Hijab refers to the act of covering up, and most commonly is associated with the headscarf worn by many Muslim woman. I personally began wearing it at 11 it to feel spiritually closer to God and for modesty, and it’s personally what I feel most comfortable though it can also be worn for cultural purposes and just as a general reminder of the modest attitude you should conform to as required by religion and even as a means of escaping the mass media’s interpretation and judgement of how a woman should look. However, what saddens me is the fact that many woman across the world are practically forced/pressured to wear the hijab or some form of veil by law or perhaps the most subjugating of all – by their own families. In countries like Iran, since the revolution, hijab has been made compulsory and can therefore be seen as a symbol of oppression by the Western media, based on certain countries interpretations of what modesty is, despite countless Muslim countries having no laws enforcing a dress code for woman. Choosing to veil or not veil should always remain a choice and not a pressured fulfillment enforced by others. ‘There should be no compulsion in religion’, as stated by the Quraan – woman should be able to interpret for themselves what modesty means for themselves and their relationship with God with no interference. If God is the judge, then it shouldn’t be of anyone’s concern. What’s the point in forcing a garment upon someone when they don’t wear it with intention, but rather compulsion or the desire to please others?
Many countries or families pressure girls to adopt the veil in fear that they will be led astray or harassed by men, which in my opinion is ridiculous. A man should be held responsible for what he does to a woman, not the woman. Both veiled and non veiled woman have been harassed. The laws in some countries that you must wear a headscarf is not for me to judge, however it deeply affects certain woman, even already veiled woman! Personally, even though I already wear a hijab, I would still feel restricted in a sense leaving the house, especially due to the fact that there are often specialized police who observe woman’s dress and sanction them accordingly. When I leave the house, I don’t have to wear my hijab as tight as possible in order to conceal every strand in a bid to escape these sanctions, or obsessively check my neck is covered. Although I cover up, living in a free country like the UK, I can leave the house knowing I am wearing a headscarf because I want to, and if I didn’t want to, there would be no judgement by the people of a free country. The woman of countries where hijab is compulsory don’t have that comfort. I take advantage of being able to meet different people of different views and learning in a mixed and cosmopolitan background, with people just like me who wear a headscarf, and many who don’t Not everyone gets that comfort. Tolerance begins with acceptance of diversity.
The Quraan definitely places a huge emphasis on modesty for both men and woman, though interpretations on what modesty means is different for different woman. For some it’s a hijab, which many wear, for some it’s just modesty in dress and no hijab, which is also common, and for a minority it’s the veil. Wearing one doesn’t make you any better of a person than your not veiled Muslim counterparts, but likewise it doesn’t make you anymore oppressed or any less of a person. The point is that no woman should feel compelled to cover their hair or anything for this matter, but likewise no – one should feel as if they have to take it off. We should be allowed to express ourselves how we and develop our own relationship with God, however we may interpret that. It should be complete free will – that is true liberation. Although I wear a hijab, I have countless Muslim friends and some relatives who do not wear a hijab and their right should be respected just as mine. I would feel uncomfortable having to remove my headscarf unnecessarily and I can only imagine that’s how non veiled woman feel by sudden laws which take them out of their comfort zone. Personally I find the law of mandatory hijab in countries like Iran just as oppressive and extreme as countries like France’s hijab ban in public sectors and ban of the veil.
The hijab itself is not oppressive as it’s just a piece of material on a woman’s head, which can symbolize different things for different woman, however being made to wear or not wear one demonizes and mocks the reasons as to why free woman choose to wear one and re-enforces stereotypes that those who want to wear a hijab are somehow ‘oppressed’. Not all woman are used to wearing one, just like not all are used to taking one off. It should always be a choice; everyone should be free to cover or not cover.
The world should allow for veiled woman like me, and non veiled woman everywhere with any of us fearing discrimination. This world should be for all of us. Headscarf or not, we are the same underneath. It’s about what’s in our head, not on it.
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Bushra 😀 xx