What’s That Thing on Your Head?

Is a question I’ve been asked by strangers ever since I started wearing the hijab. At the age of 11, I only wore it because my mother did, so I’d usually just stutter through an answer that left whoever had asked pretty confused. Now that I’m older and know what the hijab really signifies (and can express myself a little better) I’m here to present you with a Q&A about hijabs that you never asked for but should totally read.

What is it and why do you wear it?
The hijab is not just a literal veil or scarf we wear on our heads, it is a complete action of modesty- a way of elevating a women’s status beyond her beauty so that people will judge her according to her thoughts and actions rather than just her appearance. Basically, it stands as a defiance for objectifying women.

Wearing the hijab is a means of religious observance for a Muslim woman. Many say that they feel closer to God while wearing it, and it strengthens their deen (religion). Although it is required to wear it when one reaches puberty, some may not feel ready then. Some women start wearing it before they reach puberty, and others will take it off and decide to wear it again later in life or not at all. It all comes down to each individual woman’s choice, and ultimately, is between the wearer and God.
In Islam, it is haram (forbidden) to coerce one into wearing it, and to do so is to defeat the purpose of the hijab. The Quran states; ““Let there be no compulsion in religion” (2/256). Adhering to the hijab is to cover everything except the face, hands and feet, however many Muslim women also show their neck- ultimately that comes down to choice as well- how women observe the hijab is up to them.

Do you wear it all the time?
No we don’t wear it all the time! If I had a dollar for every time somebody asked me if I wear the hijab in the shower, I’d have enough to buy at least three Big Mac meals from the halal Maccas in Roxy. Simply put, we wear the hijab in front of strange men, and can take it off in front of immediate family. This means we don’t have to cover our hair in front of our fathers, brothers, grandfathers, or uncles. Although we do cover up in front of men who aren’t family, the hijab is not for them to stop looking at us or to “protect us” from them. In Islam, men have the responsibility to avert their gaze and to respect women whether they are dressed modestly or not. Men are accountable for their own conduct; they are equally required to handle themselves responsibly in every aspect of their lives.

Why don’t men have to wear it?
Men have their own form of hijab. They are also expected to follow a certain modest dress codecovering up from navel to knee. Most Muslim men don’t follow this rule, however once again, that also comes down to individual choice. Some Muslim men grow their beards, although this is sunnah (recommended, but not compulsory). Men and women are equal in Islam, however equal doesn’t always mean identical- it would not make sense to tell a man to cover his breasts and a woman to grow a beard.

Isn’t it oppressive?
No, as the decision to wear the hijab and the way one wears it is supposed to be ones’ personal choice. I won’t deny the fact that there have been and still are women who are forced to wear it, and if you refer back to the first question, you’ll see that this is completely wrong. Many Muslim women feel empowered by the hijab. I know I do. And so begs the question, if a woman can choose to bare all, why can’t she choose to cover up?

So…Voldemort doesn’t live on the back of your head?
Yes. No. She liessss. No, he does not. Promise.