Written By: Farah Hatem
Since Egyptians create, comment on, and follow trends relatively fast, the new ‘trend’ that emerged nowadays is women taking their hijab off. It’s everywhere; comics, memes, angry posts, apologetic and unapologetic ones all over social media. It’s getting hectic, really, seeing the amount of people that suddenly have a say in how a woman should look like; whether they know her or not.
People generally commented on how absurd it was for a woman to take her hijab off; how it was in no way liberating her, how every word she decides to say in that issue should be a method of showing how much of a sinner she is, how those who take it off are seen as weak, insignificant, less religious women who lost a part of their faith and consequently are seen as less than others who still have it on. They also dismissed the issue as women feeling “bored” with their lives so that’s their way of making a change, or that it was a fake, sinful way of making other women feel empowered.
It’s crucial to say, deciding whether to wear the hijab or to take it off will never be a trend. It will never be a social movement. It is always related to one’s own conviction and beliefs; and the fact that several women are doing it at once does not mean that it’s a trend that people should gossip about, criticize and follow. This is not a fashion statement. No one has a say in this but every woman as a sole individual.
Men have absolutely no say in this, it was never their bodies they had to cover or their hair they had to keep away from the world. This was never their issue to think about discussing.
What’s really painful is seeing women bring other women down with their comments; claiming they’re too weak, too bored, not religious enough, not committed enough, not enough to wear hijab and be like others, as if it heightens ones position in life and increases a woman’s worth.
As a Muslim woman, getting bombarded by those sarcastic comments and hurtful remarks makes me feel trapped; to a piece of cloth, to the view of society, to their idea of what a woman is and what she isn’t. It makes me feel part of an out-group, one that I’ll never be let in unless I hate on others who choose a different path than mine.
As an ex-hijabi who took it off long ago, I feel like my existence is belittled. My thoughts are hushed away. My feelings are not put into perspective. Who knows how weak I was when I took it off? Who knows how strong? Who knows how my relationship with God is? Who has the right to mention it?
To keep this short: no one. No one can ever decide this for someone else, not another woman, not a parent, not anyone in this society or elsewhere. Only those who are struggling can talk or joke about it, only if they want to. Instead, talk to someone who is struggling to put it on, or have it on. Tell them that you’re there, to any decision that they would make, to whatever way they decide to show themselves to the world.
Struggling to have the hijab on is not something that can be easily explained, rather felt and mutually discussed. Do not belittle the people around you. Do not make them feel like they are less of women or human beings, for we are allowed to feel and express those feelings. This issue will always be considered a taboo so long as people only mention it while making sarcastic remarks on Facebook, and it is our duty to make it stop being this way.
Support the women you decide to surround yourself with. Stop making them feel like their existence, thoughts, ideas, and feelings are not valid. Make them feel empowered. Let them choose. Let them win.
This is not a call for women to take it off or put it on, this is for everyone around to let women live, let them fithe right path themselves with no pressure and no fear.