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Things Muslim women are always hearing

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Niles North MSA members Amna Masood & Nazish Desai

Niles North MSA members Amna Masood & Nazish Desai

Niles North MSA members Amna Masood & Nazish Desai

Zaynab Hossain

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The world is full of Muslim women, and they’re all pretty amazing. Unfortunately, the world is also full of misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding the women.
People who are misinformed about the faith sometimes unwittingly ask questions that are offensive and don’t realize it. So in honor of the week of Muslim Women’s day, some of those stereotypes will be addressed and explained as to why they’re offensive so that next time before someone asks a question they can be more informed and make sure they aren’t hurting anyone.
It should go without saying that there are times when Muslim women wear the hijab and times when they don’t. And the fact that a Muslim woman is wearing the hijab (or isn’t) shouldn’t give her the responsibility to explain the religion’s views on gender to everyone. Things that might seem obvious are the topics that women have had to deal with. Here are some questions, misconceptions, and comments that need some clearing up.

“Do you have to wear that in the shower too?”
As a person who sometimes wears a hijab, I can say that I’ve heard this one so many times its concerning. Yes, we wash our hair. No, not with it on. When women are at home with our family and relatives, they don’t wear a hijab and don’t cover up. When they are outside or with men who aren’t part of their family, they cover up to protect their modesty.

“Why don’t you wear the hijab?”
Islamic rule simply indicates that men and women should dress modestly. That can be interpreted differently by each individual. The Quran didn’t come with a diagram for the kind of clothes they should be wearing. Wearing the hijab is a personal choice as well as an identity. There are different levels of religiousness, the same way it is so in Christianity, Judaism and any other religion. There are different interpretations, and it doesn’t mean one woman is better for wearing a hijab than another who is not. It’s a matter of personal preference, perspective, and interpretation. You are still a Muslim if you don’t wear a hijab.

Taking the hijab as a debate issue
Hijab is a personal preference. Whether or not someone agrees with it is very much irrelevant. Whether or not someone wants to “let” women wear it is also irrelevant. The truth is the only one who gets a say in what someone’s wearing is that individual. And I mean, people who still think socks with sandals are cute horrify me to the point where I have nightmares about evil flip-flops killing my cat, but you don’t see me trying to get them banned.

“How come you make your outfits stylish? Shouldn’t you be wearing hijab clothes?”
Firstly, hijab isn’t a category of clothing. There’s no one type of clothing Muslim women have to wear. We don’t walk into Nordstrom and go through a hidden door labeled “hijab”. Wearing hijab is just a way of dressing modestly, and in no world does dressing modestly equal purposely looking as distasteful as possible. All women have different tastes in clothing and style, and that doesn’t change when it comes to Muslim women. Clothing is still a way to express themselves.

“Oh my god you smoke? But you wear the hijab!”
I personally get this a lot, and I know other hijabis get it just as much. Not necessarily for the smoking, that’s just an example. But again and again, I have found that if I was with or near people who didn’t know me too well and I commented on a cute boy or said I wanted to go out and play soccer I would get looks of such horror and surprise you would think I just suggested we join the Russian mafia. And it isn’t just misinformed people who I get it from. Even other Muslims are guilty of this as well. Wearing the hijab isn’t a declaration of religious perfection or superiority. Women who wear the hijab aren’t declaring that they’re nuns or something. We lie to our moms, we hide secrets of lust, greed, and envy just like every other person in the world. It doesn’t mean we deserve more ridicule and disapproval than what would be given to anyone else.

“Women who wear the hijab are traditional.”
False.

“Does your dad/husband force you to wear that?”
Okay, that’s sexist. It implies that Islam believes that women are belonging to their dads and husbands, giving them the power to force “their” women to cover up. Some Muslims have this kind of mindset too, and at that point, it’s an issue of feminism and equality, not religion. Men are painted as powerful dictators, unshakeable by the poor, helpless little women. Like, really? With the number of feminists in the world, do you really think there would be such a large Muslim population if that was the case?
Subul Khan is a junior at Niles North. When asked about her experiences with this, she said, “… not only is that comment sexist but it stereotypes my father as a terrorist who forces his daughter to do something, the truth is…I am not forced to wear my hijab I wear it for purposes of modesty and out of respect for my religion.”
Maybe for some people, it is true that they’re forced to wear a hijab. And for some people, it’s not. The truth is, people who force women to wear something are doing the religion completely wrong. The Quran calls for women to cover up and for men to cover up. Nowhere does it say, “Men, cover up your women and if they dare challenge you, proceed to puff out your chest and yell and pump up your biceps like The Hulk and give everyone around you a headache.” But how each family interacts with the rules doesn’t change the rules themselves. And I mean, plenty of Christian parents force kids to go to church on Sundays, and whether that’s wrong or not, every time you see a kid walking out of a church you don’t ask them if their dad made them go.

“Are you oppressed?”
Probably not. And if a Muslim woman is oppressed, it’s not because of the cloth on her head, or because the religion meant for her to be, it’s because of men who use religion as a reason to defy everything feminism is striving for and get away with it. And even so, Muslim women aren’t helpless.

“So ISIS. What’s the deal with that?”
Let me tell you a secret about terrorists who call themselves Muslim. They’re not. Like, not even a little bit. They are, in fact, just a bunch of power-seeking douchebags who hide behind a fake version of a religion to justify what they’re doing.

Hopefully, that clears things up.

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Things Muslim women are always hearing