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Check out This Conversation Between Muslim Girls on Modesty, Feminism, & Faith

At Muslim Girl, we writers and contributors treat each other like family. We are a sisterhood. Communicating with our fellow Muslim Girl sisters can be tricky, but using a forum with different sub-forums we have found a way to flesh out stories, share achievements and news, and discuss life and religion in a safe digital space.

Recently, Muslim Girl writer Iman Ibrahim sparked a conversation on one of our sub-forums that has often been a topic of discussion on social media platforms and among Muslim women. From the “Haraam police” hating on your skinny jeans to pseudo-feminists insisting that the hijab is oppressive to women, our relationship with hijab is often brought under scrutiny by people who believe they wear hijab better or are better without hijab. Men, in public and private spaces, online and in masajid, also comment on women’s dress, while forgetting that men are also expected to conform to Islamic standards of modesty, and that humility and the absence of judgement for another’s actions are encouraged in Islam.

Donning Hijab, maintaining an attitude of submission and modesty, enriching our iman, all of these were supposed to be personal; an individual act of worship between a girl and her Lord. What happened? Why did hijab become a tool with which to shame women?

Iman Ibrahim’s cogent thoughts on hijab, modesty, faith, and uplifting fellow Muslim women sparked the following thought-provoking conversation:

 

Iman Ibrahim: 
Do you guys think the way a girl wears her hijab accurately measures her relationship with Allah? Or how much Iman she has? I was talking about it with one of my friends, and she said that girls who show some hair, their neck, and do the turban style basically aren’t adhering to what you’re supposed to cover. I feel like the two are apples and oranges, because there are girls don’t wear a hijab who can have a stronger iman.

Amanda Sadler:
To be honest, I find myself overcompensating in one area when I lack in another. I cover a lot of skin but I don’t pray like I should. The amount of coverage cannot dictate a person’s level of iman.

Iman Ibrahim:
I agree! I am the same way, Amanda. 

Amanda Sadler:
I feel so much guilt about it, too. When I take the kids to the masjid I have to make sure we pray a lot the day or two before so they aren’t totally lost when we get there.

Fadwa Abulughod:
Didn’t even have to think about my answer: Absolutely not. Like I said above as a joke but I’m kinda saying more seriously now, the tighter the hijab doesn’t mean the closer to god. I know this for a fact because my friends who don’t wear it and probably never will are much closer to God then I ever was wearing this. I have different struggles than they do but I don’t think I’m a better Muslim for wearing it so I don’t know why any girl would think she’s a better Muslim for showing less hair/neck.

Julie Larah Moore:
Absolutely not. I believe strongly that the way in which a person observes the veil is based on

– quranic interpretation
– Islamic sect
– culture
– current country location
– personal choice

No one knows what’s in a person’s heart but Allah. How can we judge her religion by her clothes?

In a Hadith (I think in Al bukhari), there was a time during the a battle with the prophet when one of the believers approached an attacking non-believer with his sword ready to kill him. But just before he struck, the non-believer shouted out “laillahhaillallah”… But the Muslim attacker stabbed him anyway – thinking this man only said shahada to save his own life.

When he returned to the Prophet and told him what he did, the prophet admonished him stating something akin to ‘he said laillahaillallah! You don’t know what’s in his heart!’. He repeated it over and over and over again until the Muslim understood and regretted his action.

How dare we judge the strength of another person’s religion?

Who are we?

When we feel the need to judge others, we should seek forgiveness from Allah for thinking so highly of ourselves. 

Maham Khan:
Nope! To each their own. Our emaan diminishes the second we start judging others.

Iman Ibrahim:
I totally agree with Fadwa, which also makes me scared if I ever thought I can’t do this anymore, what would she say. I was trying to understand her viewpoint and I think she is just making it too black and white. But I also think she’s trying to reference the aqeedah on what is suppose to be covered for a woman. Because your hair, and ears, and neck are considered sacred so like protecting your owra?

Fadwa Abulughod:
Gonna tell all the dudes to cover their owra then when they go swimming because um they been hoe’in around for a while now…

Amani Hamed:
I know so many Muslims who do better for Allah and the Ummah than I do, and I wear hijab. I don’t wear an abaya, I’m always wearing pants. Sometimes I feel like I’m not covered enough but I do my best. It’s all about what you do for the sake of Allah and how sincere you are. An atom of worship Allah rewards and accepts.

Fadwa Abulughod:
When I was 14 and slipped on my one piece scarf (cuz they were soooooper fashionable back in the day) at midnight on New Year’s Eve I didn’t think I was going to go through the struggles of being a hijabi AND represent the entire Muslim population and their actions. I know that’s part of the test but I guess my issue is people automatically think they know who you are wearing it and also think they have some authority in your life to determine whether you are a good muslim or a bad one. BYE.

Amani Hamed:
I have a friend who doesn’t cover, she took the hijab off the year before I met her, and I put it on the year after we met. We met when we were 11.
Her father would chastise her in front of me, saying I was a better Muslim for wearing the hijab. He was always trying to humiliate her into wearing it.
In the meantime, I thought she was gorgeous and didn’t want her to put it on, because it would have crushed her spirit to wear it just because her dad was abusive. And she prayed! All the time! And I didn’t. We couldn’t leave the house if she hadn’t prayed, she was so dedicated. 

Amanda Sadler:
And when someone of authority, especially a man, tells young girls who are trying their hardest to do what’s right, they they are doing it wrong…it breaks their spirit, you know?

Amani Hamed:
That’s so awful. Reza Aslan said it best: “A hijab is a thing that if you are a Muslim man you should have no opinion about.” 

Also I think the only reason we should enforce any sort of dress code in public schools is so kids learn to dress professionally and dress for success.
I can’t stand girls in tank tops being made to wear the “shame shirt” because some boy might get “distracted.” Boys are distracted all the damn time without our help.

Amanda Sadler:
Absolutely!! Today people have no concept of appropriate clothing. It is sad when the courthouse has a note addressing appropriate attire and still has to turn people away for coming in half naked.

Amani Hamed:
There’s a time and a place. I don’t want girls to be ashamed of their bodies or feel that all this body policing is because they have to fend off the predatory male gaze. That’s totally wrong and perpetuates rape culture. But you don’t wear a bikini in a classroom for the same reason you wouldn’t wear a suit to the beach.
Dress appropriately for the place and the occasion.


 

It is noteworthy that all of the girls who participated in this conversation wear hijab regularly, with slight differences in the ways in which we wear our hijab and practice the modesty of spirit that comes with accepting the hijab as an attitude and not simply a garment. Within this conversation, all of us, women who wear hijab every day, came to the conclusion that while we as individuals believe our spiritual practice and our connection to Allah has been strengthened by wearing hijab, hijab is not an indication nor a litmus test for having strong faith or consistent practice in other areas of religion. How can we possibly judge other women who show their hair, their necks, their ankles? Who wear hijab in a way different from the way we do? How can we judge women who have never worn hijab, who dress in a decidedly Western fashion, baring much more than we choose to?

We have come to realize that we absolutely can’t.

And as sisters who uphold one another, we won’t.

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