Muslim social media star Amena Khan, who became famous from giving hijab tutorials and selling headscarves, has publicly announced her removal of the obligatory Islamic head covering.
The hijab (head covering garment) is compulsory for women according to all Islamic schools of thought.
But in an online video published last week Khan, who was L’Oreal’s first model to wear the hijab, said she is not a religious figure and the decision was a deeply personal one.
She said: “A couple of days ago I stopped wearing my headscarf and I feel like the incongruity of me not wearing it in my personal life and then putting it on in my videos, it didn’t feel right. It’s not good for you and it’s not good for me, for my sanity.”
She went on to say that her decision to wear the hijab at the age of 22 was a spur of the moment choice which surprised those around her, and her decision to take it off now is also a spur of the moment choice which has surprised people.
Khan added that her social media content has not focused uniquely on the hijab but has included several other areas of interest.
“I wore the hijab for as long as I did because it was my choice and I never felt oppressed by it,” she said.
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“I never felt that I was not being myself, I fully embraced it… you should strive in your life to be and to pursue what your heart wants and don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise because my hijab did not hold me back…nobody forced me to wear it and nobody forced me to take it off… your goodness and religiosity can’t be judged by external things … I have always been an advocate for women being able to choose what they do with what we want with our bodies.”
Regarding her hijab and “modest fashion” business Pearl Daisy, she said she would continue with that as long “as customers want it” because she doesn’t feel as though she needs to wear a garment to sell it.
Khan’s decision has provoked much online comment about the trend of Muslim celebrities becoming more mainstream once they achieve a certain level of fame and wealth from the community.
In 2018, Khan also caused controversy by apologising for criticising Israel in a series of tweets.
She was forced to step down as a L’Oreal model over the tweets which she said she “deeply regrets.” The tweets described Israel as an “illegal state” and another branded Israel a “child murderer.”
In a statement posted on Twitter, Khan said: “I deeply regret the content of the tweets I made in 2014, and sincerely apologise for the upset and hurt that they have caused. Championing diversity is one of my passions, I don’t discriminate against anyone. I have chosen to delete them as they do not represent the message of harmony that I stand for.”
L’Oreal is on the list of companies that the anti-Israel BDS movement recommends to boycott.