I, a Muslim woman who covers all but the hands and face strictly (and sometimes I cover all but my eyes… VOLUNTARILY), took off my hijab for a day (read the whole thing before you judge. This isn’t a recent event, but something I was forced to do last year and am only just writing about. No mercy will be taken on stupid, judgmental comments if you don’t). And I thought I’d write about that because I read a really good article on Ms. Muslamic’s blog page and it got me thinking. All these articles are from non-Muslim, Western women who don’t have Islam in their hearts putting on our safety net and turning it into a cage. Well, NO KIDDING! YOU AREN’T A MUSLIM WOMAN! So you put on the veil for a day? A week? A month? And you didn’t pray, read Qur’an, or do anything that the typical Muslim woman does? You never reflected on who you are as a person and strived to improve yourself? Please tell me more about how draping yourself in fabric gives you an understanding of what’s in our innermost feelings and heart of hearts…. /Sarcasm. And I thought to myself, “Ama, how about you write about when you walked around in Western clothes with your hair blowing in the breeze and your face with makeup…?” Slow down, self, we have to see what these “journalists” are saying about what I wear to set myself free….
*Reads and is shocked* Before I discuss my day without the veil… I HAVE to say something about these idiots who pretended to write ‘earnest’ articles when they actually just wrote about their feelings of Islam and wore the veil with great prejudice in their heart rather than objectivity.
Guess what- how articles of clothing feel to one person may not feel that way to another. Liz Jones wrote an article with such a stupid ending that I thought my brain cells were going to melt and leak out through my ears. Finding it “disgusting” that Muslim schoolgirls have to cover. You know what’s disgusting? Children’s beauty pageants. Mothers forcing their toddlers to diet because they’re “too fat”. Putting a corset on a pre-teen. Buying adult clothes for 8-year-old schoolgirls and allowing them to go to class in sweatpants with “Juicy” or “Sexy” written on the butt. Our little girls may be warm, but you never hear about pedophiles kidnapping kids from Islamic schools. But Ms. Juicy? I bet he wanted to see just how juicy she was. You know, up until said pedo decides he’s raped her too much for her to be fresh and juicy enough and he leaves her mangled corpse in a park. You want to know what happens to little girls who are allowed to become easy targets, look up the Pamela Butler case from Kansas City. Little girl kidnapped while innocently roller skating. Her body was found behind a church brutally raped, beaten, electrocuted, and tortured to death. A 10-year-old. And the guy who did it? My mother worked at the D.A.’s office and I overheard her telling my father that the creep said he wanted the older sister, but given what Pamela was wearing and where she was in the driveway, she was an EASIER TARGET. I think it’s disgusting we let our schoolgirls be treated like pretty little pedo-bait.
Next, I read the link on the page for Danielle Crittenden. I thought, “hey… a Huffington Post writer… This shouldn’t be too bad.” I WAS SO WRONG! Apparently, the only difference to her in whether or not I’m a threat to society is a piece of freaking cloth!!! EVERY ‘reason’ she gave for why the burqa (and she didn’t even wear the burqa, she wore NIQAAB! HUGE difference!) was a CULTURAL issue. Not an Islamic one. ‘OMG, MUSLIMS ARE DOING FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION!!!’ No. CULTURES are guilty of FGM. Female circumcision is allowed in Islam, but under strict circumstances. Like the removal of ONLY the clitoral hood. You can’t remove the clitoris itself because women have Islamic right to enjoy their husbands sexually. How is she going to enjoy him without her clitoris? I mean, sure, some women can have vaginal orgasms by hitting the g-spot, but the vast majority of women have to have some sort of clitoral stimulation during sex to have an orgasm. So OBVIOUSLY it’s wrong to remove the clitoris itself. OR the labia, actually, because it can cause infection. The clitoral hood is viewed as similar to the foreskin of a man and you don’t remove anything else on a man, so they don’t remove more on a woman. Honour killings? A cultural problem. Something they also do in Liberia and Uganda along with ACTUAL FGM (as opposed to female circumcision). What do those countries have in common? Oh, wait, THEY’RE COUNTRIES WITH CHRISTIAN MAJORITY POPULATION AND LEGAL SYSTEMS! The Prophet (Muhammad S.A.W.) said that the best of men was the best to women. As in treated them WELL. He never hit a woman. The word in the Qur’an that people translate to mean ‘beat’ as though men can beat their wives? In the days of the Prophet S.A.W., the word was used to mean ‘LEAVE’. To this day, it can still be used to mean ‘leave’. Do you not think language changes over time? Do you not think things were spoken differently in Arabic 1430+ years ago when you can see a change in how English was spoken from even just 50 years ago? Or in Shakespearean times? How utterly ARROGANT to blame the disobedience and cruelty of a person on a perfect God and message! American law states that rape is illegal, yet most rapists aren’t prosecuted. Should we assume that because of this, Americans are ok with rape and all Americans are rapists? NO! Why? Because it’s STUPID.
