Gender Fashion Inequality

Muslim women don’t need your saving – or your oppression

Presented in partnership with SADOQ. 

Sinner: A person who transgresses against the divine law by committing an immoral act or acts.

For over sixteen years Muslim women have collectively chosen to move forward. To move forward past the vicious attacks towards them, the name-calling, the labeling, and the stereotypes. Stereotypes which have been embedded so far beneath the realm of reality that despite the thousands of articles and tweets from Muslim women politely saying f*** you, people persist on telling Muslim women what Muslim women are all about.

After the ten-year mark, one would think the sweeping generalization that Muslim women are oppressed, subjugated, without a voice would reinvent itself. Perhaps people would demand more discerning inaccuracies since spreading fake news is an open trend now, but that’s not the case.

Muslim women are still pitied, considered overt, obedient string puppets of the patriarchy, treated in some instances like India’s untouchables, and considered second-class citizens in the fashion world.

I guess pushing a false narrative consistently for political, and sexist reasons will get the job done.

It will absolutely take out the humanity of a group of people, in this case, Muslim women where all that’s left is a mendacious ideology about them. An ideology that’s so dangerous that it sells the fear that a five-foot-long piece of fabric could be a global threat. An ideology that justifies speaking on behalf of Muslim women on national platforms yet simultaneously attacking them for “not speaking out.” 

It’s a creed that has white women on Fox News telling the world that Muslim women need saving. The heroic intrusion is called upon because apparently Muslim women are subservient and tyrannized when the only thing burdening Muslim women is white supremacy’s stupidity.

This cycle of misinformation makes me ask, what’s more astonishing?

That Muslim women are expected to make those who target them feel comfortable by constantly denouncing that they don’t condone terrorism? Or is our fear of individuality that out of control?

We fail to realize that originality is not just a hashtag we use but a concept we apply to mold ourselves and our minds. So that we may become strong enough to push past our comfort zones and think for ourselves. We preach to our young girls to pave a path of their own and to not be weighed down by boys and society, yet we become the precise ones who cut their wings of free self-expression.

If donning a headscarf doesn’t empower you to respect that Muslim women are trying to blaze their own path in a hyper-sexualized society where exploiting women is like recycled oxygen; then perhaps the irony that we’re all connected because we are sinners, mistake-makers, screw-ups, despite our skin color, origin, ethnicity, geographical location, and religion will help you take a back seat.

A public service announcement: as human beings, no one is exempt from being a sinner. Perhaps people fail to see any compatibility between a Muslim woman and themselves so let sinning be that bridge. Whether you believe in an Abrahamic faith or not, all faith’s conclude that Adam, the first man ever created, fell into error. He messed up, so in a nutshell what that Sunday school lesson was trying to teach us was that as human beings we are all sinners. We are bound to make mistakes but that is precisely what should soften our hearts in admiration and solidarity towards one another.

Committing sins is ironically the most common trait we share with one another.

You are a sinner, just like that girl wearing layers to cover her body on a scorching 95-degree day. You are a sinner, just like the woman wearing a niqab whose eyes meet your gaze as she sits across from you on the bus. You are a sinner, just like the teenage girl getting glares on the first day of school for coming to your class wearing a headscarf.

The only difference is she’s a sinner in a scarf. A scarf which everyone’s decided to have preconceived notions about.

The mainstream media for years thrived off of selling the narrative that the hijab is a means of men controlling women. That it’s a symbol of a piercingly aggressive faith which puts men before women.

The truth could not be more hilariously violative. The concept of hijab is transparent yet overwhelmingly liberating. The hijab is not a piece of fabric draped over the bodies of women to simply conceal their beauty and preserve their modesty, but it is a physical manifestation of their submission and connection with God.

The most striking purpose is that the hijab serves as a constant reminder that Muslim women are enough the way they are.

They don’t shy away from sticking out. In fact, that’s the whole point because the hijab represents an external representation of their inward spirituality. 

The belief is that they don’t need to imitate society’s trends to stay relevant, nor do their bodies serve as hotspots for men to tap into to gain pleasure. Rather, their mind and intelligence are what matters, not the color of their hair or the shape of their bodies. Their identity is their own, and they should boldly stand out because they serve a bigger purpose than remaining in the shadows of men.

If people weren’t engrossed in speaking on behalf of Muslim women but let Muslim women tell their own narrative, their shallow understanding of the hijab would be shattered. They would further learn that by wearing the hijab, Muslim women are not declaring, “I am Islam,” rather “I am a Muslim.”

A person who is not perfect but is trying.

A person who isn’t self-righteous but someone who is susceptible to making mistakes. Someone who is constantly reminding themselves to keep striving to excel in their personal and spiritual development. The scarf on their heads is a reminder for them to not fall into despair even if they commit the worst sin. Instead, they are reminded to rise from the ashes and chose to move forward.

In order for a Muslim woman to rise from the constant backlash and continue to insolently wear her hijab like armor, she must lucidly declare to the world through her headscarf that she is a powerful, ambitious, independent, open-minded women who is also a sinner in a scarf.

By Zara Asad

Zara Asad is a freelance multimedia journalist and video producer whose work ranges from short documentaries, human interest films, to digital news videos that provide in-depth context about the biggest new stories. Asad travels nationally and internationally as an empowering speaker on social and political issues, women empowerment/equality, and the American Muslim identity. Asad started out as Fox 29 News's + Fox Network's first veiled on-air reporter.