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  • Maryam Uzman

Society and the Hijab

Many women from various religions wear hijab. The hijab is most commonly attributed to Muslim women. Muslim women choose to wear the hijab as an act of worship to God and as a symbol of modesty. When we think of a hijab, we all usually picture a woman covering her hair, but that is not the true definition. The true definition of hijab is to practice a modest lifestyle; this includes being humble and being kind to everyone. Unlike what most of society thinks, hijab applies to both men and women in Islam. Hijab is a choice that Muslim women make when they are ready. Once a woman wears it, they still have the freedom to remove it if they no longer want to wear it. If this is the case, why do so many people say Muslim women are "oppressed"? Around the world, over five countries banned the hijab in some manner. Women in these countries are forbidden by the government to go to school or have a government job, which would include being a doctor, lawyer, and teacher, and many more positions. The most recent case of this happening is in Belgium, where the government is banning women wearing hijabs from attending university. Governments try to justify this violation of human rights with various arguments, including expressing concerns about the oppression women face and the bias they will have in the workplace. Additionally, a portion of society says that they don't believe women should cover their hair. The true oppression, however, is not letting women have a right to an education and jobs based on what they choose to wear. Women should not be judged for what they choose to wear and have their right to a job and education be stripped from them. A hijab does not determine a woman's intellect, morals, or personality. Muslim women feel more empowered and protected wearing a hijab because people cannot assess them based purely on looks. Hijabi women are going against and challenging societal norms by showing the world that being modest is beautiful. It shows that you don't need to look like women from magazines in order to be beautiful and respected. In countries where the hijab is banned, Quebec included, hate crimes are on the rise due to the government perpetuating islamophobia. Governments have a significant influence on society. When a government actively oppresses religious minorities, people in that country will eventually agree with the immoral practices, thus, making hate crimes more prevalent. If governments everywhere stopped oppressing religious minorities, society would become more tolerant of the idea of women wearing things such as the hijab. The media has a massive role in perpetuating the idea of Muslim women being oppressed as well. The media tends to say Muslim women are oppressed by wearing the hijab and being modest but never bothers to try to get opinions from a hijabi women themselves. The media needs to have opinions from Muslim women to give them a voice when it comes to topics such as oppression.

Being a woman who wears the hijab, I have experienced many things, from being called a terrorist to having my life threatened multiple times for wearing something I chose to wear. A lot of Muslim women are treated differently and are alienated from society for simply covering their hair. Women who wear hijab are no different than women who don’t. As a society, we should educate ourselves about these issues and topics to understand the true meaning behind something like the hijab. By educating ourselves, we can remove the stigma that Muslim women are oppressed and change the views society has placed on Muslim women.

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