REPOST: The Benefits of Hijab: Scripted Sayings vs. The Reality

About this time last year I posted a blog entry entitled “The Benefits of Hijab: Scripted Sayings vs. The Reality.” I’d really encourage you to reread this post if you’ve already read it. Otherwise, I’d love for the new visitors to my blog to read it and respond. There are some statements I made in this post that don’t necessarily reflect the way I feel today (and we can discuss that). So tell me what you think:

From the moment I decided to start wearing hijab, I, like many other Muslimahs, became the public face of Islam. I am asked hundreds of questions about Islam and/or Arab culture. I am expected to explain the history of the Israeli-Palestinian, conflicts in the Middle East and what every Muslim on the planet thinks about a given issue. As complicated as those questions may be there is one simple question which people never fail to ask- why do you wear hijab/the veil/”that thing on your head”/the scarf? After I provided an “official” answer about why I was wearing it- per the Quran, modesty, distinction as a Muslimah- I proceeded to highlight the benefits of wearing hijab. I would launch into a scripted but passionate explanation about all of the perks that go along with being a hijabi.

One day I listened to myself and I began to pick apart my own arguments with examples I’d seen in the Muslim community and in my own life. I was going on and on about the benefits of hijab but in the back of my mind I knew that my life was more complicated than I made it sound. If I’m honest I’d be forced to admit that subconsciously I was trying my hardest to make the life of a hijab-wearing Muslimah look appealing to non-Muslims (and even to non-hijabi sisters.) Somewhere along the lines I must’ve read an article or a book on hijab and decided the answers someone else provided were the best. Who knows, maybe I was trying to convince myself. So, what are some of the common answers I used to give? Let’s take a look.

Hijab protects me from the harassment of men. They do not look at me like a piece of meat or treat me like an object.

Believe it or not, there is some truth to this statement. On the average men do not hit on me when I’m out in public. They don’t whistle or make obscene gestures towards me. On the average they do not “hey baby” or ask me for my number. They either see the hijab as an off limits sign, don’t know how to approach someone like me or figure it’s too much work. However, I don’t think it’s true as a general statement to say that hijab makes me 100% exempt from the treatment other women receive while out in public. I think it depends on the situation and the person who’s doing the approaching:

-I’ve been approached by non-Muslim men who pretend to be interested in learning about Islam so that they can get close to me or at least get my number.

-Even though I’m in hijab I’ve been solicited by men who are looking for prostitutes.

-I’ve come to the realization that some men have a veil fetish. They wonder what’s underneath all those clothes and apparently it turns them on. Non-Muslim relatives of mine have told me that sometimes men like things left to the imagination. A woman who is all “covered up” is seen as challenge.

-I’ve had Muslim men catcall me or try to get with me. (And I don’t think it was for the purpose of marriage). One time I was catching the bus to work and two Muslim men held up traffic as they tried to offer me a ride or at least get a telephone number. The fact that I was wearing an abaya didn’t seem to dissuade them in the least.

And then there’s the Somali mall. If you ever been to the Twin Cities or lived there then you know, hijabs, niqabs, abayas, gloves or burkhas do not prevent a sister from being heckled, stared at or even touched sometimes…

When people (non-Muslims) see me in hijab, they will see a righteous, pious woman who is committed to God. They will be drawn to Islam as a result.

Hmm, I don’t know about that. From the studies I’ve seen and the conversations I’ve had with people, it seems that when people look at us they think the following: She’s oppressed, she’s backwards, she doesn’t speak English, her husband/brother/uncle/father made her dress like that, she’s not very educated etc. Some people are repulsed or even afraid!

Not a lot of people look at us and automatically see a righteous woman who is consciously striving to please her Lord. In fact, people are surprised when I tell them that I chose to dress this way and that I am doing so to please God. They’re shocked when they discover that I converted to Islam, don’t come from an “Islamic country”, have no Muslim family and made the choice to “dress like this.”

It seems like once people have had the chance to get to know me (and interact with me) only then do they start to think, Oh, she’s a person who’s striving to be religious. Whether they understand it or not is another matter…

The hijab forces people (esp. men) to move past the physical and to focus on my mind; my intellect.

