2.07.2014

I Took Off My Hijab

By adding more layers. A knit hat and scarf around my neck to be exact.

I didn't understand what was happening at first. People started talking to me more. Women would speak to me like I knew them since forever. Men looked at me like I was actually approachable. And I was made to feel like I was actually from this planet.

Maybe I was finally fitting in? Maybe I was no longer self conscious about my unique dress code and a face lacking makeup?

But then it became fishy. The Muslim taxi drivers who would almost always say "Assalamu Alaikum," ask me where I'm from or if I'm single, or not allow me to pay for the fare became cold and dry. I would simply give the address, and the only dialog thereafter was at time of payment. It was puzzling.

I started to reevaluate my character. Have I become unfriendly? Arrogant? But other people had become even nicer. I couldn't figure it out.

Until I started passing by hijabis on my walk to work who wouldn't acknowledge my existence. Here is the unspoken code: one stares until the other notices and then they exchange Salams. But it's as if I was just another passer by, with no significance to the wrap around my head.

The wrap around my head. Then it hit me. My knit hat and winter scarf covered my hijab (the head scarf part) entirely and all that was visible were my eyes behind my wannabe hipster glasses while my skinny jeans tucked themselves into my boots. They didn't even *know* I was Muslim.

I found this realization absolutely hilarious. And entertaining. I started paying more attention to the difference in the way people treated me. It was fun feeling like everyone around me believed I belonged in their culture by default, and not as part of the begrudgingly adopted diversity piece of the pie. It was a good feeling. I secretly started looking forward to venturing out into the cold to further explore what it meant to be "normal."

I became even more confident walking in my city. My city. All the stares were not racially related anymore. I was addressed as "lady" and "little lady," something I had never heard before. Men would hold doors for me. Women would crack jokes with me. I became respectable, lovable, and accepted.

But did that mean that *with* hijab I am not as respectable? I am not as lovable? I cannot be accepted? I immediately began to despise the inequality, and it dawned on me that I acted like someone who was bullied for years, and finally was accepted by the mean girls, having been alluded that the mean girls became nice to everyone. I was duped. When in fact nothing had changed, and I had simply crossed over to another world for one season.

The power of this experience lies in the fact that it was not an intentional experiment. It happened simply because of the Chiberian weather which required me to cover as much of by body with warm pieces of cloth. Apparently, the type of cloth you place or wrap around your head defines how you will be treated.

I never questioned that I was being given less respect and love, or that I was not as accepted. I always thought that the type of treatment I was exposed to was just how the world was. I didn't know people could be nicer.

Thank you winter. Thank you subzero temperatures.

I pray one day, and soon, that people will be familiar enough with all other cultures and beliefs that they are not afraid or have reservations, and that the thing that stands out to them is not the wrap around my head, but the smile on my face.

321 comments:

  1. Sound quite adventurous! Perhaps the fact that the "hijabis" ignored you because you were not visibly Muslim may indicate both sides of the problem.Too often insularity is what keeps people from being treated as "normal". Our modesty should be warm not cold. :)

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    1. The problem I saw was actually with the taxi drivers perhaps more than the non-friendly hijabis (which none in the city have made eye contact back or smiled, but I'm sure I'll come across someone who will). Shouldn't they be nice to everyone, and not do what has been done to me by treating Muslims better than non-Muslims?

      It's a simple recognition on everyone's part: just be nice!

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    2. Yes Cabs should have an economic incentive to be nice to everyone; your experience indicates they're actually much nicer to Muslims, making those cab drivers Religiousicts.

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    3. The fact that the cab drivers treated her differently is not because they are "religiousist"!! it's because they unfortunately very often hit on muslim girls if they get in the cab on their own.

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    4. No I'm a Muslim and many Muslim drivers offer me not to pay. And the truth is they are nicer to me then non-Muslim drivers I think just because it is easier to relate to people from same religion. So being "over" nice to people because they are from same religion or even fans of same football team is fine but being rude to people based on anything is NOT.

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    5. I'm a male btw (see last comment)

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    6. I think the fact non muslims are friendlier is not a question of racism but as a non muslim you got to understand that a girl in Hijab looks a bit more intimidating and unfriendly. It is kind of the goal of it too as the hijab was initially to differenciate the "serious" girls from the not so serious ones.

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    7. According to these “liberated” women, the hijab not only covers the head, but also covers the mind, will and intellect. They say that our dress code is outdated and oppressive, and it stops us from being productive human beings. They speak out of ignorance when they say that our hijab does not belong in these modern times, when due to the constant decrease in moral values in the world today, circumstances make the hijab even more necessary.

      From the dawn of civilization, flowing dresses and headscarves have always been associated with “Godliness” or “God consciousness”. Even the Christian pictorial representation of the earlier prophets and their womenfolk bear familiar likeness to the dress ordained for Muslim men and women (e.g. Mary). This tradition of modesty is reflected in the Qur’an (7:26), wherein Allah says:
      “O Children of Adam! We (God) have bestowed clothing upon you to cover yourselves and as an adornment (for beauty); and the clothing of righteousness – that is best.”Qur’an 7:26

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    8. Yeah I agree 100% with the person above

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    9. Bear in mind that the early Christians, as well as the early Muslims and the Jews, originated in the arid Middle-east. As a Christian, I am reasonably certain that, had Christianity originated in the Midwest regions of the United States, holiness would NOT have been associated with loose, flowing robes and covered heads. There are reasons the Native Americans limited body coverings in the summer--98% humidity makes ANY head covering and almost anything long and flowing debilitatingly uncomfortable in warm weather. When sweat is dripping from your entire body constantly, flowing robes bunch and cause tripping. Head coverings, in this weather, cause dirt to mix with sweat and prompt itching and rash formation. Realizations like this bring us to an understanding that modesty is as much about the power we give body parts as it is about which parts of our bodies we cover. I cover the parts of my body that I reserve for my husband, out of respect for him, and he respects my need for comfort and productivity enough to choose to simply enjoy the show when I wear shorts and a sports bra to work in the garden in July.

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    10. " Men looked at me like I was actually approachable", and Muslim women "who wouldn't acknowledge my existence". Isn't the entire purpose of hiding your body so men will not approach you? Why would a man approach you when it is forbidden for you to talk to men not in your family? Are you actually complaining that strange men don't approach you? I don't understand. When I, an old woman, smile at, or greet women wearing hajib, they never acknowledge my existence. They completely shun me. When I visited Morocco I was surrounded at the outdoor market by eleven women dressed in burkas. They said not a word as they each found a nice stone. They were about to stone me when my male companion appeared. They scattered like murderous crows! When I now encounter a woman who completely hides 'her own' body, I assume that she accepts herself as the property of the men in her family. I assume she is not available for friendship or even conversation. Am I mistaken?

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    11. I really like your challenging inquiries. First of all Muslim women, when approached by a non-Muslim or Muslim... should always be friendly which translates into a smile or just slowing down one's pace to answer a question if possible. You are correct, we cover so as not to be harassed or approached. However this is not always the case. Some men totally admire the manner in which Muslim women present themselves and oftentimes try to 'reach out'. This is not the norm...but rather a cultural gesture and usually these individuals are not well educated regarding the social etiquette pertaining to men and women according to Islam; which is to limit interaction with men who are not your blood relatives. When an educated Muslim woman 'hides her own body"...it is a choice that she makes. She does so in obedience to the mandate of her Creator (ALLAH). Her body is not the "property" of the men in her family but rather due to blood ties, the men like her husband, father, brother and so on are allowed to see her without her hijab. Now please bear in mind that the word hijab does not mean a scarf on the head or a nikab that covers the face but rather it is a lifestyle of modesty. Anything to protect one's modesty is considered hijab. Hijab technically means a covering or something that protects. So Muslim women are not covering their bodies to share as property with their male relatives but to protect herself as well as others from becoming engaged in unnecessary communication with her that can result in unsavory outcomes. The way the Muslim woman dresses is also for identification purposes...hence it is difficult to tell who is who when some do not wear a mark of identification. Why is this important? Because let us say that a Muslim woman falls ill and near death while outside of her familiar circles...maybe while walking in the streets of NYC; if she is identified as a Muslim, another Muslim will immediately approach making duaas or supplications to Allah and prepare themselves to encourage the ailing fellow Muslim to repeat what is known as the Kalimah The kalimah is: That there is no God to be worshipped except Allaah (the one God) and that Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him) is His Messenger. This is the MOST significant last words any Muslim must repeat when death approaches. For more information about the Muslim lifestyle and learning about Al-Islam...visit https://www.facebook.com/WorldForumForIslamicKnowledge. Have a glorious day! <3

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    12. I think the point being missed here is that people became more friendly because without the hijab they didn't feel like they were being accused of something. The hijab is after all worn to keep women safe from lustful men. In western society men actually exercise self control so the hijab is something to be feared in my opinion. The muslims who became cold on the other hand did so because the fear that you might find out that it's what's in your heart that counts more than what method you use to exclude the rest of society with.

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    13. I agree with the person above. Hijab is a big flashing neon sign telling men you think they're uncontrollably lusftful. Wouldn't you avoid interacting with someone who thinks that? As for women, it is an open condemnation of whatever they're wearing.

      When I was about 20 I learned from a friend that women don't wear it because they want to, they wear it because when they're living in a non- Muslim country they have to start wearing it to keep people at home from gossiping about them. Ever since then I make sure to catchthe eye of women with a headscarf and smile.

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  2. I've never been covered, and the reactions you received when your cover was 'covered' is interesting since they've have never happened to me or anyone I know. I think it's great to wear a hijab if that is what you feel, but to make such a big deal out of it not being seen, as if you were inhumane before, is unfair to the many people who are not bigots and believe in true freedom of religion. There will always be haters. And quite frankly, I don't get the skinny jeans and hijab combo...isn't the point of wearing a hijab to appear modest and not show your body (maybe not hijab but dressing modestly), which wearing skinny jeans contradicts.

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    1. You're absolutely right that it would be unfair if I made a general statement saying all the people were so much nicer to me. It was just a difference I noticed, and it was as real as this cold weather. I should be able to analyze why there was a difference and not be considered judgemental. I don't believe those people are bigots at all. Some might be, and some may also not be. It's a matter of being familiar with someone who is different from you. I don't feel unaccepted or different in my workplace, I fit right in, and I'm the only Muslim. I didn't generalize, but this is a real experience I had, and it was on accident, which proves there is a difference in the way I would be treated to whatever extent.

      Glasses and skinny jeans are mainstream fashion, and do not distinguish someone as being Muslim, which added to the fact that my head scarf was covered.

      I am not perfect, and my hijab is not complete. Writing a reflection is not limited to people who are perfect, otherwise there wouldn't be a single written reflection in the world.

      I really appreciate your comment!

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    2. Skinny jeans can be worn loosely with long shirts or jackets that doesn't make u not modest... and I think that the point was missed completely when you were reading this blog

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    3. My experience has been similar, thank you for sharing. I wear hijab everywhere except to workand the differences are exactly as you have pointed out except I rarely see other muslim women. This was an agreement that made with my husband prior to my marriage to him. When in his country, I will do as they do, but in my own, we cannot afford for me to be discriminated against in the employment arena. A woman at my bank avoided me because she "thought I would be mean" she was fear struck by my hijab and I am glad to change opinions such as these because it changes the world, even if it is only one person at a time.

