9 stupid questions you hear when you wear hijab

Published: October 25, 2011

I eat with my mouth, just like you do. Despite the fact that its hidden under fabric, I can still find it.

I wear a hijab, and contrary to popular belief, I am not sheltered. I have a thriving social life and enjoy talking to different people. However, I am always amused and sometimes irked with the looks of curiosity people direct towards me.

Even though the hijab is becoming a popular fashion trend in most countries, and in some as an act of rebellion there a few people are still suspicious of it.  I have come across some hilarious questions -being a polite person, I generally don’t answer as I would wish to. But if  I did answer these questions the way I wanted to this is what I would say:

1. How do you breathe?

Through my nose, duh. It’s fabric, it’s made to allow air to pass through it.

2. How do you eat/drink?

Like you do. With my mouth. It’s hidden beneath fabric, I know. However, it still exists and I can find my way quite easily to it, thank you very much!

3. You must be really oppressed by the men in your family.

I am a dual degree holder. I have studied in co-education schools and worked at a software house. I teach at a private sector university and I drive all over the city. If you still think I am oppressed, I am the happiest oppressed person alive.

4. Oh, you can think?

Unfortunately for you, yes, I think. My hijab is not a lead box designed to store radioactive elements. It does not bind my mind. I think, I process information and I also form opinions. A hijab does not warp me into a mentally incapable being.

5. Why do you need to buy clothes other than your gowns and hijabs?

Because there are places where I do take my hijab and gown off. Do you think I roam around my own house like this? Just because I am not showing my clothes to everyone does not mean I don’t need them. I love pretty clothes and I wear them for me.

6. You must have been married by 14 and must be staying home looking after your six children, right?

Wrong. I am happily single, pursuing a career, unlike some who willingly got married in their 3rd  year of MBBS, dropped out of your degree and chose to stay home. Even though I might not be better than you, I am not any less than you either just because I cover my face.

7. Don’t you feel hot in the summer?

Don’t you feel hot in summer? It’s 48 degrees out there – everyone feels hot in this weather.

8. Since you are dressed like this, you must be a part of the Taliban.

You are a Shiv Sina activist since you are wearing a sari, no? I hate to break it to you, but I am not part of the Taliban clan. How about we fight them together?

9. You see  my hijab and make it a point to convert every discussion into a religious debate.

My hijab might be for religious purposes, but that does not mean you are obliged to start a religion war with me. Opting for hijab is my choice, just like not opting for it is yours. I don’t mind you wearing anything you want to. I also accept the fact you don’t the like hijab. I accept your choice and I expect you to show me a similar level of tolerance, especially when tolerance is what you are ranting about all day long. Please don’t indulge in a religion and hijab bashing debate with me.

So there you have it; I feel unburdened and liberated.

Next time you see someone wearing a hijab, and are confused, please feel for the poor soul and spare her the questions she probably answers everyday. We are real, intelligent people just like your friends. Treat us as equals.

____________________________________________________________

Have you ever felt uncomfortable because of what you wear?

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tooba.zaheer

Tooba Zaheer

A lecturer by profession, an MBA student, who blogs at bakerscanvas.blogspot.com and periodicreflections.wordpress.com.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Saad

    Brilliant….. Recommend

  • http://www.sidrahmoizkhan.blogspot.com Sidrah Moiz Khan

    I loved your piece and honestly, it gets really annoying when people bug you with these silly questions!Recommend

  • Sirat-ul-mustaqeem

    Great, now i am waiting for the Beghairat Brigade and Liberal Brigade to invade this beautiful article. Recommend

  • Other women

    10th question: Where did you get this hijab tailored?Recommend

  • Uzma Khan

    thanks for writing Tooba. Recommend

  • RH

    A must-read article. I am a teen and cover my head. Life gets hell. So apparently with your face covered and open mindedness, I can understand.Recommend

  • Sameer Kazmi

    Please do not confuse Hijab with Niqab. Recommend

  • Pakistani

    Why must you wear a hijab when Islam only asks you to cover your body parts APART from your face and hands. Why must you cover your face?!Recommend

  • Shoaib

    a sickness! just trying to portray self righteousness and piety!!
    piety comes from conduct and not hiding your face! Recommend