In the right situation, yes. As I mentioned in the previous example, when it comes to non-Muslims, the majority of them are already convinced they know who we are. And one of the things they think is that we are not very educated (read: not very intelligent). Again, think about the surprise people express when they see a hijab-wearing Muslimah who is educated, articulate, and intelligent.

When it comes to Muslims (generally speaking of course), as much as we would like to believe this statement to be true, I have my doubts. I don’t think I need to discuss the sexism that exists in our community (check out the Muslim blogosphere.) Sisters are fighting to make their voices heard and for positions in key organizations. Sisters are tired of simply cooking for masjid functions or supporting the brothers. And we’re tired of being regulated to the back of the masjid to be heard from no more.

No, not all Muslim men are sexist. There are brothers who do appreciate us for our intellect. We thank them. Now it’s time for you to get out there and challenge the other brothers!

Muslim women wear hijab as a sign of modesty and purity. It is a symbol of their chastity and dignity.

Ideally yes. Realistically no. We all know that there are Muslim women who wear a scarf (and I say scarf deliberately rather than hijab) but have cleavage hanging out, painted on jeans, see through garments etc. The only thing they are hiding is their hair (or part of their hair). And believe me; I say this not as a judgment but rather as a statement of the facts. One day I was walking to work and as I approached the corner I saw three guys with their neck stretched out, looking at someone who was around the corner. I heard them saying, “Dayyum, look at all that ass!” Much to my surprise they were checking out a Muslim woman who was wearing a scarf but had on ultra-tight jeans with a fitted shirt. I try not to judge people- esp. women when it comes to wearing hijab- but I didn’t think those guys were looking at her and seeing a woman who is modest and pure; a symbol of chastity and Islamic dignity. (And I am not fully blaming her. I could write another blog about the objectification of women etc.)

The other thing is that there are women who wear hijab (and I do mean ‘proper hijab’- whatever that means to you) whose behavior does not reflect its purpose. The way I see it, hijab is more than just the clothing you put on, it’s also in the behavior, and how a woman carries herself. Unfortunately, there are hijabis who curse like sailors, hijabis who are loud and rude in public, hijabis who are wild, and so on. A friend of mine once told me that she knew a non-Muslim guy who had a hijabi “girlfriend”. My friend was trying to explain the purpose of hijab, modesty etc. to him but he thought it was a joke. He told my friend when it came time to have sex with his “girlfriend” he just lifted up her skirt and “did his thing.” He’d never seen her hair but he was “getting it.” (And I say this not be crude but to be honest about what’s going on out there).

If iman is not cultivated but sisters are urged to wear hijab, what do you think will happen? When we place all of our hopes, expectations, dreams and visions of “pure Islam” on women wearing the hijab, what do we expect?

By wearing the hijab, I am freed from the body image issues that exist in American culture. As a hijabi, I don’t need to worry about suffering from Bulimia or Anorexia or similar illnesses. Unlike non-Muslim women, I am not influenced by the media or society’s definitions of beauty.

WRONG! While I have not seen statistics on bulimia or anorexia in the Muslim community, I find it hard to believe that there aren’t practicing Muslimahs who suffer from either disease. The reason I say this is because I have been around Muslim women and have listened to them complain about their weight- even if they are slim. I’ve also know that in certain Muslim cultural communities the ideal woman is fair-skinned and skinny. What happens if a woman is neither?

Even though we are Muslim many of us are still subjected to the same messages about beauty that every other woman in society is subjected to. (i.e. we are taught to hate the way we are designed and to spend exorbitant amounts of money in order to change ourselves). Our men (Muslim men) are influenced by the larger society as well as we are. I know sisters who husbands have put pressure on them to lose weight so that they can fit into the American body ideal. (I personally experienced it in my previous marriage). It’s not a secret that some Muslim brothers are looking for walking perfection in a hijab. True: I know a sister whose husband placed it in their marriage contract that she had to work out a certain number of days and do everything she can to maintain her weight. (Even after kids).
I think it’s rather foolish of us to think we won’t be influenced by our environment. Unless you’re living like the Amish, it’s going to be there. I think ideally we’re striving to get to a place where our main focus is developing internally (with less focus on the external). We’re trying to abide by the Islamic principles we read about and are exemplified in the life of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) I just don’t think the majority of us are there yet. That includes me! Hence the outside influence.

I love hijab and I never regret the decision to wear it. I am so happy! I’ll never take it off.

