I didn’t have a strong conviction to wear the hijab until after I began wearing it. There was no defining moment for me where I made the decision to cover my hair and my body, it just happened little by little. It began with wearing longer trousers, then longer sleeves to wearing my hair in a turban to lengthening my hemline to wearing full hijab. Now, I cannot imagine going out without it and feel significantly more comfortable covered up. Once I began, I found so many reasons to love it: it is a way of honoring Allah (SWT), it holds me accountable for my actions and words, it distinguishes me as an unapologetic Muslim, it keeps my focus on what’s important rather than seeking others’ approval on my appearance, and I am sure there are many other reasons that are not coming to mind at the moment.
With all of this in mind, for some women the hijab is a little more complicated. For them, it is a symbol of the oppression they must face every single day. They did not get to make a decision to wear it, that decision was made for them and their rebellion could have traumatic consequences. Their perspective on the hijab is just as valid as the one that sees the hijab as empowering. On one side of the world, women fight to cover themselves and on another side of the world, women fight to uncover themselves. These struggles may seem so opposite to each other but at the end of the day we as women are all fighting for the same thing: to make the choice for ourselves. The way we dress should not be forced upon us by anyone and the opinions of others should not influence our decision or the consequences of that decision. For too long, the way a woman chooses to adorn and dress herself has been a political concern. Why?
If we cover too much, they come after us. If we cover too little, they come after us. There is a strong push to whitewash everything and everyone to establish an environment of comfort. Comfort for who? Reality is not plagued by comfort no matter how hard we keep attempting to infect it. Reality is that we live in a world of many different sizes, shapes, colors, beliefs, nationalities, lifestyles, and definitions of comfort. If we seek peace we have to let people be who they are (within the confines of the law and human decency, of course).
We are told time and time again not to judge others. A woman’s decision for how she wants to portray herself and live her life is between her and Allah (SWT), whether she is aware of it or not. It doesn’t mean her decisions will be right but it is not for us to control, it is not for us to look down upon. And personally, I have found that if you want to spread the truth it is best done through being an example and treating others with compassion and respect.