  • maestro

    Hey as long as you are doing it out of your own happy free will, all the power to ya. Of course, there is an element of your upbringing involved as well – would your parents or brothers accept you happily if you refused to wear the hijab? If the answer is yes or even maybe, then your article on how happy you are to wear it does not hold much water sorry. Us “liberal beghairat brigade” people have a problem with ENFORCED religion. The way we as humans and as muslims follow our religion is a PERSONAL matter not for strangers particularly illiterate mullahs to dictate. If you want to pray 5 times a day and wear a hijab – great – but you must also respect those who don’t – because at the end of the day we all answer only to God not to you or any mullah. Also, by the same token, are you going to be just as understanding of a female who wears sleeveless shirts or jeans? I hope so but I doubt it. Recommend

  • Junaid Dar

    Great..

    !st time ever seen 100% positive post on ET (out of what have seen).

    May Allah Almighty Bless You Sis and gives courage like you to all othersRecommend

  • Marium Ammar

    Honestly speaking, the above questions used to occur in my mind too around 2-3 years ago until I came across a person just similar to you. Thats when I realised how wrong I was to think that people who wear a hijab aren’t normal people. I was ashamed of my ownself to have had such thoughts. I would want to thank you for writing upon such a thing as many people having a perspective like I had , might change their point of view like I did. May ALLAH guide us all. AAMEEN.Recommend

  • trtk

    Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t (follow and do as others want you to do)

    Good on you!Recommend

  • faizan sufi

    @Shoaib:
    well piety comes out ov charachter……..that does not bind with a hijab ……i ve seen many CHALU women in hijab but at the same time i ve also met sum ov the good ones even in my college and in my family too…… man all fingers are not equalRecommend

  • Rafay Zafar

    Brilliant…..it was an absolute delight reading it =DRecommend

  • Faraz

    A wonderful article, portraying just the right kind of ideas and answering the right kind of questions. Hats off to you!.

    @Shoaib: If the author is sick, so are you. You probably are one of those children brought up to believe that West is the best and probably have spent half of your time tearing your jeans from your knees or growing longer hair just to bear some kind of a resemblance to any pathetic celebrity of today. Obviously you dont seem to know that Muslims of yesteryears were men/ women of character who held higher morals than any of the charms those celebrities whom probably so ardently follow hold as of today.

    @Pakistani: Calling yourself Pakistani doesnt automatically qualify you as a person with sound Islamic knowledge. Kindly refer to some excerpts from our Holy Prophets’ life where he clearly asked some of his female family members to cover their faces from even a blind man walking in the streets.Recommend

  • Modazul

    @shoaib
    Piety comes from everywhere right?. Even when you hang out naked. Is that ok?Recommend

  • Atika Rehman

    You have tempted me to wear a hijaab/niqab just so i can answer these most-amusing questions. But then, i love “showing my clothes to everyone”Recommend

  • Inam

    Totally self made questions, in a society where 90% women do hijab how can anyone expect these type of questions? On the other hand if a girl not doing hijab people do not waste time and label her kinda “Bad Girl”.Recommend

  • Atika Rehman

    Here are some more questions:

    1) How do you feel when you walk into the US visa officer’s room?

    2) How many other people in your family wear a hijaab (hint hint, you are forced)

    3) Do you own a burkini?

    4) Will you marry a man with a beard?

    5) Will you not force your daughters to wear a hijaab?

    6) How do you smoke a cigarette? (don’t people stare more ie look the hijaabi is smoking haww)Recommend

  • waqqas iftikhar

    sorry to get stuck with the semantics but i believe what you wear is a niqab right? not per se a hijab?Recommend

  • XS

    Get over your hijab man. There are other things to write about in the world.Recommend

  • waqqas iftikhar

    @sirat ul mustaqeem…strange how the first thing that came to your mind were shoaib’s mother and sister…..you need to talk to a professional man…

    tooba should be free to wear whatever she feels like….as part of the entertainingly-monikered ‘baighairat brigade’….i subscribe to that view…

    see liberal extremists usually dont go around blowing people up :)Recommend

  • a pleased reader

    I have one word for you Tooba.. and that is .. “Respect” .. :)Recommend

  • Sameer Kazmi

    Tooba, rather than posting such a stupid article which teaches absolutely nothing, use this platform to explain why you decided to wear the hijab (and i mean hijab NOT niqab) and maybe use some authentic islamic sources (let’s say the Quran) to teach your fellow womenfolk why donning a hijab is a good thing..I am all for it but I just don’t like it when people post irrelevant articles that only try to show how righteous and modern they are…If you feel so strongly about it I’m sure you have valid reasons behind it…Recommend

