab looks strange for them. The fact that a woman actually decides to control what you can and can’t see. God forbid a woman having ownership of her own body especially a Muslim woman.
“The Hijab is not something we can just easily opt in or out of”
This is what people have most difficulty understanding. I don’t wear the hijab because it looks good on me or because I just fancy wearing it. I wear it because it is the order from the most Supreme, Allah. Those who believe in God and follow a religion closely will understand the importance of a message when Allah is speaking to you directly. Allah says in the Quran “…tell the believing women to lower their gaze and not to expose their adornment except that which necessarily appears thereof and to wrap a portion of their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornments except to…” Surah An-Nur 24:30. The verse then explains which people it is acceptable to uncover your hair to. It’s clear, a believing woman, a Muslim is told to cover her head and chest areas and only to show what is naturally exposed i.e. face and hands. I personally can’t look at that and then not wear a hijab thus for me, there is no space for discussion. I feel like a lot of people forget that. Unlike other symbols that other people of faith may wear, the hijab is mandatory prescribed by God. It isn’t the Muslim men that tell us to wear it and then we do and by the way, Muslim men themselves have their own hijab where they must cover themselves from navel to knees.
We as Muslims believe 100% that Allah knows what’s best for us and if Allah has chosen that we display modesty in this fashion (no puns intended), then so we will. At the end of the day, everyone is entitled to opinions. No one will ever see eye to eye with you and that’s okay. But please, let’s stop thinking Muslim women are oppressed. I am sure there are women in this big world of ours that wear the hijab against their will. They probably have awful parents; family or spouses and they shouldn’t be forced into it. That’s NOT Islam and that’s NOT what the hijab represents. There is no compulsion in Islam, take what you want as everyone has freewill. And if a woman decides not to wear the hijab, then that’s her choice and I respect it just like I hope she would respect my decision to wear it.