Many people find the niqab to be polarizing.
When I became Muslim, my first Muslim friend was a niqabi. I remember how intimidated and nervous I felt when I met her. Khadijah* was so kind, but the news had shown me that women who dressed this way were to be feared. She was the only niqabi I’d met in years, as it was not the norm in my community.
Several years later, I felt the call to wear the niqab. Nobody had asked me to, not even Khadijah. When I started discussing it with friends and family, many asked me not to wear the face veil.
[bctt tweet=”There is nothing better than women who support women.” username=”wearethetempest”]
Some were concerned I thought covering one’s face was obligatory for all women. Others told me I would be too scary in American society. I took all of their opinions into my mind and continued to think it over.
I ended up deciding to wear it when I got married. When I told my husband that I would wear the niqab, he asked me not to, because he was scared people would mistreat me. I told him I was going to wear it even if the world didn’t want me to because I felt happy in it.
He ultimately supported my decision.
Women are often expected to justify why they wear something. Why can we not say, “I like it, so I wear it”?
[bctt tweet=”Women are often expected to justify why they wear something.” username=”wearethetempest”]
For me, the niqab offers privacy. It is a reminder to be God-conscious and also allows me to choose who I show my body to. Nobody can choose that but me.
For me, niqab is a feminist experience.
However, I recognize that for many women, it is the absolute opposite. For them, the niqab is suppressive or regressive.
Having the background that I do helped me understand how important it is to be able to navigate the difficult discussions around the niqab. I went from a non-Muslim who had never seen a woman wearing niqab before to a Muslim woman who regularly wears it. I know how people have to work through their emotions when they see somebody who dresses outside of the “norm”.
[bctt tweet=”In my heart, I believe we can make space for the women who love and hate the niqab.” username=”wearethetempest”]
I often hear of two scenarios:
The first? Women who were forced to cover themselves and were not given the space to be open about their experiences. In places like Saudi Arabia and Iran, the hijab is legally required.
And second? Women who were forced to uncover themselves and were not given the space to be open about their experiences. In places like Belgium, France, Chad, and the Netherlands, the niqab is illegal.
I have been told that I am a slave who likes to wear shackles and a woman who hates her gender for wearing the niqab.
Ultimately, I think the former is a load of crap. I like to wear it and if you don’t like to wear it, that’s okay too.
The issue is one of force, not the cloth.
Regardless, if one prefers a hijab, a niqab, or nothing at all, I believe a woman should have the right to wear what makes her happy. It sounds like we’re all tired of being forced in and out of clothes, so let’s just support one another instead. There is nothing better than women who support women.
*Name has been changed.