  • xzy

    Those who’re saying doing hijab equals ‘piety’ and no hijab/sleevelessness equals ‘beghairati’ let me give an example.
    Most of the prostitutes in Pakistan also wear hijab while going about conducting their ‘profession’ and meeting up with their clients. They do not parade around naked or in sleeveless dresses.
    So I guess it’s a pious profession then if they’re wearing hijab, eh?Recommend

  • Sirat-ul-mustaqeem

    Final Comment: Tooba great article and all those who are sick of hijab and niqab, all i want to tell them that its a compulsory for a woman to cover her hair, body and face. If you do not want to follow Islam, and be a Muslim thats your own choice.Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Some of these answers are snarky evasions of reasonable questions, while others are answers to obviously self-made questions.

    -“Oh, so you can think?” is not a question, but simply an insult that doesn’t even merit a response.

    -“How do you eat/drink?” does not indicate the person’s lack of knowledge about human anatomy, but his concern about how you put food in your mouth when it’s covered by the fabric. Of course it’s possible to lift the veil for every bite, but is IS hard.

    -Your answer to “Don’t you feel hot in the summer?” was ludicrous. It’s a perfectly valid question, and you know perfectly well that the question is a shorter way of asking, “How do you tolerate this heat when even we, in our non-stifling clothing, can barely tolerate it?”

    -“Since you are dressed like this, you must be a part of the Taliban.”. Admit it, you just made that up to get some sympathy. Provided that some people are actually THIS ignorant, but this is not a question that one gets to hear on a regular basis. You just believe that this is what people normally think of you. Same goes for Q.6 (married by age 14).Recommend

  • Boris Black

    “Like you do. With my mouth. It’s hidden beneath fabric, I know. However, it still exists and I can find my way quite easily to it, thank you very much!”

    Well, really. I’m fairly certain every non-hijab-wearing person in the world could figure out that much by themselves – hence, no doubt, your sarcasm. But if you’re actually answering questions, you might as well make a genuine attempt at this: People aren’t asking about which orifice you eat from. They’re asking how you manage to eat or drink in public with that thing covering your mouth.

    “Opting for hijab is my choice, just like not opting for it is yours.”

    Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more I’ll also suggest this all of the people who go around bothering women for wearing a hijab. Of course, it would be nice if you could do the same for all of the people that go around harassing women, throwing acid, etc, for NOT wearing a hijab. Or wearing other clothing they don’t approve of.

    Also, I’d take it as a personal favor you kindly refrain in future from referring to the hijab as a fashion statement simply because a few designers in France come up with things that look vaguely similar. It is something that an uncountable number of women are pressured to wear every single day and not something to be so flippantly, and erroneously glorified.Recommend

  • Modazul

    Liberal extremists Don’t go around blowing up people but they go around corrupting young minds and breaking families and getting people to defy society for stupid reason. Mullahs do physical attacks, liberals do mental attacksRecommend

  • AS

    @Pakistani:
    People choose to do it. Let them. What’s eating you?Recommend

  • Indi-Pop

    Respect your views author. Even I believe that branding people according to their dressing style is immature. Freedom after all, is but a state of mind. The liberation of mind is of utmost importance. I am a non muslim from across the border, although none of my friends are into wearing hijab, naqab or burkha , i have made certain observations about those who wear them from a stranger’s point of view. Wearing a face cover impedes a stranger from coming to you at first instance like for asking directions etc (A woman wearing a hijab would be the last preference when there is no option available ) . I have seen waiters in restaurants and cafes taking orders from accompanying male partner and not even asking a woman in hijab what she wants (as if she were invisible!) I am no feminist but i would feel rather insulted if that would happen to me. Thirdly even talkative aunties and uncles who normally chat up anybody and everybody when standing waiting in a queue , refrain from talking to women in a hijab. It creates a barrier of sorts and hinders social interaction. I hope you can take my observation in the right spirit . Recommend

  • http://awgilani.wordpress.com Syed Abdul Wahab Gilani

    :) Enjoyed you piece, Nice read!

