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It’s Not About The Headscarf

Written By: Elyse Keelani*

Why is a Muslim woman’s worth symbolized by a headscarf** or the lack thereof?

In Western societies, the lack of a headscarf makes a Muslim woman blend into secular society; whether or not she’s a practicing Muslim is less important. Usually, as long as she looks the part, she is accepted. A lack of a headscarf in the eyes of the West means that she is not oppressed, and that she has found freedom.

its not about the headscarf

However, the West fails to see that their own society confines women also, and that women are treated simply as objects. If a woman wears a bikini on the beach, she’s fine. If a woman wears a bikini on the street, she’s deemed “loose”. If a woman of the right body-type wears a low-cut top, she is seen as sexy; If a heavy woman does the same, she is trashy. There are so many rules to follow, it’s hard to keep up.

“Do I look confident or self-absorbed?” “Do I look strong or do I look overbearing?” “Do I look sexy or do I look slutty?” The lines are drawn according to a woman’s race, body type, socio-economic status, etc. Then a woman might find that the lines are drawn differently in some Western countries, or in some areas of Western countries.

The worth of a woman is often narrowed down to fabric, but that worth was taken away long before anyone saw how she was dressed. Being “Jane” means less opportunity in life, less pay, more risk of being a victim of violence, etc.

Clothing is simply a symbol of how well a woman is fitting into the society that already oppresses her.

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The Many Shades of Modesty

Written by Gracie Lawrence

I see you’re wearing pants today. Good for you. I chose to jazz things up with a shirt and a headscarf to boot. Too much you say?

Modesty means many things

Let’s be honest here, a whopping majority of us (Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Agnostic, or otherwise) do believe in some form of modesty–of course there are those outliers who believe in nothing at all–but I think most of us would agree that those conditions are not always very sanitary.

You don't quilt in the nude? YOU'RE THE PRUDE!
You don’t quilt in the nude?
YOU’RE THE PRUDE!

We women are especially notorious for scrutinizing one another and making harsh judgments, while men generally get a pass from our scrutiny.

Is that dress too low cut for her age? Does she have the body to pull off that outfit?  How can she wear that at a funeral/wedding? … 

Usually, to men, the more naked a woman-the better. Few from this gender do protest from seeing too much. And to those that are on the opposite side of the isle exclaiming that our covering isn’t enough–it isn’t like you will ever stop looking at us regardless of what we wear–lower your gaze, brother. There is no need to call the Haram Police.

While the judgments made between women can be harsh, it is in these critical comments where we decide where we want to draw our own personal modesty line–which helps us decide what amount of coverage makes us feel comfortable ourselves and in the company we keep.

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Top 5 Reasons to Wear a Scarf on World Hijab Day

Top 5 Reasons to Wear a Scarf on World Hijab Day

Written by Gracie Lawrence

In honor of World Hijab Day, coming up this February 1st, I thought it might be fun to list a few reasons why someone might want to participate in this event. (click the link to read all about it and read the experiences of others who have participated in the past.)

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Hijab is a word many Muslims (people who follow the Islamic religion) use when referring the scarf and modest clothing Muslim women wear in religious observance. The goal of hijab is to achieve a modest appearance and let any potential hungry eyes that like to scan the female form know “that this … ain’t happening”.

Actually, there are many reasons Muslim women might wear the hijab, and whether cultural or spiritual, World Hijab Day is a nice opportunity to show a little solidarity with your neighborhood Muslim female who sometimes has to go through a great number of obstacles to continue wearing a symbol she sees as important to herself, to her religion and to her identity.

For a more in depth review on hijab see Hijabology.

Now … introducing … the top 5 reasons to wear a scarf on February 1st: World Hijab Day!

Backpacker-insurance

5. To Increase Your Cultural Cred

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What Makes Being a Muslim Woman Hard in the West?