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    4. Honestly, I think many non-muslims in America aren't quite sure how to approach someone in a hijab. It's not that you're Muslim. It's that you simply dress in a way that is different and it's a bit intimidating. We understand suits and dresses and polos and t-shirts and shorts. If someone is dressed like a 'hippie' we treat them differently. If they dress like a 'biker' we're often leery of them and treat them differently. If they are dressed as Amish, we treat them differently. In a Kimono...etc. It is often simply lack of familiarity that brings out the discomfort. We don't know how to treat someone in a hajib, because we haven't been educated in how to interact with them. Or, often, any of the others in 'stereotypical clothes" of whatever origin. Even if we see people in the clothing all the time, unless we are forced to interact, we simply feel awkward and find it easier to converse and joke with someone who appears to be from the culture we are most familiar with. Certainly there are bigots or racists or whatever you wish to name the idiots, but most of us are simply shy with cultures we are largely unfamiliar with for fear of offending or being rebuked.

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    5. I agree with the above. Before I went to Dubai last year, I was uncomfortable with the hijab. I didn't know how to approach or even that I could. I grew up here in Chicago, and we were never taught much about Muslim's. All I knew was that women were covered so men couldn't see their shape. I vacationed in Dubai and learned a little more. I'm not saying what happened to you is right or wrong, but a lot of people are just not sure what the appropriate way to handle the situation is so it is avoided.

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    6. Please consult "Minimal Group Paradigm" and "Social Identity Theory".
      After that: let's talk about racism.

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  3. I loved reading this, thank you so much for sharing. I noticed the difference too, although the difference for me was when I actually took off my hijab. I remember the very first day and that bright feeling of "acceptance"
    I love that you didn't actually take off your hijab and Allah ythabtek wu yehdeena

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    1. Please consult "Minimal Group Paradigm" and "Social Identity Theory".
      After that: let's talk about racism.

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  4. Loved your unintentional experiment. It's all about perception... You're right people can be nicer and the world is not just mean. But in reality, since we are seen as "other" we have to take the extra step to be over friendly so others can "joke with us, love us, accept, and respect" us. But then again we can change our perceptions and make it be whatever we want ;)

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  5. Loved this. I have friends who want to take it off and I know some women who feel self righteous when wearing it. I find the whole situation annoying. I have the intention to wear it when I am ready but I always feel double edged sides exist. If you're practicing but don't wear you're considered not super Muslim. If you wear it, you're supposed to be acting a certain way. You can't win as a woman regardless which society you live in...even as women who live in a patriarchal society will judge.

    Anyways sorry to ramble but your piece touched home.

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  6. It is a shame how close minded people can be, regardless! Guess people are always looking for someone to relate to and to get the sense of security... Guess you have found it that you just have to satisfy yourself and not try to satisfy people because that will never happen... good luck with your journey

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  7. The ONLY opinion we should care about is that of our Creator. The One we belong to and will return to. When you start worrying about what other creations think, that is when shaitan messes with your head, and may eventually control you. Be careful.

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    1. I think she should feel free to reflect on the opinions of anyone. Seems like a nasty thing to do - going around telling people what they should and shouldn't care about.

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    2. While it is true that the *most important* opinion is that of God, it doesn't mean we are emotionless robots who can't be sensitive. The way other people treat us does affect us, and sharing those experiences, as she has, can be enlightening.

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    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. I'm wondering . I think Muslim is associated with USA's 9-11? Equate Muslim not as a religion but as warriors to kill us? I don't know ... in fact know very little regarding the Muslim religion except that they believe they have to kill anyone not of their faith? Is that a false hood?

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    1. That is very much a falsehood. I'm not Muslim, but I can tell you that the attacks against the US were committed by a very small sect of Muslim extremists. Think of the Westboro Baptist Church. They do not in any way represent the rest of Christians, despite how loud and mean spirited they are. I know a handful of people, mostly female, who are Muslim, and they are very nice individuals, no intentions to kill anybody.

      Islam is founded on five pillars: declaring faith in God (Muhammad), praying five times a day, fasting and observance of Ramadan, giving alms to the poor and needy, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca (the holy city of Islam). I honestly do not see any major differences in the fundamental roots of Islam and Christianity.

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    2. Then you don't know Christianity.

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    3. Yes, that would be a falsehood. :)

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    4. Thank you for standing up for Islam in your post above however as a muslim I must correct one of the five pillars mentioned above.
      "declaring faith in One God and Prophet Mohammed" its NOT declaring faith in God (Mohammed) They are not the same thing. And is a major sin to associate the two together.

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  9. I think you may be misunderstanding people's attitude toward you before. Rather than treating you poorly because of bigotry, maybe they were leaving you alone because they took your hajib as putting a wall between you and them.

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    1. To me the hajib says that you are a firm believer in something I don't really understand. I have no problems with you having your own beliefs and I really don't want to offend you, so I leave you alone. I'm the same way with anyone who is outwardly displaying a belief or cultural association that I'm not really familiar with. I don't want to accidentally be disrespectful, so unfortunately that leaves it up to the other person to reach out and let me know how they expect to be treated. I'm sure that is a lot of what you encounter and it probably seems like coldness, or indifference. It's often probably insecurity on the other person's part. Not fear of you or your beliefs, but fear of unintentionally offending you and seeming disrespectful.

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    2. I definitely agree. I have never meant to ignore a woman in a hijab (as a non-hijab wearing woman), but I honestly have no idea what I could do to offend unintentionally, or violate their boundaries. I can't exactly call hijab a "wall," but it does tell me that I don't exactly know how to relate.

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    3. I concur. I strive to be a gentleman and kind at all times. I only know what that means in western culture. I don't want to push my ways onto others and I don't want to offend. When in doubt I don't open the door for a woman.

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    4. This is true, but also problematic. It is not the responsibility of the minority/oppressed to teach the majority/privileged group how to include them.

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    5. Yes Kae but if a few members of a minority let you know they don't want to be included and in fact, wish to exclude you, how do you build bridges? Until recently my local grocery store, in a very multi-racial suburb, was run by a friendly Vietnamese couple. It was always busy despite a big chain supermarket located close by. I remember the first time I walked back in when it was under new management. My greeting to the woman behind the counter was met with stony silence and any further attempts to make conversation were shut down. I went back a few times but my presence seemed almost resented so I took my business elsewhere. On the last occasion I was standing in the silent store choosing a watermelon when I heard the woman exclaim "Assalamu Alaikum," to another woman who had just walked in. Suddenly she was full of warmth and smiles and in the end, it actually became quite comical watching her switch from laughing with the other woman to being curt to me. Later I met other locals at the supermarket who related similar experiences. Strangely, the small business is up for sale again.

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  10. Love this, it is an experiment by accident. I have found similar reaction just by changing fashions. When I dressed more "street" certain people would avoid me, when I dressed more professional I got a different reaction from others. Enjoy the journey, don't let those that speak or act negative on either side discourage you. We need more bridge builders. Thank you for sharing.

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  11. I enjoyed reading your post. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. The more stories we share, the closer we come to being more connected with one another. As a Muslim woman who wears a scarf sometimes, I understand. As a Muslim woman who doesn't cover her hair sometimes, I also understand. I don't believe wearing a scarf is what makes us Muslim, although I do believe it strengthens their faith for some people who choose to wear it. Thanks again for sharing your story!

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  12. I second everyone: thanks for sharing! Here's what I think. I am an average white woman (I think) who grew up believing we were "middle class" and "normal" only to find out that Senators are middle class, and so our family must be poor...go figure. I was always taught to treat other people equally and fairly, and not taught anything else, so I was surprised when I found out racism exists. When I met my Pakistani Muslim husband, he told me a lot of things about Islam that later surprised me when I researched and actually learned about Islam. What I learned in research is that there are definitely people who think Muslims should treat Muslims a certain way and Every One Else should be politely tolerated. I think that these Muslims will tend to be more outspoken and identify themselves to Every One Else, so they become what we think of when we think of Muslims. Also, due to the personal nature of Islam and the value on privacy, there is a lack of information along with the information. There may even be some confusion between modesty, devotion and piousness, and Every One Else thinks they have to be polite, gentle and prudish when dealing with hijabis. Also, in today's cyber-connected society, people are losing the habit of polite social interaction. Probably these theories only cover a fraction of society, but this is what I think. Only Allah judges. Everyone else (including Muslims) needs to just stop tripping.

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  13. I think it is very sad when people choose the dictates of superstition as a basis for their appearance in public and all religion is, at heart, superstition. The Hajib, the cross on a necklace, the turban, the beard, the Pe'ot, the plain dress, horse and buggy it is all a superstitious belief in something that by it's very nature separates people and builds walls. When you appear in public with any of these cultural aspects you are creating a barrier between you and anyone who does not believe as you do. Simply because you think your superstition is superior to something like voodoo, does not make it any different.

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    1. I feel the same way about denim. By wearing denim you are stating to the world that you'rea cowboy, and I simply can't relate to cowboys - robbing trains, shooting native Americans, playing poker. Cowboys are a scary bunch.

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    2. thats the most fitting thought for me as well... you choose to show you believe in some old story...
      imagine...theres no heaven... no religions too...

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  14. I am in my 30's today. But back when I was 20 I died my hair blue. I constantly got upset when people would stare at me. Finally my mother explained to me: YOU HAVE BLUE HAIR! YOU STICK OUT FROM WHAT IS NORMAL! And I had to admit she was right. People didn't like or dislike me, but yeah they stared and did not know what to make of me because I was different. People in the USA understand nuns in habits, so they act basically normal, probably a little more respectful. But to many of us, the hijab is unknown, and if you are treated different it's no more complicated than not knowing what a hijab means for you, and what it should mean for us. Don't take it personally.

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  15. Since you mentioned Chiberia, i presume that you live in Chicago? I live on the NW side. There are a number of Muslim women wearing hijabs. I am a Jewish woman. I don't say hi because I am naturally shy, and I think, they will know I am Jewish ( I look it) and dislike me for it. So I don't approach. That may seem silly to you, but I feel I am the one who stands out. Not the other way around. I don't know if they are Palestinian, Iraqi or what have you, but it doesn't matter. In this neighborhood I am the minority. My daughters and I are probably the only Jews for roughly five miles. Strange to think of in Chicago, but it is true.

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    1. Thank you for sharing. I wear Hijab, and I actually feel more connected with Jewish people because we're both minorities. I don't think people avoid talking to you because they have some kind of ill feelings toward Jewish people (at least I hope not). I think the majority of people are just more comfortable talking to people who look like them. We try to come up with all of these political reasons for people's actions, but when it comes down to the average person walking down the street, by human nature we all have a comfort zone. It doesn't mean we have negative feelings towards anyone of a particular religion.

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  16. To second AnonymousFebruary 8, 2014 at 1:32 PM:

    I don't think I'm a bigot and consciously try to be aware of my own ingrained prejudices. I live in a neighborhood with a lot of Muslims, and I probably also seem cold to hijabed Muslim women. This is because I come from a "better safe than sorry" assumption that veiled Muslim women are religious/conservative and any interaction (aside from thank you/excuse me/etc) from a non-believer of the opposite gender could be misconstrued as a sexual advance and generally be unwelcome or worse.

    I give orthodox Jews a wide berth as well, for the same reasons.

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  17. I was raised pre-Vatican Catholic and as such was only allowed to enter the Church wearing a head covering as a girl child.This practice for girls and women dates back thousands of years and is not strictly cultural but is also part of Patriarchal religions. When I see women with headscarves it reminds me of it and of nuns. It was no choice for me as a girl and so I will never see it as such as an adult. I was inculcated into it and would never have challenged it at the time. The point about "choice" is critical if your faith and family require it. Where is the true choice if you fear rejection? I wish we lived in a world where we followed scripture written by women, one in which men had to be modest and cover their heads for a change. That would be an interesting and noble experiment. Until then, I remain suspect of ALL religion.