    @Atika Rehman:

    You added some good questions :)Recommend

  • Tooba

    LOL @ all above.

    @ maestro: No , no one would force me to wear it again if I want to quit it, like no one told me to start it. You do understand the concept of “own free will”. And I have the same level of understanding for sleeveless shirts and jeans and whatever anyone likes to wear. Your body, your choice, your problem. None of mine.

    @Shoaib: Wow, I salute you man. you must have some supernatural vision, righteousness and piety are two things this article is absolutely not talking about. It’s actually about understanding.

    @ Atika: Now those are some thought provoking questions. I have never felt the need to visit a US visa officer’s room, but I guess I’ll be all nervous like one is before an important exam, not because of my dress code. If he has an objection, I’ll just get up and leave (I have done this in other places, but not at a visa officer’s office. Then I’ll write a blog on ET about the highly discriminative behavior I faced and watch people fight over what’s right and what’s wrong and how I was being self righteous and all other allegations people like to put on me ( I do have a twisted sense of humor, so I will also have laughing fits over that with my friends).

    A couple of people wear hijab in my family, but I’d call it forced if I was made to wear it when I was 9 or 10. I took up hijab with my own free will.

    Burkini. No, I am not into swimming, maybe I would have it if I like to swim.

    Ofcourse I will marry a man with a beard. But he has to have other qualities as well apart from his beard to be considered as marriage material. I too have certain ideals like every other girl. I am allowed to, right?

    No I won’t force my daughters to wear hijab. I will tell them what it is, but then leave the decision to them. Please don’t call it forcing, otherwise everything parents tell their kids to do from “beta clap kar ke dikhao” to “beta dadi ko salam karo” to “beta 2+2 =4 not 5″ is forcing.

    I don’t smoke. I am allergic to smoke. And smoking is injurious to health. But if someone does want to smoke, and too a hijabi, well go ahead, have a smoke. Logon ka kia hay, they aren’t satisifed anyways. Recommend

  • http://insidedisillusion.wordpress.com Mahwash Badar

    I believe in the power of freedom to wear what you please. But I need to ask the author how’d she feel if someone were to write an article about “9 Stupid Generalizations About Women Who Wear Jeans in Pakistan” … ? Most of the generalizations come from hijab-wearing ‘sisters’ and it’s just as insulting.

    I used to be a hijabi and I know the stigma that comes with it. But honestly, the other side’s suffering just as badly.

    Nice read, nonetheless. :)Recommend

  • Parvez

    Great article and liked the bit at the end on tolerance, but it must work both ways.
    I suppose the rationale is to achieve a modest dress. To many a lovely shalwar-kurta with a dupatta serves the purpose. Recommend

  • Sameer Kazmi

    Tooba how is this article about understanding when all you are talking about above is ‘my choice, my choice, my choice’…ok fine we get it, it’s your choice, but if you want people to ‘understand’ show them!Recommend

  • LiberalFascistBrigade

    As someone from the Liberal Beygairat Brigade, you have every right to wear a niqab – I don’t think anyone is disputing that.

    I just don’t agree with it because it places the burden on modesty on the woman – it should be shared by everyone. We have to learn not to gawk at every woman who doesn’t cover up – if all women start covering up, we’ll never learn. Then men will just start fetishizing hands or ankles or whatever else is visible.Recommend

  • DAMDAM

    Funny really how by wearing a garment that is designed to restrict a woman’s liberty and her interaction with the outer world is being presented as some sort of a liberation. Although its ironic that when in Makkah women are not allowed to hide their face and yet they choose to adapt this arab practice as a part of their religion. Islamists always have and will continue to oppress women. Its the fault of a woman that she gets stared at not of those who actually stare. A woman must have 4 witnesses to prove she was raped otherwise she gets punished while the rapist walks away. I hear a lot of people objecting at the lack of “morals” in westren societies. Well certainly after decades of struggle women have managed to eliminate “morals” such as honor killings(witch hunting in europe), underage marriages and obviously the most important one being a property of men around her.Recommend

