Growing up as a Muslim in the West, I know that I’m constantly (and sometimes indirectly) being judged for the simple reason that I’m different. And people don’t usually understand difference. And the problem with that is that most people are afraid of things they don’t understand. And then they say things that make no sense at all, and that’s what makes it all really quite funny.
Take the Hijab, for example. In my frank opinion, anyone who opposes the Hijab or Niqab or any sort of Islamic covering has absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. Because it only takes a good and thorough understanding of the Hijab to make one see the lies behind the stereotypes of today.
But really, there’s no point going on about how misunderstood Muslims are, without even attempting to clear at least some of the common misconceptions. So today, I’m going to do just that, to the best of my abilities.
Misconception #1: The Hijab is oppressive.
What does it mean to oppress? The dictionary says that it means “to burden with cruel or unjust impositions or restraints or subject to a burdensome or harsh exercise of authority or power”.
I find that very funny because no one ever finds it burdening or cruel or a restraint when wearing it. No one exercises harsh authority or power over anyone in regards to the Hijab. It’s an open choice, just as much as it is when you ‘choose’ to wear a red top or purple shoes.
In fact, the only people who ever call the Hijab oppressive are those who don’t wear it, in which case they have no right to talk about it. Why talk about something you know nothing about?
And how come, when women from other religions wear the Hijab, they’re ‘devout’, but when we wear it? “These poor, oppressed women need to be liberated.” Liberated from what?
I’ve worn the Hijab all my life, and I don’t feel oppressed. And neither do the millions of women around the world who choose the don the Hijab everyday, out of their own free will.
On the contrary, we feel quite free. Cliche? Maybe. But true? Yes. Wearing the Hijab doesn’t mean I’m oppressed. It means that rather than enslaving myself to the ever-changing world of fashion, I can enslave myself to my Creator and focus on things that really matter in this world. Like intellect and success. Unlike what certain people choose to believe, Islam doesn’t cause women to disappear. In fact, it encourages to put ourselves out there, knowing that when we talk to people, they’re not looking at our bodies and whose designer label we’re wearing; rather, they’re listening to us and what we have to say as human beings, not mannequins.
Misconception #2: The Hijab is forced on women by men.
And tell me, dear ignorant person. Is it not a fact that most fashion designers are men? Why do you not feel that men are forcing you to dress the way they want to see you? Tom Ford, Christian Dior, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Giorgio Armani: are they not all men? These men can tell you exactly how much leg you should show and how low your dress should be, and it’s called fashion. We’re told to cover ourselves to keep us protected from this evil, evil world we live in (don’t deny it), and we’re being oppressed. Listen to yourselves talk, people. Where’s the sense in all this?
Misconception #3: The Hijab is just a cultural thing.
People who come from Muslim countries suddenly feel as though coming to a Western country means that they need to ‘assimilate’. Oh yes, fair enough, you can’t come to, say, Australia for example, and go around singing the praises of a country you just left. Leave behind your culture, change your accent, eat the new food, and all that. Fair enough. But the Hijab isn’t a culture. It’s part of your religion. You can’t change your religion to suit every new country you move to.
What happened to sticking to your values and principles? How fickle are you, if you can give up everything you’ve been taught all your life just to fit in? You know when you tell the kids not to worry about ‘fitting in’ and to just be yourself, and eventually people will like you for who you are? Yeah. Follow your own advice.
And yes, the Hijab is mentioned in the Qur’an:
“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent and to draw their veils all over their bosoms…”
(The Qur’an, 24:31)
Misconception #4: Only uneducated women wear the Hijab.
I don’t even know what to say to that. Are you kidding me? I cover my body, not my brain. Seriously. What even.
I know I started off nice and slow and then somehow started ranting, but that’s only because I feel so strongly about this. Wearing the Hijab is a choice and doesn’t make me any different to you. I’m not oppressed or forced to do anything. I wear it because I feel like it.
Oh, and yes, I understand English perfectly well, thank you, even though I’m wearing the Hijab. So there’s no need for you to automatically slow down your words per minute to suit me.
Don’t judge a book by its cover? Yeah, well, don’t judge a Muslim girl by her cover.
Dedicated to all those people out there who just don’t understand.
(P.S. If you have any questions or comments about the Hijab or Islam, feel free to comment in the box below, or contact me personally. Just click on my name on the sidebar, and then ‘Email me’. :))