by Nur Sattar
The hijab is often referred to as a traditional headscarf which many Muslim women wear to express their devotion to Islam. However, this headscarf is largely a tradition.
Growing up in a Muslim household, my mother prayed five times a day and followed every other pillar of Islam yet she did not wear the hijab. Therefore, I did not grow up with this tradition and to me it was not a necessary part of my spiritual connection with God.
I am not undermining the efforts of the large masses of Muslims who choose to wear the headscarf, they are outwardly expressing their Muslim identity. However, being so expressive about one’s connection to Islam is not so easily taken in this country.
The world has 1.6 billion people and it’s the second largest religion in the world, according to the Pew Research Center. Yet Muslims continue to be stigmatized based on the actions of a few. Living in the United States anti-Muslim sentiments are not uncommon.
Looking back to my seventh grade physical education class, I remember overhearing a girl, who I thought was my friend and who I shared many good times with, saying to another, “Muslims can’t be good Americans.”
This girl chose to point out that the words Muslim and American can never by synonymous. She is mixing religion and state, two things which are meant to be kept separate.
One should not have to compromise their religion to be patriotic. However, when we examine the discrimination many women with hijabs still face in the workplace, it is apparent that the voice of this girl still echoes.
The New York Times reported on September 2010 that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal law enforcement agency filed a case against Abercrombie and Fitch for refusing to hire an 18 year old Muslim girl because she was wearing the hijab, the retailer also faced a similar lawsuit the year before that.
Disney reacted similarly when a previous Disneyland hostess decided to start wearing the headscarf and in return her employers told her that if she wishes to wear the hijab, she would be removed from her current position and have to work in the back or at a telephone job.
The hijab is a sign of devotion but it can also be a heavy burden to bear. When you put on the headscarf you are automatically representing Islam to everyone around you. You will get questions, you will be subject to stares and you will be judged based on your appearance.
Many women hardly understand themselves, especially when they are young. They hardly know the kind of person they want to be and to immediately become a public symbol for Islam every time they put on the hijab can be tough.
by Rim Dakelbab
Tattoos and bikinis are usually seen as stylish and trendy, but a woman’s choice to cover her hair is always seen as a controversial issue.Nonetheless, it is a choice.
Hijab in Arabic means barrier or veil and it represents one of the foundations of Islam; modesty.
This type of commitment needs inner strength and fortitude to hang on to. It may be challenging to face society’s misconceptions about the hijab but the great reward of paradise is worth all sacrifices.
Muslim women are not the only ones who cover their hair. The Virgin Mary was portrayed wearing a veil thousands of years ago. Even now, Nuns wear “Habits” and Jews wear “Tzniut” which are pretty similar to the concept of the headscarf.
The hijab is a divine mandate by Allah.There are verses from the Quran that emphasizes the concept of modesty and decency when interacting with members of the opposite sex.
“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof” (An-Nur 24:31).
This does not only consist of a scarf that covers the head, the neck and the bosom. Women should also refrain from wearing tight clothing and keep the rest of their body covered with loose garments.
In public, Muslim women are liberated from being seen as sexual objects or being valued by their look or body shape. They are instead valued for their minds and intellect. At home, it is permissible for Muslim women to do their hair, put on make-up and wear nice clothes and jewelry in front of close family and other women as well. Between the wife and the husband there are no drawbacks or limits when it comes to what a women must wear.
Hijab is my identity. It has become a part of me. It’s practical for me to wear it everyday and everywhere. I can even change my style for different events by changing colors and the fabrics to fit my clothes.
Public opinion after Sept. 11 brings many challenges to American Muslims. Especially concerning the hijab. Walking down the streets, shopping at the supermarkets and even communicating in classrooms brings questioning looks from others. These looks usually stem from the misconceptions that our media has imposed about the hijab. Sometimes, I do feel inferior.
However, I feel comfortable wearing the hijab in the United States because it’s the country of “freedom”. A report issued by the American Civil Liberties Union identified the many laws that protect the rights of a women to wear the hijab.
Simply speaking, the hijab is a personal preference that does not harm anyone. By putting it on everyday I am making a choice I have the right to make.