This month saw the end of the “Hijabi Inspiration” Facebook contest which generated many insightful and encouraging stories, describing how many wonderful Muslim women there are in our ummah that we can depend on to be role models, look up to, and inspire to be like. A whole range of women were suggested, from friends, sisters, mothers and neighbors, to style icons and religious figures. Certainly all are worthy of our appreciation and we thank them every day for the inspiration and wisdom they provide; not only in dressing modestly and elegantly but teaching us to be modest and graceful in our actions and deeds as well.
Our HijabGirl contest winner Neda, submitted her own personal story about how she came to wear hijab and how Mary was her inspiration:
“This month marks 4 years since I started wearing my hijab. Some of you may have found this to be an abrupt change considering you knew me all these years without it. If you were ever wondering why I suddenly decided to wear it at age 21, here’s why: When I started UCLA, I was burnt out. I felt like I was the last person who was in control of my identity, and I became sick of it. I questioned everything, including my beliefs surrounding Islam. Luckily my anger and growing cynicism led me to question more, and learn so much more about Islam and most importantly my own self.
In this time, I learned more about Mary. We believe strongly in Jesus (as a prophet), and Mary is one of the most respected women in Islam. She has her hair covered in every depiction of her, and kept it covered as a symbol of being humble to God. This is a woman I’d love to be reminded of on a daily basis, her story, her high esteem…
And then I thought, where are my own ideas about beauty coming from? Who is defining them? Am I the one defining them? The way I’m dressing right now, the way I have my hair done, is this what I want? This may be okay for another woman, but is this what I really want to be about? Have you ever wondered why people go vegan sometimes instead of just vegetarian? Its often because they want NOTHING to do with the amount of animal cruelty that goes into milking cows or even collecting eggs. It is a powerful symbol, as well as a lifestyle choice that represents a person’s beliefs. Have you ever seen how women are now being sexualized to the core? Every function a woman does, even eating, is heavily sexualized and advertised. If a woman wants to partake in that, then its her choice. But like the vegan who wants nothing to do with something she finds morally distressing to her, I want NOTHING to do with such heavy objectification.
To wear the hijab means that I am taking back what is mine, MY standard of beauty, and owning the hell out of it. The hijab is a symbol for what I strongly believe in, and I now made a lifestyle choice out of it, just like the vegan. It is my choice, and one that I find empowering. I am not claiming that my choice to wear hijab is better than yours. I am only saying that this is the choice I made for myself, and that is what true feminism is. To define my own standards, and my own lifestyle, without claiming that this is the more “free, liberated” way of living than your lifestyle.
Wearing hijab is therefore the most feminist thing I’ve ever done. My hijab has provoked countless questions and conversations about Islam and why I chose to wear it, and has given me the opportunity to clear up so many misconceptions that the media has imposed on Islam. Hijab not only has allowed me to really understand what it means to be a feminist, but has also given me so many opportunities to educate and create awareness about another faith. It is the strength it gives me as a woman and as a community member that makes me want to continue wearing it for years to come.”
A new HijabGirl contest is now up and running – this time we’re asking you to describe what hijab is like in your country! Enter by clicking here.