The last article I read from the links on Ms. Muslimac’s page was so caked in lies and stupid, bigoted comments that I wanted to toss the laptop across the room. One thing said, and I quote directly from the link “After watching 74 YouTube videos and parsing 108 Google search pages, I couldn’t find one article or video explaining if burqas were comfortable, or how Americans reacted to seeing someone resembling the Grim Reaper float by them in line at Starbucks.” First of all, when I and my BELOVED SISTERS wear niqaab or burqa, we look modest. Not like the Grim freaking-Reaper. Second of all, she had to watch 74 videos and couldn’t find ONE saying whether or not the burqa or niqaab is comfortable? LIAR! This video was on the FIRST PAGE OF RESULTS. “The Comfortable Niqabi”. Her face is covered and you can tell she is all smiles. I only had to click on ONE video. I scrolled the first page of results, saw that, clicked it, and heard a woman speak about being comfortable and feeling protected wearing it. For granted, if you only speak English you need to skip over the conversation until about 1:42 in the video because before they’re speaking another language. But she still says, in plain English, THAT SHE LIKES WEARING IT. Also, she had to type in 108 google searches?!!! HOW IS THIS WOMAN A REPORTER?! I searched the SAME thing again in Google (“burqa comfortable”….. no quotes. Literally just 2 words) and on the first page, This site popped up with a question about how Muslim women who wear the burqa feel in them. One sister says, “Well,I wear BURQA, I feel so comfortable when I wear it, and I can’t imagine myself going out of home without wearing it,, Here in my country (Saudi Arabia), most of the women wear BURQA or NIQAB,,”. Another says, “when i wear burqa i really feel protected and comfortable.”. This took me less than a minute to find. And this woman scoured the internet for over 100 pages trying to find this info? WTF did she type into the search bar…. “me hates berkuh ’cause ‘Murica… them’s not comfy, I needs proofs” ??? On page 2 of the results, I found this site which quotes a woman as saying, “I have five burqas, three from Dubai and two bought locally. Those bought from Dubai are very elegant and comfortable, for they are specially designed for hot climate.” So her saying in the article that she was too hot all day, looked like a grim reaper, etc? Just her own Islamophobia poking it’s ugly face into where it doesn’t belong and then writing an article equivalent in truth to the Islamophobia beast wiping its butt on the keyboard. I don’t care how “respectful” the piece was at the end talking about how much respect she gained for us. The ENTIRE piece was ripping on what many of us CHOOSE to wear and are most COMFORTABLE in. She followed up how much she respects us with saying she’d never dress like us again because it “suckkkkked”? You know what sucks? Western “fashion” oppression.
WHICH BRINGS US TO THE MAIN EVENT- I TOOK OFF MY HIJAB
Since the opinions of Muslim women don’t matter when a journalist writes about what it’s like to be a Muslim in niqaab or burqa, I’m making them (Western and non-Muslim journalists) matter just as much here. Just as they reduced Muslim women to what they wear, IT’S THEIR TURN. When I was having trouble paying rent, I had to sell a family heirloom. For granted, before they died they TOLD me to sell it if I got in a rough spot because “even though it’s an heirloom, if I can’t take it with me when I die then no one else can either. It’s an object at the end of the day”. So sayeth my Grandpa. Well, I knew the piece was worth at least $700 (US dollars), but every place I went to was offering me less than $100. I’d emailed them photos and they offered higher and seemed eager to help me sell it, but when they’d see my mother and I walking in with our hijab… All of a sudden, they wanted to rip us off. They didn’t want to help us. They had “no extra buying power that month”. The only way I was going to make rent was to put the Western clothing I had happily given up for hijab back on. The push-up bra, the makeup, skin from the mid-thigh down showing from my jean skirt, a low-cut shirt fluttering in my cleavage, and my blond hair flipping in the breeze behind me like the models in shampoo commercials because I’d quit going to salons (thus my hair is now very long). I looked in the mirror. I thought about wearing this for my future husband, Nazmul. How pretty I looked. How amazing my figure looked in it. How this body was only for him and how much I liked it. And that thought…. BAM!I realised I was going to have to go outside like that. Men and women would have full opportunity to judge my figure, criticise my less-than-flat tummy in their minds, to gaze at my breasts jiggling as I walked… I was fresh meat. I felt the cool breeze outside tease my hair. And it was Hell.
