Monday, April 12, 2010

Hijab Awareness

In response to having been fortunate enough to see Hijabi Monologues a few weeks ago, I decided to shed some light on the psychology of hijabi women and dispel some common stereotypes and judgments often associated with us. Many non-Muslims come at us with the misconception that hijab is not a woman's choice but, rather, a constraint demanded upon her by some domineering male in her life. Being the only Muslim in my family, I can pretty accurately say that no one at home is forcing me to wear it. But even many of the young, Muslim-raised hijabis that I meet are often the only ones in their family to have chosen to wear the hijab. And because many people do not truly understand the beautiful role that hijab plays in a woman's life, they cannot fathom why any woman would choose to do that to herself.

There was a brother at the Hijabi Monologues event who used the opportunity to gain participants for a social work study he was conducting. After having filled out the survey myself, I asked what exactly he was out to prove by surveying a bunch of hijabi sisters. He told me that he was examining the effects of hijab on a woman's self-confidence. Thus far, the results have shown that hijabis have more confidence in themselves than sisters who don't regularly cover. As fascinated as I was to hear this, it makes perfect sense that that would be the case. A woman who chooses to begin wearing the hijab must have high self-esteem and confidence in herself to do so in the first place. This is not to say that those who don't choose to cover are not confident women, but that those women who do are most assuredly not victims of low self-image. Allah says in the Qur'an:

"O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known [to be Muslim women] and not be abused [or approached by men]. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful." (33:59)

Allah prescribes the hijab as a protection for women. When you want to preserve the value of something, you cover it. If it is socially acceptable for someone to put a case on their new Blackberry or a tarp over their convertible, why, then, do people have issue with a woman who covers herself to protect her worth? It doesn't make sense to me.

In conjunction with the Islamic Center at NYU, there will be an event on Thursday, April 22nd that I encourage all women, both Muslim and non-Muslim, to partake in. To promote hijab awareness and understanding, I invite you all to wear hijab for the day and discover your own personal experience with it. For those of you who will be in the New York City area, there will be a dinner/discussion later that night (7:45 PM at NYU's Islamic Center) during which anyone is welcome to come and share their thoughts and feelings. I also ask those who cannot attend the discussion to e-mail me about their experiences at as I would be very interested in hearing about it. Men are encouraged to attend the discussion as well and share their own opinions about hijab as well :)

Here's the facebook event