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As Muslim Women Who Wear Hijab, We Want To Inform You, “You Are Not Our Voice”

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By Dr. Maria Walton (UmKashif), Dr. UmEman, Ms. Kauther, Ms. Atiqa, Mrs. Nouraline AltaDouka, Ms. Samah Elzahdan Abed, Ms Nesrine, Sheena Ali, Ms. A Siddique

Women in America who wear hijab, have been the constant targets of discrimination, violent attacks, and verbal, as well as physical bullets in public places. We have been threatened with anonymous letters promising violent attacks against us and our children because of the hijab and have been the targets of perpetual, peripheral slander launched from public pulpits and inflamed by some media outlets.

The non-Muslim women, who have shown solidarity in protecting our right to place our scarves in a slightly different position than the current fashion trend for mainstream Americans, have our utmost respect and gratitude in an atmosphere that is choking from the fumes of xenophobia. Quite frankly, these women are a breath of fresh air for us and allow us to have hope in the America we were born into and continue to believe in, despite the harsh political rhetoric that has focused, once again, on the Muslim woman’s clothing choice.

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Women and children are dying on a daily basis, facilitated by unsolicited wars, “surgical strikes” on schools, markets, and social events, and general apathy toward human life in many parts of the world. Women and children, destitute from lack of food and shelter, are struggling to survive in our very own America. Guns are quickly becoming the nation’s response to any “suspicious looking individuals” (i.e.- “Do they look Muslim?”) thanks to the paranoia imbued by the media and given power by the politicians who speak from pompous pulpits of ignorance.

We, the Muslim women of America who wear hijab, refute your obnoxious and outrageous claims that “wearing hijab is an ideology of political Islam”. This defamatory statement places the majority of Muslim women in an “extremist box” with references to the Taliban and the ‘Islamic State’ (DAESH) and is simply a sensational fabrication that deliberately creates a conflict and division between Muslims who wear hijab and non-Muslims who speak from an immature and dangerous opinion of “us” and “them” mentality. We ask you to stop and consider becoming part of the solution, to work toward peace and understanding, and to stop promoting faux divisions created from a veil of fear and misunderstanding.

In the United States, gender parity in politics, health, law, research, science and engineering is shamefully substandard and wildly deficient in such a late year as 2015.   One in four women are victims of intimate partner violence and women around the nation are not secure from rape, sexual harassment, and other attacks on the female body, even on our university campuses. In a country fighting for women to have power over their own bodies, with respect to planned parenthood and other female body issues, we reject the view that women’s clothing choice (including the position and placement of a scarf) be regarded as a political promulgation.

There are those who speak loudly from a sense of entitlement, within and outside the Muslim community, from a peripheral perspective and with methods of self-righteous declarations proclaiming “the need for forced assimilation of Muslims into a more secular mindset”, breeding a “new generation” of “reformed Muslims” in America. A new generation where the “Nomani Talibani” comes to “Reform Muslim Women” by pulling off the hijabs and niqabs from women who roam the street and beat the women who wear hijab with a large verbal pseudo-feminist stick in front of the public to “reform” or be “shamed” and called “extremist”. The “Hirsi Ali’s” who ride into town shouting, ironically, “Infidel!” to those who don beards or wear Abayas as a choice of clothing do more harm to our nation’s peacemaking process and provide a subtle layer of protection for those who are salivating at the thought of regenerating another form of the Salem Witch Trials on the Muslim American population.

While we understand and fully respect the right of the Muslim women who choose not to wear hijab as part of their faith, we request that you do not harass us and spread false information about hijab with your one-sided opinion. You are not our spokesperson and you are doing more harm to Muslim women who wear hijab and provide a sense of entitlement to discriminate against us by non-Muslims in the work place, schools, political realm and other public venues.

While we agree with you regarding the cultural violations on women in some Muslim countries and we loudly proclaim these to be non-Islamic, we question the appearance of your own similar extreme position on Muslim women living in a country like the United States of America. It is our understanding, as American citizens, we are all are free to choose our religion and have control over our own bodies, including the choice of our clothing and placement of our scarves.

* For those unfamiliar with the true definition of the Arabic word, “Khimar”, it is one of nine well understood words describing “head covering” in the Quran. Although the word “hijab” is a new word and not referenced in the Quran, the word “Khimar” does mean “head covering” and is found in the Quran in reference to the women of faith, similar to texts and practices found in Judaism and early Christianity.

 

 

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Christine dorothy

    December 28, 2015 at 2:56 PM

    I’d be uncomfortable if people in my circles wore the KKK outfit. They would be non verbally voicing the ideology they adhere to which has tenants I don’t agree with and cannot live by. If people were wearing the swastika, I’d be uncomfortable for the same reasons. If people in my community work beleclavas, I’d be uncomfortable because I would associate that with crime and bank robbers, again a philosophy I wouldn’t agree to or live by. I would not want any of these people in my midst. They could take off their costumes and then I wouldn’t be so aware of their thinking; they wouldn’t be forcing me to acknowledge their difference. They could have the freedom to do what they like in private. My point: One’s personal attire tells a lot about a person. Such as, “I’m a normal person in society” or it can say, “I’m different than all of you because I follow an ideology that disagrees with yours”. I think we all have to respect each other and find a middle road. If I were a chicken I don’t think I’d be running into a group of fox yelling, “Ya, Ya, I’m a chicken, I’m a chicken.”

