Maria Akbar argues that those Muslim women who remove the hijab are showing weakness in their faith, character, and perception of themselves.
When you think of the word hijab, the first thing that comes to mind is the physical head covering that Muslim women wear over their heads. But as Muslims we know the term “hijab” refers to far more than just this and is in fact both physical and spiritual in nature.
Nevertheless, for the purposes of this article we will focus on the physical head scarf.
Whether it’s all the major news outlets reporting on a group of Muslim girls removing their hijab, or other women fighting to wear their hijab, or even Muslim girls on social media platforms removing their hijab, the topic of hijab is always up for discussion.
But the question needs to be asked why we give space for others to influence how we feel about the hijab as Muslims. The truth is the truth regardless of who stands for it or against it.
Allah SWT prescribed hijab as part of our shari’ah, and therefore regardless of what anyone says or does, there is wisdom and perfection in that.
The removal of hijab is portrayed as freedom, choice, liberation and ultimately that masculine quality – strength. The hijab is seen to restrict, suppress and oppress a woman’s personality and beauty. Women who remove their hijab often describe themselves as strong for being able to do so. To change the narrative. I beg to differ.
Hijab is strength
As a Muslim woman who has worn hijab for all her life, I can tell you what it really is. In my opinion the removal of hijab is in fact weakness. Weakness first and foremost in one’s faith, weakness in one’s character to allow people who have no real understanding of your religion or culture to influence you to such a degree. And weakness in your own perception of yourself such that you would allow others to limit you to your physical appearance.
You only need to observe the transition in personalities upon removal of the hijab.
Muslim women who would previously carry themselves in a modest, dignified manner, unravel to become consumed by unrealistic beauty standards, wearing more make-up day by the day, changing their facial features using methods such as botox and lip fillers. The removal of the hijab is just the first piece in a domino of enslavement to unrealistic and unattainable beauty standards.
I feel the removal of the hijab by women has a deeper cause. There’s no denying that societies have transitioned over generations; women were dependant on men as their bread winners, and were predominantly the home makers and had nurturing, uncompetitive, and passive qualities. Women of the older generations were far more feminine.
But over time, roles have transitioned where women are no longer reliant on men; they are more independent than ever before. They strive for the same things as men and want to be viewed as equal to men. They are confident, decisive and competitive in personality. In my view, women have started behaving like men and in pursuit of this have become inadvisable and sadly egotistical to some degree.
As it stands, due to the advent of social media, women are becoming easily influenced by others rightly or wrongly. Due to the changes in personality traits that have crept in, it has become difficult to advise fellow women and correct them. They have a very much blasé attitude. Sadly, they no longer really know how to behave like women.
Women today do not see the value in a woman who is viewed as a pearl, a gemstone, too beautiful to be on display for the world. But to me that is crazy as who wouldn’t want to be viewed as a precious stone or pearl? A feminine woman certainly would. The hijab makes me feel like this.
I will never compromise on hijab
To me, a working mum of two, living in a predominantly white society, hijab is not something I would ever compromise on. My hijab is first and foremost my identity as a Muslim; when a person views me, they know I’m a Muslim. And I love that, it makes me feel proud.
Secondly, it’s a reminder to me throughout my day when I am out and about that I am being viewed as a Muslim so it keeps me in check and God-conscious to some degree.
Thirdly, it is an example to my daughter, my nieces, and others around me. That is, you can achieve everything that anyone who doesn’t wear hijab can. My hijab has never restricted any aspect of my life. Specifically not my studies or opportunities, not where I travel, neither whom I connect with.
It wasn’t my physical outer that got me anywhere in life; it was my inner state, my personality, my strength as a Muslim, my God-consciousness, my etiquettes and mannerisms.
These are the qualities that will get you far in life. Not how much make-up you have on or how much hair that you have on show.
Ultimately, hijab gives one honour, dignity and strength.