I was born in a Muslim household, got educated in an Islamic school, and then went to a minority institution. I have known so many Muslim girls and women in my life and I’ve noticed that most of them choose to wear hijab. Interestingly, through my own understanding of feminism, I’d say that most of them, and by most I mean almost every one of them, is a feminist.
When I was in the eleventh standard I had career anxiety which led to mental unrest. To cope this, I started reading about Islam as an escape from the pessimism that was taking over me. Soon thereafter, I started wearing hijab.
When I entered law school, I had a really hard time blending in. But I was always certain of one thing – I did not want to lose my identity for a degree, an identity that I chose for myself. People called that extreme, they still do, but then it’s my life at the end of the day, isn’t it?
I do not judge people for having different choices than me then why should others judge me for following my faith?
In this journey of self-pity to self-realisation, I have encountered a lot of questions. Some uncomfortable, some out of curiosity, and then others just out of prejudice and hate. To any woman who is asked questions for the choices they make, you know how hard it is, don’t you? Having that burden of being judged with just one slip of tongue or one moment of absence of mind.
Later on in life, which is quite recently, I decided to stop articulating those ‘perfect’ replies with the most ‘perfect’ smile for the most prejudiced people.
Today, I decided to compile all the possible reasons for me to wear hijab. Some will make sense to you and some will not. But then again – to each their own, right?
I am a woman of faith and my Lord commands me to cover my hair and body. That’s an enough reason for me to adopt hijab and that was actually the basic reason behind me adopting the hijab at the very first place.
Also read: The Quran Prescribes Hijab For Men, But Of Course We Only Focus On Women
Also, I do not understand why many millennial see it to be a bad thing to be a person of faith. As long as my faith is not hurting your beliefs and it makes me happy, why do you care? After all, at the end of the day it’s a short life and we all are searching for peace of mind. I do not judge people for having different choices than me then why should others judge me for following my faith?
Comfort and Minimalism
Second most important – comfort. Yes, you read it right. It’s the most precious comfort. So let me break this to you. I have some 4 daily wearable burqas, one faded burqa that I hardly wear now and planning to recycle and one burqa that my mother forced me to buy (there is no escape from that). I do occasionally shift to other outfits too when forced but burqas are great when it comes to comfort.
They are dark in colour, easy to wash, easy to iron and very comfortable to wear. And yes, to make this clearer, burqa is a South Asian term and does not have any Quranic reference, it’s just a dress preferred by Muslim women as it serves the purpose of hijab more aptly. And yes, wearing burqa is also a great way to be a minimalist and to avoid wastage of money and cloth. And for a lazy, non-capitalist, and middle-class person like me, it’s pure bliss.
Resistance, Identity And Being A Communitarian
Now coming to a serious reason – Resistance. So I got a lot of backlash from my family, relatives (they are never happy) and society in general for choosing to wear hijab. There were people who kept telling me how it will make my life difficult as a student and as an upcoming lawyer. And then there were people who kept teaching me how the idea in itself is sinister and against ‘modern’ society. I wonder if by becoming a ‘modern’ society we have not yet become a society which is inclusive of the choices that women make then we really need to relook at our definition of modernism.
Whether it’s my burqa or someone’s skirt, to question attire that we choose puts a bar on our freedom.
In my experience, I have witnessed a society which is trying to make clones out of people. Some particular accents, a particular language, a particular style of dressing, and a particular set of thoughts are what I find blooming everywhere. My decision of wearing hijab in that office filled with Islamophobes is my act of resistance.
In a country where my community is a minority and one person of my community is lynched almost daily, my decision to wear hijab and get identified as a Muslim is not only an act of resistance but an act of sheer bravery. My decision of wearing hijab is in solidarity with the women of my community who decide to wear hijab and face uncomfortable questions daily. My decision of wearing hijab is an act of resistance at its core.
