Are you not hot with this they say…Are you not dying with this they say…Are you trying to threaten us with this they say…Are you trying to take over our world they say…well no peeps! I promise! This thing I have on my head is called a headscarf, a hijab, a veil, not a towel, not a rug and certainly not a THIS! I am usually very very tolerant when it comes to ignorant comments coming my way about being a visible minority and about being a Muslim girl. I am okay with it, it used to bother me when I was younger but since I don’t feel like I owe anyone anything, I don’t feel bad anymore…because I too am a Canadian and I too work hard and pay my taxes. I am as vital of a citizen as everyone else. Anyway, I now take it light-heartedly because we are not all at the same level of education when it comes to cultures and diversity. There are misconceptions about the West in the Occident as much as the West has about the Occident, it really is a matter of self-education and awareness and about the time you decide to take to learn about other cultures and religions. And please bear in mind that there is a huge difference between religion and culture. It shouldn’t be an obligation but rather an inquisitive quest. Perhaps because I am bi-cultural, but I have always had the munchies to learn about other people…it’s just in me and I can’t help it. In today’s post, I wanted to share some of the weirdest questions I have been asked lately about my veil and please take it with a grain of salt because I do and I find it so funny sometimes what people have to say about this whole subject.
1) Do you have hair?!
This one is probably the funniest….is when they ask if I have hair, can’t help but laugh. Like yes, I have hair. If you educated yourself a little, you would know that the reason why I wear the hijab in the first place is to cover my hair. I won’t blame the ignorance as much in this particular matter because I can understand how it may be confusing to some when they see the different ways different Muslim women choose to wear their headscarf. Some wear a hat, some wear a turban and some decided to full on burqa. I think it is important to understand the meaning of the word hijab; basically in Arabic, it means “barrier” and its purpose is to basically help women cover up and be modest around men they can potentially marry. It is to put the emphasis on the brain of the woman rather than her body. And yes, there is modesty for Muslim men too; they too have to follow some rules…it’s not just the woman, trust me, we’re not oppressed, on the contrary, we’re glorified in Islam. It’s just unfortunately some idiots mix up culture and religion together and then extremism is born. So, yes, I do have hair, I promise I am not bald!
2) Did your parents force you?!
No…they didn’t. I just woke up one day, went to school and wore it. I knew that eventually I would end up wearing it…so I figured; high school is the perfect time to stir some shit up and start gossip. It was actually quite fun at first, I was called a princess by many of my teachers because of the way I started to wear the veil. I remember having a small little lace piece peeking through under the hijab and it looked like I was a Victorian princess and it pissed a lot of kids off…I was bullied because I was the “teachers’ pet” (not something I wanted in the first place). So, just to clarify, perhaps some parents do force their kids out of fear of losing them completely to the way of the devil but my parents didn’t. If you do follow Islam in its true pure form, you would know that it does not oblige anything onto anyone, because Islam is about peace and tolerance and you should be convinced on your own when following a certain rule. Islam is not a difficult religion and there is no compulsion, meaning, “Do not force anyone to become Muslim, for Islam is plain and clear, and its proofs and evidence are plain and clear. Therefore, there is no need to force anyone to embrace Islam. Rather, whoever God directs to Islam, opens his heart for it and enlightens his mind, will embrace Islam with certainty”.
3) Are you oppressed?
Like why is it that because I am wearing a headscarf, I am automatically put into this category. No, like have you seen me?! I mean woman can be oppressed in any religion, any culture, any country, and any race in the whole wide world. I am free to work and live and laugh and dance (not in public…for modesty reasons) and just be who I want to be as long as I respect myself, my family and most importantly my faith and religion. I was not forced into marriage either, trust me, my parents struggled with me so much until I found le husband. I wanted to build my empire before I settled because that’s what made me truly happy. Again there’s a thin line between religion and culture and many Middle Eastern men suffer in that department and perhaps this is where extremism is born…but there’s that in every corner of the world….it’s not an Arab thing! Besides, in any aspect of life (not only religion), when there is balance, there is healthy peace and that goes into everything.
4) Do you take a shower?
Um, like no! I don’t take a shower because then I’ll go to hell (sarcasm highlighted massively here). Of course I can!! What in the hell? Again, this goes back to the first question, we don’t wear it 24/7. We only wear the hijab in the presence of men that could potentially wed us…meaning your father, uncle, brother are not included in the list. So, the minute you get home, you are in fact free to take it off and yes that means you’re allowed to shower and do other human activities such as yoga, dance, trampoline and even bungee jumping. The hijab doesn’t make us any different than any other woman on the planet, we just have it on for extra modesty reasons and we only wear it if we’re convinced to do so!
5) Can you wear a wig?
No, then what’s the point of wearing the hijab in the first place if you’re going to top it off with a wig? Then just don’t wear it at all. You don’t wear it to please others but rather for yourself and religion is about your relationship with God, it has nothing to do with anything else. You have to maintain modesty when you’re 100% convinced about it or else it doesn’t count. I have seen many girls do it to get their parents of their backs and that sucks because that isn’t how it should be. I remember when I decided to wear it, I struggled a little bit to explain why I chose to wear it because I was still new and perhaps I didn’t feel secure or settled into my own skin yet, but as I grew older, I couldn’t imagine myself without it. My hijab gave me more strength and more confidence in myself to purse my dreams and to carve a path for myself in a society where it wasn’t fully understood. I wouldn’t change my experience for anything! I honestly don’t feel like I am impaired or pulled back in any way, because so far, my list of accomplished is pretty awesome.
There are many more silly questions that come to mind but it would take me an eternity to go through them all…it’s so funny! Like I said, I take it super lightly now, because it doesn’t bother nor offend me anymore. Life is way too short for me to keep thinking about what others think of me or the likes of me. Having to always be defensive is super exhausting but if someone comes up to me wanting to sincerely know about my religion or culture or habits, I am more than happy to share info. I too sometimes can have those silly questions towards other communities, it’s the way we ask those questions that differentiate a racist from a genuinely interested person. Most of us humans have the ability to read and educate ourselves about others and other cultures of world, so it is either you take the time to do so politely or just keep the discriminatory derogations to yourself so that we can all co-exist in peace and harmony.