Written by Amanda Sadler.
To wear or not to wear, that is the question. Since the time before my conversion to Islam, I have contemplated covering my hair. Before making my decision, I carefully weighed the pros and cons. For whom am I wearing it? Why am I wearing it? To what extent will I wear it? It sounds obvious that I would wear it for pleasing Allah (SWT), but without hijab, I was a secret Muslim.
I wanted to give the world an open proclamation that I am Muslim and proud! I struggled with thoughts that perhaps I just wanted to wear it for attention. Without hijab, I would be able to walk down the street without worrying about hearing snide comments about my beloved religion, Allah (SWT) or the Prophet (PBUH). I would blend into the White crowd and carry on. How fair would that be to my brothers and sisters in faith who do not blend in so easily, the ones that are ridiculed and hated because of their skin color or accent? How dare I hide behind my White Privilege!
My hijab is a symbol of solidarity with those that are oppressed and scorned. Each time I place a scarf on my head and dress modestly in a society that embraces good hair and nudity, I am visually professing that I am not just another face in the crowd. With each mainstream media news story reporting “Radical Islamic Terrorists” are planning attacks, I have to remind myself to avoid the comments section. I know that while I will find many rational comments, those hate-fueled comments from people educated by radical right-wing conspiracy theorists will stand out like a blazing pile of garbage and the stench of its smoke will stick with me for hours or days.
Sadly enough, the comments from non-Muslims are not the only ones that hurt. When doing or saying something not perceived as “Muslim” enough, we are immediately put on trial by a plethora of characters. From a friendly reminder of how the Prophet would or would not have handled a situation to full-blown “Haram Police” or some self-proclaimed scholar using Google, copy and paste to share their “knowledge.”
The more I am reminded of how my actions do not make me a “real” Muslim or how I am definitely going to Hell for not practicing my faith in the exact manner they do, the more I doubt my desire to stand in solidarity or my worthiness of wearing the hijab and being counted among the Muslims. Being a convert is hard enough without being scolded for not conforming or following every rule or law from the instant the Shahada passes our lips. Would you scold a 2-year-old for looking at shiny Christmas lights or responding to someone wishing them a happy (insert other religion’s holiday)?
I am almost used to repeated questions from curious customers at work to fellow Muslims about my heritage (but where are you really from?) or if my hijab is just because I am cold. Unfortunately, instead of feeling like I am standing among brothers and sisters in faith, I feel more an imposter, yet another White girl committing cultural appropriation.
I am not asking anyone to accept my way of living or worshipping God. The only thing I am imploring you to do is think before you speak. What are your intentions? Do you just want to be right or are you truly trying to help someone go to Heaven? Do you really think your culture or way of life is the only right way? How would you feel having those comments hurled at you or your loved one?