Setting the scene. It’s breakfast. We all silently munch away. Silence is broken.
“Did you know that another girl has taken her hijab off”
The Females pipe up.
“And from such a respectable family”
I stuff another piece of toast in my mouth. Best keep quiet.
The Misogynist of the family speaks up.
“It’s because she’s ugly. She’s desperate to get married”
Can’t keep quiet any longer. Swallow and I draw a breath to speak up. I get a sharp glance from The Matriarch. When The Misogynist speaks, nobody can argue. The sharp glance turns into pleading eyes.
“Please; keep the peace”.
Begrudgingly, I continue munching, unable to swallow from the shear rage burning inside.
That’s why, she’s ugly and wants to get married. 5 years on, she is still not married. 5 years on, she works for the UN? Travelled the world, even has her own flying license. Why is it all about marriage? Why is she such a disgrace? She took off her headscarf? And the critics include the women? Where is the sisterhood? I often think to myself – how did we get to this situation?
Judging and critising each other is easy. We don’t live each other’s lives and face each other’s problems. The decision to remove your headscarf, especially in our community, where it’s been on since the age of 9 mustn’t have been an easy one. We underestimate that decision this one woman took – and in fact hundreds of others have taken like her. Spending most of your life covered under a veil then removing that is the equivalent to deciding to go out without your top on. You feel naked. But there must have been good reasons. Yes, these girls are respectable and educated. Maybe they realised, like others have, that the hijab is becoming obsolete. Its meaning diluted? Its feminist ideals indoctrinated in our early Islamic education a lie? It’s now a homing device, the “X” that marks the spot. The visible invisible. You are a muslim, everyone knows it, there is no denying it covered up like that. And in this day and age, where the anti-muslim sentiment is growing, maybe people don’t want to be labelled as such? Maybe I don’t want to be beaten up on the way home? Maybe, just maybe, I will be looked at and judged less if I didn’t’ have it on.
by The Undercover Feminist