In the beginning, it didn’t seem so sound so bad or degrading to me. When you are looking into converting, no one tells you that as a woman you are required to cover everything but your face and hands for a man’s benefit. On the contrary, hijab-in addition to being a mandate- is supposed to be empowering for women. Adopting it will give you a sense of dignity that is absent in the ‘materialistic’ and sex-saturated culture of the West. It even becomes a revolutionary and feminist act. In adapting Islamic standards of modesty, I’d be giving a finger to the man.  In covering I’d divorce myself from the ‘Girls Gone Wild’ culture. Not only would I please Allah,  I would also dramatically and vehemently take a stand against the sexual objectification of all women. Men would have no choice but to recognize and appreciate me based on intellect and character alone.

And then I actually took my shahadah.

After that, hijab wasn’t just about my dignity and respect as a woman. It became about men and keeping them from temptation. Because men were so weak and the female form so tempting, it was my responsibility as good muslimah to make sure I didn’t cause them to stumble. Sure, the Quran admonishes all Muslims to lower their gaze. But my reality was that the burden was placed on me, the woman. Anything that could possibly turn a man on or attract him in any way was a no-go. My body, the same body that my Creator had endowed me with, began to feel like a nuisance. It restrained me. I was expected to go to all these lengths and subject myself to these restrictions just to keep men from getting horny. Questions started to form in my mind. Why should sisters have to do all this, I began to ask myself. Why is there so much emphasis placed on our bodies and hardly any placed on men controlling themselves? How is it that men can be given authority over all things but not be expected to keep their desires in check?  

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A native Seattleite and recent East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been. I reside in the suburbs of NYC with my husband, daughter, and our two feisty but deeply loved cats.

6 thoughts on “

  1. 🙂 Love this.. Yes, are they really so feeble minded? And really, at the root of it, once again you are STILL being judged on your looks alone. Why look past hijab into your thoughts, passions, intellect .. when a scarf is equated with humbleness, submission, and “iman”. And yet, somehow men’s kufi’s and thobes don’t hold the same weight…

  2. “And really, at the root of it, once again you are STILL being judged on your looks alone.”
    BINGO Salina! I think that people are very lazy. Instead of taking the time to judge the individual, we want to immediately put them into categories. In terms of hijab it is so easy for Muslims to see a woman fully covered and just assume she is a good, humble and faithful person. But I am going to be 100% real: there are some hijabis who are downright nasty, mean and vindictive human beings-same as any other women. Adhering to a dress code, IMO, really tells me little about the type of person you are, nor is it a measure of goodness.

  3. I agree that categorization definitely plays a huge role.

    After converting I actually felt sort of “tricked”. I was told all I had to do was believe in the 5 pillars of Islam, then afterwards it was like ‘you must cover up or you’ll burn in hell’. Pissed me off. And to this day I honestly don’t believe that hijab is mandated in Islam.

  4. I’m glad I found your blog 🙂 I’m a convert and I’m having a lot of doubts at the moment, and it’s good to know that I’m not the only one!

    1. Hello and welcome Safiyah! You certainly are not alone. The problem is that it is hard for Muslims-converts and born alike-to find a safe place where they can discuss their concerns without being attacked. That is one thing that I appreciated about apostate blogs even when I was still practicing. I wasn’t attacked or judged for my questions, they simply listened and didn’t pressure me at all.

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