By Umm Ibrahim
I’ve been wearing the hijab for almost 8 years now. There’s no complex rocket science behind it. It’s just that I firmly believe that it is a commandment from Allah. Here are just some of the ideas I’ve heard people expressing about my hijab, explicitly or implicitly, over the years. Without further ado, here come the myth-busters:
1- You have a superiority complex. You think you are a better Muslim than me.
Actually, no. I harbor no such thoughts because I know the sins I commit. I know my shortcomings and weaknesses. Allah covers them up through His Mercy. Therefore, I do not think I (or any random hijabi) is better than any non-hijabi sister. But, I do think that: wearing a Hijab (in obedience to Allah and His Messenger) is better than not wearing a hijab (in disobedience to Allah and His Messenger). There’s a subtle difference.
2- You’re such a perfect Muslim. I wish I could be as good as you.
You actually also get these appreciative comment from people who assume that you’re a very good Muslim. Just because I’m obeying Allah in this one obvious aspect doesn’t mean I’m doing the same in the 101 other things too. This is a potentially dangerous myth. Because yes, I do try, but when I slip, (which I often do!) you subconsciously blame the Hijab or generalize Hijabis. Whereas the fault in this case actually lies with the driver, not the car (i.e. with the Hijabi and not her Hijab).
3- You don’t like to dress up/ You’re not dressed up.
I do admit that I sometimes throw an abaya over my sleeping suit if I have to run out to get some groceries. But when you say that at weddings and parties, that’s not true. Peekaboo. Here, have a look at the latest kaam wala jora I’m wearing underneath my abaya. I love to dress up. But I do not love being eye-candy for non-mehram eyes. So, I simply cover up the beauty and adornment. However, if its an all-girls party, I can dress to kill.
4- You are forced by someone to wear this.
I’m not forced by my family members or anyone else. In fact, it’s the other way round. I actually had to struggle a lot and go against my family to wear this. It remains an ongoing battle. I’m only forced by my belief in the Quran and Sunnah.
5- It must be very hot and uncomfortable in there
Thankyou, I’m comfortable enough. I try and use lighter, more airy fabrics in summers. It is probably one degree hotter in here, but you get acclimated to it pretty soon. It’s much more comfortable than heavy make-up, stiletto heels and false nails. And, the real thing is: “Say: the fire of Hell is hotter.” (Surah at-Tauba:81)
6- You’re a dimwit / brainwashed.
Seriously? Just because I choose to cover up? Actually, I’m a bookworm. Over the years, I’ve been among the toppers in every curricular and co-curricular activity I’ve ventured in. I am a double gold medalist in my post-graduate Science degree from the top university of Pakistan (And I say that in all humility and gratitude, Alhamdolillah, masha Allah). I’ve been trying to study and research the Quran and Hadith in depth too. I act based upon my own convictions. I’m not brainwashed by any patriarchal sources.
You need to bring forth logic and proof instead of hollow cliches and shallow labels, similar to the ones thrown at each other on some Pakistani talk shows.
7- Your life must be boring and restricted.
Hahaha! Some of the things I’ve been learning and having fun with (with my Hijab on) include cycling, dune-bashing, fishing, jet-skiing, yachting, camping, rifle shooting and hiking. I love to explore and travel across the length and breadth of Pakistan, as well as other countries. The hijab doesn’t restrict me from having the time of my life.
8- You won’t get a good proposal.
Oh well, I don’t have a handsome hunk of a husband to whack this myth away (yet). But open your eyes and look around. Are all the non-hijabis happily married? And are all the hijabis sitting and moping, forever alone?
You know what the funniest part is: Meanwhile in Mars, the poor bearded Martians are being spooked by the same myth: You won’t get a good proposal.
This post would actually be funny if it wasn’t sad. It’s really sad to see how we create stereotypes, generalize and make assumptions. Having been at the receiving end of these and other nonsensical myths, I can truly empathize with what our non-hijabi sisters have to hear from some quarters too.
So the final point is: Do not judge a girl by her cover (or lack of it!).