Girls Just Want to Have Fun

This American Muslim won't wear a head cover but will wear tight jeans. Modesty, she says, comes from within.

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But when you go to an event like ISNA, there's a lot of peer pressure to wear the head cover, because literally every woman is wearing the head cover. Probably out of all the women wearing the head cover there, less than half actually wear it every day. But it's an unspoken thing among Muslim women that when you're going to an Islamic event, you cover your head because everyone else there is going to be covered, and the men are going to expect you to be covered.

Now certainly in a mosque, when you're praying, both men and women are supposed to cover their hair. Men are supposed to wear a prayer cap and women are supposed to wear a scarf, so in the mosque I cover my hair, no question about that. But I don't think in daily life it's required.

It's more of an Arab custom. But there are South Asian women (like me) who do wear it. And South Asia's had phases back and forth, wearing it, not wearing it. Here in America, the young women who wear it, say, in college, feel that it's their way of protest. Some of them feel that it's a feminist thing. It's their way of protesting judgment based on their appearance--which I really respect. If I were to wear it, it would be for that reason.

Why do you so firmly believe Muslim women don't have to wear hijab?
I don't feel the Qur'an is asking us to. I think the Qur'an asks us to be modest in our appearance, and I think you can be modest wearing regular clothes, Western clothes. I think this is pretty modest [looking down at her shirt and jeans]. But I think it's also stylish.

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One could argue you're wearing tight jeans.
I don't think they're that tight. I have tighter. [Laughs.] Modesty comes from within. I have been to ISNA conventions where all the women except me and my sister are wearing the head cover, but we're the only ones wearing loose clothes. All the ones wearing the head cover in our age group are wearing tight pants and showing cleavage in their blouses.

 

For women to wear the hijab and then say, "OK, we're covered, we're fine" is a bit disingenuous. Women aren't that dumb. If we want to be stylish and want to wear tight clothing, then we'll just cover our hair and still wear whatever we want to wear. But I think if you're going to do it, you should be doing it to show devotion to God, not to just satisfy the local imam or the elders at the ISNA convention because of peer pressure. You could have your hair covered and still be flirting with somebody. A lot of flirtation is talking, eyes, hand motions, and the way you walk. All those things are more important than whether your hair is covered or not.

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