Coming up to having worn the hijab for almost 9 years, I’ve had my good and bad times with it, and the good times only started recently (3-4 years ago).
Why do I want to call majority of my scarf-wearing years, bad?
My initial perception of the ”hijab” was, that it’s something that symbolizes a ”Muslim woman” – women who wear a headscarf are ”good women” because they’re obeying God. Which is why my 13-year-old self chose to wear it, basically to be categorized as one of the ”good girls”. I will not lie, upon wearing the hijab I felt superior to girls/women who I, at the moment thought weren’t wearing their hijab. I honestly think this is a general mindset amongst scarf-wearing women in the beginning of wearing it. You feel like a better Muslim, you feel ”religious”, you feel you’re probably going to go to heaven (lol), you feel you’re almost perfect in the eyes of God. So ridiculous.
Society has labeled women into ”good girls and bad girls”. A good girl must look a certain way, and so must a bad girl. Firstly, can we throw this mindset out the window? It’s false, toxic and VERY unislamic. It’s judgmental and quite frankly sexualizing. You judge a female’s dignity by the clothes she’s wearing.
Like a lot of newbie ”hijabis”, I felt closer to God. I felt like my scarf helped me keep up with my prayers etc. and now, almost 9 years later I can go months without having prayed, because the matter of the fact is that a headscarf does not reflect your Imaan, it simply can’t reflect your Imaan? Also praying every prayer doesn’t mean your Imaan is at it’s best, because everyone can pray every day, but do you actually feel like praying? Are you praying out of the love or fear for God? This is a whole different topic I’d love to cover if you want me to.
Coming back to the topic – religion doesn’t actually entertain these superficial ideas of spirituality humans have created. A headscarf doesn’t make you more ”religious”. You might think so in the beginning, but that’s all delusional and you will realize that with time if you haven’t already. Where in the Quran did a headscarf promise you religious superiority? Nowhere.
You know what the most beautiful thing was about the 500+ replies I received on Instagram about the hijab? That every answer was different, and I couldn’t fault the answers one bit because no person reads the same book with the same eyes and mind, and I’ve genuinely started to value this mindset more and more.
What is “hijab” even, if you feel distanced from God upon wearing it? I wore what people would call “proper hijab” a few years ago, and I did NOT feel close to God. In fact I was judgmental and very self-obsessed with the idea of me being “religious”. (hate that word btw). so how does that even make me better? The scarf I thought would lead to my spiritual victory planted venom in my heart and soul instead. With that being said, people who do wear jilbaabs and niqaabs can be perfectly in tact with their spirituality. It definitely isn’t black and white.
Hijab is about balance. You have to balance your hijab.
I genuinely feel more close to God now than before. I feel more in tact with my spirituality, and I am certain in the way I wear my hijab. This is how I feel comfortable and close to God. I genuinely don’t believe that my way of wearing hijab is more correct than any other way of wearing it, because a different person can wear the hijab like I do and feel like absolute shit, spiritually, for wearing it like that? A non-scarf-wearing woman can be more of a “hijabi” than I am.
I’m just going to point out the elephant in the room, yes, I do believe that there’s a dress code for women in Islam (as there is for men) but, I believe that this dress code can be interpreted in different ways. I wear the scarf because I believe in it, I wouldn’t wear it if I didn’t, but I also believe that a woman who doesn’t wear a headscarf can be just as much of a “hijabi” as me. Even more.
I wear a headscarf because I’ve worn it for almost 9 years and it’s become a part of me. Literally. I know if I was to take it off, I would regret it instantly simply because I would feel uncomfortable with not wearing it.
By wearing the hijab like I do, I’m not trying to feed into superficial ideas of what Imaan is, which is why it upsets me when I see comments like “I love how you don’t show your hair like other hijabi bloggers” – people might come from a good place, but the inherent idea behind comments like these aren’t very nice. A headscarf cannot be the only criteria of “hijab”.
I want to dismantle this idea people have of scarf-wearing women. We are not perfect Muslims and people need to stop putting us on a pedestal. We’re NOT perfect examples of Muslim women lol. Also out of everything that is prescribed for us in Islam, Muslim men LOVE to talk about a woman’s hijab, but if we were to ask them about their roles in Islam they would have to open the book and search for it. Mard to chahte hi hai, ke un ki chale hamesha. Chahe deen mein ho ya ghar mein. (Translation: Men always want to have the final say, whether it be in terms of religion or in terms of household).
MODESTY is much more than our materialistic definition of it. The biggest symbol of modesty is manners.
People associate different interpretations of the hijab with changing the word of God. Muslims in general, are very intolerant of different opinions when it comes to Islam, so of course they would be even more intolerant when it comes to Muslim women. One thing I’d like to point out is how people are soooooo quick. SO quick to call a woman all sorts of names when she takes off her headscarf. It’s not the end of the world. If people take off their scarves, let them. They might be more of a hijabi than those who wear a headscarf.
Let me remind those who’re not aware, the Quran talks about men’s hijab before the women’s, and that alone speaks volumes.
Hope you enjoyed this read!
I had a conversation with a Danish woman recently about patriarchal societies and the different ethnic women that reside in them. The woman I was speaking to had lived in Pakistan for 4 months (I thought that was cool. I’m Pakistani and I’ve only been in Pakistan for 2 weeks at a time lol), and so she was telling me about her experiences in Pakistan with regards to it being a patriarchal social system.