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    1. In Islam, men also have modesty requirements. It's isn't the exact same as the requirements for women, which makes sense. People are attracted to each gender in different ways, and the requirements accommodate that.

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    2. Sorry, but from my perspective as a happily married mother and wife, the 'different but equal' argument is tosh. Women aren't restricted (or judged) because they are 'equal but different', they are restricted because it is the man's pleasure and power. We have evolved past these types of restrictive 'religions', intellectually they have little weight. Judging others, separating the self to the point where the entire body must be covered and restricted turns all the world into a jail, and all the fellow humans into jailers or judgers. For the record, I always smile at any hijabi I meet. They look right past me, as if I did not exist. Why? On only one occasion has a hijabi stranger responded to my cheery 'Good morning'. Shame.

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  18. 35 year old white male in Houston, raised Catholic, now a devout Atheist. I am less inclined to be chatty with anyone who is so devoted to a religion that they wear something advertising it (women or men, crucifix or hijab or yarmulke). I believe strongly in separation of church and state and freedom of religion, and am proud that our country allows all of these expressions openly, but the point of these things are to signal basic information : I am Muslim. I am Christian. I am Jewish. And it is an important part of my identity. Reading anything deeper than that is conjecture, but I don't need to read any deeper than that to know that I (probably, but not definitely) won't have much in common with that person.

    Same reason I wouldn't chat up someone in a really fancy business suit or someone who looked homeless (if that's the only factor I have to make a quick assessment with). Probably not going to enjoy each others company etc.

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    1. Thanks for this comment, perfectly puts into words my thinking.

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    2. Obviously, you don't really get the reasoning behind a hijab. I am not muslim, but from my therefore limited understanding I'd say, that the major part of it is that it simply is an item of clothing meant to cover arousing areas.
      There still are tribal cultures where shame is not an issue, which is why they often are naked or close to it. Now please explain to me, why one of those three options (cover nothing, cover body, cover body and hair) is more ridiculous than others. It is not inherently religious but rather an aspect of culture that doesn't denote any advertisment for one's religion. You wear pants (at least I assume so) because of your cultural upbringing, why is a hijab any different?

      Obviously, there is also a religious aspect to it. However, how big a role it plays in an individual's decision-making you won't find out just from looking. Sure, they may be deeply devout, but probably they just don't feel comfortable, showing something as private to just about everybody.

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    3. I could wear shorts.... I could wear a speedo if I wanted. These women don't get that choice.

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    4. The fact that you think, that 'these women' don't have a choice is pretty sexist actually. With your ignorance you assume they are being oppressed when in fact they might as well be strong and independet with just a different cultural background that leads to them being more comfortable with their hair covered - just as you feel more comfortable when clothed in public.

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    5. I'm going to say something in regards to your idea that as an atheist you automatically assume you won't have something in common with someone in a yarmulke or crucifix or hijab or beard....do you not sit in the same weather with them? Are you not shopping in the same stores or working in the same offices or walking the same streets to the same destinations, controlled by the same government laws as them? You have plenty in common with someone of a different religious belief and it's that attitude that people need to start reacting to each other with in general. We are members of the same society and just as every individual has their personal journey, so much of that is actually brought on by their societal backgrounds, belief is chosen, but so much of our humanity is chosen for us, and it's what makes us part of a community and human race. See into a person, not just what their out side appearance, try not thinking "there is a Muslim woman standing next to me" think "there is a woman next to me, probably headed to work or school or to see family or shop just like me" pass a smile, and it will be contagious. I take the bus and train with people every day and many times sit next to someone from a different country who does not speak my language, but I make sure to smile and look them in the eyes when I explain I need them to move so I can get by, or when I bump into them and want them to know I didn't mean it...the acknowledgement of a persons existence goes a long way. I have the privilege to be raised in Rodgers Park for the first part of my life, my preschool teachers were from Portugal and Spain and taught me English, my favorite food was Taiwanese, my baby sitter was from Korea and her husband from China, my best friend was African American...it was amazing and gives me a treasured look at the world that I wish every one was lucky enough to have, ask questions when you do not understand, hope they are not offended and if they are know in your heart it was not your intention.

      Delete
  19. Hello! Where are you based? I ask because I co-run a feminist festival (WowzersaFest) in London and would absolutely LOVE you to consider coming and telling this story in person. Please consider dropping us a line so we can explain more? hello [at] wowzersfest [dot] org Many thanks, and thanks for shring this realisation,
    Amanda

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    Replies
    1. I wonder if the author will need to ask permission of her father, brother, or husband to attend this feminist festival? I wonder, will they permit it? Leena, will you tell us?

      Delete
    2. Seriously? She's blogging insightful and interesting reflections which is more than your comment can be credited with. It appears you are part of the reason feminist festivals are still required.

      Leena, we'd love to host you. Drop us a line.

      Delete
    3. I find this hilarious 'amandaleonjoyce' - a feminist wanting a female from a religion that oppresses females to come talk about their story of taking of the hijab like it was an "interesting" story. Forgetting that the reason she even wears this is because she isn't feminist but believes in a religion that makes females subservient.

      Delete
  20. Although you felt more accepted by people not in muslim dress it seems you were ignored by people who were muslims. Perhaps it is true of both 'sides'. I would like to talk to muslim women and men and accept them as fellow humans like all the others. Although I haven't had much luck with this. We ALL need to see the humanity within our brothers and sisters we share a planet with however they dress. I have had this experience when I was young.... I noticed how people reacted differently.... depending on if I was dressed up all gothic/punky or if I was dressed smart for work or for a special occasion. The person inside is the same but shallow people will judge on appearance without seeing the good person within.

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  21. I don't know where you are from or living, but I must say that in many cultures, human faces being completely hidden is/can be considered a sign of actually having something to hide (i.e., bandits/thieves). So it is kind of automatic/ingrained to not trust one whose face cannot be seen.

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    1. Well, you're unobservant, aren't you? Take a look at the picture on the top of the post; do you see her face, or is it hidden? The hijab allows the face to be seen, while hiding the theoretically sexually provocative hair and throat. By adding the knit hat and muffler like any other US citizen in the cold, the hijab disappeared, and behold, her face was noticed instead of the piece of cloth. Suddenly she was 'one of us' instead of 'one of them' to the folks who don't use hijabs, or expect the women around them to wear them.
      It is an interesting accidental experiment, and it rivals the "put on a blond wig" or "add stuffing to the bra" experiments for showing how just one cosmetic change will affect the way a woman is treated.

      Now, let's see some men practice wearing turbans or the head cloths whose name I can't remember, the ones seen in "Lawrence of Arabia", and see how differently they are treated for it! And watch what happens when you put extra layers over it outside, then come in and reveal that.
      Dudes.

      Delete
  22. Marvelous exemple of the signal's theory. The way you communicates (with clothes) gives signal (information) to others, and they adjust themselves to it: it may be nice or wrong. Nobody should be directly accounted for that.
    The best is your discover and you offer of a smile on my face.

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  23. I'm curious, though, if you were ignored by other people wearing hijab when they thought you were not one of them, how are others supposed to be comfortable openly talking to those with it on?

    Genuine question. I think it's an interesting paradox.

    I don't talk to strangers period because I'm shy as hell, but, I would not feel enticed to start a conversation with someone who seemed like they want nothing to do with me.

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  24. I mean I don't mean to be inflammatory as I too come from a Muslim background but perhaps saying that the hijab is just a means to cover your head is kind of naive. Its as naive as someone wearing a swastika shirt saying that the people around them started to treat them differently when they covered up their shirt with a sweater. The point I'm trying to make is not that you and the nazi are the same but that clothes can have meaning about you and your beliefs to think otherwise would be naive

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  25. The phrase "The clothes make the man" exists for a reason.

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  26. Weird... I have a similar experience in reverse when I cover my head with a scarf (in winter) sometimes. It is peculiar the way people will react to you differently. People will literally see or not see you just because of a bit of cloth.

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  27. I know I am guilty of treating people differently based on appearance.

    It's not prejudice, per se. It's about trying to know where they are coming from. I'm trying to observe them and get a sense of how things are in their shoes.

    I admit, I'm ignorant of much of Islam. I simply do not know much about it. This DOES NOT mean i don't respect the religion, in fact, my best friend is muslim! In a bid to understand all muslims, I try not to assume who they are, but observe what they are and aren't comfortable with. I don't want to make accidentally offensive jokes, etc.

    My friend gets somewhat uncomfortable about jokes regarding sex and nudity, so I avoid those around her. That means that my respect for her means I act/treat her slightly different.

    I don't think I'm explaining myself very well, but basically it comes down to that I treat people slightly different based on their background that I can deduct from their appearance (e.g. ask a Raiders fan what he thought of the superbowl). These differences in treatment aren't out of discrimination and disdain but rather respectful in spirit.

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  28. I tend not to talk much to people wearing any giant symbols of any religion. Whether it's a hijab, or a giant crucifix (or set of rosary beads), or one of the various "I luv Jesus so much" varieties of t-shirt, I tend to work on the assumption that a giant religious symbol means that the person in question will a) have a hair trigger on religious issues and tend to take even the most casual of greetings either as an affront or an invitation to yap at me about their religion, and b) that they are staunch social conservatives and therefore people I'm probably not much interested in talking to.

    For me, giant religious symbol == crazy religious person == stay away.

    I'd like to hope that I avoid Muslims with giant religious symbols any more than I avoid other people with giant religious symbols. However, since Christianity is undeniably privileged in my part of the world, I may be guilty of that though I do try not to.

    I doubt I'm alone in having an aversion to people wearing any sort of giant religious advertisement. In my experience most such people just plain aren't all that nice, obviously there are exceptions, and perhaps you are one, but I'm enough of an introvert that I'd rather not try to strike up a conversation with a person who is declaring through their dress that they are religious fundamentalists.

    That may not be what you, or the guy in the grocery store wearing an "I help others, because He touched me" t-shirt are declaring. But without knowing you, how can I tell? And since I don't want to mess around with fundamentalists, I just take the easy route and avoid anyone and everyone wearing giant religious symbols, carrying around Bibles, or otherwise openly advertising their religion.

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  29. Erk, I meant I'd like to hope that I **DON'T** avoid Muslims with giant religious symbols anymore than I avoid anyone else with one. Typos.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I smile and nod at everyone I encounter, however they are dressed. I'm from the Pacific Northwet, so, maybe it is a regional thing. I think most everyone from the urban areas here are much like me. We have our share of racists, but they seem few and far between.

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  31. The hijab symbolizes fundamentalist Islam wether you like it or not. When you wear it you are refferring to Charia law, to Irak, Iran and saoudi arabian regimes, to a fundamentalist extreme right mentality the likes of which have not been seen since the Nazis. I don't wear a swastika because of what it symbolizes, the same should be said about islamic symbols, especially in non-muslim civilized occidental countries.

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  32. Here's the deal, when I read one of these stories I go back mentally to my punk days and replace every instance of 'hijab" with "mohawk." So you removed your "mohawk" and found ordinary people treated you differently, as well as people from your previous "in-crowd." This is news to you, really ? Then you hope that one day we will just accept everyone, regardless of wether or not they choose to wear a "mohawk." Well, people make judgements about one another based on appearance. People USE appearance to signal to others what they are like, as you are doing with your "mohawk." It signals a way of life, a set of beliefs, a mode of conduct. It's perfectly normal that people should judge you based on the group you align yourself with. When a banker wears a pinstripe suit, he's signaling something to the outside world. When a christian wears a cross necklace, he's signaling something to the outside world. When *you* are wearing your hijab, you're signaling something to the outside world. And people will treat you differently because of it, get over it already.

