Sunday, November 12, 2006
My personal statement of hijab
I think I need a break to sit back and re-evaluate why I cover my hair and what it means to my Islamic identity. I think I did it too fast. I wanted acceptance by my fellow Muslims and by wearing hijab, you gain that acceptance. As an American, you face a lot of skepticism when you become Muslim. When I started covering my hair, I gained acceptance from the Muslim community. As of late, I have decided that wearing the scarf for this reason is unacceptable. The hijab is supposed to be a symbol of modesty and a mark that you are Muslim. You wear it because you want to, not because someone else wants you to. That is the freedom of hijab. You make the conscious choice to wear it, particularly when you are not raised in that tradition. Therefore, I don't think that I have been wearing hijab for the proper reasons. I find myself wanting to wear it when I hear that Muslims have been oppressed, or when countries such as France try to ban it. However, when you wear hijab, you can't be a fair weather fan, so to speak. When you make the decision to wear it, you wear it all the time (well, except when you are at home, which is a common misconception). Likewise, if you make the decision to not wear it, with the exception of prayer, it doesn't make a lot of sense to switch back and forth. Professionally speaking, I don't think the scarf is doing me a lot of favors. I think there are too many subconscious insinuations that come with the scarf. It's not an intentional act, but I think it is engrained in the subconscious of most Americans. I think I am more confident without it because I know people are looking at me, for me, not my scarf. Now, in Islamic countries, this would be quite the opposite case. However, the point of hijab is to blend in and not draw attention to yourself. In the United States and Western world, you do draw attention to yourself, something that I am not comfortable with. Hijab and the decision to wear the scarf is a very personal decision and no one else should dictate it for you. Muslim women everywhere have the absolute right to decide if hijab and even niqab are right for them, and no one has the right to tell them that they have to or cannot wear them. This is my choice and no one can tell me otherwise. Now, let's see how accepted I am, how supportive the Muslim community is, and how many rights Islam affords women. I should say, just because Islam does, doesn't necessarily mean that the Muslim community will. Just another chapter in my mid-twenty something jihad, I suppose.