To my Non-Hijabi Muslim Sister,
For those who may not be aware, there is a photo that has circulated online of two lollipops: a wrapped one next to an unwrapped one that is covered by bugs. The photo attempts to correlate hijab-wearing women to the wrapped, protected, brand new, and untouched piece of candy and women who don’t wear the hijab with the unwrapped, tainted one. As a hijabi, I am sorry that you’re being reduced to an unwrapped lollipop for a choice that is yours and no one else’s to make, judge, or critique.
There are so many things wrong with this reference, I could barely figure out where to start. As a kind-of-sometimes-struggling hijabi myself, I feel it is extremely important to show love, compassion, and unity to our fellow Muslim sisters. Although I have been wearing hijab for most of my life, it doesn’t mean that it was easy to make the decision to put on the hijab, or to keep it on for that matter. I’m continuously experiencing comments, sideways glances, and judgment since I put the hijab on over 15 years ago, and it feels like there is no end in sight.
I like to think that myself and other Muslim women have a daily jihad. And that is choosing to outwardly express our faith by observing the hijab or not wearing the hijab and keeping our spiritual connection to Allah (SWT) personal. Some of us are struggling to keep the hijab on while others are struggling to make the decision to wear it. And some of us don’t find it to be a religious obligation and don’t debate with putting/keeping it on at all. Can we just leave the judging to God?
Modesty goes beyond a piece of cloth on your head. Modesty can be in our akhlak (manners) and in our morals, actions, day to day practices, and how we treat one another. My Muslim sisters who don’t observe the hijab sometimes dress more modestly than my sisters who do. Again, it is between them and Allah (SWT) and not my or anyone else’s business. I know this because I feel like “The Hijabi Police” always come after me.
Your pants are too tight.
Your sleeves aren’t long enough.
Your hair is coming out of your scarf.
Your neck is showing.
Your makeup is too heavy.
Your nail polish is too loud.
You get the point. Instead of leaving me to express my faith in my own way, there has always been someone telling me that I’m not doing enough or not doing it right.
Another implication that can be taken from this tasteless photo is that men are being equated to latching insects, and the non-hijabi female is inviting this by not protecting herself with a “wrapper.” When an image like this is circulated on the Internet by Muslims, does it also mean that we think the “wrapped” lollipop doesn’t attract men? I have actually, at times, experienced advances by men more often than my non-hijabi friends. Apparently, it has something to do with the element of suspense – from what I am told. We need to stop bashing males and referring to them as animals and insects while also giving our non-hijabi sisters more credit on their character and morals regardless of whether they cover their hair. It also doesn’t mean a hijabi is completely immune to this type of attention. So, to my Muslim brothers out there – I don’t think you’re a blood sucking insect that will leach off of a woman who doesn’t cover her hair.
I feel the need to deeply apologize that some people think it is acceptable to measure the level of a woman’s faith by objectifying her and comparing her to a piece of infested candy. Each one of us was fashioned by the hands of our Gracious Creator. Each one of us is unique in our own sense, and each one of us has the right to express and practice our religion the way we choose. Our current plight in defending Islam to the rest of the world is contradicted when we can’t understand and accept each other from within first, especially in a time when we should know better than to compare ourselves to a piece of fucking candy. If some women that cover feel the need to prove their choice has to do with modesty, there are a million intelligent ways to make this point without bringing down an entire group of women that don’t wear the hijab, presuming they are immodest.
My Muslim sister, covered or uncovered, I respect and love you!
A Kind-Of-Sometimes-Struggling Hijabi