I walked as quickly as I could to the car with my mother, who also walked swiftly not having her hijab either. We didn’t want to give anyone any more chance than we had to give to see us without our hijabs. The car headed to a pawn shop in the next town recommended by a good friend of ours. We rode in silence. Every time someone looked from their vehicle into ours… I felt ashamed. I was disobeying GOD. I felt like I had lost my link to Him. Becoming a Muslim after everything we’d been through was like the most amazing prize ever and our trophies, our hijabs, were taken away. It was like the old dial-up internet connection to Allah (God) had been unplugged. Someone else needed to make a call. That someone else was the dunya (life). Fleeting, and testing. And we let it win for the moment. Instead of the later reward in the akhira (afterlife), we had caved and let the dunya borrow our connection. And it was far more shameful to me than the shape or appearance of my body. I’m not ashamed of my body. Far from. In fact, I love my body. I don’t care that I’m not perfect. I feed my body fruit, veggies, halal meat, and all organic goodies. Because I want this body to be healthy and keep on for a while inSha’Allah (if God wills it). But it’s MY choice in who sees it. In who DESERVES to be able to enjoy MY body.
We pulled into the parking lot. We both sat there, wanting to cry, in silence. A family heirloom… from someone we could no longer speak to… was about to leave us. And we had already lost so much, with my mother’s terminal illness going in and out of remission, yanking our emotions around like a yo-yo in expert hands, and with my own recent loss of the ability to work due to my own health conditions. But also, we were shaming ourselves in the eyes of Allah. We had decided not to trust Him to protect us. And we knew we’d have to answer for that. We shakily got out of the car and walked inside. The first thing I saw was 2 men with their eyes down my cleavage. One subconsciously groped the counter for a moment, mildly, and probably without realising it. I felt violated, dirty. I walked over to the counter and we did our business. As he was checking its value and pulling bills out of the till, he glanced over at me as he was closing the till. I was in pain. I don’t wear high heels often because I have a degenerative spinal condition. But my pain wasn’t what he noticed. I had leaned on the counter for support and my breasts were pushed together for extreme cleavage and I noticed he stopped the till and pulled out another bill. I don’t know for how much that bill was, but no matter the denomination it made me cringe. I had allowed men and women alike to gaze upon what I saved for God, my husband, and most importantly MYSELF to pay for one month of rent and utilities. I felt like, effectively, a prostitute. I had basically pimped my body for cash goods. It doesn’t just feel bad for a moment, it worms its way into your mind and makes you feel like you tarnished a little part of your soul.
Finally, after paying rent, I went home. I ran, despite the pain from my conditions, RAN to my apartment and shut the door. I went to my room and cried. I cried for the loss of self I had experienced. For all the bad glances from people and even for the ones who seemed to look at me without noticing me… Because I allowed my bodily autonomy to be decided by cash. I allowed ‘fitting in so I could do something like normal people’ to get in the way of my faith. It was harder to pray after that. Because I felt undeserving. I had abandoned my outer protection, so why would Allah afford me inner protection? But I held on to my faith and prayed for forgiveness. From my dreams later, I think I’m forgiven. But only Allah knows for sure if I am. I felt naked, judged, out of place, over-exposed, vulnerable, and like a piece of meat on display for anyone to come by and pick up and turn over and around to see if I was really a good cut. And it was awful.
You know that nightmare you have when you’re at work or school and people keep staring and laughing. And suddenly, you realise you’re totally naked and the whole crowd can check out your junk and all you can do is try and cover yourself and hide in absolute horror/humiliation? That’s what it feels like for a hijab/niqaab/burqa-loving Muslimah to have to step outside without her beloved clothes. When you wake up from a nightmare in your bed as a little kid, but you’re just old enough to think you can’t call for mommy… you hide under your blanket. You feel safe and protected under that blanket. Well our hijab is that blanket. With Islamophobia, hatred, rape, general assaults, stalking, and all the world’s ills…. outside of our doors lies a nightmare. The hijab is our armor against it. What we can hide under or ride into battle with. When wearing it, we feel safe. We feel like we can accomplish ANYTHING. I won’t deny that it can feel like a prison to some who don’t have the choice in whether or not to wear it, but most who come from those countries and still wear it say it’s freedom. One lady told me “it used to be my prison and now it’s my wings to fly.” It’s the CHOICE that makes a prison. If we’re free to choose what we wear, most of us will choose to keep our clothes. Because they free us. Makeup is an oppression to us. Bulimia to fit into the newest styles is an oppression to us. The pressure to fit in is an oppression to us. Male-dominated fashion is an oppression to us. And our hijabs set us free. Truly free. Your opinion on how these clothes feel is determined on whether or not you have Islam in your heart. Or if you have objectiveness and reason in your mind. If you let go of your bigotry, you can see how it TRULY feels. How much freedom you have in your day when you don’t have to worry about touching up your makeup. Or hair. Or outfit. You can just BE. And that’s what I wish these pseudojournalists dissing our way of life and clothes would do… Quit watering and growing your bigotry and just LET US BE.