Women of the world, Unite
To the people who are reading, particularly the women, I urge you to be less prejudiced. All of us should learn to have empathy towards each other. Whether it’s my burqa or someone’s skirt, to question attire that we choose puts a bar on our freedom. The never ending debate and arguments on what women should wear and putting label on everything is a universal norm.
‘Oppression’, I believe, comes in many shades. It is oppression when we ask women to act in a certain manner or dress in a certain way. Whether it’s forcing us to wear something or asking us to stop wearing something, it is oppression either way. I do not identify ‘liberation’ with the length of a dress. For me, liberation is covering my body in resonance with my beliefs and my comfort.
It is crucial to understand that decisions are based on subjectivity and the reason for a woman to wear something can completely differ from that of another woman. As women, I believe we should more often talk about things that we share in common rather than focusing on our differences. We should come together in solidarity with each other which is the only way to survive and rise in this patriarchal world.
Also read: Meeting Societal Expectations Of Right And Wrong With “Hijab”
Let’s not fail each other, as women and fellow humans. I do not need your pity, I need your warmth – just like you need mine. And yes, sometimes I just wish to be invisible in a metro or in a crowded mall and not be stared at for who I choose to be.
Featured Image Source: Al Jazeera
The hijab isn’t a choice for most muslim women living in countrys governed by Sharia law. The quran states that women ought to veil themselves completely and is only allowed to reveal herself to her family and husband.
“As long as my faith is not hurting your beliefs and it makes me happy, why do you care?”
Thats rich, coming from a person believes in a religion that stones women to death for dressing improperly and states that women from other religions are halal for muslim men to have sex with.
Not women of other religion but it says that you can marry( nd marriage is more than just s** ) the christisn nd the jews nd there are certain conditions for polygamy and it is better than cheating your partners and divorces which destroys the lives of poor children . And also there is no punishment like stoning women for dressing unappropriately….
Ok! Letus just please wait here. I am kinda infuriated and taking out time from a busy schedule to make this long comment!
Firstly, lets please stop making hijab and burqa an answer to growing fashion trends that mislead youth or promote capitalist consumer culture. The kind of fancy abaya and burqa’s i have seen in market and all that hijab fashion that is coming up.. totally fails this argument. Plus one never ever wore hijab in history because rest of the world is capitalist. if you are so worried about capitalist consumer fashion culture that pressurizes women, then you can roam around in a khadi saree or salwar kameez or a kurta or whatever like Medha patkar does (for example) .. wearind a burqa is no justification.
Secondly, Feminism has stood against religious traditions and practice, by wearing a hijab you are considering yourself unequal in the first place…and yes clothes matter it matter because there is a sexist reason behind asking to cover up yourself! even if your ‘Lord” asked you to…(seriously i question your lord too)
Thirdly, what oppression are you talking about and what choice! you cannot speak on behalf of millions of women who are forced to wear burqa, who cannot venture out of their homes, who are not sent to colleges, In my city their idea of hanging out is going to the hospital, because that is the only place they are allowed to go!
so stop your liberated non sense. Burqa sucks big time…. wear it, but please don’t expect me to consider yourself a feminist because you are dragging this age old custom coerced on women in the first place!
I reckon from where did you got to know the evolution of feminism….feminism stood against the inequality whether in politics and in society.Questioning to yourself is much wiser than questioning a lord, don’t you think promoting an idea of unveiling your body is a “lewd”remark;how righteous is he(my lord)that he is egalitarian(he asked both the genders to cover and judge themselves only by their actions and conduct).Now when you have dragged the freedom in a nutshell than i wonder in which city you reside and if your are well aware of the restriction imposed on women then you might have come to know that there are women who cannot have food of their choices, won’t you?you as a stakeholder of feminism haven’t counted it yet..one can easily say on the behalf of millions women living across the world as 1.8 billions of people of Islamic belief and second largest practising religion had never witnessed a revolt against wearing ” burqa”, i could easily understand how it would have sucked you;why they have accepted it willing ..broadly speaking, coming out of one’s comfort zone and speaking publicly against malicious comments is the choice made by dissenters only…thank you
Agreeing to your point that women are forced at times to wear burqa my friend has in her article highlighted this fact that she wore it by choice and this makes the difference. And yasss wearing burqa or hijab is not at all about considering oneself unequal
Well phrased article… Heartfelt words.. Beautifully put together ❤
*Wearing Burqa or Hijab is as normal as wearing skirt or Bindi!*
I am glad that I know a person like you who has the ability to see things beyond every prejudice. I have always praised you for your honesty. Only after talking to you, I could understand that following one’s own faith firmly is not an oppression but an act of bravery in itself. Way to go Nabeela! Influence people with that charm! ❤⭐?
