Islam, women and the hijab – a few truths and dispelled misconceptions

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SHAFAQNA - Muslim women have spoken of their experiences wearing the hijab in an emotional Ask Reddit thread.

User RainyDayRose posted a question to Muslim women with the tag ‘Serious’, asking: “Women who wear a hijab, in what ways does it affect your life, both positively and negatively?”

The thread has over 406 comments so far, with dozens of women sharing their personal experiences.

People pointed out the many benefits, and some of the downside, of wearing the hijab

Ghostfacefza:

I used to wear a hijab for a little bit, positive impacts 1) cozy in the winter 2) could be a nice accessory to an outfit and its purpose 3) often allowed me to feel more comfortable/not exposed

Biggest negative was that it colored people’s perceptions of me regardless of how I acted (sometimes in a positive way sometimes in a negative way-but either was I felt this was a negative aspect because I couldn’t control it)

 

Although someone else found the hijab provoked too many religious connotations.

azad2015:

among “the guided ones” following the commandments of Allah, and I used to pray that others could be guided like me. >_>

On the other hand, I do love it in the winter. It wraps your entire neck, head, and doesn’t frizz hair like a wooly cap. Also, it can be time-saving. I would rather wear a hijab than spend a half hour trying to style my hair. Also, in old age, when hair density falls a lot, it looks very elegant to see a lady with a graceful scarf.

Objectively speaking, I do know I look much better in a hijab. People have told me that my facial features get emphasized and I look more striking. But, socially, I prefer to be without hijab so I can just be ‘azad2015’ instead of ‘azad2015, y

I used to wear it, and honestly, if it wasn’t for the fact that it has religious connotations, I would still like to wear it at times. It had a mix of good and bad points. Living in America, it was always an external sign of being Muslim that could be seen in even a crowd of a thousand. For me, it helped me be extra aware of my actions. I felt like it was a ‘flag of Islam’ so it helped me be more Muslim. On the other hand, when you meet people, they notice things that are outside of the norm first, so when they see hijab first, you have to work against the ‘preconceptions’ (can’t think of the word) that their brain has immediately made. I noticed this quite strikingly, when I had to take off my hijab, and move to a new city. Instead of the focus being on me being Muslim, wearing a scarf, etc., it was on other things. I also made many friends that year. The problem before was that Muslims and non-Muslims felt uncomfortable with me. Sometimes Muslim friends would feel like I was a “judgmental aunty” or something because I had a scarf and they didn’t, so they would not want to invite me to things that could be haram (ex. movies). Non-Muslims sometimes treated me very respectfully, like I was a Buddhist monk or something, or they would be the other extreme, and look at me with disdain. I just wanted to be normal. I remember going through my high school years without a single friend. I’m sure many hijabis do have friends, but that was my experience. At the time, I didn’t mind because I felt that I was you know, the girl with the scarf’ or ‘that muslim girl’.

My experience with hijab vs without hijab has made me think a lot about the cultural significance of clothing. Why are clothes important, what do they mean, etc? People say they don’t judge by clothes, but 100% we all do…and after thinking about this, it made me realize that wearing clothing that is way out of the mainstream (ex. less than 0.1% of people wear it) can really affect your life. However, we are very lucky to live in America, where people are still generally open-minded to accept such a person. Muslim countries, unfortunately, do not accept clothing deviations from the norm.

For others, the benefits the hijab provides have been transformational.

hahawhatok:

I was born and raised Muslim. My mom, though still quite religious, doesn’t wear hijab and wouldn’t let me where hijab growing up even though I wanted to. I started hijab in college when I lived on my own and have never looked back. I absolutely love it, it makes me feel beautiful and elegant. I feel much more confident today than I did 4 year ago when I would spend hours doing my hair and worrying about my body and looks. I still love fashion and makeup but looks have gone way down my list of things that are important in my life.

I would be happy to answer anyone’s questions!

User daisydee614 agreed.

 

daisydee614:

I love how I feel in it. I love the fact that I turn heads. I love the fact that I may be breaking multiple stereo types just by having a simple conversation with someone. Honestly, it really is empowering, I’ve worn it my whole life and could never imagine being without it. Most importantly, not having to worry about doing my hair every morning shaves hours off of my morning routine. lol

Downside: I fear for my life these days. I’m in law school and I feel like the hijab may stop me from advancing in my career. sometimes I get the nasty comments from someone walking by. but other than that, no negativity!

Although growing up in a small town proved challenging for women wearing the hijab, they could see many positives too.

 

heyitsalisa:

I honestly only see it as a positive thing, but when I first started wearing the hijab I was extremely self conscious and thought I looked weird. Many people stared at me because I came from a small town,not that many Muslims. Anyway over the years of wearing the hijab I saw so many positives. I can never have a bad hair day, never get harassed by any guys, protects hair and skin from sun damage, keeps you warm in the winter, protects your hair in the rain, can actually incorporate with your outfit etc

5unda5 summed up her experience of empowerment.

5unda5:

I was born and raised in America, and I’ve been wearing hijab for 16 years now. I initially started it because I saw my mom doing it. I started at 11 (this was before 9/11).

I’m now working in the marketing industry and honestly, people don’t really treat me all that different. If anything, people tend to remember me more (because of my scarf) and it helps me assert my identity as a Muslim American.

I find Hijab to be empowering, because in Islam, Hijab is not just a cloth you wear over your head. It’s a lifestyle of being modest. You as a muslim MAN or WOMAN should be the embodiment of modesty. One aspect of that is covering your hair, the other aspects include the way you talk, walk, and display yourself to others.

There are a few negative things. The biggest would be the reactions you get from some people who label you and stereotype you without even knowing who you are.

Overall I don’t think that I would ever take it off—it has done way more positive for me than negative.

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