    • Jeremy Boulter

      January 1, 2016 at 6:50 AM

      I think the comparison to the KKK uniform is not very useful. A headscarf – hijab refers to the headscarf, and does not necessarily include the veil.

      Also, comparison to the swastika emblem is a bit extreme. Non-Muslim women sometimes wear scarves for ascetic reasons, but swastikas announce antisemitism as a basic tenet. Muslims are not racist as a tenet of faith; rather the opposite.

      Balaclavas worn in midsummer send a different message to when they are worn midwinter. Would you fear it in the latter season as you might in the former? A headscarf is normally worn the year round.

      A better comparison would be comparing it to the clothing nuns use, or the cassocks of monks. These reflect faith and respect for God. I think even “out of uniform” most nuns and monks are modest in dress and demeanor. Thi is true of women in hijab.

      One thing that is an effective hijab in western society is a woman in “frumpy” attire. She is devoid of makeup and wears her hair natural and neat. Her skirts are shin or ankle length (midi or maxi) and the neckline of her top reaches her neck. She wears long sleeve tops, and any jewellery is discreet. People just do not see her.

      Now, I realise that a woman in a black abaya and a tent-like khimar may look strange, but it only indicates a devoted sister – one whose uniform, like the uniform of the nun, reflects whom she submits to. In the case of a nun, she is the bride of Christ. In the case of a Muslimah, she is showing her obedience to her Lord.

      Give her a break!

  2. Faadiel

    December 28, 2015 at 3:14 PM

    Asalamu Alaykum dear Sisters

    I’m glad you all decided to write this eye opening article response to help others come to the reality of muslim women’s daily challenges, experiences and hardships. Every bit helps. This article is spot on about numerous issues.

    Keep your heads up dear sisters and may Allah azza wa jal bless you all and all our sisters in there efforts and make it easier for them Insha – Allah.
    Warmest Regards.
    Br. Faadiel Abrahams
    Cape Town
    South Africa

  3. Imaanun Insaan

    December 28, 2015 at 8:10 PM

    As-Salaamu Alaikum

    Dear Sisters, thank you so much for the article.

    May Allah increase you in faith and reward you with good!

    I enjoyed your article and derived much benefit from it.

    I would like to add however, that the word “hijab” is found in the Qur’an several times. Hijab means veil, curtain, screen, partition, barrier. Various uses of the word in the Qur’an beautifully reveal why the word is used in regard to Muslim women covering themselves with Khimar or whatever covering the believing women elect to wear.

    The word “hijab” appears in the Qur’an in the following chapters and verses:

    7:46 (the 2nd word)

    17:45 (the 11th word)

    19:17 (the 4th word)

    33:53 (the 45th word)

    42:51 (the 12th word)

    Women who cover themselves are the most beautiful women in the world!

    • khadija

      December 30, 2015 at 3:26 PM

      Jazakallahu khair

  4. GregAbdul

    December 29, 2015 at 2:06 AM

    my wife told me to shut up about this. Since I don’t wear hijab, she says, it’s not my business. Insha Allah I am able to maintain my modesty as I ask Allah to reward those Muslims who in these dangerous times walk out into hostile places unbowed. By far it’s mostly the women, for reasons only Allah knows. I thank Allah for the courage He has placed in our Ummah and I pray that we are there or our descendants are there to see the victory we know belongs to only to Allah.

    Ameen

  5. Seyma

    December 31, 2015 at 5:27 AM

    Hello sisters ,

    I am writing from Germany and i also enjoyed your article.

    It is interesting to hear about muslim woman who have to protect themselves from verbal or physical attacks and discrimination. I have never thought that there is dicriminated against women with hijab in the United States , I often thought that it would be easier to live there because of the huge variety of different cultures, religions et cetera .

    We as muslim women in Germany have the same problems ; we are often discriminated against in schools, public places , at work…
    But we have to keep our heads up and show our strength to everyone .

    May allah help us all :)

  6. mojo

    January 2, 2016 at 4:23 AM

    Can someone educate me??
    Why do muslim women wear the Hijab??

    • Jeremy Boulter

      January 2, 2016 at 6:58 AM

      In the right-hand column is a list of articles, one of which is “This Muslim Woman Asks You Not to Undermine Hijab”. In it, she quotes a verse which is the verse that obliges women to cover their hair necks and chest area. This is what is commonly called hijab. If you click on it, she explains it herself.

