To Hijab or To Not Hijab
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
This is such a sensitive issue that I'm sure I'll get a flutter of angry comments regarding it, but I would like to preface it by stating that I am NOT God (in case anyone was confused) and I can NOT judge nor will I willingly judge anyone. There are pious women who do not cover, and completely black-hearted women who do. I have met both. If I offend you, this was not my intention. And if I offend you deeply, you might want to explore why the subject is so sensitive to you. I welcome any and all comments or discussions that this might bring up because I will attempt to outline my opinion while keeping both sides represented.
I am a hijabi. Does this make me a saint? Certainly not. Does this make me better than you? No, I would never be so vain as to ever consider it. I have my inconsistencies and my own sins and the fact that I cover my body and my hair does not automatically make me the best Muslim out of a group.
But every Muslimah who does not cover is submitted to a silent discrimination from the Ummah. It is assumed that they lack deen (faith) and are not good people. This is often ungrounded and unfair.
Or there are times when they actually suffer discrimination against the scarf from their families or their culture. I met one such sister whose husband refuses to allow her to cover although it pains her to not submit to what she considers the will of God. Or another Turkish sister I knew whose mother threatened to turn her out of their house if she took the hijab.
While I believe that every sister has her personal reasons for covering or not for covering, I can say that I, for one, don't agree with not wearing it.
Because its mandated by God. Simply.
Now, there are definite obstacles that many of us face. Like the sister whose husband doesn't allow it; I would absolutely not tell her to leave her husband in order to wear hijab. Why cover one bad by instigating another? Or the sister from Turkey who would have no place to live, and on her own with two small boys it would be a miserable life, what should she do?
Surely hijab is obligatory yes, but only God can judge their situations, and some are terrible situations, and then make the final call.
But the other sisters who are not in situations like these, I truly cannot understand what their motivation for unveiling is. What is in this world that can drive them to ignore something written in the Quran?
I am not saying that they are less pious for it, I'm just striving to understand why they make that decision.
And I have to be honest that, with the exception of a few convert friends- who deal with family issues that keep them from wearing the hijab- and a few sisters I know who are in similar situations to the two I mentioned above, most of the women that I know who do not veil do not pray as well or adhere to many other pillars of Islam.
While in Egypt, where wearing the hijab is as cultural as it is religious, I found many women who covered but did, said, and believed things that made my hair curl. I was sexually hit on by a woman who confessed that she ached to remove it but couldn't because her family wouldn't allow it.
But here in the US I have found that it is a different story. Many of those women, who are forced into hijab by society back home, take it off here and leave a religion they didn't believe to begin with behind in the process. While myself, and many other women, fight OUR society in this country to be able to wear it.
I have faced obstacle after obstacle. I have been shunned for it. I have lived penniless because of it. But, except for a miserable five week period, I could not bear the thought of removing it.
I'm not saying it makes me a saint, but I am using myself as an example. I have dealt with family shunning me, I have been without a job, I have been harassed, I have faced discrimination, but most of all I have taken pride in following my religion and, for me, wearing hijab was the easiest commandment to fulfill, second only to the commandment to believe that there is no God but God.
I am not saying that it is ok to judge someone's piety by the hijab because obviously this is both faulty logic and obviously not our place to do so. But I can honestly stand up and wonder what exactly is the reason that some chose not to.
Please, enlighten me. I am not here to judge, but to understand.
If you do not wear the hijab, why?
Because to me it seems like both the hardest and yet still the simplest decision to make.
I want to know, and I want to understand.
Posted by Molly at 10:53 AM
I can only say why I did't want to wear it, before I did, which was at about 19. I thought it wasn't cool. I thought it would be SO hard and I was scared of people's reactions. Afterwards I felt like I joined a cool exclusive club and wished I'd donned it earlier...I'd see a sister from afar and we'd share a knowing smile. It was eye opening.
That was in the US though. Here it should be easier because it's normal and accepted. I know most girls here wear it, but there are some who don't. Mostly the upper crust high class families. I guess they'd be out of place in their little world, but it still wouldn't be odd as in a hijabi in America.
February 19, 2008 2:53 PM Molly said...
alhumdulillah, its nice to hear a happy story about wearing hijab. And its totally true as well, it is like we're some part of an exclusively cool club. I especially like seeing well-dressed hijabis with pretty matching hijabs and stylish clothes. Thats when I really enjoy hijab.
I know a lot of girls wear it in Egypt, but I was really shocked at the number who didn't want to but had to.
February 19, 2008 3:25 PM gulnari said...
Salam Alaykum Molly
Well.. since you asked ;)
I wore it for the first couple of years since my conversion. I took it off because I felt enormous and overwhelming psychological pressure from every direction (including muslims) and I just couldn't deal with it. I couldn't tolerate the asinine and fake identities that were being projected onto me. I was starting to become extremely defensive, paranoid, nervous, and my peace of mind was gone. I had to step back and admit that this was something I was simply "not ready" for. Who knows, maybe someday I'll wear it again, maybe not. My decision has nothing to do with interpretation and everything to do with *my own* mental health. I do miss it sometimes, especially when I see other Muslim women in public.
February 19, 2008 4:03 PM Parijan said...
I'm happy to answer this question...I don't wear it because here in the US, in the society that I grew up with, I stand out. I get looks, I get more attention when wearing it. Because, lets face it, it is different. And for me the whole idea of wearing it in the first place is to be modest, to not draw attention to ourselves. When I travel overseas I find it much more relaxed to be able to wear it. Here, where I am living I stick out like a sore thumb and so I chose to be modest in my dress and not draw attention to myself. My muslim fiancee totally agrees with this decision. There are tons of women who wear it and also wear more makeup and perfume and jewlery then a woman has the right too. If I am standing next to them, in my modest khaki pants and turtleneck sweater who is drawing more attention to herself?
February 19, 2008 5:23 PM Solace said...
I am a revert of about 6 years, I have been wearing the hijaab for over 5 years, Alhamdullilah. For me it was a process... from converting to feeling ready from a religious and personal viewpoint to face whatever comments, stares, etc that come when one dons the hijab. By wearing it despite all of these negative things, you are making a statement and it was important for me that people knew that I had embraced Islam fully and was practising what I preached It is different for everyone though.
I do have "born" muslim friends who choose not to wear it because
1) it makes them stand out
2) they are sometimes discriminated against
3) it will prevent them from doing many things which are actually unIslamic, but which they feel they can do if they are not wearing hijaab. Yes, one can make many negative comments about this, but it is reality in our community.
February 20, 2008 2:51 AM Anonymous said...
My humble apologies sisters, but truly? I feel that all these excuses fall short of ALL the reasons why we SHOULD wear hijab.
Yes, it's tough, but like most of us, we just suck it up. Because the benefits far, far outweigh someone looking at you cross-wise a couple times. Plus, you just get used to it, and then, the stares actually reduce as people get used to a)you in hijab and b)seeing the many, many muslims that are spreading the world over.
I've actually talked to Christian women who say they "wish they could" wear hijab! They long for that modesty, that privacy, that dignity! Subhan'Allah!
February 20, 2008 10:53 AM