Let anyone think what they wish to. People will take time to accept an empowered Burqa wearing lady. It is completely your opinion and I understand your justification for your beliefs. Just like a woman is not to be judged for exposing her skin likewise a woman who willfully covers herself doesn’t require any validation from anyone.
I believe that being able to make your choices and living with it is the true sense of empowerment!
This article shows what’s wrong with “choice feminism”. Women aren’t liberated just because they “choose” something. The question is whether your choice is one that questions existing power structures, or one that further entrenches it. I don’t understand how following a highly sexist practice can liberate you, just because you chose it yourself. My question here is – how can a liberated woman not question the reasoning behind the burqa?
You make the argument of showing solidarity to Muslims by wearing hijab – sorry to say that it’s quite superficial. I’m sure solidarity can be shown in many other ways (speaking up, supporting victims of lynching etc), instead of following a highly regressive practice just to assert your identity as a Muslim.
It’s a matter of choice, there can be many other ways, but the way, the writer of the article chose to resist sexism is bothering you. Naturally you dis approves her way, for which you are free, the way the writer is free.
I don’t think the writer will have any objection if you place your writeup supporting stripping in public
Oh, so the opposite of wearing a burqa is stripping, is it? In your view, anyone who doesn’t wear burqa must be a loose woman. Your response clearly shows why wearing burqa is an oppressive custom. Thanks for illustrating this point better than I did.
And please do illuminate me on how she is ‘resisting sexism’ by wearing burqa. If you cannot respond to a comment logically, it would be better not to react with such laughable comments.
Read these articles to understand the other side of this story
Arab women before and after Islam: Opening the door of pre-Islamic Arabian history
Women, the Inferior Species in Islam
Divorce in Islam – A Comedy of Errors
Wow! This IS rich! Choosing ‘hijab’! ‘Muslim’ feminist!
Lady, you can choose to wear what you want. But what you believe and write is utter garbage.
You wear Hijab, Burqa, Bindi, Skirt, lingerie – your business. But defining feminism as ‘choosing to wear hijab’! There IS nothing such as ‘Muslim feminism’. In Islam, a woman counts, AT BEST, half as much as a man. There is NO argument there. Go read Quran and Hadith in a language you understand. Then come and talk. We can have a discussion, then. How does accepting and tomtomming what your religion requires, count as feminism; while being a feminist necessarily requires you to consider women and men as equal in principle.
You are being Muslim. Yes.
You are being a woman. Yes.
You are fighting for your right to dress as you please. Yes.
You are being emotional. Yes.
But you are not making a feminist argument. By no stretch of imagination. Almost all women manage to wear what they want, OR, manage to want what they have to wear, almost all the time. They are not all feminists, are they? Or perhaps, being feminine equals being feminist for you.
In fact, ‘Feminist Muslim’ is a contradiction in terms. Since Islam does not want its women to be feminist. You can be either one, or the other.
I was born in a Muslim household. And I am now an atheist. Does that make me a “Muslim atheist”?
I was born in a Muslim household. And I am gay. Am I a “Gay Muslim Man”, or will I be that only when I choose to not have gay sex at all, as your “Lord commands me”?
