Monday, March 21, 2011

Hijab Snow Job

An article in Canadian Immigrant magazine (pick up your free copy today!) gushes about the hijab and three fashion-loving chicks--"hijabis"--who love wearing them:
Hijab fashionistas
The hijab is one of the most beautiful yet misunderstood garments in the world today; three hijabis talk about their traditional wear
The Muslim women’s headscarf, or hijab, is one of the most beautiful yet misunderstood garments in the world today. While the wearing of a headscarf predates Islam in the Near East, it has become an iconic symbol for Muslim believers, representing modesty among its female wearers. The typical hijab covers a woman’s hair, neck and chest, and is accompanied by modest clothes that only show the face and hands.

Although there is ongoing debate about whether the hijab is mandatory for female believers, its supporters reference that the Prophet Mohammed’s wives wore veils, and point to a passage in the Qur’an, which tells women to “draw their veils over their bosoms” to guard their modesty.

For many non-Muslims in Canada, there is a misperception that Muslim female immigrants are forced to wear the hijab against their will. I find that many Canadian Muslim women wear their hijab not only by choice, but with flair and confidence.

Naima, a Somalian-born hijabi in Vancouver, says, “I was 20 when I began wearing it. I always wanted to, but I was scared of what people would think. I actually started because my younger sister began wearing it.” Although she initially braced herself for negative remarks, she says that she has only received compliments from strangers in the past year.

While mainstream media tends to portray hijabis (hijab-wearing women) wearing plain black veils, hijab fashion is, in fact, incredibly diverse. From the subdued urban chic of British Muslim women to the exuberant pastel colours worn in Indonesia and Malaysia, a bit of digging shows that hijabis are often chic and style savvy, without having to compromise their faith. In the West, where Muslims are a minority, many girls share tips and techniques on fashion, giving them a chance to interact and socialize with others.

“Sometimes, my friends and I would sit in a big circle and show each other how to tie different styles,” says Umme, a Richmond-based Muslim. Her friend Hina, meanwhile, works at a trendy clothing store, and texts her Muslim friends whenever a hijab-friendly skirt or dress comes in stock.

Both women are outgoing, friendly and are a far cry from the “oppressed” image of hijab-wearers; they both say they chose to wear the hijab on their own, without outside pressure. While they consider themselves religious, they are also like other young women their age and enjoy dressing up...
And if it wasn't really their "choice"; if, say, one or both wore a hijab knowing full well that if she didn't wear it, her father and/or brother would see it as "dishonouring" the family, do you think they would actually say so to a stranger, a kafir, a reporter?

Fear of dishonour may or may not be what motivates these "hijabis" (women whose very identity has been reduced to a piece of cloth: "I am what I wear and I wear what I am--a head scarf"), but the article would have been far more honest had it acknowledged that there are "hijabis" out there (or girls who balk at becoming "hijabis")--we have no idea how many--for whom fear most definitely does come into play.

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