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  33. It is interesting that you wear a Hijab but when you take it off then you feel like you ended up with Stockholm syndrome. My guess is that you have to have it (SS) to accept a Hijab as anything other than oppressive and that you just think it is safe to recognize it now.

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  34. I can tell you my point of view as someone from outside that never had interacted with the muslim religion or culture before.
    In my home country, islam is basically non-existent, there are no mosques that I know of in my city and in the whole country I ignore if there is any.
    I never had any interaction with any muslim person in my life before deciding to study abroad.
    At first it was a bit shoking, I ignored that there was a residing muslim population in the country that I chose what so ever (not that I chose it because of that, simply I didn't know there was people of this religion at all).
    When I first arrived, I didn't know the language, so it was basically impossible to understand what was happening around me. I simply prevented from communicating with anyone that was not absolutely necessary in order to avoid annoying them with speaking english, instead of the local language.
    As I started to notice and understand how the people behaved, how it was the attitude towards people of different religion or ethnical origin, I understood that it was a complicated situation between the locals and the immigrants. A situation I never had seen before, because the immigrant population to my country and specially to my city is almost non-existent and I never saw anyone as different (since we are ourselves very mixed ethnically ourselves).
    My personal attitude towards everyone is basically one of avoidance, since I myself am a foreighner and I don't want to annoy anyone with my lack of language or cultural customs. However, in spite that I behave the same with everyone, I have some reserves when it comes to approach muslims. Sadly, the media and the impossing circumstances made me feel like it was easier to offend a muslim than a non-muslim and therefore, it is better to refrain to make anything that can result in endangering me. With all women, I would not approach with intentions of picking up interest even if I consider them to be attractive, with women wearing hijabs is no different, but the arguments for that are more, since I don't want to make anything that they would find insulting and would make them call for help to, at best, keep me at bay.

    Bottom line, as a foreigner, I treat everyone with the same certain distance, but the reasons for doing so with muslims are different.

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  35. I'm just some dude but I live in the suburbs of a major city and like to think of myself as non prejudicial and I'm very friendly with strangers but I would have been guilty of this as well. Not out of judgement but rather I would be afraid I might offend or that the friendliness and familiarity I typically treat strangers with throughout the day could be misconstrued or unwelcome and is more out of an effort to be polite and not come off as rude.

    It would be the same if I saw someone in any traditional cultural dress, I would interpret them as a more conserved personality and possibly ethnocentric/cultural isolationist. Be it a dashiki, hijab, sari, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  36. The thing is everyone is judged on what they wear - this isn't isolated to cultural clothing - If I walk around my county in a football (Soccer) top then I am equally ignored, abused, discriminated against.

    However I wish the writer would distinguish between her religious heritage and her ethnic heritage. To be discriminated for either is wrong however the reasoning not interchangeable

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  37. I live in Turkey. I thought while reading your post that you also live in Turkey! But it seems you live in America... Interesting!

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  38. While I am certain Some people treated you differently just because they didn't see your hijab it might not have been that they felt you to be a lesser person because of it, but that they might be unsure of how to talk with you because they don't know much about your religion and are afraid of offending you somehow. I do think it is interesting that something so simple makes such a difference. However I do suspect that if we were all forced to show our religions in a very public way(not saying you are forced to, just saying that if we all did ) that we would all tend to bunch with like religioned people... humans are by nature flock/herd creatures. It would also start many more fights I expect. I think that our country is working on the problem of acceptance but that it likely will be a slow process

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  39. "The Muslim taxi drivers who would almost always say "Assalamu Alaikum," ask me where I'm from or if I'm single, or not allow me to pay for the fare became cold and dry. I would simply give the address, and the only dialog thereafter was at time of payment."
    "Until I started passing by hijabis on my walk to work who wouldn't acknowledge my existence."

    The post is interesting, always cool to see how people treat you different when you look different. But I don't understand everything:

    "But did that mean that with hijab I am not as respectable? I am not as lovable? I cannot be accepted? I immediately began to despise the inequality,"

    It looks like without you were not as respectable to the usual, warm group.

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  40. I loved your post and agree with your experience as a white western woman, because I also see this sort of reaction in myself. I am terribly frightened of being socially awkward, to the point where I am socially awkward - I will barely make eye contact and smile at all the pretty girls in hijabs. As an artist, I find the look gorgeous - striking dark brown eyes framed by a fashionably-worn scarf. It is my habit to study people whose traits I like, but with muslim men and women, I feel like they must be stared at a lot, and so I try not to look at them for too long. It's possible that I'm not the only one who feels this way - that rather than being cold, some of the people you encountered noticed the hijab and were trying to respect you. It is still quite sad that religion is such a big divider for many.

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  41. As an Israeli living in Israel, this sentence:
    "Apparently, the type of cloth you place or wrap around your head defines how you will be treated."
    Is spot on.

    The visual difference between arabs and jews in Israel is negligible, we all look the same, we all talk the same, we all walk the same, but there is one slight difference between "us" and "them": placement of particular pieces of cloth.

    For the longest time now I've been arguing that the jews are unintentionally creating an "anti" for themselves in other communities by wearing Kipas (or whatever it's called overseas), and in extreme cases going around covered from head to toe with black/white "traditional jewish" dressing.

    I understand the need to identify yourself as a member of a particular group by wearing specific items of clothing, but I think it only acts as a separator between us, humans, instead of just being an identifying feature.

    You're article is awesome, thanks for experiencing it, and writing about it so freely. But now that you did, I have one question to you: Is it worth it?

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  42. You are getting a bunch of ignorant, anonymous comments because someone posted this on reddit to try and have a respectful discussion on the issue, and people completely misunderstood. I apologize that you have to put up with this, I really appreciated you sharing your perspective and experiences. You seem like an extremely bright and open-minded woman, and I regret that you're becoming the strawman for all of these people who are so ignorant of their own prejudices. Don't let their comments discourage you!

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  43. I live in a city where lot of women wear head scarves and the scarves always irk me; I see them as a declaration of intent to not assimilate into the culture the women chose to move to, a disturbing loyalty to a rather blood-soaked religion, and also to a culture that regards women as property. I'm not trying to pick a fight, honestly. I hope I'm wrong about all three things. I just don't want to live in a world where any of them is regarded as acceptable.
    By your own admission, everyone around you turned out to be really nice, once the symbol of my three objections above was removed from the equation. Except, of course, for the Muslim taxi drivers, who apparently aren't really huge fans of non-Muslims. Your skin color was still visible; it's not a question of racism. All it took to connect with the people around you on a casual but personal level was not visibly wearing the headscarf.
    Given that you now know that all you have to do to be wholly and spontaneously accepted into the culture around you is remove the barrier you put on every morning to mark yourself as separate, what is the overwhelming benefit to keeping it on?

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  44. Do you think the hijab means something? Apparently you do think that it's important, and that it means something, and that it makes you different from others. Is it so strange then that people really do treat you as "not a member of the club" when you deliberately mark yourself as such?

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  45. Just hypothetically, person A wears extremely goth clothing, B wears a traditional full length Jewish skirt, and C wears just plain jeans and a T shirt. Who would you be most likely to strike up conversation with from a place of familiarity?

    The way you dress does say something about you and I think it's important to not get jaded by people's reaction toward you because it's rarely ever based on their judgement of you and more based on how comfortable they feel interacting with you. Different = less comfortable. It's not being mean by intent, it's just the way we are.

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    Replies
    1. I'd probably talk to the Goth!

      Delete
  46. I know this does not compare - I'm not commenting on the prejudice of people who react or do not react to a hijab. However, on a small scale, I noticed a significant difference when I changed my hair color 3 times during the course of one year. I was treated very differently by men and women as a redhead, brunette or blonde. Very noticeable!

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  47. Girl, I think you should try your best to be husnudzon towards others. Try making excuses for the taxi driver or your sisters. Prejudice could come from any directions. I also seriously believed that muslim women need to stop worrying about others opinion regarding their hijab,and wear it in favor for Allah only,not human. If you think hat and scarf are enough,so be it. Allah will be the judge here,not the taxi driver,hijabers or non muslims. If you are not in peace yet, probably your heart telling you something when you took off your hijab? May Allah guide us. Wassalam.

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  48. When I see a woman in a hijab, I do avert my eyes, but it is out of respect. Whenever one reads a defense of the hijab, it has something to do with being free of the male gaze. Muslim women specifically cite their ability to be ignored as a possible mate as a positive feature of going out in hijab. As such, I try to let them have their privacy. I see the hijab as a specifically male-targeted "leave me alone." So I do. I don't smile, because I don't want them to think I'm coming on to them. I do, if our eyes meet, nod my head in agreement to say, "I see you, and I am a friend." But no more.

    It sounds to me that you kind of like being viewed as a "normal" woman, and wish you got that treatment (well, some of it) wearing the hijab. But that's not going to happen, and it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with prejudice against Muslims. When people send the message, "I'm different from you," they're going to be given wide berth.

    I wore only black for 6 years. A big part of that was because of how it made people treat me. They all knew who I was, but they also didn't bother me. It put me in control of my dealings with other people, because if there was someone I wanted to become friends with, I always got the first move. I was always setting the terms.

    A hijab does the exact same thing. If you want to be treated the same as others, you have to present the same as others.

    Plenty of Muslim women don't wear hijab. The Qur'an and Hadith are full of things that modern Muslims kind of excuse themselves from (same as any religious adherent). I had a friend in college who kept the head-covering rule with bandanas and other such modern headwear (much to the tongue-clacking of the Saudi wife brigade). That's another option, you know...

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  49. I'm a Christian and I cover my hair with a variety of things-- it doesn't really matter what it is, so long as it's covered. I always marvel at the difference in how I'm treated based on *which* head covering I pick.

    In Chicago, if I wore something that looked more hijab-esque, I was often the last person people would sit next to on the train or bus and people seemed to have trouble making eye contact with me. Except hijabis or other Muslims-- hijabis smiled and salammed, like you said, and Muslim men often asked me where I was from, quickly followed by whether I was married.

    If I wore something that looked more like an Amish kapp, perfect strangers would sit down next to me and tell me all about their life and their relationship with God.

    When I covered with something that looked like it could be a fashion statement or for warmth (a cute knit hat, say), it was in between. People weren't especially forward with me and they didn't avoid me.

    I think part of it is that overtly religious attire does mark us as different, it does make us set apart, and people respond to that difference. It is important to understand if you want to be different and what that's worth to you, I think. On the other hand, the fact that people respond to me differently in a kapp than in a hijab means that there's also some Islamophobia in there too. And that's worth combating-- I think we can do this though by talking about it like here and also hijabi women may need to make the first move more in friendship, because people may be uncertain about how "different" hijabis want to be.

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  50. Yeah, I didn't wear one either... ever... don't read me bragging about it.

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  51. I live in Philadelphia, and I can honestly say no one cares if you wear a hijab. Oversimplification to prove a point, but its more or less accurate. Also, this is a guy's perspective, so I don't know about the joking around with women part. You all confuse me a bit.

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  52. Hello. There is a bunch of interesting discussion about your article here: http://www.reddit.com/r/TrueReddit/comments/1xg0gl/i_took_off_my_hijab/

    You may be interested in reading it.