      Beyond the simple covering provided by the khimar, women are also told to wrap a cloak around them and ensure their beauty, (or beauty enhancements like makeup and jewelry) is not visible (except what is naturally apparent) and not to draw attention tot themselves by ‘striking’ their feet. Being careful about these matters all contribute to modesty. Most pious women wear flat shoes rather than heels, for example, and wear shapeless or baggy clothes to conceal their attractive curvature. For the same reason, they use maxi dresses or loose, baggy trousers. This is the physical side.

      On the more spiritual side, hijab also means screening oneself from unnecessary interaction. Speaking to the point for the completion of a task is one of the strategies used, guarding one’s tongue against the unnecessary criticism of others is another (that is, refraining from gossip), keeping the secrets of the family and especially one’s husband is a third.

      The whole concept of modesty is where the hijab, or screening, takes place.

  7. Tanzil ur Rahman

    January 4, 2016 at 2:08 PM

    As Salamu ala man ittaba al huda,

    I have left USA quite a long time ago and live peacefully in a country with a muslim majority population. Alhamdolillah I made this decision based on Quran and Sunnah and I have gone through extreme efforts to fulfill it.

    Another point I want to mention is that every country and place has a dress code and it is advised to follow their norm and not to offend them! Most Western countries now have a secular base and outlook and thus a continuous trend away from any religious doctrines.

    And some food for thought, how would Muslims react to bikini clad ladies from West living in Saudi Arabia keeping their attire?

    or worse, if she goes to Syria or Iraq.

    • Amad S

      January 4, 2016 at 2:29 PM

      Tanzil, did you attend University of Houston? Do you know me?

      • Tanzil ur Rahman

        January 5, 2016 at 2:32 AM

        UT Arlington. Don’t recall anything about you at the moment.

  8. francis Ayala

    March 22, 2016 at 4:50 PM

    I left this reply on a similar forum, but it explains a common viewpoint, so I’ll paste it here. Taking off the Hijab could truly be part of the “solution” that you expressly deny. Banish the thought that it’s a matter of racism. Many people in saris showed up in Western countries in the 1980’s and no one seemed to have thought anything negative of the dress, or the religion associated with it. The head covering of Muslims is more complicated, and choosing to continue with the religious custom is deserving of more than a knee jerk reaction to remain attached to it’s historical significance. Understand that for many in the West, their first introduction to Islam was 911, followed by images of a woman being beheaded, followed by many other beheadings, stories of honor killings, of child marriage, of sex slaves, rape, images of suicide bombers (the non-Muslim mothers of the world gasped at the thought of their sons in those vests, and found it impossible that the bomber’s mothers celebrated them as heroes for killing innocent civilians). Westerners lived in a relatively peaceful bubble until they were increasingly splashed in the face with these images associated with Islamic countries, and views in Islamic politics. Remember, this turmoil was their first really conscious introduction to things Islamic, not since bedtime stories of Aladdin and Ali Baba. So now, what many westerners see when they see the “hijab”–is cruel, violent images. Even if they don’t see them consciously, they may feel uncomfortable because of unconscious association with those images. They may also feel women in hijabs are trying to be noticed, trying to make a statement of separation, or trying to appear special in a western environment. While simultaneously, the hijab wearer thinks it modest and holy, others are feeling extremely uncomfortable with it. It’s not fair, but be aware that the hijab reminds outsiders of unpleasant images of human butchery and oppression, and therefore inspires dark images in the minds of most people from the West, often unconsciously. And since most other cultures agreed to “blend” in with the West, it appears that Muslims don’t belong because they want to announce their separateness with their clothing. That is what the first commenter, Christine Dorothy, above was trying to explain. Hijab presents as a barrier to others. It’s sad, but it is the way it is right now in history. You may choose to keep wearing it for reasons of attachment, but just be aware that most non-Muslims are unable to see it as pretty and sweet. No amount of political correctness or legislation can erase bloody images imprinted on the memory. They can’t help but perceive it as “ugly” due to what they have seen on the news in the past 15 years. You, personally, have nothing to do with that, but the hijab appears as a poison flag wrapped on your head because of the way the human mind works. Maybe in a few generations those images will fade. In the meantime, the hijab inspires despair in many, a remembrance of the passport photo of the San Bernadino, Ca. mass murderer, for example. If you live in the West, you can also make a decision to promote peace and unity between factions by removing it, which is a significant spiritual act in itself, because you have the understanding that it may feel bad or insulting to the people of your host country during this era, and because you are willing to step out of your comfort zone, knowing God loves those who love.

    • Samir T

      April 5, 2016 at 5:58 AM

      So people have bad ideas associated with the hijab. So instead of removing these misconceptions you favour the idea of removing the hijab. And you stress the point of dressing so as to remove any difference. While you are at it, please tell me the shop I need to buy clothes from. Also please tell me what kind of fashion is in demand nowadays. And what kind of Colors are allowed and which ones are disallowed as I so much want to integrate now.

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