For some Muslimahs the aforementioned statement is true. However, I have to admit (and I know I’m not the only one) that I have my ups and downs. For the most part I absolutely love wearing hijab. It has become like a second skin to me and most of the time I could not fathom the thought of taking it off. Generally, I feel so feminine and so proud to represent Islam. Then there are days when my iman is not as high and though I still wear it, it’s difficult. Sometimes I feel unattractive in it. I look at myself and I see a strange, foreign lady staring back at me. Those days are rough. I have to ask for Allah’s assistance and do little things to lift my morale.

I’d also be lying if I said I never thought about taking it off. Especially in this post-9/11 world with the spike in hate crimes directed towards Muslims and the overall discrimination we face. The other day I was telling my husband that he does not feel the sting of racism and discrimination directed towards Muslims in the way that a woman wearing hijab does. Without a doubt, people KNOW I am Muslim when they look at me. By the same token, they don’t know he’s Muslim unless he tells them. They just see a Black guy with a beard who has a “funny name.” From time to time, the staring, the rudeness, the stereotyping, and discrimination starts to get to me. But alhamdulillah, my saving grace has been that I remember the blessing that is involved. I rememeber the more difficult something is, the more reward you’re getting for it.

But you have to know, it’s difficult being the public face of Islam every single day. You have to be a really strong person. Among many other reasons, some sisters don’t feel like they can do it anymore and they take their hijabs off. While I don’t think they should give up so easily, I certainly understand. I pray, in time they will make the decision to try and it again- once and for all.

In Conclusion

I am not saying that some of the statements listed above are not true for some Muslimahs. And I am not suggesting that we air all of our dirty laundry to people when explaining the benefits of hijab. I just don’t think it’s good to try and sell a dream or to be deceptive in any way. And I feel like, in some respects, many of us are just regurgitating statements we’ve read and heard over the years without seriously thinking about what we are saying. I personally decided that I would tell people my reasons for wearing hijab but I would also share the complexities (and ups and downs) that come along with it. I’m all for being real and I think people respect you more for that.

Besides, the biggest benefit I’ve gotten from wearing hijab has nothing to do with other people or their understandings of Islam. The best and most important benefit is the closeness I feel to ALLAH by doing something he has commanded- no matter how difficult it is at times. That’s enough for me.

26 responses to “REPOST: The Benefits of Hijab: Scripted Sayings vs. The Reality

  1. Honestly? Absolutely anything about reasons for hijab, benefits of hijab, etc, that goes beyond “covering the sum total parts of the body that I agree my religion says should be covered” for me is just static. I have never come across an argument for other benefits that did not come off as a thin apologetic — some of them may well be true for individual muhajabat, but none of them are innate to hijab.

  2. Asalamu alaykum! I’ve never posted before but i’ve read some of your blog before, very interesting mashallah…long post but as I went through the same issues since the moment I wore hijab about the same month as my conversion two years ago until just fairly recently when my heart has found peace alhamdulillah…and I’m kind of new to this 🙂

    Your point:Muslim women wear hijab as a sign of modesty and purity. It is a symbol of their chastity and dignity

    My thoughts: I think one thing that is forgotten here is the use of hijab as a differentiating symbol between the muslims and the non-muslims. Once I got this in my mind it began to really make sense. It isn’t just modesty, or purity or obeying allah (the MOST important reason) or anything. It is also creating a mark that differentiates you from the non-believers. While this is usually read as support for the outergarment

    Al-Ahzaab 33:59: 33:59 O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.

    I think its relevant here. And all the hadiths about not imitating the non-believers.

    The way I see it: would you wear hijaab if it was just sunnah? I say yes; this is because of modesty and also because I need the psychological and physical marker of difference between me and a non-muslim/non-practicing muslim/non-believer. In a group of muslims, I want people to know, yes I am a muslim! A practicing muslim (linguistically a bit redundant, but these days you have to make it clear lol). Yes, I believe there is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet! Yes, I believe you should pray 5 times a day, yes I believe you should give zakat etc. This is what I strive for, even if I sometimes fall short. This is my ideal even if sometimes I go astray. I want this to be immediately evident when someone sees me because I am very, very proud of being Muslim and would never want to be confused with a non-believer. It would insult me to be confused with a non-believer, and I hope this doesn’t seem negative at all. I just feel so blessed to have imaan after such a state of confusion that I want everyone to know lol!

