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Never settle for what is…come tomorrow it will be what was

Tag: hijabi

Stop Shaming Non-Hijabi Muslim Women

In recent months, the conversation around Muslim women has shifted, both from the alt-right who seem to have a savior complex mixed with a violent need to save us from “oppression”, and the Muslim sheikhs who seem to follow our every move, both on and offline.

As a hijabi myself, it is SO FRUSTRATING to be attacked by conservative non-Muslims who claim I am un-American, and at the same time attacked by conservative Muslims claiming I am too liberal and need to wear my hijab to “better represent Islam the correct way”. And what way is that? Well, based on the sheikh of the day, it can vary from a woman who shouldn’t wear makeup to a woman who can’t leave her house, because- well, why would she if she finds a suitable man to marry her and “take care of her.” Blah.

There was actually a guy on Twitter who recently private messaged a Muslim girl to tell her that her selfie profile picture (mind you, just her face, and in hijab) turned him on so much he had to take a shower to re-cleanse himself. Yea, I’m being serious. Not kidding. It was the most disturbing thing I have seen since the racist, misogynistic Twitter attack on a black Muslim sister who commented on Drake’s album and compared it to memorizing Quran last year. This time though, the Muslim girl took the blame upon herself and APOLOGIZED for creating discomfort for this guy. It was a disaster. Twitter was in a frenzy, and my fingers were exhausted trying to fight off the hypocritical guys with shirtless avis who were shaming hijabis in makeup.

Yet, this is not what my post is about. Now that we hijabis have absorbed most of the controversy (since we are more visible in society), there is an emergence of hate directed towards Muslim women who DO NOT cover. At first glance, you can’t tell if they are Muslim. But usually they have a Muslim name, so they may get some non-Muslim commentary. However, the hate they seem to face the most comes from within their own communities. Yes, you heard me. Muslim men AND women (unfortunately) have labeled these women as shameful for not covering. They refuse to acknowledge their struggles that are just as tough as covered women, and even more so- because these women are not visibly Muslim, they work harder to promote a positive image of Muslim women while not really “looking the part.”

You’d think that burden would be bad enough, but now you have people telling these uncovered women that they are not fit to represent Islam because they are not adhering to true Islam, i.e. covering. Says who? Last time I checked, you’re not God. And when these women are out there fighting patriarchal and misogynistic ideals that have plagued our communities for years in order to improve the state of Muslims in America, HOW DARE YOU TRY AND TAKE THEM DOWN? A woman doing her best to serve the community, to stand up for social justice, to fight for marginalized communities, to CARRY OUT THE DECREE OF HER FAITH by serving humanity, is not good enough for you because she doesn’t cover? Muslim women come in all images- hijab, non-hijab, part-time hijab, abaya, niqab, skinny jeans, skirts, dress pants, leggings, makeup, makeup-free, and so much more. We are not autonomous. We are not one mold to be recreated over and over. We are individuals and we serve our Lord by wearing or not wearing hijab as it is our choice and we have control over such a decision.

So, the next time you decide you want to judge a Muslim woman by her hijab- or lack thereof- look back to the scholars and example of our Prophet PBUH, who spoke with kindness and drew people to Islam with his beautiful words and understanding of people. Only then will you know that this uncovered woman you so despise, is at a much higher level of faith than you.

*Dedicated to my non-hijabi sisters, with one in particular. I love you RM, keep fighting the good fight and your reward is with Allah <3*

 

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Unlabeled

I have been away for a while….so sorry! My break from school has been filled with work, holiday gatherings, work, a snowpocalypse, and more work. So glad to be able to have a chance to sit and just BREATHE.

Today’s topic is one I deal with regularly with the guys in my culture. It seems that as a girl who wears hijab (a hijabi, if you will), guys view us differently than Muslim girls who do not wear it. Hmmm. Ok. This can be good or bad. I have had a lot of guys that I’ve met over the years tell me that I’m the first hijabi they’ve talked to or hung out with, and they are uncomfortable at first. Then they realize that- gasp!- I’m an actual PERSON underneath the hijab and they forget all the discomfort. But here is what I don’t get: WHY do guys feel that way? Why is it that hijabis are seen differently and therefore are unapproachable?

Well, I asked a guy recently that same question when he admitted that he wasn’t being himself in our conversations because I was a hijabi and there were “limits” to what we could discuss. I met this guy a couple months ago and we’ve been getting to know each other slowly. He lives in Canada and so we usually text more than anything. The other day we were texting back and forth and at one point the conversation stalled. I asked him what the problem was and he said that since I was a hijabi he couldn’t say what was on his mind.

Is it wrong that I felt offended? In his defense, he said that he was taught that hijabis are more devout and so he had to be reserved around them. His whole life, that was what he was told and so he grew up with that mentality. He didn’t feel uncomfortable talking to me overall, but just couldn’t be his complete self. So I told him that I was not offended by much and to be open with me, as this is the only way we can move forward. It took some convincing but he finally opened up.

Yet after our conversation ended, I stayed up thinking about what he said. How hijabis are more devout. And while you can argue that wearing a scarf is a big, public step in announcing your faith, it needs to be said that how devout a person may or may not be is not determined by a piece of cloth covering their hair. I was offended initially by his comment- not because of his generalization about me- but because he categorized all non-hijabis as being less devout by process of elimination. And that upset me because I know many women who do not cover and are actually more devout than I am.

So again, what is it with the image of hijabis always being tied into the perfect image of a Muslim woman? It is so unfair to place that burden on someone. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. To label a woman more devout because she wears hijab will automatically make her seem like a terrible person if she- God forbid!- makes a mistake once in a while. Wearing hijab does not give room for assumptions, such as we are less fun, deserve more respect than a non-hijabi, or that we are unapproachable. I am Jinan. I am a Muslim American woman who happens to wear hijab. At this point in my life, it is NOT for religious reasons. I started wearing it for that purpose, but over the years it has evolved into a part of my identity. It is who I am.

Put me next to one of my many friends who do not wear hijab, and you will see no personality differences. In fact, I am a lot more outgoing and risky than my non-hijabi friends. It’s just ME. Wearing the hijab does not mean that I need to fit myself into a mold so that everyone else is comfortable. I used to think that a long time ago which is why I was always conflicted about who I was. The beauty of our religion is that it allows us to be individuals and God sees our faith within our hearts. We don’t have to prove it to anyone else but Him.

So, the next time you see a hijabi, please don’t treat her like a leper. We are not less of a person because we cover, nor are we MORE of a person. We are just like everyone else in this world; trying to find a way to be ourselves amidst a society set on labels.