Have you ever thought of the Muslim woman’s hijab as just a religious traditional habit?
The words of a new American Muslim speaking about the hijab are a fascinating little exploration of the true meaning behind the Islamic dress code…
When I was a child growing into my teenage years, my mother always talked to me about being attractive. She was very careful about vests, appearance, hair, and etc.
And it was only much later when I came to understand that ‘being attractive’ means you attract like a magnet. And I accordingly began to observe what exactly you attract.
It was a certain key experience that I had that proved to me that wearing a scarf and loose clothing, which is what hijab is, was indeed protection, which is what hijab means.
When I was first coming into Islam I started playing around with the headscarf, because I knew that it was something that Muslim women do, but I didn’t know why or what for.
The only way I could find out was to experiment on myself. At first I didn’t figure out a way to tie it. So I tried different ways; sometimes behind my neck and other times under my chin.
But, finally what convinced me was a particular experience. I was working in publishing, and I had to visit a printer in a big printing house in Acapulco, Mexico. I was waiting for my appointment there while there was another lady sitting with him. I was watching idly when I realized how, to get whatever she wanted, she was thrilling with the guy with many improper movements. It was just much more than business.
Then I thought of myself very proudly: ‘I’m wearing scarf and I don’t have this problem, and of course I’m not going to do this’. Then she left and I went to see the man. I was in the middle of talking to him when I realized I could be going through all the emotions that I’d be going through if my hair had been long and down as it always had been. And thus my whole life had been an unconscious response to talking to a man.
At that point I realized that for a Muslim who is striving to be conscious of Allah, unconscious playacting has no place and is useless and irrelevant, and that there are other ways to get what you want other than that.
For a woman to work in that world alongside men and other women it’s much more convenient to work as a human being rather than a sexual object.
It was at that specific point that I started wearing a scarf, and I’ve never took it off since. I’ve found nothing but respect from wearing it. I’ve never had any problem at all, except for a few weird glances which, comparing to the sorts of glances I’d have gotten if weren’t wearing the scarf, it has been nothing.
The hijab has helped me contain myself inside myself, which one of the objects for both men and women in Islam; not to throw away their precious energies, sexual energies, the energies that goes through the eye, the sound, and even through the motion. But rather to conserve those to where they can do their best job which is at home.
And when you move in the world you move simply as a human being, not as a sexual object. I think that the way people dress now in most of the world, particularly in Western world, is really denying their souls, denying the qualities of love, tenderness, humanness, intelligence, and all the things we value.
It’s putting those values away aside and just emphasizing the physical. And if you happen to be having the perfect body, you may enjoy it, but only for a few years. But concentrating on the physical for the great majority of human beings is simply sitting them a goal that is unreachable, number one, and, number two, the goal itself is self-defeating. That’s because concentrating completely on the physical doesn’t allow the inner beauty to show through.
There’s another thing about understanding hijab in Islamic culture in general. If you go to an old Muslim city and walk around, you’ll find for example that the roads are very narrow and the walls around yards are very high you cannot see over them, while the yards themselves may be very spacious. And all you get from walking through these narrow streets- while taking your time bending, turning and going around- you have a feeling that behind all these high walls there’re great industries taking place, great love and a whole great life taking place. But you don’t know what they are.
So there’s a mysterious and enticing quality about it; you may had a smell of jasmine or see some beautiful vine coming down the outside of the wall, or see some lattice windows with a face behind it. This is a stuff of dreams.
And this is the way a Muslim woman is when she is covered.
It’s like a golden garden. It’s like the way we like our houses to be. We don’t favor pictured windows and big front lowlands. Instead, we favor a wall and inside of it all kinds of private delights can take place of every kind of nature, and it is not for every one on the earth to see.
We just are not interested in showing off. We are interested in being praising Allah and loving one another and doing better business as human beings.
Watch the fellow Muslim sister describe her unique experience with the hijab…