“You’re in America now; you can take that scarf off!” a well-meaning woman once told me. “Your family isn’t around, so they won’t know if you took off your scarf” a classmate told me on another occasion. While neither of them spoke out of ill intent, I couldn’t help but to feel offended by their words. Not by their lack of knowledge about my religious obligation to wear the hijab, but by their suggestion that I was weak, oppressed, and could not think for myself. What is it about my headscarf that gives people the impression that I am a weak woman?
I want you to take a minute and think of a Muslim woman wearing the hijab in America today. Think of the stares and the comments she endures while going about her day like any other American. Would a weak person really put themselves through this if being ‘normal’ meant just taking off a piece of cloth that covers their hair? Yes, I can take my scarf off in America, and yes, if my family isn’t around they won’t know if I take it off. I appreciate the reminder. But really why do Muslim, Christian, and Jewish women still wear it? The simple answer is because they believe it is what God wants women to do. Muslim women do not wear the hijab because they are forced to wear it by their fathers, brothers, husbands, or sons, as is usually thought in the western world. They wear the hijab to submit to God’s will and obey His command—not the command of any man.
Was Mary, the mother of Jesus (peace be upon them) forced to wear a headscarf? Are head-covering Christian or Jewish women who cover forced to do so? Muslim women cover their hair because they CHOOSE to do so. The next time you see a woman covering her hair, ask her sincerely why she wears it. With all the rhetoric surrounding individual freedom and liberty, I am unable to comprehend why a Muslim woman’s choice to wear a hijab is not respected.