I am a hijabi Muslim woman, and I refuse to reduce my hijab to a scarf much like those before me. Hijab goes beyond my modest dress code and my head cover. Hijab is my lifestyle. Over the years, it has built my character and shaped my behavior. Hijab has brought me closer to my creator. My hijab is very much feminine. It is a tool given to every woman that no man is able to acquire through wit or strength.
As a hijabi, I am a walking representation of Islam. This form of dawah does not require brochures or speeches. The statement I make as I walk streets from Texas to the Middle East is stronger than your most colorful brochure. I am everyday an ambassador of Islam, accepting the responsibility as much as I am the honor. The responsibility my hijab has given me is a fierce passion continuously driving me to seek knowledge about my faith and share it with others. It is the reason I am able to speak to you in your language, a language that is not my native tongue.
And no, I don’t dress this way, act this way, and talk this way because I’m forced to. I am who I am today of my own free will and as a result of the decisions I’ve made throughout my life with the guidance of my Lord. I cover the beauty He has blessed me with, as He has blessed every woman, so that you may see beyond the physical. Hijab has taught me to respect myself, for that is where everyone else’s respect is derived.
I speak softly and lower my gaze, not from shame or weakness. Rather, it is from humility and understanding of the power my eyes and voice possess. I don’t need to raise my voice in order to be heard. The words that softly leave my lips and the ones escaping my pen as I write this have much more weight than the volume of my vocal cords. My thoughts and opinions are proven to be much more piercing than the eye contact you deem necessary to sustain a conversation.
I am well aware of my defiance to your norm, but I can not follow society’s norms, whether it is that of the West or the East, if it’s not inline with Islam. Through hijab, Islam has become my culture, my way of life. It constitutes my values and beliefs, and I’m not one to downgrade.
I am certain that there are hijabi women everywhere who feel this. They are my sisters in Islam, my fellow ambassadors of this faith. You will not run into us at your clubs. You will not meet us at your bars. We do not pose for your indecent photos. We are not the subjects of your gossip magazines, nor are we your Hollywood icons. We don’t sing and dance for your pleasure. We cover our bodies because that’s the truest form of beauty. We lower our gazes because we understand the effect our eyes will have on you. We speak firm words softly because we know the content is enough emphasis. We are strong Muslim women, and we are pleasing to our Lord. And that alone is the reason we are.