Monday, 17 November 2008

I wear a hijab because I believe in non-conformity

UAE newspaper The National featured an interesting article about the way hijab is perceived in Egypt:

Hadeel al Shalchi
November 14. 2008

“Women who wear hijab in Egypt just have a bad reputation.”We were diving in and out of Cairo weekend traffic, heading towards a hotel by the pyramids for dinner, when the driver mindlessly blurted out this comment. I was the only one in the car wearing a hijab.

What made this remark different from previous one-liners about my hijab is that it came from an upper-class, educated Arab. He was old-money, educated in the West and a self-proclaimed liberal. The type who wears authentic GAP clothing, swings Gucci totes and has inherited an exclusive country club membership from grandparents.

I started wearing the hijab 10 years ago, when I was 18, in my hometown, Ottawa, Canada. It was a scary yet exhilarating decision to make. I knew I would be making a proclamation to the rest of society that I was different. At a time when other kids were piercing and tattooing their body parts, I was choosing to become more religious in a faith that was misunderstood – even before September 11.

Read the rest here.


Mona said...

That was a really good article, I can relate. Thanks for posting it and keep up the great blog.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your article. You made an especially good point when you said that women are judged no matter what they do or how they dress. I think that the men in our lives would be a good support in their efforts to validate us by also wearing Muslim garb. Women would not be alone out there, living their faith if their men were not at their side in their sports T-Shirts and jeans. I see this so often and feel badly that only the women, for the most part, are the ones who find the courage to wear the hijab, etc...while Muslim men wear Western clothing and conventiently 'fit in' with mainstream culture.
I am 60 years old, a new convert, and am struggling with the decision to wear the hijab in my small, Christain community in the U.S. I want very much to wear it, but know that it would be very difficult to do my job as a Social Worker and counselor in such a community. So, I very much appreciate your article and will pray for you and all the Sisters who are trusting in Allah to wear the hijab with grace and courage.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article. I lived in Egpyt several years ago. The last time I visited was, coincidentally, in 2005, which the author mentions as when she arrived. I saw things a bit differently, however, maybe because I'm a bit older, or had been there before?

It seemed to me that there was certain "pressure" to wear hijab in Egypt, but that many Egyptian women, especially young and fashionable women in Cairo, were doing the whole "fashion" thing with hijab. Older women, especially those outside of urban centers, just did what they had always done.

On the other hand, women working in industries catering to travelers, such as tour guides and women working front desks at hotels, were discouraged from wearing hijab. There was a concern that tourists would find hijab "uncomfortable" or even "frightening" in post-9/11 Egypt.

Many of my Egyptian friends are college educated, have advanced degrees, and wear hijab. The concern among Egyptian intellectuals seems to be a response to growing Saudi influence in the country, with their stricter interpretation of Islam (that previous Egyptian), not, from what I could tell, against modest dress and wearing the headscarf.

Sorry I've rambled on a bit, but I did find this article interesting and wish I could speak more with the sister who wrote it. Personally, I loved Egypt and wearing hijab there :-)

Nour said...

I couldn't read the article...there was some kind of error with the link.

Anonymous said...

Assalamu Alaikum to all siters out there
Dear Jana thanks for this interesting article , I wanted to read the rest of it but the link is not working lol ! Plz fix it if possible, JazakAllahu krair Habibti
p.s: Keep up the gr8 work ,BarakAllahu feeki

Jana said...

Thanks all for your input!

Nour and Mona, the link seems to work fine for me. Try copying and pasting the full link:

Sharshura said...

I found this a very interesting article and a new perspective to take from meaning wearing hijab in the east instead of the west. Whenever I hear of hijab in the east I only hear a snippet of descrimination (usually to women in media/entertainment) who wear hijab and the body of it being of current fashions.

DesignerZeta said...

I have to say as a muslim who has only been in hijab in the US for a year or so. I have a hard time dealing with people dismissing me. As if I'm not of value to the conversation. It's like they assume I'm oppressed so they must enforce it. THe prejudgement is strong and it hurts. I'm at a point where I don't know if I can deal with the pressure in America. I found this article very easy to relate to. This concept of making a statement is not really the point I was going for with hijab. I'm even considering not wearing the hijab on a regular basis.

Hadeel Al-Shalchi said...

Salam - thanks for posting my article :)

I visit this website very often, and I was so excited to see my article here! How fun! And I'm glad people are commenting. I always look fwd to feedback.

keep up the good work with this site.



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