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  53. Hey there. Found this through Reddit. So, as an open minded white american male, we just have no idea what to do or what your culture expects of us when we see you, so for the most part we just... don't do anything, when we see you. I am glad you got to experience how you would be treated as a "normal" part of society, but I think you would still be treated the same way if we had any idea how to go about addressing you. The covering up, etc. makes us think that you are not to be approached. We see you as a piece of property... that belongs to your religion. If that makes any sense.

    Education and awareness does wonders. You have already started to help us by posting this. Please do not stop now. Help OUR society understand your small piece of it.

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    1. And by 'our' I mean our shared society... not the white american male part... the society we all share is what I meant.

      Delete
  54. I love, love, love this post. I completely agree: ignorance is what drives this divide. The more I learn, the more comfortable I become.

    I'm not going to lie--when I see Muslim women covered up, I still sometimes get scared to offend them. Mostly I worry: as a man, is me talking to them immodest? I know this is a completely irrational fear, since the answer is generally no. But it's crazy how strong of an emotion embarrassment can be.

    For me, this anxiety now only really applies to the niqab or burqa. But I wouldn't have known the difference between any form of hijab before I started traveling about 5 years ago. So yes, education is key!

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  55. As a non-Christian, I would probably act cooly to someone wearing any Christian outfit more overt than a small cross. If "God is your co-pilot" that I probably won't be your seat-mate on the bus. Same with someone with an Ayn Rand t-shirt. Strongly held religious belief could lead to evangelization, condemnation, and other uncomfortable situations. It is much safer to interact with people who do not overtly hold strong beliefs at odds with my own.

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  56. I had the opposite case to you.
    I was a non-hijabi for almost 25 years then decided to put on my hijab.
    It was different. People didnt notice any difference, they treated me the same, even with more respect ( esp. guys).

    Even when I became a hijabi, I started to notice how I look at other girls. I dont judge them or look at them differently. because I was in their place.

    Non-hijabis can even be better than me.

    It is a very debateable topic and it all depends on the person, attitude, the environment and the people around her.

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  57. It's not exactly the most approachable thing. Generally, as humans, I think we trust a masked person less and naturally avoid them. Most of the human cues we get are from facial expression and body language. The best way to nullify that human connection is to cover your face and wear flowing garments that hide your posture and obfuscate your body movements as well.

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  58. This article is frustrating. You have been wearing a garment that defines you as "other" and is to make you less approachable. You are surprised to be less-approached and treated as the "other". This is bad logic

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    1. Your logic is faulty, actually. "Otherness" is a relative term. Your normal isn't absolute normal, so you're as much an "other" to the rest of the world as the world is to you.

      Furthermore, what constitutes "other" is constantly changing, despite peoples efforts to hold onto prejudice. 200 years ago British/Irish/Italian couldn't interrelate, but you want to pretend this new form of 'otherness' is somehow more legitimate or substantive?

      Just chill out about what people choose to wear.

      Delete
  59. Reddit is talking about you here:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/TrueReddit/comments/1xg0gl/i_took_off_my_hijab/

    I personally agree with this post:

    ----------
    The message the hajib sends is clear: "Everything about me is private and I am extremely religious." This is not a very inviting position.
    As a Westerner, leaving the hajib wearer alone with as little interaction as possible is simply a sign of respect.
    You obviously want nothing to do with me (or anyone else)... Otherwise why would you hide as much of yourself as possible? The fact that I've never heard so much as a sound coming from women wearing hajibs doesn't help either.
    I know that thinking may be flawed but that's how it works.
    ----------

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    1. That's strange to me, that you equate keeping one's body private as some sort of universal privacy declaration? Or that religious symbols broadcast substantive isolation? Do you make the same assumptions about seeing crucifix necklaces or a kippa?

      I think you shouldn't make assumptions about why people dress a certain way, and feel free to at least greet them instead.

      Delete
  60. This was a really interesting post that I found charmingly candid, well-articulated, and insightful. Thank you very much for sharing this experience with us. I'm sorry that you've been brigaded by ignorant jerks from Reddit; I hope that it doesn't dim your spirit, because it shines beautifully in your writing and the world would be a darker place without it. May peace be upon you, sister.

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  61. I had the same experience as you when I used to go to a women's only gym and take off my headscarf, and women would talk to me like I was a 'normal person'.

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  62. We become friends with people because we share hobbies, interests or tastes (music, clothes, food etc.). Why is it a shock to you that if you wear your head dress, people who are NOT muslim, don't want to be muslim or who don't care about it, would want anything to do with you?

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    1. Because you might actually still share hobbies, interests, and tastes in music and food? As in, MOST of what you listed, as opposed to just the clothing part?

      Delete
  63. And the opposite is true. When I lived in Saudi Arabia with my family, I was tormented as a western female. No matter how shapeless and loose my clothes were, no matter how many layers I wore, when we would be out in Arab towns we (western females) would be ogled and often fondled and there was nothing we could do about it. I had my butt and breasts grabbed more times than I care to remember and that was when I was a young teenager (can you imagine fondling a 13 year old?!?). Why was I an object of lust and disrespect, when nothing more than my white face was showing?

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  64. Your experience is very commonplace. It happens to everyone, not just muslims. You are lucky to be a beautiful woman. If you were fat, people would not have been as nice to you. Also, if you were a man. Or if you were ugly. Or if you were old.

    People generally are only friendly to people they want to connect with. Men in business suits will not address hipsters, and vice versa. When you get old, you become invisible to young people.

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    1. What a sexist comment! A woman tells you that as a 13 year old child she was molested by men on the street, and YOU tell her she is lucky to be beautiful! When a burka is needed to protect a woman child from such violence it means the men hate and scorn females!

      Delete
  65. Hi - as a non-muslim, I just wanted to mention that the change in attitudes after you removed your hijab might not totally be out of judgment, mistrust or fear, but out of ignorance of protocol. In the times I've spoken with a woman with a hijab, abroad or in the US, I've been totally unaware as to what was polite, whether there were different rules that equated to politeness, or if it was even rude to ask if those rules existed and if I was following them! And this doesn't really apply only to Muslims, it applies to me for any religious person. I don't know how to talk to monks, Hasidic Jews, LDS Missionaries, Born-Again Christians, etc. There have been long conversations I've had where those concerns have faded, but they resurface with each new one, because what if the person I spoke with previously was more lax or less conservative?

    Hopefully this helps you feel like 100% of the change in reactions were not from a place of hatred or mistrust, but from a place of confusion.

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    1. I agree with your point about ignorance of protocol. As a non-Muslim male, it's not always clear to me what a Muslim woman would deem acceptable etiquette. I'm familiar enough with Islam to be aware of the Hadith which states, "No man should be alone with a woman except when there is a mahram [husband or non-marriageable relative] with her." (Sahih Muslim, Book 7, Number 3110). If my encounter with a Muslim hijabi takes place in a public area where she has no mahrams accompanying her, my tendency is to not initiate any sort of interaction. My fear is that she might deem casual talk with a non-mahram male inappropriate in the context of her religion. I realize though that there's a range of interpretation within Islam on how broadly this Hadith should be applied to varying circumstances. Some ulema (Muslim scholars) interpret it to refer only to situations of a man and woman being alone in a room together, while some more conservative Muslims apply it more broadly to public areas too. Alas, I can't read minds so I oftentimes don't know if the Muslim woman appreciates a bit of casual talk or would rather avoid it. If I'm not communicating with the Muslim woman, the unfortunate consequence is that misunderstanding can result and leave her wondering what my thoughts and feelings towards her are. Life sometimes isn't straightforward.

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  66. I am sorry you were born into the Muslim Religion which is Oppressive, Anti-Feminist, and Evil.

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  67. Thanks for posting this. I read it a couple days ago and really appreciated your insight. I'm sorry that some people who read it seem to want to make it all about their own agenda.

    Even your analogy was fantastic. These whole hidden spaces of the world that contain completely different standards of interaction than what we imagine exist. Pretty crazy.

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  68. Reading assume of the anonymous comments, I am not in the least bit surprised that a veiled Muslim woman might be nervous of anyone not wearing one- I imagine worries of being cornered by some stranger wanting to tell me all about how I'm"trapped" by superstition, the victim of a "blood soaked religion" or any of the other obnoxious nonsense people have decided to inflict on you. Factor on the many many instances of bigots assaulting hijab wearers and pulling their headscarves off and I'm amazed that anyone would question it. Thank you for sharing your story with us, and I'm really sorry that you're having to put up with all the nasty comments.

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  69. I just came in to point out the irony of how well Muslims treat you when you wear the Hijab, even to the point of not allowing you to pay for cab fare and acknowledging you in public. I wish I could get so much as a smile out of a cab driver in this city but I'm treated quite differently, after all, I don't wear a Hijab.

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    1. Like rain on your wedding day. . .

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  70. "Apparently, the type of cloth you place or wrap around your head defines how you will be treated."

    I'm shocked that you were so naive as to believe otherwise. What is the point of wearing the hijab if not to make some kind of social statement? And you expect that people don't react to social statements? Perhaps you should consider what kind of statement the hijab makes in different societies.

    Within Western society, this is always going to be interpreted as a way to distance yourself and stand apart. First of all, that's at least part of the idea! Even moreso in the West, where all we know about is that it is supposed to keep men from ogling women, so part of being distant towards you is trying to respect your statement! And since it is unusual and poorly understood, of course it will be at least a little off-putting to those unused to it.

    Is this really a surprise to you? Are you that unaware of the impression that you create?

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  71. For me, I'm thinking, the larger point here is, why can a God-conscious, Muslim woman who knows the proper criteria of hijab, with just a knit hat on her head and a scarf wrapped around her head be mistaken for a non-Muslim woman?

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  72. Clothing inescapably communicates information about the wearer. Google 'semiotics of fashion' for more information on the subject than you'll ever want to read.

    The hajib is ostensibly worn as a signal of modesty, yet it is actually an information rich message that is interpreted differently by different people and cultures - as the author discovered. If the aim was to communicate nothing more than modesty, a simple scarf over the head would be more effective. The hajib, however, is intended to communicate much more than just modesty.

    So what does the hajib actually say about the wearer?

    First and foremost, the hajib says "I'm Muslim." Dependent largely upon the cultural context, exactly what that means will differ from person to person but instantaneously and universally everyone understands the wearer is Muslim. Other Muslims will interpret the message to mean that the wearer is a member of their social group while non-Muslims will interpret the message to mean that the wearer has rejected membership in their group. Indeed, within the larger context of culture in Chicago, the hajib is considered to be a very extreme fashion statement - so extreme as to be an affront - which makes it exactly the opposite of modesty.

    Secondarily, and pertinent to the article, the hajib sends powerful sexual signals. To non-Muslims, the message is that the wearer is unavailable, even untouchable. To Muslims however, the message is that the wearer is submissive - a very sexy trait for many men, Muslim or otherwise, and exactly the opposite of modesty.

    Thus, in the context of Western Society (i.e., Chicago) the hajib is not a signal of modesty but an ostentatious display: a loud, vibrant and complex communication which intrinsically belies it's avowed intent of modesty.

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  73. I have lived in Muslim countries and interacted with Muslim friends for years. When in Canada, I have often warmly greeted hijabi wearing women and have been met with both warm replies and totally silence. I am a non-Muslim. I dress conservatively.

