Rafed English

why wear the hijab?

So you're a non-Muslim and have no idea why the oddball hippie and/or possibly emo girls have started dressing like nuns. All right, we'll give you some credit. We know you don't live under a rock, so the minute you see a woman wandering in the shopping mall with a scarf covering her hair, you think: Muslim! (Or if you're easily persuaded by the media, you're probably thinking more along the lines of the T word which has more or less become our nickname since 9/11, although we assure you we have no more idea than you do about where bin Laden is currently hiding.)

Still feeling a bit weird, nervous, and of course awkward for even being in the same mall, let alone walking close to or talking to this covered lady, you discreetly observe her from a distance and watch her every move – you know, just to make sure she's pulling out your favorite brand of tissues out of her purse.

She comes your way and you try eavesdropping on anything and everything that comes out of her mouth. Surprisingly, the scarfed woman seems relatively sane and politely spoken. Hey, she isn't so bad after all!

Okay, so now we have established who Muslim women are: school-goers, stay-at-home mums, your child's kindergarten teacher, your neighbor's babysitter – basically, ordinary women! Yet the questions remain unanswered: why do these women conceal their bodies and hair? Isn't showing off our beauty and attracting others towards ourselves the norm? What about on hot days, don't these girls pass out when the sweltering heat accumulates all around their heads? Has anyone ever seen their hair? Oh no, how do they shower with that thing on?!

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