  • waqqas iftikhar

    @sirat ul mustaqeem, I wonder how easy it is for people to decide who is a ‘muslim’ and who is not….I believe this new-age muslimism (forgive the made-up word)is called ‘takfir’, Isn’t telling lies haraam? is anger not haraam as well? I am sure you have committed one or both of these acts? does that mean you should be declared ‘not-a-muslim’? of course not….islam main daarhi hai daarhi main islam nahi hai

    @modazul, combat what you consider to be a wrong way of life, or mindset with your own theories, debates, logical reasoning as to why what you are saying is correct? blowing people up doesn’t usually help. As far as those whom you call liberal ‘extremists’ go, ideas promoting personal freedoms may be annoying to you, but I wouldnt force anybody to accept them, just like i would not want any religious extremist to tell me how to live my life….its not their call.Recommend

  • http://natashasuleman.wordpress.com Natasha

    I think Niqab wouldve been a better choice of word here. Anyways, nice read Tooba.Recommend

  • ukmuslim

    8.Since you are dressed like this, you must be a part of the Taliban.
    You are a Shiv Sina activist since you are wearing a sari, no? I hate to break it to you, but I am not part of the Taliban clan. How about we fight them together?

    this question proves, you are as usual india/hindu hater. do you ever know, in india population of muslims is same or may be more than pakistan’s population. looks like, you got impression that in india, there are only hindus live and never seen muslims. for your information indian muslim women wear hijab/burqa too. i never came across, other indian fellow citizens ever asking this questions to hijab wearing muslim girls. where you get your general knowledge from ? i must question.Recommend

  • http://Offundosandliberals.wordpress.com Talha Zareef

    @Sirat-ul-mustaqeem:
    That shows more about your perverse mentality rather than the choice of clothes for his sister and mother.Recommend

  • ukmuslim

    @author
    see the picture of indian burqa wearing girls… it is normal scene on indian road. even in mumbai(bombay), heart of shivsena playing field, muslims are living peacefully and prospering. worth to take effort to click on these links.

    http://www.kemmannu.com/index.php?action=topstory&type=1242
    http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/thedozer/1/1199421420/tpod.html#_Recommend

  • http://www.cropsinpots.blogspot.com zahra

    I also cover my head with dupata and one most interesting comment I got ( other than the ones above) was, ” Beta, kya namaaz perh raheen theen ?”Recommend

  • Aamna Hassan

    A very well-articulated one.. like come on liberals, women wearing Hijab havent come from
    Pluto Recommend

  • Sarosh

    Good write up!

    and love the part where you said we can think even with our hijaab on! :PRecommend

  • ithink

    @author…..
    yes you are really a happiest oppressed person many….
    because if someone is in hijab a lot of thing comes with it………

    Q.NO.4 your ans is good and no body knows the limits of infinite thinking and off course creativity….. no matters what you wore……
    and you don’t need to worry about those questions because a lot of people you know haven’t even seen you and can’t identify you….
    unless your voice recognition you are only one among others.Recommend

  • maestro

    @ Tooba – Appreciate the feedback. My main concern goes beyond how someone dresses. In that regard, I think our shalwar kameez for women or kurta with jeans is a very decent middle ground I think. Yes of course there are those who wear much more provocative clothing in private functions but again, that is their choice. It is still wrong to judge them or their character. Everyone has their own idea of freedom and religion. Believe me I have met women who wear t-shirts and jeans and even skirts but their grasp of the teachings of Islam simply floored me. They believe in empowerment, without offending. I have seen what women in Saudi wear under their abayas – the latest designer skirts from Europe when indoors with unrelated male company! We don’t need that kind of hypocrisy. We as simple humans simply cannot understand another’s vision or idea of religion. And it is not our responsibility let alone right to do so. In this day and age, in Pakistan and worldwide for that matter, we have MUCH bigger things to worry about than code of dress and such restrictions. I want more people talking about how suicide bombing, killing of innocents, “honour” killing, karo kari, rape, murder, common theft, intolerance of other religions, are waaaaay more against anything that Islam teaches. I know many people wince when the example of Turkey is brought up – but there, you will see a hijabi walking along side some one in a skirt – so what? Here, apart from in a few select “posh” areas of the major cities, that same scene would cause a riot! Why? Because we have become intolerant to the point that we believe we simply must impose our vision of religion no matter what. I don’t believe this is right. And this is why I believe that if you like being a hijabi, then with all honesty, good for you. Thanks.Recommend