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  74. Clothing is a costume ~ a symbol of how we want the world to view us, whether its short short skirts with 4" heels or Hijabs, torn t-shirts or tuxedos, Suits vs long floral skirts. We are ALWAYS judged and treated by how we look. People make snap decisions with very little else to go on. Though I don't do this consciously, I'm sure I'm not Quite as outgoing and friendly to people wearing hijabs, people wearing large crucifixes, habits or other religiously self-identifying clothing. I always feel like people wearing them, rightly or wrongly, want to make a statement, to declare their separateness, or declare their part of being in a certain group, and it makes me just back off a bit. I tend to joke around, maybe say off the cuff remarks, and I wouldn't want to offend, so I just move on. I think anyone should wear whatever they want for whatever reason ~ its a big interesting world out there. I love this blog because realizing how and why people treat you or anyone differently is always mind-blowing. But, I don't think anyone should be surprised that people get treated differently based on their choice of clothing.

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  75. i am glad you enjoyed what we call freedom. any "uniform" enlists opinion. it could be dreadlocks, a mohawk or the preppy look. unfortunately, in America, "the scarves" will always be seen as a form of subjugation, that women are viewed in Islam as lessor than a man. that will never change, nor would i expect Americans to ever embrace a religion that dictates as such. 99% of American's will always see your scarf as slavery, so in turn it intrinsically goes against the very heart of us, which is freedom. i have read so many essays and religious texts , etc concerning the covering of women's heads but i just can't buy it. to me, god won't strike you dead without it, nor will he forsake you.there is always a price to be paid for one's convictions. that does not mean you are bullied or unpopular. what it means is that you've chosen to set yourself apart from us, like the amish or flds. i am sure you are a bright, fun, happy, intelligent women, but born and raised in America, no matter how i try, i will never see your scarf as anything more or less than shackles. good luck to you and maybe you should try it out when the weather is nicer. if i knew you could go sans scarf in public when you felt like it, i'd be more comfortable when you wore it. then i would know you were not "enslaved". maybe there's a middle ground

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  76. I think this article is extremely helpful in stirring up conversation about the approachability of Muslim and hijabi women. That, contrary to popular belief, you welcome and can engage in social interaction as much as the next person.

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  77. I love your story. I know how true it is and I believe that people react differently to different looks, not because they are mean or something, but because they feel some people more similar/close to themselves. It`s not nessesarily a racial thing. It can depend on a character or just style. I`ve been treated in a destinguishly different way one day when I went to a place with jeans, t-shirt and a bagpack and the next day at the same place, but this time with heels and office black and white type of clothing... It was really funny how people change, but it`s not because they are bad.. some have prejudice, others don`t have any idea how to behave with certain people and cultures, others just look for like minded people to share with... Life has so much variety that if you see it araund you, you just can`t help loving everyone and everything :D

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  78. I used to think that women wearing a hijab do it because they do not want to be addressed. It IS a barrier, if only a "visible" one. It's not that I am not interested in them or wouldn't like to talk to them. It's just this signal "don't look", "stay away". It's slightly different with younger women who are otherwise dressed in modern, fashionable ways. The seem more open to me.
    It is somehow funny that you were surprised by the different reactions. But obviously that is because it never happened to you before. I don't find it surprising at all. But I found it interesting to read because it never occured to me how a woman wearing a hijab would see things.
    I am pretty sure you could send out different / mixed signals if you wanted to. Wearing a hijab, but losely and with "fashionable" clothes. Make-up (not a fan myself). TALK to people yourself. I'm sure most of them, like me, have not been talking to you so far because they thought you wore the hijab to withdraw, stay away from people, in your own world. Obviously, taking the hijab of, would be an experiment worth trying too, if only for a day :-). You would be surprised.
    What is a little sad about this article, is that you looked for the "faults" in yourself. As if people weren't nice because something was wrong with you. It isn't. They just never got a chance to get to know you!

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  79. I think it's really interesting how the different treatment of you worked both ways. Non Muslim people were friendlier towards you when they couldn't see your hijab, and Muslim people were unfriendly. I think that shows how there is a mutual sense of mistrust and closedness of community between Muslim and non-Muslim communities, and something that *everyone* needs to work on. Racism/religio-ethnic groupism can work all ways.

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  80. Thank you for sharing your experience! I'm a Hindu woman but I felt like I could really see from your point of view.

    You might want to know that MetaFilter is discussing your post here: http://www.metafilter.com/136514/I-Took-Off-My-Hijab

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  81. I'm not sure where you have experienced this. Maybe the place is irrelevant. But as I was reading your post, I was thinking that it certainly goes both ways. My experience as a covered woman in the West says it all. I lost count of the number of times I was ill-treated, ignored or perceived as the odd one out simply because of the head-scarf. The world is an unfair place that lacks a lot of understanding of "the other", isn't it?
    Good luck fitting in! :)

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  82. This was in Chicago, which is why as a Chicagoan with Muslims in my family I find some of these comments which assume people don't know how to respond to a Muslimah's appearance disheartening. Perhaps because my brother converted just under twenty years ago I do have a unique perspective, but Chicago is diverse and there are many Muslimah here and because of events of racism following 9/11 this city area I believe has made great strides to teach about the many cultures Muslims come from and also to embrace them to our city. In fact Illinois was recently pointed out to be the state with the largest population of Muslims in the country...perhaps in other states or even just rural areas of this one, the concept to "fearing the unknown" is a valid argument to ignorance but not in Chicago..I do hope you progress your experiences into a long form or even book, I think it's truly brave and exceptional of you to write about this experience and share it to give outside eyes a glimpse into a world behind your own...Thank you.

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  83. Hi,
    I'm an editor with Huffington Post Religion. We'd love to set you up as a blogger and feature this reflection. If you are interested, please reach out to me at yasmine.hafiz@huffingtonpost.com. Thanks!
    Salaams,
    Yasmine

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    1. ... with a bit of context please?
      Minimal Group Paradigm and Social Identity Theory
      "Experiments using this approach have revealed that even arbitrary and virtually meaningless distinctions between groups, such as preferences for certain paintings[2] or the color of their shirts,[3] can trigger a tendency to favor one's own group at the expense of others.[4][5][6][7]"
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimal_group_paradigm

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  84. I've never started a conversation with a stranger in Hijab. I am not prejudiced against hijab, I feel reluctance and fear of offending the person just by saying anything. I'm a Muslim, lived in US and Europe the last 14 years. The lack of acceptance that you felt in hijab is mostly not because of prejudice. Trust me on this one.

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  85. Did you notice the discrimination between how the taxi drivers treated you? It works both ways.

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  86. But you never had a problem with Muslim taxi drivers suddenly turning mean when they thought you were a non Muslim? Or other Muslim women being cold? Goes both ways sweetheart.

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  87. Probably when some Muslims stop trying to kill non Muslims, their religion will be more acceptable to the world. It's like if you got into a bus with a group of people, and you knew one of them was a an insane killer, but didn't know which one. You'd view all of them with suspicion. I respect the modesty shown by Muslim women wearing the hijab, but I don't think a burka is appropriate outside of strict Muslim countries.

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  88. Lovely written blog post! Isn't it funny how people can stereotype of how you look so easily when in fact someone who doesn't wear a Hijab or any coverings might be a bigger predator? Let's not give up hope on others and make doa for them to be able to see and judge better.

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  89. I'm an Australian guy and I don't follow any religion. I recently boarded a bus and noticed one of the few remaining seats was next to a Muslim woman with a full head scarf. I walked past without even considering sitting next to her. When I took my seat further back, I watched if anyone would sit next to her. A woman who didn't appear to be muslim did. I noticed no men even looked at the seat. I don't think this is disrespectful. I think it's the opposite. I'm under the impression that Muslim women don't want to or are not supposed to speak or be near men, so in my mind, not taking the seat was respectful. I don't know what the others were thinking but it was probably something similiar. Honestly, I don't know what to do. I'd love to chat but thought that it wasn't considered appropriate, so I am just trying to not put the woman in any difficult position.

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  90. wow i read your story on an australian news site... awesome, more strength to you and i hope you can remain positive and optimistic. there is a lot of prejudice in this world, but we can overcome it by being open and friendly and caring

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  91. You seem like a lovely young lady either way (with or without hijab), and I suggest your comment about being treated nicely now by the mean girls because they couldn't see your hijab could be thrown in reverse about being treated coldly by your own culture when they couldn't see it either. When we decide to assert our cultural and religious values in the form of dress standards, we suffer/enjoy the intended separation/inclusion of these intended differences. We are one world and one humanity, the sooner our cultural and religious differences become an historical curiosity, the better for our society.

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  92. "Until I started passing by hijab is on my walk to work who wouldn’t acknowledge my existence. " These words say it all !!!! Western society are friendly to anyone and everyone. It is very hard to be friendly to someone with a face veil on. The veils says "leave me alone I am different and do not want to be approached". So we are polite and that is what we do! Your own like also do the same it appears. Friendly or aloof? You choose !!!

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  93. [I pray one day, and soon, that people will be familiar enough with all other cultures and beliefs that they are not afraid or have reservations..]
    The point is, many Australians are familiar with the culture that demands their women cover up, don't drive cars, don't go to school/UNI, are taken from a young age by wealthy filthy old men as slaves.
    We have many problems here too, but our women are allowed to do all these things that men do. Seeing a woman covered up like so many from that area of the world so, is a sad reminder for us of the oppression and the last thing we want to do is talk to someone so oppressed.

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  94. Im sure when people were smiling at you you were smiling back at them, with wearing a Hijab can your smile be seen, Im guessing not??

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  95. Muslims discriminate against christians and vice versa...perhaps the problem is religion...just sayin'.

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  96. I agree with many of the comments here especially those who noted the issue of the young lady being treated coldly by men of her culture.as they perceived her to be "western" or "Christian". Welcome to my world as an non Muslim woman who gets into a taxi driven by a Muslim man or at an airport in a Muslim country. Actually cold and distant doesn't cover it on some occasions...hostile does.

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  97. Your article sounds a bit too self conscious to me. In addition to being kind to each other, I think we should be more focus on our own faith than to constantly observe/second-guess what others may think of us. When I come across a person wearing any religious attire (Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, etc.), I choose to show respect by allowing them space. Are you saying that's inappropriate?

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  98. For the next phase of the experiment remove all head covering and religious identification and go do the same walk in a Muslim male dominated community and see if you are received the same.

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  99. I have a question. In a place where the hijab is the predominate type of female dress do you notice if the people are generally more friendly than where it is not (and where this accidental experiment occurred). As westerners we "educated" that the hijab is designed to isolate from unwanted and unwelcome approaches (amongst other things i am sure) so we assume the familiar contact would be not wanted as it would be considered harassment and assume that even where it is commonplace the intent and therefore the outcome would be the same.

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  100. I live in Australia where there is a large Muslim population, like many others my children were wary of people who are different and as such avoided contact.
    I then started taking them on my business trips to Muslim countries and guess what, they now see we are all the same, they interact and create conversation with Muslims at home and that contact is always well received.
    Travel is important we just need to get out of our silo.

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  101. I live in Sydney, Australia. I was fishing with a mate the other week and a Lebanese Muslim husband and wife were fishing nearby, with the woman in between us and her husband. It was a very windy day and something blew out of their tackle box. It was a packet of fishing flies and it blew towards me so I picked it up and walked over to the woman to give it back to her. She asked her husband's permission to accept the item and he told her to ignore me (I speak some Arabic), before abusing me and telling me to "get the fuck away from his wife". I dropped the packet of flies on the ground and walked back to my buddy. The husband stared at me for the rest of the day like he wanted to fillet me with his fishing knife. You wonder why non-Muslims don't want anything to do with you and you have the fucking hide to imply we are bigoted and intolerant. Guess that answers your rant about why you are not loveable.

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    1. If you write a comment you should put your name to it.
      Making assertions based on one interaction is really closed minded.
      I could do the same for any nationallity, any religion or any demographic for that matter.

