Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Misunderstood Role of the Hijab

 So, a conversation with a great teacher the other day made me realize something that I'd always known and believed but hadn't really thought about: when you wear a hijab, you're expected to be ... abnormal. Allow me to elaborate.

You see, a hijabi girl is not allowed to smoke, drink, talk to non-related males; she must walk properly, dress properly, and be perfect and "modest" (whatever this term means) in every other way. But why? Why does she have to be burdened with all of this? Meaning, if she's gonna do these things without the hijab on, why can't she do them WITH the hijab on, too? People often say, "What's worse is when a HIJABI smokes -- or wears tight jeans or hugs males or laughs loudly in public," etc. But why can't she do this? Why deny her these things just because her hair is covered? And why're we even assuming that she's wearing the hijab out of choice? Why are we ever SHOCKED when we see a hijabi girl holding a boy's hand (a boy who's not her husband)? If you smoke, why should you be forbidden from doing it just because you wear the hijab, for example? Or if you hold your partner's hand in public, why should you be forbidden from holding it in public just because you wear the hijab? Of  course, like everything else, this can be viewed in different ways, both negative and positive. One way could be that when you wear the hijab, you start to represent not only Islam but all Muslims. Hence, you MUST be behave in a way that the ideal Muslim would behave -- or else. Another way could be that wearing the hijab, deemed a symbol of modesty and virtue, means that you are striving to become a better Muslim, which means that you must avoid everything that you're expected to avoid. As a result, since smoking is not something that "good girls" do, hijabi girls, who are normally seen as "good girls," shouldn't smoke. If you don't wear the hijab, however, then you may do so, since you don't have to worry about carrying the burden of representing an entire faith and over a billion people worldwide.

Still, though, why all these expectations with one choice? I mean, it's not even like all females who wear the hijab do so out of choice. Why should they, too, have to do everything they're expected to do just because they cover their hair?

So what I now wonder is . . . why can't you wear the hijab and be "normal" at the same time? In other words, if, for a hijabi woman, doing something without the hijab is normal or something that she would do if she were NOT wearing the hijab, why does it have to become abnormal or unacceptable with the hijab on?

P.S. I imagine folks twisting my words and going around saying, "Qrratugai thinks that hijabi women should drink and smoke, wear indecent clothing, talk indecently, do everything indecent" and so on. hah. Oh believe me - such folks exist!

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