  • Sana

    Question 10 in response to question 7 : Wouldn’t you feel better in this hot 48 degrees if you didn’t have a headscarf on? I know everyone feels hot but why would you want to make it hotter for yourself? Recommend

  • bheja fry

    have u ever seen bheja fry movie- the hero of that movie kills you by repeating the silly theories, questions.. and so on. these articles on namaz, burkha, muslim…are really bheja fry.Recommend

  • almas jawaid

    It was the need of time to tell people about hijab and cliches related to it.Very Well written piece!! Recommend

  • hassan

    Great work, I like the way u expressed ur feelings, and specially the part where u answer that yes we can think it not a lead container ! Recommend

  • faraz

    You are confusing hijab with niqab; do you really wear one. Because you would have known the differenceRecommend

  • Rizwan

    I don’t wear a hijab burkha dash dash… but still i can’t BLOG ! :PRecommend

  • faraz

    @Sirat-ul-mustaqeem

    You are the only person I have seen, even on the internet, who is a Maulana Ishaq fan. You definitely need therapRecommend

  • AS

    It’s so horribly sad how the top recommended post out of all these 50 posts is Shoaib’s.Recommend

  • Free-thinker

    “Even though the hijab is becoming a popular fashion trend in most countries” Really? Kill me!Recommend

  • aliya mansoor

    As a muslim women, Hijab is not just my choice,but also an Obligation from Allah.Recommend

  • Ubair Arif

    Funny!! Liked it!! May Allah swt give us hidayah and hikmat to answer such questions smartly!!
    Allah bless you sisterRecommend

  • Anum

    It’s incredibly sad how the top recommended post out of all these 50 posts is Shoaib’s.Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    Three things:

    1) Tooba, nice article. Some points were a little overboard, but good post none-the-less
    2) I’m surprised that you’ve defended your stance against some commenters here, but failed to put Sirat-ul-Mustaqeem in his place for trying to defend your post by insulting another commenter’s mother and sister. Works both ways, Tooba.
    3) The word ‘liberal’ is the most abused and misunderstood word by Pakistani conservatives.Recommend

  • Jannat

    @Tooba – Congrat, now your place is secure in Jannat.Recommend

  • Pakistani

    I’d like the person ‘sirat-ul-mustaqeem’ and his perverted nature to find me a reference, a AUTHENTIC reference that asks us to cover the face. The hair is to be covered but not the face. People who wear hijab seem to be implying a stricter version of Islam, and all this stricter Islam leads us to the roots of terrorism.Recommend

  • rex minor

    If this wear makes you feel comfortable and happy and is acceptable in your community then great! Do us a favour and do not land in Europe with this mask; people do not show tolerance when you do not respect their culture. Europeans got rid of hijab centuries ago and do not wish to see any longer women in their grand mothers dress.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Butool

    I love love LOVE your guts….My favourite part is the 9th point…I have been meaning to say something like that to people who ask me such questions but I could not have expressed it as well as you did!!Recommend

  • Ms Marium

    Amazing! – Lovely Article – FIVE stars to the author :DRecommend

  • http://bakedsunshine.wordpress.com Shumaila

    I found your piece good if a little defensive – are some of the real questions people ask, not ridiculous ones mentioned here, getting to you? Such as don’t you feel your face cover limits your interaction since the other person cannot guess your expression merely from your eyes? Psychologists have shown that facial expressions are possibly the most significant part of interactions since they convey so much of those non-verbal cues. Have you ever felt frustrated in trying to convey emotions because your face is covered? Have you ever felt slightly ignored or overlooked because it is easier and thus preferable for people (especially strangers) to interact with someone they can actually see? Having chosen a hijaab, have you found yourself becoming judgemental of non-hijaabis? You complain of being treated differently – are you treating others differently since you picked up the hijaab? Aren’t the simplest of interactions such as the exchange of a smile or a frown or a grimace denied you when you wear a niqaab? Do you ever feel that lessens your social experience, your effectiveness as a human being, being someone that the other person can relate with, especially in initial encounters with those new people you love meeting?

