Friday, May 20, 2011

Don't talk to me about hijab

Let me start by saying that I am a fan of hijab. I wear hijab. I believe that hijab is mandatory, and I think any efforts to keep women from wearing it are wrong. So don't think this is a post about how hijab is not relavent anymore, because that is a seperate subject. I'm just afraid that Muslims and non-Muslims alike have inflated the importance of hijab way too much. We have made it the key to a woman's piety. A prerequisite for calling yourself a Muslim woman. And (this get where you get ready to reach under your abaya to take off your shoe and throw it at me) I just don't think hijab is all that important. Yes, that's right. I said hijab is not that important.


Lets put that statement in perspective a little. Why would I say that? Well, because there are so many other things in the religion that should be taking precedence over the issue of attire. 5 big ones that I can think of, the pillars of Islam. Why when a woman makes shahada are we all over the topic of whether or not she will wear hijab and no one ever asks if she needs help with learning salat? Maybe memorising a few surahs? Did anyone ever ask a new brother whether or not he would grow a beard and cluck their tongue disapprovingly when he said he wasn't ready yet? Did anyone ever question a brother about whether or not he was still Muslim when he shaved his beard?


So here's my radical idea. Stop talking about it. Throw hijab out of the conversational mix. Stop making it a part of what you talk to non-Muslims about. Of course they will ask, but don't get stuck on the subject. And PLEASE don't get all philosophical and start using metaphors. God said wear it, so I do. Simple and to the point. Because if you keep things in perspective you'll realise it's a subject that's taking away from the things we should be talking about.


Maybe it's just me here... But I feel like when Muslim women is the topic of conversation hijab is the focus. That's wrong, it's not the way hijab was meant to work. It was meant to let people see us as honorable and pious women and take "maybe I could hook up with her" out of the equation. But I would go so far as saying it isn't even accomplishing that anymore. Humans send many non-verbal signals, and our young ladies who wear hijab can certainly send the message of availability with or without hijab. Of course that's no reason to say it doesn't send the message of modesty anymore... But it can be said that wearing hijab doesn't make you modest, your behavior does that.


That's my message here mostly I guess. There was a time when women dressed modestly in general, no matter what their faith was. Women covered their heads, didn't show their body. That was the societal norm. So I imagine (and I could be wrong here) that hijab as it is practiced in Arab cultures was not really shocking. It probably wasn't even worth talking about because all the people around them were fairly modest too. Jump to now, where the societal norm is mini-skirts and suddenly Muslim women really stand out. Hence, hijab is the most visible thing about Islam and it gets talked about a lot. Too much in my opinion. How many people know about hijab but have no idea we believe in the same one god as the Christians and Jews for example? I'm not claiming I know how to solve this, or suggesting we all go burn our scarves in protest... But I think it's something we all need to think about and try to overcome.


As usual, just food for thought here. I'm no scholar.


18 comments:

Mona Z said...

Nice to see you posting! :) I agree, people make hijab out to be the end all and be all of a Muslim woman. Non muslims seem to obsess over it as well. I wish it wasn't such a huge deal or the defining factor.

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Anonymous said...

I have followed your blog for some time now. Often it seems your faith brings you such misery, as does your marriage. Why keep on this path? Why not pursue one that might bring you more happiness? You just seem to have so little joy.

islam religion said...

Peace. I agree, from experience, that conversion is difficult. You lose all your affiliations from you previous incarnation only to be embraced with suspicion in the new. Stay strong and keep your heart focused on how you have decided to live your life.

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Jennifer E. said...

Wow, a kindred spirit. I converted to Islam 3 years ago in the USA. The one and only thing that anyone at my mosque took interest in was the scarf. I must wear that... Well, I have since not learned how to pray formally, I've read the Quran but have questions, so I search the internet for answers... but the answers I find are so varied... some waaaay out there. Why do I search the internet for answers? Because the one and only time I reached out to my mosque for help, I was redirected to someone else, who, in turn ignored me. <--- period. I know my choice was for God and I pray to Him all of the time (not formal, 5 times a day, prayers), but I would like to know more about this religion I've converted to. I live in Egypt now with my husband... my husband can't even answer my questions... except with parroted answers. I ask for clarification and he has no idea why he believes what he does, or the meaning behind the "rules". The culture is so mixed up with religion here that it's hard to tell where the culture ends and religion starts... Help?

UmmLayla said...

Jennifer, you can email me anytime and I will help as best as I can. Ummlaylagd@yahoo.com

Mohammaed said...

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Thanks

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Quran Learning said...

Nice post. Islam allow to Muslim women to make Hijab when they go out from home. Muslim women is the beauty of home however it is required to cover herself when she has plan to go somewhere. And this sign also shows that God protect to herself from the outer world.

Tasnim said said...

I agree with most of your post except comparing Hijab with man beard :) cuz man beard is Sunnah but Hijab is a "Faredah" :)
but yeah we need to lear lots of things about Islam and not only focusing on Hijab.

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juliangreenfield said...

The issue of hijab is a sensitive one! The decision whether or not a woman should wear a hijab must be best left to personal opinion.

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juliangreenfield said...

The issue of hijab is a sensitive one! The decision whether or not a woman should wear a hijab must be best left to personal opinion.

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Kristin said...

Wow. I stumbled upon your blog today and I'm so glad I did. I read this post and I will definitely read more. This issue is something I really want to understand more. I am a Southern American girl with and even more Southern American family...Islam really interests me and my Christian family just thinks I am crazy. Its one of those "dont say whatever they tell you to say or you will have to start covering your hair" kind of conversations when I say I'm going to my local mosque to learn something about Islam. It terrifies me even to learn more about Islam because I fear that I will want to convert and then inevitably dissappoint someone dear to me. And I will forever see their concerned faces. Mercy. Who knows where I'm going with all this, but I agree that the hijab conversation clouds the real message of Islam. Thats basically all my people know about it....

Anonymous said...

I agree that learning how to pray and memorizing few surahs are immensely important,but don't underestimate the value of the hijab.While it takes some time to learn how to pray, it takes minutes to hours to put on a scarf.That little scarf is part of your identity.You can get more help from other Muslims when they recognize that you are a Muslim too.I think wearing a hijab is the best way to start your journey and by obeying Almighty Allah, Hopefully Allah will ease that journey when you protect yourself and others through your hijab.

Nishu.cql said...

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