Sunday, December 4

Hijabis Are Human Too

"I always find it surprising when I go to these things and see a girl in a hijab standing on a chair waving her hands at the artist on stage" a friend was telling us last night at dinner. We were discussing the next day's "Global Peace" event and exchanging past experiences of similar things.

"Why? I think it's great. What's the problem?" I asked.

"Well, you know, you see a girl in hijab and assume she's modest. And then she goes acting in a way that doesn't befit the hijab... It's wrong."

"But a girl wearing hijab is normal too right? The fact that she doesn't let the hijab define her should be applauded, not criticised. Erm. Right? And you shouldn't really be assuming anything about anyone, let alone a girl with a hijab..."

At this point I got shouted down by the rest of the table, which at that time consisted of another guy and two girls (who happened to be wearing hijabs at the time).

Ok, now I know that it might be a bit of an unconventional stance, this one of mine above. I dunno, maybe I know what it's like to have people assume things about your character and lifestyle based on a narrow view of how "religious" you appear - I've had comments thrown at me in the past regarding how I am able to, say, reconcile the fact that I pray with the company I keep.

Sounds crazy, right? And yet we're willing to do the same for a girl in a hijab at a concert. The fact that we interrupted a freely mixed dinner to pray Esha salaat shows how hypocritical the comments made above were. Sure, it's better for a girl not to go crazy at a concert; I have no disagreement with that. But that doesn't mean it's necessarily worse for a girl to wear a hijab while doing so.

One of the things that puzzles me often is how some people claim that they don't pray, or don't wear the hijab, or haven't been on Hajj because they're "not religious enough". For me, it's a bit of a circular argument. You don't practise enough to practise? If you think you're leading an incorrect lifestyle (and I'm not saying anyone is), then surely that's a reason to add, however slowly, elements to that lifestyle that would correct it, even if that's just a bit?

We should stop seeing girls with hijabs (or guys with beards, or any other prejudice we keep) "going wild" and instead see someone going wild while also wearing a hijab. The difference is subtle, but it's there. I mean, surely the fact that she's wearing a hijab at all is a good thing?


  1. If there is anything i have learnt from you, it's the concept of not shoving people into boxes; and rightly so.

    I think its incredibly easy to judge people and expect them to behave in a certain way,especially based on things like outward appearance, the way a person dresses etc. Im not gona deny that i've probably done it myself before, but sure i try my best not too. Actually why do we do it? To make ourselves feel better? to be self-righteous? I dunno..

  2. yep totally. hijabis are human too.

  3. leh

    what sillyness

    when you wear hijaab, you put that restriction on yourself, to act a certain way..

    and hijaab is not just a certain dress or a colourful scarf on your head, its the way you carry yourself entirely

    .. yes with modesty.. i.e. not jumping on chairs, not raising your voice yada yada

    im not saying im not guilty of these things, no one is perfect, and yes we;re all human

    it seems worse for a hijaabi to be screaming and shouting at a concert, cos you can only assume that by wearing a physical hijaab, she understands and practises the responsibilities the hijaab brings :)

    I went to global unity thing yesterday, cant say i was overly impressed, women are just flipping mental!!!

  4. LOL! i heard the same thing, apparently the girls went mad! but it was supposed to have been really good, massive turn-out, good speakers, zain bhika, dr naik etc... shame i missed it, really wanted to go.

  5. dammit couldnt help myself..

    >>it seems worse for a hijaabi to be screaming and shouting at a concert, cos you can only assume that by wearing a physical hijaab, she understands and practises the responsibilities the hijaab brings :)

    ok..well said etc etc. does that mean whoeevr decides to wear the hijab must conform to other peoples expectations of what the hijab signifies? does it mean they should stop being "themselves" and adopt a visible persona that meeets other people's expectations of a hijabi? isnt that fake? is that what Islam is supposed to teach us, i wonder? and if taht is the case, would you have women NOT wear the hijab rather than wear it but not meet certain "criteria"? so i mean whats the point of wearing one at all cos can we ever be "perfect" muslims?

    i myself understand that this is one of those highly sensitive, extremely personal for hijabis in general, and controversial at the best of times debates' but my personal opinion is that that people should be applauded for makng the effort and takign a small step rather than, in this case, waiting to be purified and plain sail2heaven.

    i agree wearing a hijab does make a statement and whislt i thnk one shouldnt forget their religious obligations to observe it with respect i also believe theyre entitled to do what they want at the end of the day. its their life. and like shak wrote somewhere , its easy for us to jugde somene or presume something about another based on what you see or hear, but thats absolutely no excuse - and its not nice either.

