Comprehending hijab

“Mahdiyah, do you bathe in that?”

This is one of many questions that I’ve been asked regarding my hijab, or headscarf.

VOICE columnist Mahdiyah Al-askari. (Staff photo by Carlton Koonce)

At first, I used to get irritated and used sarcasm as a way to brighten up my mood. But as I got older, I realized…some people just don’t know why.

According to a Google search I did, “a hijab is a head covering worn in public by some Muslim women.” But this is false and just goes to show that the Internet is not a reliable source all the time.

But, I will give Google the benefit of the doubt, because it was very close. Actually, the hijab is how one carries one’s self.

Hijab is modesty.

Did you know that even men wear hijab?

This is why the Muslim men you see almost always have beards. It is their hijab. It may sound weird, but I’m finding that in life you learn new things everyday.

Take this for example:

I sent out a survey to my school, Hillside New Tech High, so that students could anonymously share their views and opinions about the hijab, and also share some questions they’ve been hesitant to ask.

From the survey I discovered that quite a few people thought that it was cool that men also have hijabs. There were plenty of “that explains a lot” and “no, but now I know” comments. The best one I saw was “I could understand that…the stereotypes make a little more sense.”

Well, I don’t know a lot about the men’s hijab apart from the beard, but I do know more about females.

When a young woman turns nine, she must begin to cover. Some may think that it is a young age, but nine is around the time that many girls hit puberty.

When covering, Islam says that women should cover the whole body, save their hands and face. And no, it is not too hot in the summer, especially if you know what to wear and how to dress.

In hijab, clothes can’t be tightly fit. This would defeat the purpose of covering. To be blunt, from my experience, some men are the type that when they see a woman dressed in less clothing, they tend to get distracted.

There have been days that I’ve unconsciously worn clothing that was tight, and I noticed a change, that didn’t feel good at all. I felt disrespected because many guys felt that they had to comment about it.

I noticed that when they would talk to me with my hijab on, they’d have to deal with my brain before my body.
It feels good!

When I wear it, it almost feels like a secret to me. It’s like something that I can only share with my loved ones.  This leads to the question, “Who can see your hair?”

I don’t go without it in front of people who I can’t marry, for example, women, my father, brother, granddad, uncles and so on. For this reason I wear it in public.

There have been times when people came to me and said, “You can take it off now, your parents won’t see.”

They might not see, but I would know.

Islam allows followers to choose what they want to do, but like most religions, it also tells us what not to do. I choose to follow, and thanks to my parents, I learn new things and learn to love my faith more everyday.

I hope the community is willing to learn a little more along with me.

Author of the article

Mahdiyah is a YO:Durham Intern

One Response

  1. Sally
    Sally at | | Reply

    Nice article, thanks for making the effort to inform more people about what hijab truly is. This is a great article to prompt people do do more research. Men also have a ‘clothing hijab’ like women do, for example they cannot wear shorts higher than their knees, nor can they expose any skin beneath the bellybutton. Social hijab, and how women and men interact, is also a big part of hijab. Such a broad topic! Anyway, again, very nice article :)

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