Further, you raise the bogie of Islamophobia. There IS no such thing as Islamophobia. A ‘phobia’ is an IRRATIONAL fear. Look at the 1400 years of the existence of Islam. Whenever and wherever Islam has ruled (as opposed to mere Muslims ruling) neither non-Muslims, nor Muslims-of-different-type than the ruling dispensation have ever been safe. While you read the law, also read the blood-soaked history of Islam. Do that, and then we can have another discussion. Yes, there is a case to be made about a possible ‘Muslimophobia’. But ‘IslamoPHOBIA’, no way, Madam, almost everyone who fears Islam, rationally fears it. This little passage above has already made me guilty of Islamic Capital Punishment FOUR times over: on accounts of Homosexuality, Apostasy, Blasphemy and of course, Adultery. You plan on telling me that after writing it I would be IRRATIONALLY afraid of Islam, if living in an Islamic country?
My strongest condemnation, however, is reserved for your statement, “In a country where my community is a minority and one person of my community is lynched almost daily”. If you are that unhappy in my country, please leave. Your and my elders have already taken our share of our motherland and screwed it up. Our Hindu brethren have allowed us to stay in India. That is their largeheartedness. Please do not abuse that. And, most of all, do not fuck it up for those of us who value our India over your Islam.
And if you still want to stay in our India, please allow it to remain ours. Yes, there are lynchings. But why do they happen? They happen because of people like you who justify Islam, no matter what Islam does and has done to innocent non-Muslims and Muslims around the World, for the last 1400 years.
Let’s do it by numbers, shall we? In India, there are 1.2 Billion non-Muslims. In the world, there are 1.8 Billion Muslims. In India, in all of last year, 18 Muslims have lost their lives in lynchings (1 Alwar, 2 Assam, 4 Ballabhgarh, 2 Assam, 4 Jharkhand, 3 Islampur, 1 Jharkhan, 1 Alwar) as per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cow_vigilante_violence_in_India_since_2014. This is not to say that this is excusable, but let us compare with non-Muslims and Muslims dying at the hands of Muslims.
By simple calculation, there should have been 27 or lesser killings by Islamists in similar hate incidents, in 2017. I have no patience with those huge numbers, but in one single incident 29 Christians were killed in Egypt on May 26th, 2017: https://edition.cnn.com/2017/05/27/middleeast/egypt-shooting-coptic-christians-isis-claim/index.html . Beginning the VERY same date, about 10 times that number was killed by the same agency, ISIS: https://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/08/middleeast/isis-mosul-mass-murders/index.html .
So, for your own God’s sake, please do not denigrate my country in order to justify your Islam, for then people like me will have to start counting off what exactly Islam does and has done, and why there is no irrationality in fearing Islam, like (at a much lower level) there is no irrationality in fearing the strange India that Modi is in the process of making.
First Of ALL Just Understand What she is Trying to say.. Author says “let women Wear what ever They want Dont be A judgemental”
Since She faced Lots Of backlash among her peers she ASKS everyone ALL Around To shut And Leave her alone..
What wrong being a Muslim atheist (Not all Feminists are Atheist And Its Not a sin To follow a religious practise or not
The Author HAS faith In God So she is Free To do What she Wants Unless It affects You Personally …
Feminism Is not A Gender Male/Female Feminism IS for All .. feminism encourages to pursue everyone What They really love And asks Other retards To stop being Judgmental Since Its Not their Life Nor It doesn’t after them In anyways…
Yes Islamic Country Do impose Rules on wearing hijabs … If you want to change those Rule You can Go there take a lead and Fight for Women Who doesn’t like to were hijab …
LET WOMEN DO WHAT THEY WANT AND STOP BEING JUDGMENTAL
Do you eat same food 365 days a year then why wear a same clothes 365 days a year. I think you are curtailing your choices in the name of Islam. Btw, i would like to see how you defend other opressive practices of Islam such as – ‘halala’, ‘polygamy’, ‘triple talaq’ and etc.
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