    If you think about it, muslims are far too diverse to tell by looks alone. How many times have I been unsure if someone of south asian heritage is a muslim or a hindu or a sikh just by sight alone? Or if of african heritage a muslim or a christian or an atheist? or of arab heritage, a muslim or a christian or a secularist atheist? or of southeast asian heritage, a christian, a buddhist, a hindu, an atheist? Of european/some middle eastern heritage, a muslim, a christian, an atheist (if they are turkish, or central asian, or a revert/convert, or otherwise?) I could go on an on…. This also explains why some people want to change their name. They want it to be clear!! I haven’t changed mine, but I have respect for those who decide either way.

    Of course this creates pressure to be a good example, and of course some muslims will fall short and maybe act completely differently from what the hayyah of hijab is! But they are human, we must be forgiving, not judge them. Maybe that is their fitnah! Why have them commit two sins (flirt with men and not wear physical hijab) instead of just one (flirt with men)? That’s why I would rather someone wear hijaab and then do all these evil deeds than not wear it at all if in their heart they still feel themselves to be a muslim and want to mark themselves as such and gain the reward of wearing physical hijab. Because being muslim is the greatest status symbol of all…. and we never know what other benefits there are of hijab or what other reasons there are of hijab other than modesty etc. We can just try to guess as human beings, but you can never know exactly why Allah has commanded something, and it isn’t our job to find out! Just obey…

    Why only women is the question people may ask? Here the issue of modesty comes up. and also a willingness to leave to Allah that which is Allah’s. Who are we to question? But some reasons are maybe so both non-muslim and muslim males will know we are muslim and act accordingly. If they are muslim, they know this is a member of the ummah that must be watched out for or protected (something I have felt muslim men take on as a responsibility when I have been in new york and heard an asalamu alaykum from a street vendor. I *felt* safer, definitely, knowing a muslim man was around the corner in case there was any trouble, I don’t know how to explain it; even though there never is any trouble lol).

    And for non-muslim men, so they know that this is a member of the ummah of Muhammad (saw)! If you harm her there will be consequences, the whole ummah will rise up. Remember the story of Khalifa Mutasim (837 CE) swho sent the entire army of the Islamic State in response to the capturing of just one muslim woman by the romans? OF COURSE in this day with the weakened ummah this may no longer feel the case, but ideally this would be another benefit of the hijab…

    Also dawah…sometimes I think about the blessings (inshallah) I might get without knowing it by wearing hijab in a almost wholly non-muslim community. Maybe someone just read something in the news last night and was thinking about islam and muslims and boom! there goes a woman in her headscarf looking happy and content. maybe it makes them think about islam. maybe a girl is thinking about how stressed she is about having to look beautiful all the time for strange men and she sees me walk by with a headscarf and thinks…wow, I wonder why she is wearing that strange cloth? And all covered too? Let me google that…
    you never know.

  3. Serenity Love Divine Earth

    Thanks for this.

  4. Asalamu wa alaikum, sister. I don’t remember if I commented previously on this particular post…but I feel that my views have “evolved”. You are soooo right when it comes to requiring a strong personality to uphold an image (whether correct or erroneus I leave up to Allah) because speaking from experience, I’ll be honest. No magic halo went on my head when I decided to don the hijab.

    I felt empowered for the first month because it was new and exciting. Sad to say, but people and experience have worn me down. Now, I wear it much out of habit, rather than some conscientious choice. Furthermore, I feel like if I wear embellishments (read earrings or necklaces, or some added pizzazz) I am targeted by naysaying sisters who think that black niqabs are the only way to go. (I think that it is graceful to wear niqab, and admire sisters who don the niqab, but I do not.)

