“Why aren’t we putting our military retirees on that border or in TSA? Get rid of all these hibi-jabis they wear at TSA?” asked an audience member at a Trump rally.
Itemad “Angel” Almatar was arrested by Chicago police while trying to catch a train in Chicago.
Both stories, among scores of others, highlight the rise of Islamophobia in our country.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on a key principle that this country was founded on: To ensure all Americans enjoy “freedom of religion” (because the early settlers came here to escape religious persecution.)
It’s ironic that a country whose constitution grants everyone the right to practice their religion freely has people and politicians alike singling out and publicly ridiculing those who practice the religion of Islam.
The problem is that there are too many people who don’t know enough about Islam or Muslims. They think our religion is foreign — a mystery — something from out of this world.
Islam was founded more than 1,400 years ago. It is not an alien religion, but a continuation of the Abrahamic prophetic line from Moses to Jesus to Muhammad.
It’s ironic that a country whose constitution grants everyone the right to practice their religion freely has people and politicians alike singling out and publicly ridiculing those who practice Islam.
Speaking of the mystery of Islam, the concept of hijab or veil in Islam is not new to other religions. In fact, women have donned the hijab since ancient times.
Classical Greek and Hellenistic statues sometimes depict Greek women with both their head and face covered by a veil.
Veiling is mentioned in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. After seeing Isaac, as stated in The Old Testament, Rebekah proceeded to take a headcloth and cover herself” (Genesis: 24: 64 and 65).
If that wasn’t enough, The New Testament states, “but every woman praying or prophesying with her head uncovered dishonors her head — it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a woman will not be covered, then let her be shorn! But since it is disgraceful for woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered” (1 Corinthians: 11: 5, 6).
Let’s not forget that the most traditional depictions of Mary, the mother of Jesus, show her veiled. Oh! And what about those Catholic nuns? Yep. They cover their hair as well.
Not enough info for you? Okay, let’s take a look at Judaism, where the women actually have different ways of veiling depending on how strict a woman adheres to Jewish or Torah laws.
Orthodox Jewish women and Hasidic women dress modestly and cover their hair when they go out in the public. According to Jewish law, all married women have to cover their hair either with a tikhel (scarf) or a sheytl (wig). They also dress modestly by wearing long skirts and shirts with long sleeves and high necklines.
Education is the key to removing misconceptions and stereotypes. That’s why the efforts by the True Islam campaign, a grassroots public awareness program is extremely important.
The True Islam and the Extremists campaign seeks to clarify 11 major points of contention most Americans have about Islam such as terrorism, Shariah, and most importantly, the rights and role of women in Islam.
Wearing a hijab is not a restraint on Muslim women. Hijab wearing Muslim women are your doctors, lawyers, engineers, TSA agents, teachers, etc. As a hijab wearing Muslim woman, I am saying that I shouldn’t be judged by my appearance, but by my intellect.
To the police officers in Chicago and the woman at the Trump rally, as well as others out there, I say, please stop making generalizations about me or other Muslim women. Just ask us about our hijab.
Ask us about our faith. And know that I am not judging you for your attire or faith, so please stop judging me.
Written By Saima Sheikh, who is a National Spokesperson for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA. Follow her on Twitter @SaimaGSheikh