    And most of all – honestly speaking, in all the time you have worn the hijaab/niqaab, haven’t you felt, in the slightest smallest way, restricted by it?
    .
    Also, given that there was no religious inclination to do so, and no cultural either – would you really have picked up the hijaab and then defended it so strenously? Would you really have felt it was liberating in the way you seem to claim?
    .
    Those are the sort of questions I wish you’d addressed :)

    In any case, anyone who stereotypes on the basis of dress is a silly person – I suppose that’s what you’re saying, and I agree with you that far.Recommend

  • Leila Rage

    One question: Why is everyone who doeesnt wear the hijab/burqa/niqab or doesnt agree with it, instantly labelled as a “liberal” or a part of the “Beghairat brigade”? I come from a conservative family, I am conservative myself but I dont wear a hijab etc so why do you think that you have the right to be so rude about people like me? Isn’t humility a part of Islam? Why then do you commentators assume such a “holier-than-you” attitude?

    Other than that, this is a good piece. I enjoyed reading it because it shows how shallow and silly some people are. I have a friend who dons the burqa but she’s not an extremist or a taliban follower and nor do I think shes oppressed. she a wonderful and enlightened person.Recommend

  • Uzma Khan

    it is about time we let jeans and hijab co exist peacefully in the society. after all we have put up with sari n darrhi both for over 800 years in this very regionRecommend

  • farooq

    A hijabi who is oppressed in Pakistan. This is news to me. Recommend

  • Haider Shah

    I understand why some women would pick up Hijab as the first line of defense against hostile outdoors or for the reason of getting Abba off their backs. But it is almost never quoted as the reason – I am willing to buy that as a legitimate reason if some Hijabis come out and confess – But these folks don’t wanna confess and continue to hide behind either piety or personal choice lines.Recommend

  • http://questions-you-hear-when-you-wear-hijab Jaffer Sheriff

    Indian muslims have option of wearing or not wearing a hijab/burqa/niqab but there are no mullah brigades to throw acid on their faces, or brothers to kill them under honour, or Lahore lawyers to charge them under blasphemy laws.Recommend

  • dcomp

    @writer
    “I am a dual degree holder”: i can not find that your myopic…

    “You are a Shiv Sina activist since you are wearing a sari”: that shows, you are most liberated ,progressive ,freethinking queen Victoria of Islamic republic of Pakistan Recommend

  • dcomp

    10th stupid one(maybe not)…..why would you really want to answer the 9 stupid question asked by a ignorant stupid .after all, it’s your choice of dress.isn’t it.???…get a life Recommend

  • http://questions-you-hear-when-you-wear-hijab Subhan Basha

    Dear Toora,

    How you managed to get your passport photos to affix on your application forms and hall tickets and how you managed to get your passport without removing your favourite hijab. Ninety percent of Muslims in Western countries do not wear hijabs and you think they are inferior to you. Is there any guarantee that you continue to wear this hijab after getting admission to a college or employed in a western country. Is there any loss to anybody in this world if you do not wear hijab? Recommend

  • Hareem

    Very very good article! Keep it up! :)Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    Interesting – but seriously, how do you breathe ?Recommend

  • Ridiculus

    Tooba,

    What you consider as liberating, makes other people very unsure, because the other person is not able to see and therefore not able to identify & relate to you. Our Human mind uses the face as the primary feature to identify the person. Only ppl really close to you, will be able to identify you with your face covered, but with them you will not be using Niqab anyways :-)

    You will understand that when u as a teacher is interacting with majority of students who are all covered. You will not be able to read their facial expressions and find out whether the student is feeling bored/interested or whether they are getting what you are saying or clueless or have any doubts? You will miss out on a lot of such non-spoken facial communication, which students will not necessarily convey by themselves even if asked. Also you will never be sure, that the niqab clad women is actually the student or an imposter, sitting on her behalf, esp. during exams.

    Niqab is a dress designed for women when they are traveling. Its not the best clothing to wear, where the person needs to have a lot of people to people interaction like schools/offices etc. When you are out in the social world, its not only about YOU, its also about the OTHERS who are dealing with you. YOU need to understand that.

