Thursday, 5 March 2009

Hijab Style in The Observers

If you hadn't had enough of hijab articles, check out my interview with France's The Observers:

Hijab blogger lays claim to style

Talk about the Islamic headscarf has long been the preserve of acrimonious debates over fundamentalism, women’s rights and freedom of expression. Blasting intolerance on all sides, Jana Kossaibati presses her right to dress as she pleases – and to do so hijab style.

Jana’s blog, which claims to be the UK’s first style guide for Muslim women, is one of a growing number of websites where women may find out how to mix cultural heritages from different Muslim countries to complement Western styles.

Jana says she first set out to fill a void: there was simply nothing around to tell women how to take care of their appearance while meeting Muslim requirements for dress.Her blog offers tips for girls eager to anticipate seasonal trends and combine fabrics tastefully, without being ostentatious. But, she says, hijab style is not about what’s “hot” or the latest fad.

Jana, 19, is a medical student in London and the author of the Hijab Style blog.

If I were to use one word I would describe hijab style as “dignified”, though it varies hugely from country to country. The difference is in its aim, which is primarily to remain modest, and cover the body appropriately as my faith has taught me to do. If I were to try something that turned out to be tight-fitted, I wouldn’t buy it.

I would describe myself as style-conscious as opposed to fashion-conscious. I don’t wish for my appearance to be dictated by trends. But I do take an interest in the way I present myself… Some critics say I am contradicting myself. But our religion is very clear about this: the Prophet took care of his appearance and encourages us to do the same.

I don’t think the hijab actually attracts more looks from other people; it attracts different looks. Some are looks of interest, others may be hostile. But overall the hijab protects me from the people who might judge me by my looks, and treat me as an object. It opposes the use of the body, and especially of women, as a commodity. I illustrate this point with the simple fact that if you walk down any street in Europe, women's bodies are being used to sell everything from cars to cooking oil.

I disagree completely with the French ban on headscarves in schools and public buildings. It’s no better than forcing someone to wear a headscarf against her will. At the end of the day, both are restrictions to our freedom. In Islam, your actions are judged according to the intention behind them; so one shouldn’t wear a hijab just to please her parents.

The whole point of my blog is for Muslim women to take the headscarf into our hands, out of the political sphere and firmly back where it belongs as part of our clothing choices and nothing more. I feel it is a sad reflection of the misunderstanding of hijab when I am posed questions like “do wearing the headscarf and fighting for women's rights contradict each other?”


Rahima said...

Well Done Sister.. keep up the good word..

MALABISWear said...

this is cool!!!

Anonymous said...

Some terrific quotes! Also very nice to see that someone is willing to print so much of what you have to say. Way to go, Jana!

hippie_cyndi said... your site....I'm not a Muslim but I enjoy it ever since one of my bff showed me.

Jana said...

Thanks everyone for your support :)

Adventurous Ammena said...

woowoo... look at you there missy famous with interviews from all over the world :P hehee


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