Okay guys here’s the deal. I wear a Hijab. I decided to observe Hijab a few years back and a LOT of people told me to really think it through because it is going to be difficult.
I didn’t really get why – I mean I didn’t live in those baahir ke mulk where I’d be some sort of minority, for one. I mean, how tough could it be? SOOO MANY women wore the Hijab. No way would I be discriminated against, nor would I feel like I ‘look different’. If anything, I should be at an advantage, right? Reppin’ the majority and all.
How difficult could it really be? Well, turns out, a lot.
And not because my hair misses the wind and the sunlight or because I hate wrapping it up in a bun for hours. And also not because I miss those super good hair days when you just feel like it is a disservice to the world to hide your locks. Nah, that is all a piece of cake.
It’s because I very quickly learned that it is very quick for people to reduce you down to the cloth around your head.
I know that for most women who wear the Hijab it is a very important part of their identity – be it religious or cultural. But not everyone is okay with the judgments passed when you choose to don a Hijab. And believe me, there are all kinds of judgments and opinions. Which, I mean, if you don’t don a Hijab, you probably shouldn’t pass or voice? Just saying.
The point is, we need to stop these two polar opposite debates over women who wear the Hijab because of what we think it represents.
(Yes, there are lots of girls and women who are forced into wearing it and that is a whole other very serious conversation to have. But there are many women who wear it out of a personal/religious/combination-of-the-two choice.)
No, I am also talking about the people who make snap-judgments about what kind of a person someone is based on a piece of clothing. They won’t go as far as to believe the hijab is simplistically oppressive and they are all for freedom of choice when it comes to how a woman dresses or how a person practices their religion but… there is a hint of hypocrisy to it.
Intentionally or not, they will deduce most things about a woman – from how they conduct themselves in their personal lives, their social lives, and, especially, their religious lives – based on the mere fact that she wearing a hijab. A lot of times, people admit that they weren’t expecting me to have the views and believes that I do. (I have always had very ‘liberal’ views politically, socially, and religiously. I read up Marxist theories for fun. I am a feminist. I believe in evolution and climate change and, well, science in general. All that.)
And while they won’t outright acknowledge it, but I am fairly certain that their perception of that cloth on my head had something to do with it.
It is almost like a person can be more than just one thing…
Then there is the third group. This is the group of people, for whom the hijab is very much a symbol of piety and modesty, which is why they are often going to reduce the woman wearing it to just that.
Stop putting hijabis on a pedestal
Stop holding hijabis to different moral standards. Stop expecting hijabis to just always be the hijab symbolizes to you. Basically, do not expect me to be what you think is the perfect version of a Muslim JUST because I wear a piece of cloth on my head.
There are women who wear the hijab whose faith fluctuates by roller-coaster levels from time to time. There are women who wear the hijab who aren’t looking to straight-up have an arranged shaadi and, well, date. There are women who wear the hijab but don’t cover ALL their hair. There are women who wear the hijab but also wear skinny jeans. There are women who wear the hijab who wear lots of make-up.
I mean, if you are going to judge them (coz let’s face it, as Pakistanis, we gotta do what we gotta do), can we at least just judge them by the same standards we’d judge a non-hijab wearing woman and not add, “who hijab pehanke bhi aisi cheezain karti hai?” and think we are making a solid case.
I can settle for that.
Because when I decided to wear the hijab, it was because I wanted to.
Not because I wanted to be put on a pedestal of religious perfection.
And I don’t fit that pedestal.
Accept it. I have.