By Zeynep Celik
Hijab; what the modernist sees as a tool of self-imposed religious piety and what the islamophobe claims to be a tool in the degradation of women. Although the contrast of these perceptions is quite stark, and despite supposedly being rooted in “good intentions” , these approaches ultimately lead to the same outcome: the alienation of women who wear hijab. Of course islamophobes already distance themselves from any visibly Muslim women, but our fellow Muslims who may not practice full hijab follow suit too when they place hijabis on a pedestal of religious piety where we become the feared religious “conservatives” who will criticize your every move.
The hijabi makes life harder for herself by wearing the headscarf, there is no doubt about this. But they enter this state knowledgeably
This alienation of hijabis as the nagging conservatives is simply unfair. Wearers of the headscarf are not afraid to carry their religion with them daily, but they are still imperfect human beings and obviously do not need to be treated like saints. However, this should never be interpreted as an embracement of imperfections. As Muslims we are encouraged by the Prophet Muhammad (saws) to cover up the shortcoming of our fellow Muslims, and to not make our own faults too visible once we realize our mistakes. If you are at fault with your practice or non-practice of hijab then you should work to resolve your problems without making any comparisons to others, or worse, accepting defeat and saying “this is who I am”.
The hijabi makes life harder for herself by wearing the headscarf, there is no doubt about this. But they enter this state knowledgeably. They know hijab is a requirement upon all Muslim women. They do not wear the scarf for you, nor for their parents, nor for their husband, nor for any political cause, but for Allah (swt) alone. If the EU-style ban on headscarves were to be forcefully enacted by every country on Earth, you will still have women who refuse to compromise their faith for a mundane existence as a humble servant abiding to the system rather than to Allah (swt).
Challengers to the faith have existed since the beginning, during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (saws), and they will persist until the end of time. As the Prophet Muhammad (saws) said, “there is no comfort on earth”. Faking comfort and acceptance in society by looking and acting less “stereotypically Muslim” cannot normalize the image of Islam, because what is being represented would no longer be the true form of Islam. Similarly, refusing hijab in order to celebrate any identity; ethnicity, nationalism, race, rather than an outwardly Muslim one, is a compromise of what should be central to one’s life, which is Islam.
The headscarf will always be debated and will be a deviation from the socially recognized norm, at least in the current trajectory of Western society. But continuing to hold on to it and displaying it proudly is what will get Muslim women the respect they deserve, and this devotion to Faith will strengthen the support to targeted ideals of the Islamic world.
As Hasan al-Basri said, if the Muslims of his time were to see the sahabah they would think they were insane, and the sahabah would ask if the people of the future were even Muslim. To think Hasan al-Basri said this only decades after the death of Prophet Muhammad (saws), it makes one wonder how we fare in this comparison hundreds of years later.