8 Common Misconceptions About Arab Women Who Wear Hijab
By: Meral Abu-Jaser /Arab America Contributing Writer
Let’s address the misconceptions about Arab, Muslim women who wear hijab. If you are a friend of a female Muslim, then you might know what I am referring to. Many people judge others based on appearance, and this is how stereotypes begin among us. Stereotypes can be so misleading and enticing to hear, that it seems people don’t want to learn about a new culture or faith because they think they already know everything. Arab women who wear hijab are frequently subjected to misconceptions that can divide us, rather than bring us together. Here are eight of them that we wanted to share with you:
1. Muslim Women Are Forced To Wear Hijab
Unfortunately, the stereotype that Muslim Women are forced to wear a head covering is very popular – but very untrue. In fact, Islam does not accept forcing someone into doing anything. especially if it does not come from one’s own will. In Islam, women have the choice to wear the hijab and it is no one’s decision, other than the person who is thinking about wearing the hijab.
Muslims refer to the Quran’s verses as well as hadiths – and no where in either of those two texts does it state that a man must make the decision for the women to wear hijab. Deciding to wear hijab requires the proper knowledge and will-power from the woman, and only the woman.
2. Hijab Prevents Women From Participating in Sports
If you are a sports fan then you must know, or at least have heard of, Anatu Sadat and Ibtihaj Muhammad. There are many women who participate in sports while wearing a hijab because it does not restrict women from being active.
The problem which many hijabis face when trying to explore new activities does not come from within themselves, but stem from the outside world and cultural expectations – especially from the western world.. While some places in the world seem to have no problem with seeing women wearing hijab, other places do. Next time you find yourself concerned about women not being able to engage in sports, worry about what society’s stance is on “normal” leisure and activewear. You’ll be surprised at how non-Muslims are more uncomfortable seeing a hijab clad woman on the courts than finding Muslim Women engaging in sports.
3. All Hijab-Wearing Women Are Religiously Conservative
This is one of the most common misconceptions about Arab women who wear the hijab. Just because you are religious does not mean you are conservative. People should stop associating Islam with extremism. This is the same as saying Christians who go to church each Sunday are also conservative. Muslim women who wear the hijab do so because they want to be modest and want to follow God’s direction to a pure life.
Muslim women who wear hijab doesn’t make them more religious than Muslim women who don’t – it means that they were ready to take that next step in their journey in Islam.
4. Women Who Wear Hijab Are Not Intelligent
I know this sounds unbelievable, but as a hijab wearing woman, I can attest that on more than one occasion it was assumed that I was less intelligent that others around me who didn’t wear hijab. If anything, this assumption shows a lack of education and knowledge.
In the Arab world, women surpass men in their education, STEM skills, and participation in social causes. It is normal for Muslim women in the Arab World to excel in education over men.
5. Women Who Wear Hijab Can’t Be Successful
An Arab woman wearing hijab can do her job and succeed in her career. There are many Muslim women who contribute to society and are very successful in their life, while still wearing hijab.
Aysha, the last wife of the Prophet Muhammed, is one example of excellence. She didn’t need to uncover herself to live a flourishing life. Aysha actually contributed a lot of hadiths and became a well-known scholar. There are multiple examples of Muslim women who are very successful today, as well as in history. Let us remember that the hijab is to protect the woman, not hold her back from success, or deprive them of any progress and development in their life.
6. Muslim Women Never Take off Their Hijab
When I was in high school, one of my classmates asked me if I always wear the hijab. For a second I thought she was being funny or was being sarcastic, but she was being honest. She really wanted to know the answer. I said “No!” and went on to explain to her how we only wear hijab when we go outside, when we pray, and if someone from the opposite gender is present. I also went on to explain which men can see me without wearing hijab – and those are the men I cannot marry, like my father, grandfather, nephew, brother or uncle. I explained how we had to cover in front of men that we could potentially marry.
Arab Muslim woman do not always have their hijab on. We also do not sleep with our hijab on, nor do we take a shower with it on.
7. Women Wearing Hijab Don’t Take Care of Their Hair
When I was a senior in high school studying, a librarian said to me, “You are so lucky. You don’t need to wash your hair, style it, or even take care of it!” I was in shock – speechless. At that moment I could not say anything, so I didn’t correct her, nor did I educate her about her misconception. Maybe me holding my tongue then has brought me to where I am today, writing this article hoping to end misconceptions of Muslim women who wear hijab
We take care of our well-being and our exterior being as much as every other women does. We wash our hair, style it, and take care of it. Cleanliness is next to Godliness.
8. Women Who Wear Hijab Can’t Be a Feminist
Just because someone covers their hair in order to observe a religion does not mean they are not a feminist. In fact, is not defined by bikinis or burkas (head-to-toe covering); it is about empowering women to be who they want to be, with no pressure from men or other women. And ultimately, the hijab is also a personal choice for each Muslim woman.
In fact, women who cover their hair are the definition of feminism. When I stand up for myself and other wearing who wear the hijab, I am practicing feminism. Modesty does not equate extremism. Modesty takes commitment and will power. It makes one strong and confident – and makes me a feminist.
What Do You Think?
The hijab continues to be one of those controversial and misunderstood topics in the Western world. As long as there are misconceptions, there will be challenges for Muslim women to overcome. Many times women who wear hijab becomes the victim of judgment, as well as hate. I hope after reading this article you have a better understanding of the concept behind wearing a hijab.
Do you know someone who needs to educate themselves? Share this fun article with them. By the way, if I missed any misconceptionS that you think is crucial, comment below and share with me your experience.
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