She mentioned how she noticed that Pakistani women, are more rebellious in their mindsets and opinions, than Muslim women from other cultures (in her experience). – I couldn’t help but to think, that it must be a result of Pakistan being such a regressive country as a whole. I constantly see bloggers from Pakistan (as in bloggers that live in Pakistan) voicing their opinions in the attempt of dismantling the patriarchal system and inferiority complex that exists between man and woman, whereas I haven’t actually seen Muslim bloggers from other countries doing the same (let me know if I’m wrong), which I guess is a sign that patriarchy isn’t evident enough where they live, for it to be an issue? – I totally see it though, I mean, I can get frustrated about A LOT of things that take place in South Asian cultures, whereas my friends who’re not South Asian don’t experience the same, and therefore can’t relate to my rebellious self – and sometimes I stand back, wondering if I’m over exaggerating and being a “dumb feminist”, so to speak.
This whole conversation I had with the Danish woman, really had me wondering what made intersectional feminism come into existence for me. I think it’s important to talk about, because we all talk about being feminists and standing for dismantling oppression and mysogynism, but we should also come forward with our experiences, and the situations that molded us into the women we like to believe we are today. For me personally, I feel like I’ve just always kind of had it in me? It came natural to me, to have a mindset of my own in situations where it would be more “appropriate” to keep quite, or shut up, basically. I’d like to say that I’ve been lucky though. I’m not born in a home where my life is literally in danger for doing things/thinking differently (yes, women’s/girl’s lives are in danger in a lot of South Asian households) – If I was born in a home where my life would be at stake for having an opinion, I wouldn’t be able to blog, let alone publish my own book. I’ve experienced this overall inferiority complex, that a woman is less intelligent than a man and therefore her opinions are not valid. Every time there would occur a discussion in my home, I was told to be quite and that would PISS ME OFF. My input could’ve perhaps helped, you know? Why should I be quite? Keep in mind I’m the eldest sibling (I have 2 little brothers), and although I’m the eldest, my little brother would get validation straight away upon voicing his opinions, simply because he’s a boy? I’m highlighting the fact that I’m elder, because it confirms that the issue lies in the male superiority mindset and not in the age-gap between my brother and I. Thankfully that’s changed now though. Every one holds the right to voice their opinions in family matters without being disregarded because of their gender.
My mother had been trying to work since she came to Denmark, and it never worked out for her. She had to set aside her ambitions, her identity, her wishes, to nurture sexist ideas, literally. This whole idea, that a woman’s true purpose is to cook and look out for children is a VERY evident mindset amongst our lovely men. That’s what I grew up seeing, mainly. My mother trying to work and be a housewife at the same time, and in the end giving up. Nothing is possible without compromise, and our men are not the best at compromising, although they expect women to compromise their whole existence in order to adhere to their comfort – till this day, my mom always tells me two things: 1. Education is the most important thing, 2. Don’t get married before completing your education.
Growing up while being exposed to this mentality, I automatically assumed that it’s Islam. And so, I couldn’t “dare” to question it (cause obviously when you question Islam you’re kafir and hellfire is awaiting you. A topic for another day.) – So connecting all the dots to Islam, I was trying to justify the patriarchal mentality. And I became one of “those” Muslims. You don’t even wanna know, honestly. Just no. Thankfully (Alhamdulillah) Allah put some sense in me, and brought me back on track. I always had this gut feeling, that something was wrong with the mindset I was developing. As cliché as it sounds, I researched about Islam (Not on the internet, but in actual books) and everything changed from there. This is why one of my favourite verses from the Quran is: “Read in the name of your Lord who has Created” – Quran 96:1 – I felt this sense of relief, for having confirmed that I wasn’t wrong for having that gut feeling, and that Islam is NOT what you see and hear. Even as a born Muslim it took me forever to realize that feminism and Islam aren’t two separate things. Islam ultimately created equality. Islam stands FOR feminism and people who disregard that are disregarding basic Islamic values.
Men have become so comfortable with their own self proclaimed superiority that they feel threatened by women AND men who want to dismantle it, and that is how misogynists take advantage of God’s word to feed their own ego. – I realized that I could actually fight for this without feeling guilty about it with regards to my religious beliefs. How can Allah, who stands for justice, disregard the rights of women? When I realized that God stands with me I stopped worrying about what people would think, hence why I’m molded into the woman I am right now. Feminism became an open discussion in my household (although regressive ideas are still very evident. It’s hard to dismantle ingrained mindsets).I came to know of other things that take place in South Asian cultures: Honour killings, forced arranged marriages, child-marriages, rape, marital rape, the overall gender inequality, etc. Just the fact that people actually JUSTIFY rape by questioning a woman before a man. People justify marital rape? How does that not make your blood boil.
The last thing I’ll ever make a man feel, is that he is superior to me, and I’ve met too many men who feel that at first hand. Men think that superiority is their birth-given right. And unless people are willing to dismantle the already ingrained male superiority mindset, the mentality won’t stop. Our mothers feed into it when it comes to their sons all the time, our fathers applaud men for being “men” (as in being aggressive, harsh, cold, “macho” etc.) – Toxic masculinity is praised in our cultures, and if a man doesn’t fit in the box he’s simply not “man enough”? – Let me know what that means when you figure it out, thank you. Us women are doing a lot to change the mindset amongst misogynist women, which is great and a step forward, but it’s not enough. I feel like we scream and yell feminism in front of a crowd that has already adapted the mentality, or at least improved the mentality they had before. – We should also educate our brothers and fathers, especially our younger brothers (if you have them). We hold the power to influence their minds, and prevent regressive ideas to become a part of their identities. When there comes a day where we don’t have to literally yell feminism as if it isn’t a matter of course, that’s when we have succeeded.
Let me know how you realized that something wasn’t right in the way women are perceived? How did you find your way to intersectional feminism? I’d love to know!