  6. From a non-muslim p.o.v. the expectation of a woman wearing a hijab is supposed to be modesty. And an important point here is that it's the hijabi herself who has set that expectation by wearing the scarf. The responsibilities of wearing a headscarf, she knows, come with that burden of expectation and she, no doubt, also knows that she will be judged more harshly than non-hijabis- with a more stringent scale. But as I stated, she knows the score, she has set the expectation and it's now up to her to uphold her "modesty" (once again a relative term) and not draw attention to herself. How the woman actually chooses to behave is of course her perogative completely as she has all the free-will in the world. But what's the point of making a statement of modesty and then being immodest and quashing the expectations you have set? Isn't that hypocritical and a contradiction in terms. If acting a certain way defeats the purpose of wearing a hijab then either a) don't wear it or b) wear it and accept that the way you behaved was improper with respect to the expectations you yourself have set.

    One proviso- this is an outsider's point of view- please feel free to educate me if I have my facts/assumptions incorrect.

  7. were any of these girls fit?

  8. "If you think you're leading an incorrect lifestyle (and I'm not saying anyone is), then surely that's a reason to add, however slowly, elements to that lifestyle that would correct it, even if that's just a bit?"

    Completely agree. The Qur'an was revealed over a process of 23 years, because the people had to be weaned off their past habits and traditions. In the same way individuals have to wean themselves of their past unislamic habits and this can take years. It's a personal process (because 'actions are but by intentions') and negative or pompus remarks from others is just off-putting.

    I think to look down or judge a person in the way you described above, one really has to think highly of him/herself and there are few people who can claim innocence of all evil.

    It's a case of respecting a persons space and choice. Religion begins as something personal and only when its foundations (in the personal sphere) are sturdy, can any benefit be brought about to the outer circle.

    Rohit, you're comments are really insightful I have to admit. It's good to hear the 'outsiders p.o.v'. I do think your stance a little harsh though.

    The hijab comes with responsibility, but hijabies are human and falter sometimes. It's not because they intend to be immodest that they go loopy at concerts, it's just an expression of excitement. In time they may learn to handle or contain that excitement, maybe not. It doesn't make them a "bad muslim" or hypocrite. A person who acts pious and modest for the praise of others is worse off.

    The hijab is a sign of belief and then it is to prevent harassment from men.It wards off unwanted attention "She's a muslim, so she wont go out with me if I ask" kind of logic.

    No matter how loopy a hijabi gets at a concert, she will as a result of her hijab, get less attention than the non-hijabi-loopy-Muslimah. The hijab and the modest persona are 2 aspects of the whole. One should come with the other, but each alone are partially effective.

    Let's not forget that there are women out there that don't wear the hijab but avoid unwanted male attention by their modest manners,too. They're hijab-less, but not any less Muslim and maybe better in peity.

    It's really not for us to judge. We can only advise if it's necessary:

    " not say to one who gives you (salaam), “You are not a believer,”... You (yourselves) were like that before; then Allah conferred His favor (guidance) upon you..."

    “Verily the example of myself, you and this Bedouin is that of a man who had his camel run away. The townspeople tried capturing the camel for him by running and shouting after the camel, only driving it further away. The man would shout, ‘Leave me and my camel, I know my camel better.’ Then he took some grass in his hand, ruffled it in front of the camel, until it came willingly.

    ‘By Allah, had I left you to this Bedouin, you would have hit him, hurt him, he would have left without Islam and eventually have entered hellfire.”

    Good deeds and bad deeds will be brought to account at a specific time.

    I like the positive-see-the-good-in-everyone stance. *Pat on the back Shak*.

  9. I agree with you. best to not go wild, but better with a hijab than not