Hijab and Why I Observe It

Dec 10, 2009

For me, the hijab was a natural progression from childhood to adolescence. I had seen my elder sister and my mother wear hijab when I was still a child, so I always knew I was to follow.

For me personally, realizing this as a young teenager, that my dress code gave me and my body a special status that only “few” select people had the right to see, made me feel immensely empowered. It made me feel special. This coupled with the promise of reward for fulfilling a divine decree, of emulating the very best of the Muslim women of all time, and I was moulded for life.

Fortunately, at a time when I had just turned into an adult and starting wearing the hijab, the world was still pre 9-11, so wearing the hijab didn’t have any obvious political meanings. It was just a religious practice, just like the five daily prayers, or the fasts. Some Muslims would observe all these more vigorously than others, but the labeling and stereotyping as “Taliban” or “extremist” or alternatively “oppressed” wasn’t as immediately an added bonus as it seems to be today.

I was asked to write this article for Deadpan Thoughts because I was told “the western media” had requested editors here for a realistic perspective about the issue of hijab versus the picture of oppression they see. My contention of course, is that the picture of oppression is their creation. Hopefully, in writing this I will have dispelled the myth that the hijab oppresses women. It does not, if anything, it empowers them by giving them a stronger sense of their distinct feminine and religious identity and by giving them the right to prevent the objectification of their bodies.


This post was originally published on Deadpan Thoughts in March 2010.


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