Greetings of peace.
Muslim Bloomington residents know the actions of one young man do not reflect the beliefs and actions of all people who have similar identity characteristics — race, gender, etc.
We know that it does not reflect upon his religious affiliation. Thinking that way would be despicable stereotyping and could lead to even more fear, hatred and finally, violent acts. How outrageous would stereotyping be when we are friends, neighbors and colleagues?
I was asked to write about what “hijab” means to me. It is the majority opinion that modest behavior and dress for men and women have been revealed in our scripture as modesty is a virtue of a believer. Some say it helps women avoid sexual objectification as we are recognized as human in a non-physical manner.
Ironically, it now seems to cause women to be objectified politically — as some see hijab-wearing women as a walking threat to politics and feminism.
Quite the contrary, a piece of cloth cannot be so powerful as to threaten or oppress. But mindsets can threaten and oppress us. To understand someone’s mindset, we would need to sit down with a cup of tea and let down our guards – something we Muslims would love to do with any sincere soul.
I personally love my hijab because it is beautiful. Adding a colorful frame of texture to my face everyday covers up bad hair days, and it is part of my spiritual life. On my best days, it complements my outfit and on my worst days it has helped me dry off my wet toddler who jumped into a mud puddle. On my superwoman days, I have even used it as tool to deliver a baby.
I would love for you to see Muslim women as human beings, and not as objects of madness in the world.
It’s a clothing accessory which signifies modesty, but the truth is modesty in our character is more important. Other important virtues are kindness and respect. Everyone deserves that kind of treatment regardless of the presence of a headscarf.
Although sometimes I am frightened to do so, I must wear my hijab because of my religious conviction, those bad hair days and because I love it. And we must be neighbors to each other in our friendly little town because we all love Bloomington.
There is one instance in which I would take off my hijab for you — if you were sinking into quicksand or otherwise needed my help, I would unravel my hijab and throw it out to you, helping to reel you back in.