    On the other hand, seeing that I am a “moderate” muslimah, I am approached by non-hijab-wearing sisters who complement my sense of style, but never get quite close enough to become friends. I feel closer to non-muslims who do not just me by the scarf on my head rather than these two extremes.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I find I walk a lonely road since I am not “muslim enough” (who is?) for the abaya wearing sisters (even though I would love to ask them where they got their abayas from when they stop staring at me for NOT wearing one), and I am “too muslim” (astaghfirullah, can there be such a thing???) for the sisters who would like to be friendly, but are intimidated by the hijab on my head. Sigh. Sorry for the rambling…please sister let me know what you think because I feel very much alone…I often come to your blog because we seem to have very similar views on things…

    • Farhana,

      I occupy a weird space as well. The black-only-abaya-wearing sisters think I’m too “out there” with my pants, bright colors, lip gloss, and original outfits I put together. The more liberal non-hijab-wearing sisters also stay away from me because they might assume I’m going to beat them over the head about not wearing hijab etc. (I can’t really be certain why though). BUT I have another angle too- the non-Muslims. They don’t know how to deal with me. It’s as if I cease to be human. It seems like they’re either expecting me to fill the stereotype of the oppressed, downtrodden Muslimah or some above-humankind puritan. The most annoying thing is they think everything I do has a religious basis. (And some Muslims think that is the way it should be too). I am neither though. Fortunately, I have found a group of sisters who wear hijab but are like me in many respects. Alhamdulillah for them.

      As I have stated many times on this blog, I am tired of people trying to fit me into their box. I am slowly but surely learning to refute it when people try to do that to me. BTW, that is why I chose M.I.A.’s quote from “Paper Planes” as my blog subtitle. 😉

  5. Good post and I agree with your first point to a certain extent, non Muslim men do not approach me as a hijabi, but when I am in an area with a large Muslim population or a Muslim country, wearing the hijab or not makes no difference as a protection from harrassment.

    @ Justanothermuslimah

    I dont know about others but i do not consider wearing the hijab as a marker between a practising and non pracitising Muslim. You just have to know the person to determine whether they are practising or not. I wear the hijab but struggle to perform prayers unlike my sister who does not wear it but does all her prayers and on time as well. I dont know whether it is negative that you feel insulted to be confused with a non-believer, it depends how you view non belivers and their look. I certainly would not feel insulted to be confused with another human being.

  6. good post. I scarved with intention upon conversion but as of late – I am conflicted. I do not think it “protects me” and have come to belief many of my Muslim brothers only see me as potential Fitna. I feel the need to be ashamed of my gender, the pressure to lock myself away lest I “stir the desires” and it just becomes so lame. I cover. I dress modestly – although Western (oi, I dread the immitating the kaffir lectures), I don’t act like a hootchie, have manners, etc but it never seems enough for some. I hold down a job (not enough hijab), I question sexist policies at the Mosque (not hijab enough), have a personality (not hijab enough). Good hijab in these parts is the demure, stay at home at all costs sister with nary a concern in the world outside of pleasing God and hubby. That isn’t the faith I was drawn too. It makes me sad and depressed. I want to swim! I want to go to the gym! I want to breathe. Think of how much time we spend explaining how we aren’t oppressed and think of how often within our communities we are just that – oppressed. I guess after 7 years it gets hard to keep trying to give the same old “Islam gave women rights 1400 years ago” ….while thinking “and men have been taking them away ever since). Sorry to be a downer, but it is where I am at these days.

  7. Lol…I was wondering…I just heard the song on the radio while I was driving. Thanks for your thought-provoking posts, and your reply.

  8. The only “worldly” benefit to hijab in my life is that it identifies me with my religion- I have ceased to see it as an identification with the ummah who practice the Faith because as I have lived and traveled I have learned that all Allah asks of us is balance- we swing the pendulum all on our own and with consequences of our own making.

    The “us” vs “them” becomes stale when the “us” can not help but bleed into “them”… And when your life is 100 fold more complicated than the most “simplistic” statement made on “what it means to be Muslimat” you start to see the imbalances.

    To me, perfection, purity, those are absolutes in the realm of The Absolute Allah SWT- I am just human with good, bad, neutral days- who has to live and make a living in this world; who must juggle career, home, children and hubby in various measures- though never equally. The only thing I can try to be is as balanced as a human as possible-

    The hijab I have worn for 25 plus years is not the litmus test on that balance.

    I have learned that with or without hijab; of the same faith as you or not; of the same ethnic group or not, nothing but core understanding of the person’s character and respect for that person’s sum total will afford you “proctection” from what you are not. If they understand and know you for who you are, you are protected from the “unknown” and what that implies and/or entails.

    There are more important “hijabs” out there we don’t exercise and those are the ones that oppress ever more in the here and now and keep us away from being what Allah fashioned each of us for- of only which Allah Knows.

