Saturday 25 November 2017

Just because I don’t wear hijab, doesn’t mean I need you to pray for my soul

As a Muslim, I have never thought that a hijabi Muslim sister is better than me, or more pious. And I have wished that these feelings be reciprocated. However, this has not always been the case. Many a time, during my childhood and teenage years, growing up with young Muslim girls, I was told what I was doing was wrong, and that they hope Allah yahdeek: loosely translated as may God guide you (to the right path). There was no discussion, debate or even room to allow me to defend myself. Instead, I was prayed for.

The most basic regulations within Islam lay in the main foundations of the five pillars: these are the testimony to the faith, to fast Ramadan, give to charity, pray five times a day and journey to Mecca at least once in one’s lifetime. Yet, the outer image of a Muslim has become more a concern than the inner intentions and acts of the Muslim woman. I think to myself often, if the headscarf instigates these women to pray, fast and genuinely help them in their path of faith, then I am all for it.

Yet what about those who feel the headscarf has done half their duty for them? It’s like having a padlock but no key: you may be wearing the headscarf, but it hasn’t unlocked your intention to follow Islam in its most basic form.

This sometimes harsh judgment shown towards Muslim women who do not wear hijab can lead to at least some Muslim women to become alienated from the Muslim community, and could lead to a loss of Islamic practice. A similar situation prevails regarding evaluation of the headscarf as a token of Islamic faith. The depiction of the hijab as a unifying element within the Muslim community is not well-founded, and breeds a seed of intolerance to those of us who don’t wear it. In addition, it has become a token political symbol, fuelling public debate by non-Muslims, never mind Muslims themselves.

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