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    2. @ William. You seem to have a problem with anonymity. And what of women walking around in black cloth apparently unable to reveal themselves? The muslim Hijab is a dehumanising instrument used by insecure and angry muslim men to control their property.

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  102. The Islamic religion says everyone is born Muslim, and if you practice anything else ie Christianity, Jewish, atheist, you are other and you must pay either in money, or with your life. Just about every place in the world where Islam is, is suffering fighting and turmoil, from those Muslims who take their religion seriously, and therefor kill others. Islam means subjugation of everyone, and Islam's goal is to not rest until every country in the world is Islamic under Sharia law.
    Many people in the West now understand this, with the huge Muslim immigration to the west. Before, when you stayed in "your" countries, killing each other, no one knew about this. Now we do know, and we rightly object to your religion. So you wonder why people avoid you while you are wearing the advertisement for the killer religion? And please stop everyone with the idea that somehow covering up is modest. No, it is telling everyone, "we are coming to get you... eventually".

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  103. I was born in South Africa - white! 20 years ago I met a very religious muslim girl in London and we ended up in a relationship. Her family were very religious but completely accepting of me and very welcoming. I left London and her father a muslim scholar saw she was miserable and suggested she leave to join me in Australia. I'm pretty sure white South Africans would have been a lot less accepting.

    One thing that has intrigued me. In all my time with her I never saw anyone in a Hijab. (part from a funeral) I was part of the family and their friends did not either. Could someone tell me whether the Hijab is a new artefact of the muslim religion or whether there are parts of the faith that don't. Her parents were Shiite if that makes a difference.

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  104. funny how to degrade westerners for being nice to you but you dont put down your fellow muslims for acting like asses when they thought you were a westerner. The double standards are appalling.

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    1. Exactly what I thought as I was reading!

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  105. Your article was an interesting one and I’m of the view that no matter how much cultural awareness is brought to bear on society, prejudice will always exists in our society as long as people are free to think and speak their minds. It is a negative characteristics of human nature to be somewhat adverse to the unknown, or anything different.
    I am also from Australia, a country where the infamous ‘white Australia policy’ remained in force well into the 1970s, barring anyone that does not meet the ‘ideal’ criteria. Before the 2nd World War, it was the Irish catholics who bore the brunt of prejudice. Then there were the Europeans, predominantly Greeks and Italians, and after that came the Vietnamese into the 1970s. With each wave of immigrants there was prejudice against them one way another.
    As happened in California in the same timeframe, there was the Gold Rush here in Australia, and the Chinese who came to seek their fortune were often scalped and slaughtered, no different from the Tasmanian aborigines who were also slaughtered and worse still eradicated from the face of the earth. Needless to say even if one is white and share the same religion, prejudice can still occur as with the thousands of British who came in the 1950s and 1960s, who were often referred to as ‘whinging POMs’ (prisoner of the mother country). Their culture had seemed ‘somewhat different’ from the laid back ways of the Australian culture.
    However, over the years and decades, each immigrant group assimilated into societies and today their heritage is celebrated by all, particularly with the many cultural festivals. In spite of that, there remains pockets of ethnic and religious groups who simply refuse to assimilate. They were attires that are somewhat ‘different’ from the rest of society. If I am to be honest with my own prejudice, I would find it somewhat unnerving to engage in a conversation with one whose face I cannot see. Then on the other hand, there are other ethnic muslim groups who have assimilated well such as the Indonesians. They wear headscarves, however, their faces are exposed, and there is an inclination to respect them for their values.
    My experience in the middle east was a negative one, particularly in one country where we conformed to the hilt in respecting local religion and customs. Yes, we wore chador, however, whether our blue eyes were dead give away or the fact that we were two women walking alone without a male escort, we were pursued by a large group of males intent on doing us harm. It was fortunate that we darted into a bath house where we stumbled upon women wearing bright colored clothes, tight jeans and revealing tops before draping their attires in dark garments. They were sympathetic to our plight and the husband of one bundled us into a car and whisked us away from the barbaric crowd that lingered at the entrance.
    My immediate reaction after the event was of anger in that respect was not reciprocated where we had tried our best to conform, as well as anger at the oppressiveness of the society that did not afford women equality, may it be equality in employment, education, or even the freedom to operate a vehicle. From this point forward, my perception of the chador, or hajib, represented oppressiveness, an unfortunate leftover from the dark ages. That was my view as a teenager more than 30 years ago. On the other hand, in other middle eastern countries I have had only good experiences even though I still wore western clothing but dressed decently.
    On this point, respect is a two way street and judging from the discussion above, clearly we have a long way to go to overcome prejudice. I believe respect has to come from both sides.

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  106. Could it be that the way you acted towards other people was different when you dressed differently? Did you try removing the cap and scarf and behaving the same way as when you wore it? If someone wearing a headscarf smiled at me and said hello I would return the same back just as I would for people dressed most ways. It is probably a bit of a vicious cycle unfortunately, because if the others don't act that way towards you then you won't expect that and act accordingly etc. etc. It is a bit like when I am on holiday in the country and everyone smiles and says hello so you get into the habit of doing it whereas in the city everyone avoids eye contact and doesn't speak with others. Also, I guess there is probably an uncertainty of people about how to behave around others that are "different", as evidenced by the lack of friendliness of the muslim people towards you when you changed appearance.

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    1. Couldnt agree with this comment more. I think it is what 99% of people who read this are thinking... I dont care if you are muslim, just like I dont care if someone is catholic. Get over it like everyone else who doesnt believe in a certain religion has.

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    2. A hijab represents a strong faith in and submission to Allah, comparative to the christian whiple or mega-cross, or jewish Haredi black hat and sideburns. In an age where almost 50% of Americans reject Evolution(!?); inter-religious interaction is dropping like a stone, and the Deists, Unitarians, Atheists, relaxed or lapsed religious folk, and similar are less willing to bother to pay attention to the devout nutcases. - Jarrow

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  107. "All the stares were not racially related anymore. "

    Let us be very clear: Islam is not an ethnicity and Muslims are not members of 'the Islamic race'. Muslims come from all races and ethnicities. Identifying as Muslim in free countries is a personal, arbitrary choice. Opposing Islam is no more racist, bigoted and xenophobic than it would be racist, bigoted and xenophobic to oppose radical Communism, violent Fascism, or the medieval state church burning unbelievers and witches on stakes.

    In opposing the impositions of Islam, we equally oppose those who have been groomed to enable the spread of Islam by means of nihilistic multiculturalism, moral relativism and suffocating political correctness.


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  108. imagine being a non hijabi white muslim girl..i used to live in muslim abundant city where muslims recognized me usually and now i live where there arent any muslims and when i see some hijabis (if i go to the big city) i get so happy and give them a big smile acknowledging them, yet they just look away (weirded out most likely, lol). they have no way of knowing, just as i dont have a way of knowing if the non hijabi sitting next to me on the bus is also muslim. i am too shy to approach them. its such a joy seeing them though ah makes me feel like home for a split second, then once that second passes, i start missing home. thanks random hijabis lol

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  109. it's an "otherism". when in rome do as the romans do, not to do so is quite a slap in the face to your new country. i've had many similar experiences since moving to japan more than 10 years ago now. i moved from a handshake country to a bow country and so of course i stopped shaking hands and started bowing. kids still stare at me on the train but why wouldn't they? i look different from every other person so of course they're curious, there's nothing offensive about it. you can believe in wearing a hijab all you want, but you should also keep in mind that it's quite an affront to the millions of other people living there who believe heads shouldn't be covered for any religious reason. conversely, people who goto countries where headscarves are expected should wear one for the duration of their stay, no matter how much they believe the opposite. here in japan i've worn all manner of religious garb to visit certain temples and other holy places, what kind of person would i be to refuse and insist they all accept my beliefs?

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  110. hi what does your hijab symbolize in religion and life. why do you where it?
    educate me please..

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  111. islam religion of peace...
    http://conservativepapers.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Religion-of-Peace.jpg

    now do you see why people view you with mistrust?

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    1. I'm afraid the same can be said about any relegion. Because remember about the crusades? Christians did a lot of really bad things in the past (still do) and called it holy.
      It's all about habits and knowing your neighbour, problem is we don't know our neighbours anymore.

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  112. Once more a nice example of how important it is for us to accept that 1) all religions are inventions of humans that came into existence as part of a (moral) evolution 2) we are all species (animals included) sharing the same planet and the same origins. There's no need for us to make it more complex. If everyone came to accept this, this wouldn't have happened.

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  113. Hello,

    Please consult "Minimal Group Paradigm" and "Social Identity Theory".
    After that: let's talk about racism.

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  114. To be honest, I find the interaction with people of the Islam faith hard sometimes. Mainly because they think I am an infidel and I will burn in hell. If I ask questions about what I perceive as imperfections or flaws in the Qhuran, they get mad, ignore it and push me away. So it will take time and energy for both sides to adjust and accept eachother to the fullest.

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    1. John - thanks for being open and honest. If someone thinks you are an 'infidel' they are actually being judgmental and that is a sin. That doesn't represent the actual religion nor many of the other Muslims that you may come across.

      Muslims shouldn't be afraid to answer your questions, even if they seem offensive. If your intention is to offend (which seems like it's not) then they should answer you with genuine care. But people are flawed. And unfortunately there's a lot of blurring of lines between religion and culture.

      I would say keep asking, keep doing your part, as a human who strives to make this world better. It definitely takes both sides!

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  115. Perhaps it is interesting to read the Quran verse that tells women to wear outgarments: 33.59 "33.59. O (most illustrious) Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters, as well as the women (wives and daughters) of the believers, to draw over themselves some part of their outer garments (when outside their homes and when before men whom they are not forbidden to marry because of blood relation). This is better and more convenient for them to be recognized (and respected for their decency and decorum) and not harrassed. God is indeed All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate." Maybe poster understand now why muslimmen harrass us, western women, who do not wear hijab. Seemingly this is NORMAL behavior according to the quran. It is like wearing a soldiers uniform: we are of the same army. Nice to know this when one is NOT wearing a soldiers uniform.

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  116. This is plain corruption.
    Suddenly a girl takes off her Hijab and it becomes a big deal, a massive cleverly propagated blog that reached the journals.
    Speaking in the favor of non-muslims who have a negative attitude towards muslims, and showing the muslims themselves almost as alien outsiders as they are accused to be just because they choose to isolate themselves from falsehood.
    While reading this blog i almost felt like reading what the pen writes of pro zionist forged society that has PHD in every fields of cleverness and deception.

    Here is the intention of this message to the world:
    Take of your hijab so you can feel 'normal' among non-muslims by accepting whatever they offer & practice and leave the revelations from Allah behind.

    A direct attack to the fundemantals of islamic way of life.

    Just because a society is not living in the form of islam does not mean that islam is something of the past or is 'succesfully' abolished from the face of the earth.

    What happend with you is that you have lost your trust in Allah and left your resistance against falsehood by surrendering to the overwhelming corruption that has become widespread. Instead of patiently minding your prayers and keeping up the hope to the promise of Allah, and that is: Al-Qur'an Chapter 17.Al-Isra verse 81: And say, "Truth has come, and falsehood has perished. Indeed falsehood is ever bound to perish. You chose mock muslims yet again in that famous clever ways of the disbelievers.
    You should know that the majesty of Allah does not decrease by the mockings of those who rejected him and his messengers, nor does the majesty of Allah inscreases by showing off how muslim you are.
    At the end of the day every soul will return to him.
    You have chosen to be the friends of them by supporting their ideals and upon that you have backed up their ever existing theories and excuses not to worhsip Allah and live in the lights of his revelations. therefore you now belong to them.
    Were you a true muslima by any chance you wouldn't write such a blog anyway.


