I’ve been on my hijab journey since I converted to Islam in 2011. I quickly realized that there are numerous misconceptions surrounding the headscarf. It’s truly exhausting explaining every little misconception sometimes, especially to those who are determined to misunderstand you either way. There are a plethora of articles, books, and YouTube videos specifically on these misconceptions. Yet, there still seems to be so much hatred directed towards the hijab. That being said, I know many people genuinely want to learn and understand. I’ve come up with the top 5 misconceptions that I’ve encountered the most.
*I chose to use the words “hijab”, “headscarf” or “veil” interchangeably. However, hijab refers to both inner modesty and outward modesty. It does not solely mean headscarf.
Misconception # 1- We wear the hijab to protect ourselves from male harassment.
Fact # 1– Most of us wear the veil because we believe that it is a commandment from God. Some men will harass women regardless of what they wear. This is why the Quran ( our holy book) addresses men before women. The Quran commands men to lower their gaze.
Misconception #2- The veil is a symbol of oppression.
Fact #2 – Oppression is defined as the state of being subject to unjust treatment or control. Do I consider the act of forcing a dress code as oppression? Yes! This would apply to countries that have both headscarf bans and those that force the headscarf. More countries have veil bans than countries that force the headscarf. The Quran states, in 2:256, that there is no compulsion in religion. This shows that forced religious acts are more from corrupt people than religion. Additionally, many women are just fed up with mainstream beauty standards and they find it empowering to embrace the veil.
Misconception #3- The headscarf is specific to a foreign culture.
Fact # 3- Islam is meant for all of humanity, not just a specific part of the world. Therefore, Muslims can be found in almost every corner of the globe. If you ever visit a mosque in the USA, Canada, or Europe you will notice that there are several types of veil styles.
Misconception #4- Women who wear the hijab are very religious and equivalent to nuns.
Fact #4- Women who wear the hijab are no more religious than women who do not wear the hijab. A major teaching of Islam is good character building and good deeds. Wearing a hijab just means that you have taken a step to become more modest.
Misconception #5- Looking trendy or pretty defeats the purpose of wearing the hijab.
Fact #5- You don’t have to look unattractive when you just dress modestly. Women who wear the veil are free to wear different colors, beautify themselves, and enjoy trends if they want. Islamic tradition encourages people to take care of their appearance. That being said, Islam has a certain standard of modesty guidelines for men and women. Islam encourages a balance between worldly life and religious life.
Stay tuned for a future blog post about the five reason I personally enjoy modesty!