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The Hijab: There's More To The Story
When you begin reading this article, some of you won’t know what the Hijab is. So, before I go on talking about it, I will explain what it is. The Hijab is a head scarf worn by muslim girls. It covers their hair, ears and neckline. It is an Islamic tradition that is widely accepted in many countries in the Middle East.
Many people feel negatively about this tradition, especially people from the Western world. From their point of view, the Hijab is something women are forced to wear by their controlling husbands and fathers. Certain extremist events have caused the Islam religion to be viewed as the ‘terrorist’ religion. Outrageous headlines about Muslim men of 60 marrying girls of 8 have been circulation through the newspapers for the past few years. The lack of rights that women have in certain parts of the world, such as Saudi Arabia has caused distress. The Hijab is just there to top it all. Once again, women have to obey their husbands or fathers and wear it whether they like it or not.
But are we right in thinking so? Is the hijab really one more restricting rule in the Middle East, that is just there to oppress the women of the Islam faith? I think not. You see, I live in Dubai. I live in the Middle East and I see women wearing the Abaya and the Hijab everywhere I go. At first, I was shocked, I didn’t understand it. But as time moved on, I began to understand their culture and their reasons. I began to understand that those women are not forced to wear the hijab by their parents or husbands. I began to understand why they feel the way that they do, and I decided to write this to help you understand.
In the Middle East, culture is an important part of people’s lives. People are proud of their heritage and they want to celebrate it and cherish it and pass it on from generation to generation. To them, their heritage and culture is a treasure that they do not plan to give away. Women are not the only ones that wear the traditional dress. Many men and children do so as well, so celebrating their culture.
I remember when I lived in Abu Dhabi and we would have Cultural Nights. The local children would put on beautiful shows in their national dress, dancing traditional dances and you could see the pride in their eyes.
So is that a bad thing? Is it a bad thing to respect and love your culture? I think not. I think that if that was the reason why women wanted to wear the Hijab, then we have no right to say anything against it.
Apart from this though, women also wear the Hijab because they are very faithful. A large part of Middle Eastern culture is religion and both men and women are religious and conservative. You will often see women dressed in conservative clothes even if they chose not to wear the Hijab. You will see women and men alike fasting during Ramadan. You will notice that a lot of the laws in the Middle East are based around Islam.
Religion, in many places, has become outdated. But to those people, it is there and no one can say anything against their religion. Religion is a touchy subject in the Middle East, that is best left alone in most cases. Men and women alike pray. They wake up early in the morning for morning prayer and proceed to pray five times a day. Islam is taught in schools to all muslim children. It is compulsory. This is a way for them to keep their own religion and culture and to enrich it, and for that we have to commend them.
But religion and heritage aren’t the only reason that women choose to wear the Hijab. Many of them just want to be seen for who they are and not for what they look like. When they put on the Hijab, they are viewed less like sex objects and more like normal people. The same idea goes behind dressing conservatively.
Isn’t it a goal of feminism for women not to be viewed as sex objects? By wearing the Hijab, these women are seen as conservative members in society, not as sex objects. You may argue that dressing a bit more conservatively may do the same, and that is true. Many muslim women choose to simply dress conservatively. However, some women simply want their religion and culture to be a part of them everywhere they go and so they put on the Hijab.
It is true that there are some separate cases where the decision is not the woman’s but someone else’s, but unfortunately, be it the Western world, the Middle East or Africa, there will always be violence and control.
On a final note, I do hope this article helped you understand why some women choose to wear the Hijab. I hope next time you see someone like that, you will not just pass it off as someone who can’t have a say in their own life, but as someone who probably just chose this very brave step, especially if they live in the Western world where this is not accepted. Just remember, there’s always more to the story and nothing is what it seems to be.