  9. TO ALL: I think if I were to rewrite this post today (and I just may) the tone of it would be completely different. For one, I am no longer comfortable with the idea that hijab-wearing Muslimahs must represent Islam fully and perfectly (at all times). I think it’s unfair and unreasonable to think that we can uphold the righteous image of our faith in the West. The only thing I can do is strive to be a better person. As Inal is saying, I have my good, bad and neutral days. And you know what? I am trying to find my way. Muslims and non-Muslims alike need to relax and stop putting so much pressure on us.

    By the same token, I am not stupid. I know that people will see a hijabi as representative of the faith (good or bad). I guess that is where I come in- I have to challenge both Muslims and non-Muslims to rethink their ideas. If they don’t…well, there’s not a lot I can do about that.

    Secondly, as difficult as it may be for some Muslims to hear, hijab is something I simply do these days. It’s not as if it continually inspires me. It doesn’t give me the spiritual boost that it once did. I certainly don’t feel the closeness to Allah by wearing it the way I once did. I think I’m at a point where I need much more. As a good friend said to me today, “there was a time when merely holding a Quran was a spiritual boost. Is it anymore?” The answer is no. Nowadays I feel closer to Allah when standing in Tahujjud, through daily prayer, through reading Quran, spending some time doing dhikr and definitely while fasting.

    Don’t get it twisted though. I still believe hijab is something Allah commanded me to do. I still say that wearing it forces me to think about myself as a Muslimah since it readily identifies me as such. Hijab is reminder and that is a benefit I certainly need.

  10. @Zahra, you said “I guess after 7 years it gets hard to keep trying to give the same old “Islam gave women rights 1400 years ago” ….while thinking “and men have been taking them away ever since.”

    Amen to that. There are two layers and two realms we’re moving in and out of. There’s the image we promote publicly and there’s the reality with all the good, bad and so-so mixed into it. Bottom line? We’ve got to be honest with ourselves. Cut through the denial. Ironically, many of us (Muslims) have a problem with self-reflection…

  11. @ sisters Kalimaat & Zahra,

    I agree with you both. I am in medical school where we must learn how to treat both men (not proper!) and women. I want to be a doctor to help ALL women (ob/gyn) but I have to LEARN to treat EVERYONE first. I observe hijab, but sometimes, we are required to wear scrubs to clinic, and I’m sure people will argue that pants are not proper hijab. But my stance is that there are some things I have to do in order to reach my ultimate goal.

    I sympathize with the the whole swimming and exercise issue because I don’t know how to swim, and really want to learn. So I am waiting for my husband to learn from the Y so then I can learn it from him! LOL.

    I also think that Islam is a religion of balance, and the best among us are the ones who live to strive to do our best & inspire others. I mean, where would all the muslim women who think it is only proper to stay at home (not hating on them, just saying) go if the rest of us decided the same? Sister Samah, I really admire your work with abused women and such because we soooo need to raise awareness!

  12. I love my hijab and would feel naked without it, but I know that the rights that Islam gives me is not the same rights that man gives me. I get tired of feeling like a walking tempation. I say you weak piece of a human being(look of disgust.) I have to wear my hijab because my toe might cause you to LOSE YO DAMN MIND!!! It makes me very angry at men, and I have come to view them as pathetic.

    I get the “Islam gives women rights…,” speech on the regular and I don’t buy it anymore, I agree with the Muslimah that said, men do their best to take out rights away, they guilt us, put us down all in an effort to make their rights supercede ours. I hate it. If I looked to Muslims as a validation of my Islam, I wouldn’t be Muslim. I have to look at Allah, I can’t even look left or right, just at Allah because Shaitan is rampant in our community. I find my self getting Melancholy when I think of the Muslim state. People that do not wear hijab (men and women) will never know what it feels like to have such a weight on their shoulders. When you look at me, you see Muslim, there is no doubt in your mind. But, brothers they can hide, shave their beards, lower their hems and they blend. They don’t even protect us half of the time because they are busy tearing us down, oppressing us..ect.

