Recently a friend shared a Washington Post opinion article on facebook titled As Muslim women, we actually ask you not to wear the hijab in the name of interfaith solidarity. I was so glad to read this very well-researched article and hope it sheds some light on the history and meaning of what many of us know as the hijab. Asra Q. Nomani and Hala Arafa write:
Born in the 1960s into conservative but open-minded families (Hala in Egypt and Asra in India), we grew up without an edict that we had to cover our hair. But, starting in the 1980s, following the 1979 Iranian revolution of the minority Shiite sect and the rise of well-funded Saudi clerics from the majority Sunni sect, we have been bullied in an attempt to get us to cover our hair from men and boys. Women and girls, who are sometimes called “enforce-hers” and “Muslim mean girls,” take it a step further by even making fun of women whom they perceive as wearing the hijab inappropriately, referring to “hijabis” in skinny jeans as “ho-jabis,” using the indelicate term for “whores.”
To us, the “hijab”is a symbol of an interpretation of Islam we reject that believes that women are a sexual distraction to men, who are weak, and thus must not be tempted by the sight of our hair. We don’t buy it. This ideology promotes a social attitude that absolves men of sexually harassing women and puts the onus on the victim to protect herself by covering up.
I understand Asra and Hala’s stance completely, in fact it is something I thought about most when deciding whether or not to wear a hijab recently: the fact that it is often enforced as a patriarchal, women-are-sex-objects-we-must-keep-them-hidden-and-protected idea. Furthermore, I am aware and agree that the religious texts – verses in the Koran – have been interpreted in many ways to suit particular agendas, as is the case with almost any religion. I fully support the efforts by so many to continue to make all religions fit into today’s time, including efforts by many Muslims and non-Muslims to educate people that the interpretation of the need to wear the hijab is a subject of hot debate.
Immediately below Asra and Hala’s article, my facebook feed showed a rebuttal piece by Dilshad Ali titled Please Do (If You Want) Wear the Headscarf in the Name of Interfaith Solidarity. Before I even began reading Ali’s article I was reminded how polarizing movements can become when people group themselves across aisles to fuel to a divisive subject. Here’s a short excerpt from Dilshad’s article, but it is by no means a summary: Continue reading Why I, a Christian, Chose to Wear a Hijab in the Name of Interfaith Solidarity