Rafed English

Scarf and the West

It has gone everything from a highly political statement in the West, to a deeply personal religious act, progressing to a requirement in such countries as Iran and Saudi Arabia. The word “Hijab” roots from the Arabic word “hajaba” meaning to hide from view or conceal. Today, the Hijab is defined as the modest covering of head and body for a Mus l im woman.

For many young Muslim women in America, their persistent faith has been put to the test in these trial times of the 21st century. It reminds people of past times in the U.S. history when certain groups felt the sting of prejudice and in turn gained strength by calling attention to their ethnic or religious identities, instead of just ‘”blending in”. More women today are showing their increased faith in God and their pride in being Muslims, by not only studying the teachings of Islam but also concealing their hair and body. Covering themselves protects the morals of society, the family, and the individual. It is a deterrent for promiscuous behavior and inevitably makes it less interesting for those men who view women as objects. Muslims at times forget that God only wants what is best for them, and that nothing He ordains is without a purpose. He tells us in the Holy Qur’an to say, “…

I but follow what is revealed to me from my Lord: This is (nothing but) Light from your Lord, and Guidance, and Mercy, for any who have faith ” ( 7 : 2 0 3 ) .

I was explained the advantages of wearing a Hijab and I knew I needed to start soon. The purpose was there, time was flying, and conquering fears was going to be no easy task. I was well above the age of nine; it was my last year in high school. There were many that I knew that were grown up and raised to wear a scarf, but there were also many who were not. There were some who even objected to the idea. It was solely my decision, so I decided to set the goal of beginning to wear a scarf when I would come across a new beginning in life; I would start after I graduated from high school.

Along with the many other Muslim women in the U.S., I too wanted to show my strength as a Muslim today, fearing none but God. There was a day when a Muslim woman approached me with a question that I could not ignore, “Do you care more about what God thinks of you or the students at your high school?” The obvious answer could not be squirmed out of, so I knew I had to do what I thought was right regardless of what others thought. Just answering the question would not be enough; I had to act to show that I knew the answer.

Though I would be one of the only two sisters in the midst of 2,000 students wearing a scarf, it was my faith in God that let me stroll down those crowded hallways with my head held up high, not worrying what others thought about my decision. Sure, I received many glances and questions but I realized that that could be used as an opportunity to shed light on the unknown or clear the typical misunderstandings of Islam.

It was an opportunity to show my confidence and strength I had in myself, and I was grateful for it as it opened many new doors into my world. Now as I enter college with the same ratio of Muslims to non-Muslims, I see how it has changed me. The Hijab has become a part of me and who I am as a person. It is not merely a piece of cloth concealing my head and body; it has become my symbol of faith in Islam.

The modesty the Hijab brings is due to the strings it has attached. If done for the true purpose, a line of characters or virtues is embedded into the head and body once they are covered. A woman becomes aware of her surroundings and she is conscious of every step she takes outside of her home.

Representing the religion of Islam is not an easy task, for it begins with small steps in order to reach the end.

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