    I’m noticing a lot lately that I do get the stares from men and some(the Somali men) approach me and stare and ask my name, I tall them My name is TaqAllah. Hijab used to be such a protection for us Muslimahs but the Muslimahs walking around with “cleavage hanging out, painted on jeans, see through garments etc.” make it bad for us, men now think that it is okay for them to approach us, where as it used to be nothing but respect. Ya Allah, if a dude approaches me in the wrong way or talk to me like you said they were talking about the Muslimah with all the junk in her truck, I will kick his face into his neck!

    I pray to SWT that this gets me to Jennah, I pray to Allah that he helps me with my deen, it’s been lacking lately and I feel so lost and alone.

    Oh…I just had to say it, I’ve never thought about taking my hijab off ESPECIALLY after 911! I stand at almost 6 feet and I was dang near 250, I WISH SOMEONE WOULD HAVE TRIED TO HARASS ME. I would’ve choked them with my hijab!

  13. @Farhana- I too work in a hospital and wear scrubs a good part of the day-so I understand how you may feel- on the other hand to be a doctor one promises to “Do No Harm” by willfulness or neglect. As a doctor your primary duty for which you are accountable is to save lives- be they male, female, young or old. And as a doctor your knowledge of all bodies and their parts are essential- your hijab will be in your eye, in your heart, in your mind…your soul free of desireable thoughts is the mark of a physician. What better test of your Faith than to be of clear and sound mind for any patient that needs your help?

  14. I am very much feeling every word you have written here, and ditto on what you say in the comments, rejected by full abaya wearers for my lip gloss, treated warily by non-hijabis…and also right down to your point about not feeling that wearing it does very much for you. I am a white American expat, I spend most of the year in a majority Muslim setting, and then come back to the States for a month or two to be treated as a foreigner there as well. I have to say that it isn’t easy wearing it here or there. Both places have different challenges. I get racialized reactions (positive and negative) while out and about from non-Muslims in the US, same as you describes. In a Muslim majority country, I get sexually harassed for my public presence if I go out alone or in a group of women rather than with my husband. So no place is a safe haven.

    I do contemplate taking it off sometimes. I also feel very attached to it and feel strongly that I should wear it at othertimes.I also know that as a convert, my legitimacy as a Muslim is quite tied to wearing hijab, that is just a reality. Also, I went thru struggle with my family to put it on and with converting and all…wouldn’t it make me a big flake to take it off? I am just keeping it on for now with the thoughts that I do believe the Quran is clear about modesty and the ahaadith are clear about actual hair covering. But those shallow, apologistic “benefits” of the hijab just make me cringe. Long ago, I was more of an acritical person, and I lapped them up as well. They sound hollow and empty as ever reading them here again, now.

  15. Sallam Sis,

    I think those are all reasons I wear, and have given for wearing hijab. It comes down to all of us and our unique reasons. MOst of all, I enjoy being stylish while modest in clothing that reminds me to remember my creator. Mashallah. Plus we have a great sisterhood.

    Why does everyone think everyother sister is judging her hijabness? I mean perhaps I feel that way sometimes, or occassionally but.. I do wish we’d be more supportive and less judge-ey.


    good post sis,

  16. Salam! This is an honest post, and an honest and reflective reassessment of your beliefs. I love it!

  17. LiveInpsired08

    Salaams Sister,
    I absolutely love your blog and often feel as if you are speaking the words that I struggle to say. I began covering immediately after taking shahadah almost 12 years ago and it took awhile for me to find my “islamic style”..but it was at that point, when I did, a few years ago that I really became comfortable being myself in my hijab. Ultimately I believe that each of us to some extent or another covers for the pleasure of Allah with our own additional reasons, whatever they may be. Al-hamdulilah I have never given a lot of thought to taking off my hijab and feel as though it has become apart of who I am, when I’m in public. I appreciate your blog for giving sisters with alternative views a chance to express themselves openly and honestly with little judgment being passed. Keep doing what you are doing and know that we will never be able to fully justify to others why we do what we do, but being sure in yourself, and representing Islam to the best of your ability will allow everything else to fall into place.

  18. surrealisticsanity

    “Muslim women wear hijab as a sign of modesty and purity. It is a symbol of their chastity and dignity.”

    That’s simply because they aren’t wearing a hijab, but like you mentioned, a headscarf. The scarf shouldn’t be mentioned under such a subtitle since then you would be implying that nowadays a headscarf is the definition of a hijab.