Written by Gracie Lawrence

There are tons of scholarly articles that explain the Islamic stance of women- so I am not going to go into that in depth. However, as the internet is also filled with information intent on making Islam look crazy, thanks to some very dedicated groups, here are some more reliable sources for those who are interested in the woman’s role in Islam.

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But in a nutshell, for those who do not know or have the time to research into the above links, here’s a clue:

And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women. (Quran 2:228)

Yes, there is a lot in Islam that is about rights between family members (husband/wife/kids), neighbors, business partners, and even between me and you, dear reader. But those “rules” are not what makes being a Muslim woman hard, it is what restores the balance to a system that can be overrun with those who sometime take too much or sacrifice more than they should.

But having a relationship can be difficult, especially when one party is thought of as just a stereotype. And the predominate stereotype that I see about me and other fellow converts- is that we are backwards.

And how do I know that there are many with this belief? Because campaigns like this have to be launched: Not ‘Brainwashed’

For those who absolutely insist that I am backwards because I chose Islam for my life – I doubt I will do much to change your mind if your identity and confidence is built on the misconception that 1. I am oppressed. 2. I am an idiot 3. This poor oppressed idiot of a woman needs saving.

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Just a Peek, Please?

Written by Janet Kozak

In January 2015, Artist Ameena Khan put a call out to some Muslim women. She asked for art contributions to her newest series of paintings entitled “Just a Peek, Please?” Those who replied to her inquiry were asked to give a personal statement they wanted to share with a stranger.

Khan did not give any guidance other than asking them to be honest. What the women sent back were stories, memories, poems, and confessions.

Khan also asked those who wore hijab to donate a scarf that she could use in the work. It was bold choice that makes the art all the more powerful. Knowing that the included scarves belonged to (and were worn by) real women, helps us connect more to both the art and story. The series of 26 mixed media paintings on 12″x12″ canvases was started and completed in 2015 – though Khan began brainstorming the concept about two years prior.

One of the 26 paintings and poems in the series, Stages of Live, depicts the poignant narrative life story of a woman who is proud to both wear hijab in life and be buried in it as well.

Stages of Life, 2015. Image copyright Ameena Khan
Stages of Life, 2015. Image copyright Ameena Khan

When I donned the hijab in 1980, covering was like a carefully placed bandage over a deep wound. Since then I have covered at work, at school, while nursing my babies, through chemotherapy and radiation, and past hostile stares. In the end, when I return to Allah (SWT) my sisters in Islam will cover me in finality and with love. I live, and die, under this cover of honor.”

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I Wore Hijab Before I Was Muslim

Written by Kaighla Um Dayo

I wore hijab before I was Muslim. And I’m not the only one. 

hijab_painting

It turns out this is a thing. So much a thing, actually, that there are many women from many faiths coming forward proclaiming their love for hijab.

Here you can read about just one example of a woman who is not Muslim but chooses, of her own accord, to dress in ways that give the impression she is Muslim.

There is an entire movement of women both religious and non-religious who have begun covering their hair. You can learn more about them here, at Wrapunzel. Read more

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5 (More) Questions about Islam & Other Things

Q’s A-ed by Theresa Corbin

The need for answers is huge, as I discovered from last week’s Q&A post and from life in general.

So here are 5 more of your burning questions about Islam- and more- answered to the best of my ability.

Q and A 2

Q1: Why are there so many different opinions on whether it is OK or not allowed for a husband to beat his wife?

A1: When thinking about subject matter of such importance, you have to wonder whether people are allowing their inner most desires to influence there verdicts rather that the truth. To be sure, the opinions of modern day imams are not being influenced by their desire, we need to go back to what the early scholars of Islam took as the Prophet’s Muhammad’s (Peace be upon him) meaning.

Taking into account that the Prophet (PBUH) never hit any woman, expressly forbade people to do so, and that the verse stating it is allowed can be translated very differently; any sane person can come to the conclusion that beating one’s wife is forbidden. Read more