Heya, fellow Comets, this is Anusha, from Comet Life at The University of Texas at Dallas! It goes without saying, but I hope you are all staying safe and healthy in these mind-boggling times.
I was recently marveling over my fellow writers here at Comet Life and their innate abilities to write a blogpost for the organization and our Comet audience every month in a creative yet informative way, without overly personalizing it (seriously, if you haven’t already, check out their posts at our website).
Meanwhile….I literally do not have the ability to write anything over 50 words and not find a way to subconsciously relate it to my emotions or experiences. So, considering it’ll take me a couple more articles to hopefully break away from that habit, I thought I’d do…you guessed it, a personalized article highlighting my experience – only this time, I’ll be addressing 5 common myths about Muslim hijabi women. With how incredibly diverse UTD is, these myth-busts will help you connect to fellow Muslim Comets, minus the awkward, albeit curious line of questioning below.
You ready? Let’s go.
1. We wear it all the time. Literally..like 24/7. Oh, my sweet summer Comet. If that was the case, our hair (Yikes, we actually have some underneath that!) would be flattened to our scalps and paper-thin from being tied 24/7. Truth is, those of us Muslim ladies who are moderately or extremely religious and choose to wear a hijab, are only obliged to wear it in the presence of males who are not related to us by blood. Let me make it easy for you: I would not be required to cover my hair in front of my paternal or maternal uncle – because they are the biological sibling of my parents and we share the same blood. But, I would be required to wear my hijab in front of my maternal or paternal aunt’s husband, or my own brother-in-law; their relation to me is strictly legal and not biological, and they would be considered a na-mehram (loose translation: not related by blood). Capisce? Onwards!
2. Are you bald underneath that head covering? If that was true, I promise you, none of us would be stressing over the best shampoo or conditioner in the market. Muslim women who choose to cover themselves, do it to diminish their beauty (Yes, you read that right, More on that later!) No offense to ladies who choose to rock a bald head, most of us wouldn’t even be wearing a headscarf if we were in fact hairless underneath.God, way to call out that teenage hair fall, man.
3. Do you shower with that on? If you are wondering if I’m making this up….I wish I was. One of the most common advances people have regarding hijabi Muslim women is exercising their brain cells to wonder if they shower with their hijabs on. As much as I want to joke about this, I really wish I didn’t get asked this every year, by teens and adults alike. The simple answer relates to the first bullet point; we shower in complete privacy like any other human being and are, in fact, not required to cover ourselves from ghosts of strange males who may or may not be passing through our bathroom walls. (You best believe I’ll be glancing around nervously next time I shower)
4. Could you take it off in public forever if you want? As Selena Gomez once sang, “I mean, I could, but why would I want to?” While it is absolutely true that in many conservative, rural areas of some Muslim countries that refuse to catch up with modern times, many girls are forced to wear hijabs against their personal wishes, most of us do not have the same fate. For most of us, it is a personal choice that allows us to feel closer to Allah and His teachings. No one in my family forced me to wear a hijab, especially not my father. I do it, because…well, if you have the right to show off your curves, I have a right to cover mine.
5. Why do you wear it anyway? To make it short and simple, we believe Allah made every girl beautiful and that beauty should strictly be reserved for her future partner. For me, it makes me feel comfortable knowing my body shape isn’t highlighted, or that not every random, passing guy can see or, even within the confines of their minds, think my hair or overall image looks good. Even if my hijab diminishes my beauty a little (According to Western beauty standards), it makes me feel modest, and it also gives me reprieve from unwanted advances or leers from strange men unlike so many other unfortunate girls. It solidifies my belief that anyone interested in me isn’t because of my looks, but rather for the person I am underneath those loose-fitting clothes and head covering.
Bonus Round: Is there an equivalent for Muslim men? Muslim men do not have to wear any special covering to diminish their beauty because…well, girls are prettier anyway, everyone knows that. But don’t let that fool you into quietly accepting a Muslim guy’s sexist comment on your ‘Not-so-modest outfit’. As far as Islam teaches, when Muslim men see a woman not covered properly, their Islamic responsibility is to lower their gaze and walk away from that ‘temptation’, not verbally abuse that girl or her choice to look pretty in public, nor remind her to cover herself whether she’s a non-hijabi Muslim or not. Just like us Muslim ladies are taught to protect our virtue for our husbands, young Muslim guys are taught to do the same, even if their protection isn’t in the form of a head scarf. Same restrictions, same rules, different methods, all these roads lead back to the sanctity of marriage Islam preaches. All of you beautiful ladies who choose not to cover themselves, Muslim or not, don’t let those random guys tell you how to live your life.
Hopefully these answers to common questions by non-Muslims towards hijabi women put a smile on your face, and have helped you understand a little about the hows, whens and whys behind the concept of hijab. Hijabi or not, Muslim or not, we are proud to be strong women standing up for ourselves.
P.S: Here are some hijabi memes, because why not?