Why We Should Not Fear Women Who Choose to Wear Head Coverings

Updated on February 14, 2017
RockerGinger profile image

Sarah is studying to receive her eventual Ph.D in Christian-Muslim relations. She plans to teach at the university level in the near future.

Source

Ahh, a piece of fabric!

While scrolling through my Facebook page, I am flooded with images and articles about Muslim women being harassed in public. The Muslim woman, of orthodox practice, is usually easy to spot. She dresses modestly, covering all but her hands and face, and dons a variation of the hijab, a word meaning "barrier." Why this makes her a target for ridicule is something many people find hard to grasp. Why should a decorative piece of fabric determine anything about her personality, her past behavior, her association with a widely misunderstood religion?

Women covering their hair is not a new practice. It is also not necessarily a sign of oppression, as so many people in France seem to believe. It is a sign of devotion to God, whether a women of the cloth or a laywoman, where she can be modest and keep her beauty under wraps. It is also due to certain traditions of different cultures. This, in a nutshell, is why most women of all faiths and cultures cover, but there are many other aspects to consider when you see a covered woman.

Women wearing traditional Turkish-style hijab
Women wearing traditional Turkish-style hijab | Source

What Does it Mean?

Consider that for many denominations of all mainstream faiths, a woman covering her hair meant (and still means) respect and honor for her, her family, and her devotion. In some cases, like Islam and Judaism, a woman with covered hair and sometimes face (see: niqab), means she is most likely married or engaged to be married. This is a sign to men to lower their gaze; that this is a woman who should not be pursued because she is already spoken for. It is also a reminder for ladies of faith to act modestly as well as dress the part. For women who are not particularly religious, some view this as simply as this woman carries herself in high esteem.

In the case of African American culture, black women were told to (and even required by law at one point) to wear a scarf on her head. In the days of slavery, this originally was meant to protect the women from head lice and other pests whilst working outdoors. As time passed, it furthered into a form of her identity and stature of lesser value. While ladies of privilege were covering with bonnets and other finery, slave women were given a crude piece of fabric to cover. While this was designed to demean and embarrass them, it allowed black women to use it as a sign of courage, perseverance, and unity among their community. Different styles allowed the black woman to express her own personality, and thus became a symbol of strength and individuality. While this is not a religious reason, it is another aspect of covering that counters the claim that women who cover are oppressed.

For Islam specifically, a woman covers for similar reasons mentioned prior. However, something that is expressed many times in the Qur'an is to avoid being self-centered or preoccupied with appearance; to be more concerned with ones words and actions and less about ones physical attractiveness. This goes for women and men alike. For example, while it is asked for a woman to cover her hair and neck, a man must also not expose anything below his bellybutton. You will rarely see a man scantily clad unless he is in a "mens only" sort of establishment. But more to the point, this encourages a Muslim woman to focus less on her concern with attention being drawn to herself, and to allow herself privacy when in public. While there are women worldwide who may not agree with the hijab, many of the women who wear it state that they find it liberating and label it a choice, rather than a sign of oppression.

Lastly, Christianity seems to go unnoticed when it comes to covering. While veils aren't commonplace in todays society, they are still used in certain denominations. It was and still is acceptable for women to wear hats in church, showing a sign of respect by covering in a place of worship or during religious ceremonies, particularly solemn occasions such as funerals. It should be noted that women who do decide to cover in Christian practice specifiy the covering of the "head", not necessarily covering their hair.

Breaking the Stigma

While the stigma that sadly exists around certain religions, it should be reminded for people to not judge so quickly based on how a woman decides to dress her hair. In todays society, where no weight is perfect, no style of dress is without flaw, and even how a woman makes up is scrutinized, differences should serve as a splash of color in our increasingly black and white world. As long as they are not bringing harm, changes from what we consider norm (what a ghastly word) should be welcomed and examined with innocent curiousity, and far less discrimination and hatred.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        AISYAH 

        8 months ago

        Brilliant. This is the difference between a knowledge seeker and an ignorant. I would like to suggest you to read 'A world without Islam. Perhaps you have not read it yet.

      • Carollynne-Farion profile image

        Carollynne-Farion 

        18 months ago from Niagara Falls, Canada

        Very thoughtful and a great read!!

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, soapboxie.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://soapboxie.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)