My imperfect perfect headscarf

World Hijab Day

Hijab is actually the Arabic word literally meaning, ‘to cover' or 'a barrier’, and a word that you’ll sometimes see used interchangeably to refer to head-coverings worn by Muslim women. Of course, it’s worth considering that the style of the adornment varies according to different cultures, different regions and the preferences of the women wearing them.

Muslim women's head-covering has become focal attention in some parts of the world, by the Muslim and the Non-Muslim worlds alike, and sometimes not the good kind. It’s a concept that’s often misunderstood or not understood at all by some people and this becomes unacceptable when it contributes to bullying, discrimination or any forms of abuse. This is why the 1st of February celebrates and raises attention about the headscarf on World Hijab Day because it’s an opportunity to understand the misunderstood.

First of all, a Muslim woman's headscarf draws unnecessary attention, even though it was never a distinguished ruling in Islam. According to Islamic guidelines, there really is no concept for the headscarf specifically as men and women are encouraged to dress 'modestly' from head-to-toe,  although the guidelines differ for men and women. However, in this case, a Muslim woman should dress from head-to-toe which includes a headscarf, and this seems to intrigue curiosity, perhaps because this piece of garment visibly sets us apart from our Muslim or female counterparts.

Second of all, let’s get this straight - I don’t wear a headscarf ‘to preserve my beauty from the gazes of strange men’. To be honest, I couldn’t care less about what a man thinks I should wear. I wear it for me - it's personal. You could say I’m quite selfish. I wear it to manage which parts of my body I choose to display in public and which parts of my body I choose to keep private.

But the headscarf is more than what you see me wearing on my head, it’s an embodiment of my devotion to my faith and a part of my identity that I like to wear proudly. It makes me feel confident to live my life authentically whilst also serving as a reminder of my connection with God. I feel proud to wear my headscarf, in a society where sometimes you wish to just blend in anonymously because it’s a constant reminder of my values that I hold so dearly.

It’s also worth mentioning that my experiences are not, necessarily, shared by all Muslim women. Everyone’s relationship with their headscarf is different. It’s okay to admit that sometimes it’s a struggle - to wish you didn’t stick out like a sore thumb and just blend in like a chameleon. Especially in situations where you’re treated differently just because people assume that they know you based off their own stereotypes or negative perceptions. But I pull through it, as I always come back to my ‘why’ - why it’s important to me.

On top of all that, there’s no point in denying that wearing a headscarf is not a choice for some women out there in the world, as it is for me. Such women are restricted by their societal, cultural and political values and are forced to adorn the headscarf and this is not something I, nor my religion, stand for.

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