Hijab: More Than a Piece of Cloth
By: Nana Osei/Arab America Contributing Writer
The hijab is more than simply a piece of cloth. The hijab has meaning far beyond the idea of simple fabric. For many Arab Americans, the hijab is a piece of their own identity. It also gives many Arab women across the world empowerment contrary to what may be said in the media. Interestingly, the hijab is also becoming a fashion statement and brand in some sense too.
What is it?
Hijab is Arabic for the headscarf or veil. The hijab covers the head and the chest. It is originally found to be referenced in the Quran. The Quaran asks both men and women to dress in modesty which is why a hijab is worn.
However, although usually associated with the start of Islam the hijab technically originates even before then. The hijab has been found to be prominent all the way back to 2500 BCE. Women of elite status in ancient Mesopotamia and other ancient civilizations wore the hijab as a sign of high social status and royalty.
Here is the original verse found in reference to the hijab. “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their private parts; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their khimār over their breasts and not display their beauty except to their husband, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments.”
This verse explains why the Islamic faith aks women to wear the hijab. One reason is that these are instructions by Allah and by choosing to wear the hijab women are praising him. The hadith also specifies how the hijab is supposed to look. The hadith is a record of the speeches and ideas of the prophet Mohammed. An important point is that the prophet Mohammed makes a point to say the hijab isn’t forced upon women and is their choice.
There is a big misconception that the hijab is a symbol of oppression. First of all the Hijab is a choice for those that choose to wear it. Women choose to wear the hijab on their own violation. Also, many Arab American women wear the hijab without being Muslim. Studies have shown that many Arab women choose to wear the hijab regardless if they are religious or not. The hijab also takes strength to wear especially in a time of unreasoned stereotypes against it.
The hijab shows women have not only control over the bodies. It also shows that they shouldn’t be an object of male lust but instead are more than just that. They control what men can see about them. There are also many Arab American women feminists that choose to wear the hijab.
Even Nike has gotten involved with the hijab. They sell their own Nike pro-hijab on their website for 25 to 30 dollars. The Nike pro-hijab comes in colors of black, grey, and white.
Nike is further showing how the hijab can be powerful. They’re allowing female athletes to still have the choice to wear the hijab even while playing sports. Nike made the hijab-pro in order to show they appeal to all cultures and to give the hijab the value and recognition it deserves. Most importantly, this also shows how stylish and atheletic the hijab can be while still retaining the modesty of its original purpose.
Hamil Aden is a model that has taken the world by storm by her use of the hijab in fashion. She has made so many big hits in the fashion industry for her drive. Hamil was the first miss Minnesota model to wear a hijab and burkini for the competition. Furthermore, she has also been the first model to be in a Sports Ilustrated swimsuit issue in a burkini and hijab. Here are some pictures of her showing off how fashionable the hijab actually can be.
More than a piece of cloth
In the end, I hope this article has helped you to see how much worth the hijab has in the lives of Arab Americans. The hijab isn’t oppressive or a way to stigmatize Arab Americans. Most importantly, it is more than just a piece of cloth.
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