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It’s A Hijabista Life Essay Series, Part 4
Freedom Means Taking Responsibility
Welcome to Part 4!
This is part of a series I am writing about the Muslim community from the perspective of an outsider who grew up in another faith tradition. This series is part of my free content and publish each Wednesday until completion, somewhere around 5 to 7 parts.
What would The Prophet think of Khashoggi’s killer and the jailers/abusers of Loujain al-Hathloul having control over his mosque? What would He think of Malala being shot for defying the Taliban by going to school? What would He think of Wahhabism or of the Ayatollah and other hardline extremist Islamic clerics? What would He think of all the psychotic extremists killing in His name and God’s? What would He think of Imran Khan’s bullsh1t sexist take on rape and modesty? What would The Prophet think of Islamic regimes? Would The Prophet recognise the religion He founded if He were to return today to observe Muslims? I don’t know that He would, based on what I’ve read about Him, His character, and His life, and based on what I am learning about the Qur’an from trusted scholars.
This is what the west sees and these are the questions that beg asking—yet many Muslims wonder why the west doesn’t take them seriously? This is where we are at in the Muslim world—an intellectual impasse and a refusal to engage collective self examination. I note with much frustration that Muslims seem obsessed with rules—following them, ensuring others follow them, and above all ensuring others know they are following them—and show no interest in exploring rationale for said rules, as in why are we doing this? God knows best, or God commands it has become the stock reply—indicating to me a lack of knowledge about why are we doing this.
For instance, do a search on hijab practise from a character perspective—ie action and not sartorial expression—you will be hard pressed to find many post about this topic. You will wade through thousands of social media posts about hijab styles, different fabrics and sizes, about where to purchase modest clothing, about how to tie your hair and how to look after your hair. Hijab has become its own consumeristic industry, akin to the western fashion and beauty industry that preys upon western women. Looking good and feeling confident is important, however fixating over appearance takes us further away from our goal with hijab. Covering up because others said it’s required and then parroting the line women have a choice doesn’t really feel very authentically modest to me—it feels like capitulation to peer pressure. That’s people pleasing, an ego-driven behaviour, the opposite of hijab. You are not practising modesty when you lie about the reason you are wearing a headscarf!
How many women are itching to remove that headscarf because their heart is not in it, and feel they cannot? How many young women have no idea why they wear hijab other than my parents force me to wear it? How many women would like to explore in earnest the practise of hijab and have no idea where to begin and feel completely shut down when told they are sinners for not covering? How do any of these situations bring women closer to God?
The question remains asked by the west and unanswered by hijabis—why do you choose cover your hair, what does it do for you, what purpose does it serve? Personally, I cover my very long and ridiculous big curly hair to prevent it from becoming my prison, a thing that locks me inside and keeps others from seeing actual me. I don’t like being petted like a dog or a fabulous pony, it’s annoying—I don’t like that kind of attention from others. I want to be valued for what’s inside my head, not on top of it. I don’t want my hair to become my identity, not even when it’s covered. Identity erases me, it’s a carapace that chokes me off. We all do the things we do for a reason—humans are purposeful creatures.
So, I do want to ask the question why are hijabis covering—what do need or purpose they serve by covering? If she cannot be honest with herself then that is not hijab or centring God, it is centring ego and self to do a thing to belong to a club. God = choice, always. If you’re removing choice from adults then it is not motivated by God.
How do Muslims fail to see that the infidels are those weaponising God and religious doctrine against people—ie as a means of social and political manipulation and control and to advance their own worldly agenda? How do the most intolerant and close minded and hateful of radical Muslims fail to see the obvious? Compelled piety is meaningless because humans are rational creatures and things must make sense to us. God made us this way—in His image!!! Why are Muslims like this, anyway?
Where does this mindless obsession with rule-following, refusal to take responsibility, and the medieval conception of religion come from? Apostasy is medieval and not Quranic, by the way. How do people who have the Quran memorized have such a weak grasp of it’s most fundamental and powerful message? What’s the use of you cramming all these words if you never thought to reflect on their meaning for your life? Who is this for, certainly not God! Mustafa Akyol wrote a book about this—can we return the Muslim mind to reason, freedom, and tolerance? The fact that an Islamic country arrested him for the message of his book points to the formidable nature of the challenge.
I’m starting a hijab group coaching program for new Muslimahs who want to practise hijab and also seasoned ones who are struggling with hijab. You can email me for more information.