Reflections: Hijab

Short. Simple. And to the point. Liberation lies in your right to choose.

There is a common misconception that wearing a hijab equals oppression, but why is this the standard way of thinking? Who said that dressing modestly makes me a victim of oppression? Western media and society enforces this idea on us that the only way a woman can be “liberated” is if she’s constantly “sexy.” However, this idea is severely flawed as it is just another mechanism that oppresses women through objectifying them. We are being taught to portray ourselves as desirable for men. That fact alone is extremely disempowering and validates the male gaze and a patriarchal society, even further. My existence and worth is not measured by how much I appeal to men. Living in such a hypersexual society can be difficult and complicated for someone who chooses to dress and act modestly.

Over the course of years it’s become a trend to liberate Muslim women by telling them that they must take off their abayas, modest clothing, and hijabs to be truly “liberated.” But let’s focus on that word; liberation, which is defined as the act of setting someone free from imprisonment, or oppression. But when did my hijab become something that was keeping me imprisoned? I made the conscious decision to wear the hijab at 20 years old. I came to this decision by myself, without anyone pressuring me to wear a scarf. And that is exactly why most women in the west wear hijab because it is THEIR choice.

Honestly, this decision is hard enough and we (hijabis and non-hijabis) could all do without your ignorant questions. If we don’t wear hijab, we’re too “modern” and “not Muslim enough” and if we do then we are “prude” and “backwards.” My hijab is none of your business. I never understood why other people felt the need to butt in and tell others how they should dress. The patriarchy reiterates the idea that women dress for, go out for, do their make up for, etc. for men. So this is why our hijabs become so controversial because we wear them for Allah (SWT).

No matter how you choose to dress, liberation lies in your choice. Respect my right to choose the same way I respect yours.

 

Surefire

Solidarity is important, especially in the current political climate. It is very important for all of us to stand together in the face of injustice. But calling me out when you see me at a CVS and telling me that “I’m welcome and I belong here” is not the right way. I’m sure that your intent is to make me feel better or safer but all you’ve done is make me uncomfortable. I was born and raised in the United States, a red state to be more specific and I’ve dealt with backlash my whole life. This is something that has been following me since elementary school. From a young age, I’ve known that I won’t be fully accepted in the only country I’ve called home. I will always be asked “where are you from?” and the answer “Miami” just does not satisfy them.

Recently, I’ve encountered people who come up to me and tell me that “you’re welcome here” and all I can do is give them a dumbfounded look. I know that they mean well but think about it this way… you’re calling me out in a very public place to tell me that you accept me. First of all, awkward… because now everyone is staring at me and patronizing me because it makes YOU feel good. It has nothing to do with me. You’re only doing this to appear to be a good person and frankly I don’t care for that. I think the problem here is that you are assuming that every Muslim you meet is either a refugee or an immigrant. Which is closeminded and ignorant. This current trend is off-putting to say the least because I don’t need anyone’s approval but you still feel the need to give it to me. This country has been mine and will be mine and your opinion literally doesn’t matter nor does it affect me in any way.

Speaking of bad methods of solidarity, let’s talk about John Legend’s new music video “Surefire.” I know the current political climate is tense and people are trying really hard to act “accepting” towards Muslims. Which I understand and I’m sure the intent was in the right place but honestly, what the hell was that?

So the video shows a young Muslim girl and a young Christian boy who are in love. The video goes through a montage of them hanging out and falling in love. When they get back to her house her parents catch her and her dad is SUPER aggressive towards the two of them. If I told my dad I was seeing a non-Muslim boy of course he would be confused and concerned but he would not be RAGE RAGE I FORBID YOU TO SEE HIM EVER AGAIN AND I’M GOING TO CALL THE POLICE ON HIM! This portrayal of the Muslim dad perpetuates the notion that our dads are aggressive and cannot be reasoned with. They are seen as people who you have to tip toe around and who see their daughters as people who cannot have their own opinions. Basically, you’re taking stereotypes and twisting them for your own gain. So how was that helpful?

Okay so then, her dad fires at the boy she is seeing then calls the police on him to get him deported. Um? So again you are reiterating the stereotype that Muslim men are aggressive and unreasonable because he doesn’t like the fact that his daughter is seeing a non-Muslim boy. How can you portray a man who is discriminated against, a man who understands the struggle of being a minority, to be bigoted towards another minority and call that a progressive music video?

Here’s the part that really gets me, so the Muslim girl decides to hitchhike to Mexico after she realizes that her boyfriend has been deported. As she’s leaving, her mom stops her and hands her a tasbee… LIKE HER MOM IS REALLY GONNA LET HER HITCHHIKE TO ANOTHER COUNTRY FOR A BOY? Mess. Because obviously if your mom is willing to let you go, she’d get you a flight instead and go with you. Again, this shows that Muslim girls don’t have a voice and that her parents cannot be reasoned with and that’s why she felt like hitchhiking to Mexico was her only option.

I didn’t find this video to progressive or helpful given the current political climate. This video was a bad job at showing a Muslim family and how issues are dealt with in our households. To someone who doesn’t personally know any Muslims this is the idea that you’re leaving in their head. 1. Muslim women have to sneak around to do anything. 2. Our mothers are submissive and cannot stand up to our dads. 3. Our dads are rage monsters who don’t listen to or value our opinions. If you have never been exposed to a Muslim family before this is what you will believe that all of our families are like. But in reality, Muslim moms are not submissive and they run the household. My dad is my bestfriend and most Muslim dads are some of the most compassionate and generous people. I can’t speak for everyone but that is the majority. Islam gives women rights and it was the first religion to do so. Women are held at a high standard in Islam. This video seems to just belittle all of that but showing us to be damsels in distress.

This video just takes stereotype after stereotype and displays it in the worst possible way.  John Legend is someone who constantly speaks out against injustice and understands how harmful stereotypes can be so why would he make a video just full of stereotypes is very confusing. There are ways to be an ally but this video was definitely not a way. After watching this video, I’m convinced John Legend has never met a Muslim before.

In the words of Johnathan Scott, “no renovation is better than a bad renovation.” And this video was a horrible renovation.

 

Stop Romanticizing Exhaustion

It was Sunday night and I was doing the dishes while listening to the soundtrack of my favorite Disney princess movie, Tangled. I was singing along to “When Will My Life Begin” when suddenly a conversation about “when your life begins” started among my siblings and myself. What my 10 year old brother had to say, took me by surprise. Continue reading “Stop Romanticizing Exhaustion”

Reflections: Is Hitting Women Permissible In Islam?

Knowledge is everything. When you are constantly seeking to gain knowledge and questioning everything, that is when you are truly utilizing the gift of thinking for yourself. When you don’t seek out knowledge, that is how ignorance manifests itself. Some of the main issues that people (both Muslims and non-Muslims) have about Islam stem from pure ignorance and utter lack of knowledge on a given subject. One of the most “debated” subjects in Islam is how people genuinely believe that hitting women in any form has a place within the religion. Astaghfirullah. Continue reading “Reflections: Is Hitting Women Permissible In Islam?”

Faryal Makhdoom & The Reality Of In-Law Abuse

Makeup artist, model, and wife of Amir Khan, Faryal Makhdoom, recently made a courageous choice to openly address the domestic abuse she has been a victim of for years from her in-laws. Continue reading “Faryal Makhdoom & The Reality Of In-Law Abuse”