Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Love-Hate Relationship

Hijab. You love it, you hate it. I love the liberation it gives me. I hate that people, Muslims and non, won't stop talking about it. This piece of cloth has been on my mind recently, no pun intended.

Being part of the MSA, it's been ingrained in us that hijabis discriminate against non-hijabis and that this "has to stop" within our community. We apparently think we're holier than them. And I hear that kind of rhetoric from hijabis, non-hijabis, and what annoys me most: males. I'm getting off topic here, but males shouldn't try to understand the dynamics between girls and then advise us on it. Go apply your presumptuousness elsewhere. But aside from my usual male-bashing ways, I have a proposed theory....

I have never, in my 21 years of working and studying with multitudes of hijabified women, tangibly seen or heard a girl put another girl down for not wearing hijab. Are you surprised? Don't be.

All the hijabis I know have close friends and/or relatives that do not wear the hijab. And I do, too. I don't think they are lower than me or less pious than me. They could very well be ten times better than I could ever be. So why are hijabis sometimes made out to be these monster females who can't wait to turn their noses up at anyone? It mystifies me.

The only conclusion I can come to, then, is that some non-hijabis discriminate against hijabis, thinking that we are arrogant or pretentious. Then, they lay the guilt on us so thick, that we begin to believe we actually ARE discriminating.

Wrap your head around that.

And in case anyone wants to send me hate mail for this, please first keep in mind that this is a generalization and is meant to be a somewhat light-hearted post :)


M&M said...

"The only conclusion I can come to, then, is that some non-hijabis discriminate against hijabis, thinking that we are arrogant or pretentious. "

I would have to agree to some extent, not just girls but even the guys, start thinking that for some reason the hijabi girls are just so holy to be told anything, will not be honest towards them, have a double sided thing going.

Faraz said...


You know, I've been thinking for a while to write a very similar entry about how some Muslims treat beards and hijabs. I often read things like "Oh, well wearing a hijab/growing a beard doesn't mean anything, it's okay if you wear one but it isn't the measure of being a Muslim." While I agree it isn't the only measure of being a Muslim, it obviously has some Islamic value, otherwise so many Muslims wouldn't have beards and so many Muslimahs wouldn't wear hijabs. I don't think having a beard gives me a free pass, but I do believe it makes me a better Muslim. And it seems like every time I acknowledge that fact, non-bearded friends will consider that an attack on them. I keep telling them, I don't care what you have on your face, but it's important to me..

I have never, in my 21 years of working and studying with multitudes of hijabified women, tangibly seen or heard a girl put another girl down for not wearing hijab. Are you surprised? Don't be.

And I can confidently say as well, I have never, in my nearly 26 years of working and studying with multitudes of bearded men, tangibly seen or heard a brother put another brother down for not wearing a beard, except for perhaps one single instance (and that was a long time ago, and was resolved quickly.)

Sahar said...

My experience has been the complete opposite; someone back home(Pakistan) who started wearing the hijab faced great opposition(even from family) and had people screw up their noses at her and pass remarks about 'being backward'. It was incomphrehensible to them why someone would choose such a thing instead of 'progressing', that too after studying 'abroad' and being so highly educated etc. Its so incredibly dumb. Ironically, I think its easier to practise in the West than in an 'Islamic' country(although the existence of such a thing is arguable on its own).

Sid said...

Hello Asmaa,

In case you are interested, I responded to a comment you left on this topic in another blog. I’m interested in your thoughts.


asiya said...

hahaha...wrap your head around that...that was great

but seriously...i've never put down any of my non-hijabi friends for not wearing hijab...and yet, they always seem to make snide remarks around me about not judging others...why???? maybe they are feeling self-conscious about their choice not to, and are taking it out on me? i don't know. or maybe someone else said something to them, and now they are afraid i might too?

Maaz said...

while i find your post interesting, and am glad that you have seen very little discrimination from hijabis towards nonhijabis. but i think to reverse the argument and say that nonhijabis are discriminating against hijabis is really non-conducive to improving relations btw muslim sisters.

you started this post by saying that hijabis aren't the aggressors, and nonhijabis aren't the victims. and ended it by simply reversing roles. so? i mean, its wrong either way. blaming one group as opposed to another group really doesn't help us in improving sisterly love. I personally think you’re back to where you started.

Asmaa said...

Thanks for your comments, they were an interesting read :)

Maaz, thanks for your comment. I ackowledged in my post that this was a generalization. I don't mean this to apply to everyone, and it was just a crazy Asmaa-theory. I'm not villifying non-hijabis in any way, shape or form.