  19. surrealisticsanity

    Crap, I quoted the wrong thing lol, I meant the text underneath it where you begin to talk about that one woman walking down the street . . . .

  20. Assalamu’alaikum ya ukhti (my sisters),
    Greeting from me, from Malaysia,
    I’m also a muslimah, and also strive hard to wear hijab that follows the syariat..
    There are many types of people wear hijab, till non-muslim gets confused and compare sister(wearing hijab but still ‘tabaruj’ ) and other sisters that wear nicely and cover all and also some sister wear niqab….
    The non-muslim says, the sister that wear hijab but still tabaruj is the most ‘updated and outstanding’… hurm, thats the wrong perception actually..
    Well, nevermind.. i just wanna drop by and give some idea/opinion about the issue of hijab..
    But what ever it it,
    Allah knows the true intense of why we wear hijab.
    And believe that, only the person who ikhlas will get the rewards..
    May we be a muslimah that ikhlas wear hijab,
    As hijab make us feel safe and closer with Allah..
    wanna to share this vedio, by ummahfilms…

    Salam 🙂

  21. Hello everybody,
    I just want to add my opinion here because I think I can bring in a different perspective.

    I am not a muslima but I still wear hijab, not because of religious reasons but because I believe it has other benefits. I worked for 2 years in Egypt in a laboratory and wearing hijab was the only way to get my male (muslim) co-workers to respect me and get any work done in the lab. I felt it was really offensive how I was treated, as though just by not bing muslima and wearing hijab I was impure – or to the most a prostitute.

    When I moved back to Europe I just kept wearing it because I had gotten used to it and started to really liek it. Mostly for pretty vain reasons: I think many hijabs are very pretty, they protect form the sun and also I spent so much less time on my hair.

    My main reaason for wearing hijab is however that I feel for me it is true that men respect me, my being diffent and my intelligence more when I wear hijab. Even though I saw that most of you have not experienced that it is true for my own personal experience.

    Also I don’t mind sticking out a bit and I liek that I get contact with quite a few muslimas, who would not have talked to me if I wasn’t wearing hijab.


  22. I loved your blog! It brought tears to my eyes. All those drawbacks on wearing a hijab are always on the back of my mind but what keeps me to still strive to put on my hijab is simply because Allah swt will reward me for it. I also feel like a complete women when I’m wearing one. I don’t practise my hijab all the time unfortunately as my family has issues with it so I don’t wear it around them, but I wear it all the time when I’m overseas where I’m attending medical school there. I’m gonna be working in a hospital soon and I keep asking myself the same question everyday. Should I continue to not wear my hijab when I go back to medschool (as I am not for the time being since I’m back home with my family for the break). Won’t pts look at me differently or my senior doctors who will train me treat me differently. On top of that, I have no support from anyone on this hijab issue. So confused! I just hope Allah swt gives me enough strength and courage to maybe come over all these fears! On the whole, feeling quite low at the moment. :/

  23. Mashallah, your blog is very insightful. I’m a muslimn girl who wears the headscarf. I live in the UK, though. I’ve been wearing the hijaab since I was 12, and now I’m 15. Throughout these years I’ve felt protected by my hijab. Noone made lustful comments towards me, and noone touched me inappropriately.

    However, people have come up to me with questions about my hijab. Do I wear it because I’m forced to, Am I opressed?

    As an 11 year old I had little idea about any of the reasons mentioned in your blog, I didn’t know about the hadiths. So how did I reply?

    I, with my 11 year old knowledge simply said, I wear this as a symbol of my religion, I did this to stop lustful glances. I feel that people look at me, and not my body when I wear the hijab. Most importantly it makes me feel secure and helps me focus on my religion. Not on my hair or makeup. I am not oppressed, this is my choice.

    I believe that the hijab has given me advantages, people don’t judge my hair or my body, they judge my personality. I’ve never once felt ashamed of my scarf, or regretted wearing it. It empowers and emboldens me.

  24. I know this reply is so late,but I just read your post and I can really relate. I have been muslim for 15 years and have worn hijab for just as long. It use to feel like a badge of honor,lately not so much.Maybe because of all of the anti islamic media. I will keep praying and asking Allah swt to keep me strong.Thank you for letting us know we are not alone in our trials.

  25. How i wish to be putting on hijab. Is not cos of people putting it on bor i dnt know how 2 starts this lawful acts

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