Thursday, August 13, 2009

I don’t understand why hijabis call each other sexy, smoking, etc. I don’t think I can stand to see one more facebook album where one hijabi says to another, “I want to get a piece of that.” I am not trying to be antagonistic. I really don’t understand. I see girls and women who I sincerely believe are wearing the hijab for Islamic reasons. Who are wearing it as a means to submit to God but they still use this language. Are you trying to deconstruct the meaning of those words? Is this a form of reclaiming what beauty means? If so, is it ok to do it within the parameters of an ideology that we should be trying to reject? Both socially and religiously?


Is this our way of trying to send the message to young women that cover that they can still be considered beautiful or gorgeous? That they are “hotttt” and need not worry because even if they wear hijab that doesn’t mean they have to sacrifice their objectification in society? In my life I have reconciled a very limited amount of things about hijab and what it means but I think its safe to say that the hijab is in direct opposition to sexual objectification. If so, why do we use this language, why are we creating a culture of degrading women within the context of something that is specifically designed to empower women?


I wore hijab for seven years. I love what hijab represents and the greater struggle it symbolizes. I took off my hijab for so many reasons. Among them, I didn’t feel safe or respected as a woman in this society with it on. I felt that there was a wall between me and the average American and perhaps more meaningfully between me and other Muslims. As a member of this society I wanted to fit in. I didn’t want the great burden of always being a Muslim representative. I took off hijab for both superficial and ideological reasons. It took strength to take off hijab but that choice was born of a weakness in me. It was my weakness not to stand up to fight to create a world in which I could comfortably wear hijab. It was my weakness for not being the type of Muslim that could be proud to be representative of her deen. Instead I succumbed and took off hijab because I felt this society demanded it of me and because I didn't demand better of myself and of it.


These comments aren’t to let off people who don’t wear hijab and espouse the same values and express the same sentiments but I find it especially disturbing to see these patterns more commonly emerging within the hijabi community. Perhaps because when someone wears hijab, it is such a conscience choice. That even if wearing it doesn’t mean everything, it has to mean something. Even with that said, I will note that it is not just hijabis who should hold themselves to a higher standard of self-respect. As Muslim men and women we all make a commitment to modesty. The Prophet said, "Every religion has its characteristic, and the characteristic of Islam is modesty." This means modesty in our appearance and modesty in our actions. It is difficult for me to reconcile this with our most constant praise of each other being how sexy or hot we are. 

While I was wearing hijab, I once spoke to a room of a people discussing the relationship between the feminist movement and the right of a woman to cover. I argued that there was no difference between a woman who stood in front of them wearing a hijab and one who stood in front of them without one on. That a woman’s choice to wear a head scarf did not fundamentally alter or define who she was. Just as feminist used to proclaim that a short skirt is not an invitation for rape, a head scarf is not an invitation for judgment, scorn and pity.


At this point in my life, I have to disagree with my younger self. A woman who wears hijab in this country, in these times is not the same as someone who doesn’t. Even if she does not recognize it, she has a great strength inside her. She is brave and courageous for fighting the homogenous image of women that is often thrust upon us in media and society. She is a soldier in a war against women's bodies and self-esteem. 


  1. Whenever I can't concentrate, or I am obsessing about school or life's 'problems' I come to your blog. Your writing is enlightening and seeing how positive you can be helps be regroup.
    Thank you!

    This blog hit home for me, I can relate to your experience in taking off hijab. Many times I see it as a weakness in myself. Lets hope with time, we both will come to terms with the decision and not feel the need to defend it.

    -Sara H

  2. thanks for such a nice comment and sorry for my slowness in replying! i didn't mean to be defending my choice in this blog. i firmly believe that we don't have to defend it, particularly not to people. but i am saddened by the reasons i took it off and do admire people who keep it on without making a value judgment of either women who wear it or don't.

  3. This was a great piece. It gives one strength to read about a struggle that is so close to all of us. Even as a hijabi, this blog hits home. Thank you for writing it.

    -Mariya Nadeem


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