Hijablogging: “Hijab Undecided”

The topics discussed and debated in the “hijablogosphere” are always wide-ranging, but a succession of recent blog posts delve into one particularly tricky topic: what happens when a woman decides to take off her hijab.

First, a post in late May from Egyptian blogger Nadia Elawady caused a stir in the blogosphere and collected hundreds of comments. In the post, Nadia tells us about her “dirty little secret”:

I experimented last week. I took off my hijab – the headscarf many Muslim women wear to cover their hair.

I have been wearing a headscarf when I leave the privacy of my home for 25 years, since I was 17. That’s a long long time in human years.

I took my hijab off during a recent trip to Europe. I wanted to know what it would feel like. I wanted to know how people’s perceptions of me would change and how my perception of myself would change.

Woman in desert near Sharm el Sheik, Egypt. Image by Flickr user DavidDennisPhotos.com (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Woman in desert near Sharm el Sheik, Egypt. Image by Flickr user DavidDennisPhotos.com (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Nadia goes on to tell readers about why she made her decision and how it felt, describing in succinct prose the process that led her to it. She concludes:

I’m back home in Cairo, wearing my hijab. I don’t feel regret for having experimented. And I don’t currently feel like I want to permanently take off my hijab. There are a few reasons I feel that way. I don’t expect people’s reactions to me taking off the hijab in Egypt – people I know – to be positive or supportive or we-could-care-less. There would be lots of drama involved and I don’t know that I’m up for that. There’s also a part of me that still feels that the hijab might be obligatory. Maybe God really does want me to cover up from head to toe. I still need to figure that one out.

More recently, Fatma Emam also in Cairo, wrote about her recent to remove her hijab permanently. In discussing how she came to such a decision, Fatma explains:

I felt I was imprisoned in a narrow vision, which saw the world, power relations, modesty and women agency is a very parochial way, I felt that I need to read other visions, by that time I never thought my theoretical beliefs will lead to me to any personal decisions, it was for me a theoretical battle to prove that there are diversity in the Islamic paradigm .

Shani Pathan understands their feelings better than most. In a post entitled “Hijab Undecided: Keep it On… Take it Off… Keep it On…” she explains how she put on then removed hijab after just a month. Shani then discusses what she sees as disconnect between the act of wearing hijab and the broader concept of modesty:

Before even considering wearing a Hijab think twice about it, although it’s obligatory to dress modestly and also a sunnah of the Prophet SAW. Can you really represent the Hijab correctly? Will you be able to change your ways and wear it for the right reasons.

There’s no point in wearing the Hijab just to cover your head if you can’t behave like a modest woman. I may not represent the whole religious side of things correctly but what I do know is I can walk proudly on the road being modest as well as not tarnishing the value of the Hijab.


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