Saturday, April 15, 2006


Wearing a scarf is one of the biggest choices a Muslim girl can make. For some, the choice to do so or not is expected, for others, the choice is extremely difficult. But regardless of the difficulty of the situation, the resulting choice marks a girl in nearly all aspects of her life.

Personally, i wear the scarf (called hijab in Arabic). Thankfully, i was never pressured by my family to wear one or not. It was my own choice. And like many other hijabis (the Anglicized name for girls who wear hijab), i've had moments when i loved it and moments when i wanted to do nothing short of rip it off of my head. So why haven't these girls and i, especially those of us who weren't pressured into it, gone ahead and done so? In short, the answer is this: Because we believe in hijab and what it stands for.

Hijab is the Muslim woman's show of modesty. There are many different ways of wearing it and different beliefs as to how much skin a woman should cover, but the general idea is the same. Covering up your hair and your body in public. I don't wanna get too into specifics here, so for details, click here.

"But oh my god, don't you get hot in that?"

The number of times a hijabi gets that question is uncountable. The physical aspect of wearing the hijab isn't too hard. It's more the social aspect that can get...uncomfortable, so to speak. And the thing is, it's not the hijab's fault, it's the people's! There's a general trend in Arab society that separates the hijabis from other, non-hijabi girls. I call it 'Hijabism'.

Hijabis are usually thought to be less outgoing, less creative, less modern; and more passive, more submissive, more traditional. And this is Arab society, not 'the West'. Hijabis are underrepresented in all forms of Arab media, from movies to TV to radio. The ratio of hijabis in the media to the number of hijabis in the Arab world is very small.

The other day, my friend made a remark that really summed up what i'm trying to say. "The 'popular' girls here ignore hijabis like the plague." And what's funny is that back in 'the West', it's not like that. Who you hang out with isn't dictated by whether or not there's an extra piece of cloth on your head.

Lemme give you a little scenario i took part in to give you a better understanding of what i'm saying:

At AUS's Global Day, there was a Syrian traditional dance going on, called a 'dabkeh'. I jumped in, grabbing the hand of a poufy-haired, makeup-y girl. Now, i don't have anything against girls with that description - when they're nice. But this one totally tried to ignore me. She was barely holding my hand, practically ruining the dabkeh, and then halfway through, she ran to the other side of the dabkeh where some other poufy-haired, makeup-y girls were.

Now, why exactly did she do this? Because i wasn't as poufy-haired and makeup-y as she was. I promise you, if i'd been wearing a miniskirt and full on makeup and had my hair done, she would've stayed next to me. But no, being a hijabi is just not cool enough. Actually, being anything short of a sex toy is not cool enough.

Now that that's said, i have to turn around and say that the situation isn't always like that. Most non-hijabi girls are as sweet as can be; one of my closest friends isn't hijabi. But we've gotta recognize this issue, this 'hijabism' in Arab society. If we want to be recognized in the West, then we've gotta be recognized in our own countries first.


Mathew said...

Wow!..some strong words there. And i think i agree with everything you've said...although I've not personally witnessed any particular act of discrimination. However, from a male perspective, I know alotta guys who do not want to be with hijabis because they feel that its religiously wrong to do so. But, since im not a Muslim, i dont knw if thats true or not. But i guess it just comes down to maintaining that fine balance between tradition and novelty.

Farrukh: copywriter & journalist said...

Hijabis are cool.

Coz they have the guts to do what they believe in.

You rock, girl. Don't let those ballerinas spoil your fun.


Anonymous said...

Hey Noorie,

Alright- let me at her. I mean, whereas that girl from Global Day? Whose messing with my friend Noor? Just leave her to me, and we'll have ourselves a fun, entertaining girl fight :P.

Anyways, seriously, great post- sadly, it's so true about the discrimination. I mean people automatically assume that you're a total retard because you choose to wear a hijaab on your head. it's so infuritating.

i thought this sentence was great cause it really summed (what i call hijabiis) up:

Hijabis are usually thought to be less outgoing, less creative, less modern; and more passive, more submissive, more traditional."

Well said!

i know a lot of true stories that have happened-the whole discrimation thing. My big sis talked about it in a newspaper article actually--there was an online link to it but it's been like a year, so i can't remember what the link was. darn. maybe later, i'll remember it.

Oh, here's one story- there was this girl i knew, who told me that her teacher was supposed to do a t.v. show in Egypt but they wouldn't let her do the show unless she took off her hijaab. I Mean...What DA?!

enough of my ranting,

moi said...

Nice post and blog :) I've always felt that hijabis are discriminated against in the Arab world much more than in the West, and I've experienced it first hand. As if Arab women aren't already discriminated against as a whole, some make it worse by discriminating against their fellow hijabis because they think that the latter have hurt their struggle for women's rights. Before we ask for rights equal to men or women in the West, we need start respecting ourselves and the individuals around us for who they are, not how they look.

Oh, and I must say I like the "hijabism" terminology!

Pro-Freedom said...

Well, there is another side to the story, of course. I don't blame those who are suspicious of the hijabis, as you say. You said it yourself when you say that the cloth is an affirmation of your faith. Maybe those women aren't interested in religion and they should have the right to have that opinion. So when they see a girl with a headscarf they assume someone who IS religious!

There IS a logical connection, you know.

Christopher Taylor said...

That was a great article and interesting to read about for someone from the United States. I linked to it on my site, because it's just a glimpse into life for a girl in the UAE. I admire your desire for modesty, a virtue that girls in the west seem to have entirely forgotten.

Anonymous said...

i agree with "pro-freedom". i wanted to tell you that there cud be another reason why that girl left you. just cuz she assumed that you guyz wud have nothing in common. true, it is rude how she just ran like she saw some monster..but you know. and usually the discrimination against hijabis in the Arab world between young girls is bcuz of that reason...nothing in common. that's how they see it.

Anonymous said...

oh! cnt blieve i wuz gunna 4get this point: good post!

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