this is MY hijab, not yours

I apologize in advance if this is incoherent (I will revise this at a later date) but I need to discuss something really fucking important right now.

So, I am a Muslim woman who participates in wearing the hijab. The hijab, if you don’t know, is a religious head covering women in the Islamic religion participate in. Now, before you ask if my dad forced me to wear it, no he did not, it was 100% my choice. I can only speak for myself, of course, as not everyone is as fortunate as me to have that choice.

So I’ve been wearing it since Ramadan 2013, so the month of Ramadan is more memorable for me since it’s kind of like an anniversary for myself, of some sort.

I know there are others who have worn it for longer than I have, and some for a shorter amount of time than I have. The longer you wear it, the more difficult it is to take it off, they say. It melds into your personality, and deciding to take it off means peeling off a layer of yourself. I find that explanation too dramatic and too specific to a certain niche of hijab-wearers, those who believe 100% of the hijab wearers in the world had a choice to wear it (how it should be, but sadly isn’t the reality).

So this next part is my own, personal experience, and in no way should be generalized to the entire population of hijab wearers so PLEASE don’t do it!

Ok. So I had an experience with a relative recently that sent my blood boiling. Sparing all the details of the argument, they told me it is difficult to go out in public with me due to the fact I engage in wearing my hijab. They claimed it made it awkward to walk around with an ultra-religious person at a festival around “normal” people because they would look at me differently.

So, please tell me how calm I am supposed to react to this tidbit of news??? Do I say, “Hey you’re right, I shouldn’t wear this damn rag on my head just to please you! Of course!” NO.

For me, my hijab is a part of me. And I mean that in an up close and personal way, too. It’s a tumultuous relationship we have since the political climate in the United States makes it difficult to practice freedom of religion. What’s worse is that when the people who also share your struggle as a Muslim in America (especially the male population) do not support your displays of religion because they find them arbitrary and pointless, then it hurts. Because for me, even the worst days with my hijab on were better than my best days without it.

I mean, sure, I would like to let my hair down and show off my haircut in public, but for me, I am attached to my hijab for more than the fact it is a head covering. It has become a part of me, and it has helped me in reaffirming who I am as a person, a student and a professional in this world. It is more than just a cloth on my head for me, it saved me in the battle with myself, and continues to give me the strength to continue battling to this day.

So to people who say I cause them embarrassment due to that one thing is disrespectful. The culmination of who I am was based on my hijab, and to claim it’s just a piece of cloth and a signal of extremism and to claim walking next to a hijab-wearing person makes you uncomfortable is disgusting, especially when these words come from a fellow Muslim!!!!!!

I am me, and my hijab is a part of me, and I can do whatever I want and have full freedom to live my life as a hijab-wearing American woman.

I don’t know why I have to reiterate this fact, but here we are because incompetent people around me give me a reason to need to defend myself.

– Hadeel