    Yet again, Al-Qur'an chapter 24.An-Nur verse 55:
    “Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will, of a surety, grant them in the land, inheritance (of power), as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish in authority their religion, the one which He has chosen for them and that He will change (their state), after the fear in which they (lived), to one of security and peace: They will worship Me (alone) and not associate any partner with Me. If any do reject Faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked.”

    Have fun with your life.
    Enjoy it

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    1. I encourage you to read the post more closely. I didn't take off my hijab. I accidentally covered it with a hat and scarf. I am promoting acceptance and unity from both Muslims and non-Muslims. It does not mean a Muslim should neglect his own beliefs nor impose them on others. "Let there be no compulsion in religion..." [2:256].

      The Prophet pbuh stood up in respect at a funeral of a man who was a declared an enemy to Islam. That is the kind of behavior we need to emulate. The title was to draw attention, but I didn't take it off.

      In defense of sisters who have taken off their Hijab, that is simply a visible struggle they have. We all struggle, it's just easier to judge others when a practice is manifested in a physical form. Someone might stop praying, but that's not visible. Advise if you want, but remember how you entered this world, and that you are no better than anyone else.

      Peace

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    2. We are all born the same, as far as we know today. But we are each raised in a specific environment. This pushes us, unknowingly, in a certain direction,
      Minmial group Paradigm and Social Identity Theory.
      see also:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Tajfel
      "In these studies,[8][9] test subjects were divided arbitrarily into two groups, based on a trivial and almost completely irrelevant basis. Participants did not know other members of the group, did not even know who they were, and had no reason to expect that they would interact with them in the future. Still, members of both groups allocated resources in such a way that showed favouritism for members of their own group in a way that maximized their own group's outcomes in comparison to the alternate group, even at the expense of maximum gains for their own group.[10] Even "on the basis of a coin toss...simple categorization into groups seems to be sufficient reason for people to dispense valued rewards in ways that favor in-group members over those who are 'different'"."

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    3. I've read it closely first from the news then i read it again on the source.
      First of all nowhere in my post have i mentioned about you taking off your hijab for good. You did, by your Title and by many titles on different news.
      For the second, one simply cannot 'accidentally' cover something like a hijab with a hat and a scarf, you either did it or didn't, which was not the point of my post anyway, i couldn't care less if you'd hide it under your hats and scarfs or just go plain hijabi.

      Then again nowhere in my post did i promote the exact opposite of what you just wrote about 'acceptance' but i depart from you on the point of unity.

      We as muslims all over the world already know that the romans or 'westerners' as they call themselves, never stood up for unity in the just and righteous way as we always were fooled by it (speaking generally). And we witnessed and are witnessing the attacks of their unity among themselves (judeo-christian zionist alliance) physically, mentally and socially against islam and whoever supports it and whishes to live under one god, one law & one flag no matter what racial background their brothers have.
      While not so much demanding muslims like you that are called 'moderate' or 'non-violent' muslims(when their brothers are under attack) are singing about 'unity for all mankind' or 'peace', another muslim community is under attack just for the sake to DIVIDE them so that they may have no nation nor any piece of ground to live on it and live by the law of Allah. and then when they bring hell upon them they quickly bring the peace processes and aids to fool these muslims so that they can indoctrinate them with their own 'democratic' laws and establish taxes upon them that will benefit yet another country that is ruled by laws of men so that they can improve military to nuke yet another target that wants unity under one God, one law & one flag.

      Can you see where this is going already?

      I never tried to impose anything on anyone, infact i couldn't care less what you believe or what you follow, we muslims are not obligated by the guidence of people, but we are obligated to deliver the message and respond to any forms of falsehood.

      Don't try to distract the point of this whole thing by adding what our prophet (pbuh) did. we know well what kind of behaviour we are obligated to emulate, we heard and we obeyed. and we do not preach any difference from that.

      i don't care about sisters taking of their hijabs, that's their problem.
      What i care is this what you do, trying to infiltrate with clever words inside islamic communities and confuse them about hijabs and acceptance and such. we are what we are and we do not need anyone to tell us how we should dress, eat or behave. we chose Allah and his messengers and on that path we go. whoever frowns upon that or blatantly mock it does not bother us at all.
      The full moon is not bothered by the barkings of the dogs.


      We all want unity, peace and brotherhood, but you should ask yourself who benefits from this unity, if you feel more confident and accepted by appearing more like them. then you should join them, case closed.
      You don't need to tell us how you feel about it, not every feeling is right.
      You surely don't need to write this in favor of people who once frowned upon you and mocked you and your religion.
      we already know their hatred by their tongue and Allah says that what they hide within their hearts is worse than what they have on their tongue's. so don't get fooled by their 'friendship' or by their 'peace dialogues'.

      I'm not even going to respond to your last accusation.

      Have fun with your life

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  117. "All the stares were not racially related anymore"

    You are aware that Islam is NOT a "race", correct? Could people still see your face? Then how could their reaction be any different if it was "racially related"?

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    1. That is correct. When my scarf is visible, my "race" is also visible. People may assume I'm from another country.

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  118. its basic adaptation i guess, if i go to an islamic country, i will behave in a proper way.
    i am not a believer, but the quran has been written century's ago. it is not evolving at all, how can we live our life based on a book that has been written in another world?

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  119. "I pray one day, and soon, that people will be familiar enough with all other cultures and beliefs that they are not afraid or have reservations, and that the thing that stands out to them is not the wrap around my head, but the smile on my face."

    Well, the problem is that your religion doesn't allow men to speak to women ... except through the women's husband or father ... Probably someone needs to do something with that ... Or you could just go through life without the hijab and begin enjoying life at its fullest!

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  120. With it covered, you were seen by some, treated differently by some AND you were no longer treated with friendlyness by your moslim friends. This tells me that it works both ways. We all should respect each other. I, as a non moslim woman, am ignored by your men in meetings, treated with disrespect by the moslimas,... where is respect and love to be found there?

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    1. ... where we thus can understand that religions are there to steer ideas. Will never be my cup of thee.

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  121. It's been my experience that Arabian people in general do not like to assimilate. They have a tendency to only to engage in activities with their own people. Outsiders are almost never allowed to participate unless they are business partners, lifelong neighbors or friends. The Muslim religion like all other "Man Made" religions were designed to keep the masses in check. However, the Muslim religion takes it to a whole other level. Most Muslim women are not allowed to associate with anyone outside of their religion. However, they want to be accepted into Western Society and treated as an equal. However, they first have to make an attempt to simulate and leave their religion at the front door.

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  122. It is naive to think that people will treat you like "their own" if you explicitly dress different. Whether you are punk rock, hippy or explicitly religiously dressed, people will respond to you as an outsider. By choosing a style of clothing that is different from the flock, the flock will not accept you as one of them. Dressing different is expressing that you are different. For most westerners religion is a private matter not to be advertised in the public space. A lot of people considder the Hijab as critisism on western value. A way to mark muslim therritory. Now people can get upset for what I wrote. But I am describing what I hear and see in the world around me. Almost every human is a group animal. And every group behaves in similar patterns. The muslim cab drivers started treating her differently when she looked like she'd be from a different flock.

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  123. The scarf is just a way to mark muslim territory. The thing that annoys me the most is that women have to bear the markings of the religion more obviously than men.

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  124. http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/2770/
    "The aura of privacy(!) created by hijab is indicative of the great value Islam places upon women."
    "While Muslim men can blend easily into any society, Muslim woman are often put on the line, and forced to defend not only their decision to cover, but also their religion."
    "It is true that in some families and in some cultures women are forced to wear hijab but this is not the norm. The Quran clearly states that there is no compulsion in religion"

    You wear a Hijab because you don't want attention from non-muslims! Don't blame others for it.

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  125. Being brought up in the middle-east, I personally have no problems interacting with women in hijab. I can perceive the difference in women who wear the hijab for religious reasons and the women who wear the hijab for cultural reasons (putting it subtly). I remember a couple of Muslims in my medical school I have interacted with. While the male was a good friend of mine and interacted with me freely, the female shunned away from any attempted interaction. When I attempted to shake hands with her, she stated "I'm sorry, I do not touch other men." I wasn't offended in the least bit, but I pitied her in being brought up in such a society. I also though she was an idiot as she was in a medical school - always wondered me how she was going to see male patients in future? Anyways, the point I wanted to make was that the beliefs in the Islamic community is diverse. There are so many subtle difference in beliefs, just like in any other religion. I have 2 Muslim families who are my Neighbors in Canada. In my left is a family from Qatar, who are great to interact with. The females always smile at me and invite me to their home for tea. I really like interacting with them. To my right, there is a family from Pakistan. The females there shun away from any interaction. Secretly, the daughter-in-law tries to interact with us, but later gets punished by her husband and mother-in-law for doing that. Clear signs of abuse. She has asked my mother's help twice, but does not allow us to call the authorities to step in - we're still not sure how to help her. You can see the difference is in the root of beliefs. I do think Muslim need not be so uptight about Islamic traditions, but what matters to me more is that I do not think it is right to enslave your wife/daughter/daughter-in-law based on what you believe in. I personally think they should be criminalized.

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  126. How would a muslim woman with a hijab expect to be treated by strangers when the hijab usually symbolizes her submission to a code in which she is subject to a man's will? I wouldn't know how to talk to a hijabi, for I wouldn't know if by doing that I might not be getting her into trouble with the "male" figure she might have that subjection.

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  127. Enjoyed reading this very much, I guess it proves a point that both muslims as non muslims still have some work to do.

    I sent you an email, I hope you'll take a few minutes to read it.

    Erik

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  128. I like your story very much. What we can learn with this, is that every culture, every religion as is place on earth. Many Muslim country's doesn't accept that women walk in the street not "covered" even if they are not muslims. So it is understandable that in our country's we don't like womans with hijab.

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  129. Well, i think its the same if you would wear a t-shirt saying "I love Bush". Certain people will love you, others will suddenly hate you. Its called 'expressing political/religious/... opinion'. This is indeed what happens. After all, a headscarf is only for showing you as muslims are with a large group that would rule territory, nothing religious about it. A hat is perfectly allowed by the Quran aswell, as long as it covers.

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  130. When I read your revelation that you thought people noticed you more because they couldn't recognise that you were Muslim, my first thought was you don't understand the message a lot of people receive when they look at someone who has covered their entire face - you don't want to be approached. Suddenly your facial expressions are displayed, you are probably seeking more eye contact and you wonder why you get noticed more. If someone talks to me wearing sunglasses, I can't get eye contact so I find I start looking at their face less as we converse. If you put a layer of fabric between us when we communicate, don't waste time wondering why people don't approach you because you've already sent out a huge non-verbal signal to them.

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  131. People do tend to be more friendly towards people whom we perceive are like us, and we shouldn't, but that is what we do. You point out that Muslims will also display this same behavioural trend towards non-Muslims, because you mention how reserved Muslims now were towards you. It needs to work both ways--if you expect to be welcomed by non-Muslims when you are dressed like a Muslim, I hope you also expect that Muslims will change and be just as welcoming of non-Muslims too.

    You wrote: "But then it became fishy. The Muslim taxi drivers who would almost always say "Assalamu Alaikum," ask me where I'm from or if I'm single, or not allow me to pay for the fare became cold and dry. I would simply give the address, and the only dialog thereafter was at time of payment. It was puzzling."

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