She walks on to the bus with a gentle step,
Her elegant face framed in beautiful patterned silk,
She sits down in the back of the bus and people scurry away,
Men ignore her, as woman with unveiled heads mock her discreetly,
They think she’s ignoring them so they speak louder and louder,
She remains steadfast and cheerful,
Her eyes always glistening with happiness few dream of,
Her smile still warm and peaceful,
Not a thought of ill will or intent,
Despite the fact that many suspect it,
Joy remains on her face, with a twinkling in her eyes,
The men who ignored her get off a their stop,
The women who mocked her get off at their stop,
And finally she get’s off, unfazed and with a spring in her step.
Hijab: It’s not what you think
As I go through my day, I receive many strange looks and some comments. Some are amusing, others irritating, others simply a respectful expression of curiosity. This is because of how I look. I am dressed in loose fitting clothing and I have some material covering my hair and neck. In other words, I am wearing hijab.
It may seem an odd concept, to cover all of one’s body except for the face and hands. It may seem crazy, especially considering I live where it gets quite oppressively hot. Yet I choose to do this. I made my choice a mere month after reverting to Islam. No one told me I had to; I felt it was what I should do, according to the teachings of my faith.
Many who see me don’t see the bright smile on my face, the confidence I possess. They see the image they have developed of Muslim women. They see those who cover as uneducated or oppressed. The happiness I have is invisible to them. They pity me or see me as one to convert to their ‘truth’, which is usually Christianity. To them Islam enslaves women. But it seems they cannot read passages of their own Bible.
Judaism and Christianity discouraged the education of women. The Talmud condemned the man who dared to teach the Torah to women. In the New Testament, Paul writes: “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35). In this passage, women are limited to learning what their husbands know and are willing to teach them.
On the other hand, Islam teaches that seeking knowledge is the duty of every Muslim man and woman. Women are not denied the right to education.
So women who wear hijab are not uneducated. What about oppressed? Not likely.
In fact, it’s very likely that the women who wear hijab do it because of what it says in the Quran, the sacred text of Muslims. “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands…” (Quran 24:31)
Most Muslim women believe that covering the body with the exception of the face and hands is ordered by God. That is why they cover. Not because a man makes them.
The ‘liberated’ women of Western society are really slaves to fashion. They are judged based on irrational ideas of beauty, mostly decided and propagated by men. They try to fit themselves to an impossible mold, often turning to plastic surgery to help them be what today’s definition of beauty is.
Hijab does away with those notions. It forces people to see you for who you really are. Looks don’t come into play. What matters is what’s inside.
I cover for the sake of my God. If a man tried to force me to dress a certain way against my will, I would refuse. Hijab has liberated me and given me confidence and a sense of my own beauty and worth I never had before.