There's been a small flurry recently of hijab articles, and I just love reading positive ones, so here's another that appeared in the Columbia Spectator:
By Aseel Najib
01 March 2009
When I was first asked to write a piece on the hijab, I was unsure of where to start. Perhaps I should begin with a definition of what the hijab is. Or a historical lesson on the hijab throughout the centuries. But maybe a personal narrative would be more interesting?
I was halfway through my third draft when I realized that a standard definition of the word “hijab” does not exist, that summarizing the history of the hijab is impossible to do in under two hundred pages, and that my personal narrative would be far from interesting to anyone but myself. So instead, I’ll begin with a different question: why is the hijab viewed as such a significant symbol?
In my eyes, the hijab is simply a 3x4 silk rectangle that covers my hair. It is neither the age-old burqa (the complete body covering women in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan wear), nor the niqab (a covering that hides the entire face, except for the eyes). It is not the oppressive black cloth often associated with the Taliban in pictures broadcast in the media. The hijab is not meant to represent a woman’s seclusion from society or her prohibition from interacting with members of the opposite gender. It isn’t a cultural symbol or a political message—it is an article of clothing millions of Muslim women all over the world choose to wear (or not wear) at will. When I don the hijab before I leave my room each morning, I’m usually too preoccupied with ensuring it matches my outfit to worry about the political or ideological message it sends.
Personally, I’d like to think that when my friends look at me, they see more than just the hijab. In fact, the only time my friends do refer to the hijab is when they bellow across the hall for me to put it on before dinner so that we’re not late... again. Similarly, I do not view the hijab as the defining issue of my personality. There is much more to my beliefs and opinions than a simple headscarf can represent, and my identity is far too large and complex an issue to be encompassed by the fact that I cover my hair.
Read the rest here.