And no offence, but you being a male, you might not completely understand the dynamics between females, even if you have sisters.

Not that I'm bitter or anything :)

Anonymous said...

A'salamu alaykum Asmaa :)

Wow, it was WONDERFUL to read this post! :D Masha'Allah

People all love justifying and excusing themselves from the deen, but at the end of the day it's not about what 'we' think of sunnah and deen: it's all about what Allah ta'ala thinks.

The Prophet Muhammed, pbuh, made it very clear what Allah ta'ala wants from us. People hate seeing someone do what is right, when they KNOW that they are wrong :)

Thank you for the refreshing read :)

May Allah ta'ala guide us all back to our own deen, ameen :)

Slave of Allah said...

I usually don't [and encourage other brothers to] pay mind to sisters wearing a hijab or not. In my life and times, I've seen sisters who wore a hijaab due to the [cultural] strictness of their families and their outward behavior wasn't any differnt than non-muslim girl. At the same time I've seen sisters who never wore a hijaab, but had decent character.

And the same is for growing a beard , too.

faithful admirer said...

Just to echo Taqdeer, WOW, WOW, WOW!!! :) This is an excellent read. :) Thank you. The end.

Asmaa said...

Slave of Allah, ditto.

Taqdeer & faithful, thanks for the comments :) Just to reiterate, this wasn't meant to be a non-hijabi bashing post. Everyone is at a different stage in their Islam and the inner level of Iman is what will matter at the end.

Hijab is more than just the physical clothing you wear. It's a manifestation of belief, and if someone doesn't wear it, doesn't mean that she's lesser. It just means that she's on her way =)

Anonymous said...


idrees said...

interesting post, asmaa ...

while i find it hard to believe that all hijabis are "discriminating" against non-hijabis, as you so term it, i would also find it hard to believe that all those non-hijabis that claim to experience such discrimination are incorrect in their perceptions or have absolutely no basis to their feelings. i think things are somewhere in between, where some non-hijabis have in fact had real bad experiences that have created those perceptions, while others have no validity to their feelings, and may simply find it easy to blame others for what really are their own issues.

also, perhaps it is not tangible/verbal put-downs that create this feeling among some, but a conglomeration of intangibles - things like pretentious smiles rather than genuine ones, for example - on the part of some hijabis that lead some non-hijabis to feel the way they do. the result could be that a few bad experiences cause ppl to start generalizing and thinking ill of others.

i don't know if you remember the speech that sh. hamza gave at our eid dinner ... he talked abt ppl second-guessing each other, and gave the example of a hijabi sitting across a non-hijabi, with the non-hijabi thinking to herself "she probably thinks there's something wrong with me for not wearing hijab" and the hijabi concurrently thinking "she probably thinks that i think i'm better than her", etc, etc, and ppl keep second-guessing each other, the result being that people harbour suspicions about each other, and these end up affecting their interactions with one another, and the result is fragmentation of what should be a single community.

with regards to the situation faced in our msa, no one is blaming hijabis for things that are not their fault. however, being a leader on campus entails reaching out to others despite whatever misconceptions they may have. guys have misconceptions abt the msa as well, and while there is some onus on everyone to think for themselves and clear up for themselves whatever misconceptions they may have, those in positions of leadership have a special responsibility to actively engage to seek out and counter misconceptions. they also have to actively work to foster a vibrant community on campus, even if it requires changes to what is normal for themselves. for example even if a person normally greets/befriends certain types of people that they deem to be similar to themselves, those in positions of leadership (msa exec) have to make an extra effort to (genuinely) reach out to others, even if it's not normal for them to do so. or if they happen to enjoy sharing their msa iftaar in the company of their close exec friends, they have to make an extra effort to split up and actively engage others with a genuine hope of building a community, rather than a shallow volunteer-recruitment effort (not saying that girl execs do/don't do that - i'm just offering an example). ppl in positions of leadership are required to make changes to their personality insofar as their responsibilities demand that of them. and if males truly cannot provide solutions to problems such as low/reducing female participation in the msa, then those females that truly understand the dynamics between girls should be the most proactive in coming up with solutions to counter the problems. it is this, unfortunately, that is often lacking whenever discussion of these issues are opened, with some denying that there are real issues to contend with, and others simply laying blame on others.

(wow, that was long.)

Asmaa said...

Idrees, I agree with everything you said.

This post simply comes out of frustration--if people continuously attempt to tell you what you're thinking, even though they can't possibly have access to your thoughts, wouldn't you be frustrated, too? I'm just attempting to show that hijabis need to be protected against "discrimination" in the Muslim community, too. This is an issue we almost never address. That's all.