Gender, Social Justice

Stop reducing us down to a hijab

I am angry because as a Muslim woman the hijab is not the only thing that encompasses my faith.

I grab my coffee, sit down at the table, and open up my social media sites.

Staring in front of me, as I scroll down to see what today’s topic of controversy is, are copious amounts of women dissecting the hijab and its meaning. I take a deep sigh and try not to let my anger get the best of me.

But I am angry. Let that be known.

I am angry because in the last year there have been numerous think pieces on the hijab, multiple discussions on the hijab, and probably hundreds of thousands of tweets about the hijab.

I am angry because the entirety of my being as a Muslim woman has solely been concentrated on the hijab.

I am angry because as a Muslim woman the hijab is not the only thing that encompasses my faith.

I am angry because I am sick of conversations about the hijab.

In the last year, we have heard from Muslim women who chose to wear the hijab as a form of resistance to assimilation. We have heard from Muslim women who chose to wear the hijab due to feminist reasons, religious reasons, political reasons, fashion reasons, and social reasons. It seems that every time a piece on the hijab comes out there is somebody who is angered by it.

When a Muslim woman writes about how she wears the hijab because it makes her feel closer to God; the Muslim women who wear it for different reasons get upset. When a Muslim woman writes about how she wears the hijab because it’s a form of political and social resistance to assimilation, Islamophobia, and even patriarchy; Muslim women who do not wear it for that reason feel as if they were slapped in the face.

It seems that no matter how many think-pieces on the hijab are written and no matter how greatly different they are, both Muslim and non-Muslim people will refuse to accept that Muslim women chose to wear the hijab for a variety of reasons just as they chose not to wear the hijab for a variety of reasons. The issue here is that we continuously refuse to see Muslim women as having autonomy over their clothing, choices, and even how they practice Islam. Society refuses to accept that Muslim women can be in control of their lives and especially their clothes; so we write another hijab think-piece to prove that we can, in fact, have autonomy.

Islamophobia and xenophobia have conditioned us to continuously defend our choices to wear or not to wear the hijab.

I, personally, am tired of having to listen to my Muslim sisters defend their choices.

No group of women’s worth on this planet is wrapped in their clothing choices as much as ours. No other women have to incessantly write about their clothes. That’s what the hijab is – it is a piece of cloth. Our Muslim-ness does not revolve around a scarf.

I want my Muslim sisters to write about the other aspects of our faith and our Muslim-ness. I want to see think-pieces about our struggle to fast during Ramadan or our struggle to pray 5 times a day. I want to see think-pieces about how sometimes we want to wear the hijab and other times we do not and I do not want us to continuously have to defend our choices in the way we dress.

Muslim women are complex. Muslim women are individuals. Muslim women make their own choices.

Muslim women differ in their attitudes, opinions, and choices.

Muslim women are more than the hijab.

Our faith, Islam, is more than the hijab. Isn’t it time we realized that?