    -Junaid.Recommend

  • jawid

    MashAllah,stay strong dear sisters in Islam,Allah will surely reward you for this enormous effort :)Recommend

  • http://facebook.com/usamashahidkhan USK

    It’s as simple as this, love who you are. To hell with the world. They will never be happy no matter how hard you try. Just be yourself and be proud of it!

    Note for author: Loved your confidence. May ALLAH keep your faith strong at all times iA. Aameen. :)Recommend

  • Flashtrax

    MashaAllah..
    At least someone stood up. Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf

    Most of these questions are those towards Niqab observers, not simply Hijab observers…

    Some of those questions aren’t totally unjustified, though, and should have been properly addressed.

    Everyone may feel hot, but one can feel ‘hotter’ than the other. Though I’m told there’s a cooling effect depending on how you wear your abaya loosely, but I don’t know how true this is. Public eating would naturally be an issue – should have been addressed. Hissa Hilal, the famous Saudi TV poetess, who observed Niqab, claimed publicly that it was not out of her own choice, but because of societal pressure and she would like to see her daughters free from that. It was one of the more surprising high-profile admissions. Hissa Hilal’s situation is not the same for all Niqab or Hijab wearers. However, there’s a good possibility that there are a lot of other women like her.

    But yes, some of those questions are demeaning. Do you think? Taliban? Blatantly rude.

    The practice of Niqab, coincided with the rise in Wahhabism and Salafist beliefs in Pakistani society, along with strengthening fundamentalism in the Deoband and other Sunni sub-sect groups in Pakistan, which we deem rather too conservative and even extreme. So it seems rather alien to even my family who observed the Hijab way before it was ‘fashionable’ and lived in a moderate Gulf country and now the West. Aunties who used to wear Saris all of a sudden in full cover, is quite a transformation.

    I believe it’s not a religious obligation and more of a conservative cultural tradition and worry that it signals more of a Wahhabi creep and religious revisionism of Islam than actual practice and devotion. There’s the dehumanizing appeal of it that cannot be ignored. Lack of facial recognition and expressions getting hidden, which may create social barriers to communication and consideration.

    Regardless, I believe in pluralism, and only infringe on that right on the instance of identification. I have seen Niqab observing women make no fuss in removing the face veil for a national identity pic in Pakistan, but making it so in the West. I find that hypocritical. Recommend

  • Haider Hussain

    @Tooba Zahir: 99% of the questions are purely your creative imagination. Nobody asks such silly questions when one wears Hijab.Recommend

  • izza.

    @Pakistani: why wont you ask the same question to all those women who do NOT cover other parts of their body which you say the Quran asks them to cover? There is a difference of opinion on covering the face between different imams. Respect our beliefs like we are respecting yours.Recommend

  • Amana

    Please let me just add 2 more, cause i have ACTUALLY been asked these questions.

    Q) Are you bald?
    Q) Why don’t you cover your eyebrows?

    facepalmRecommend

  • Cheddar Man

    Pardon my blissful ignorance, but aren’t hijab and niqab different from each other in that the former covers only the head and the later covers the whole face except the eyes? Assuming the author is really a hijabi, I’m sure no one ever asked her how she breathed and ate! Recommend

  • Prometheus

    You could have explained this just on the basis of one notion: stereotyping. Of course, no one ever said that wearing anything makes one a part of a group; it only shows a “potential” affilitaion to a particular group or creed. It’s the same as assuming that since one is a liberal therefore he must “dispute your right to wear whatever you want”, which by the way if you say it, is you stereotyping. Liberalism is more about wearing and thinking whatever you want, unlike some people who have commented think.

    It is freedom of action, thought and belief. It is not the freedom of “imposing your belief” on every human being nor is it the denial of freedom to anyone. Recommend

  • http://tribune.com.pk jamila fatima

    US is the country where everyone is judge by his/ her work not by clothes, so feel free and go to visa office , wearing hijab or niqab they will give you respect if your case is genuine. Recommend

  • farrukh

    thank God there are still some left i had started to really think that i am living in a hell of fools who start advocating anything which seems cool and popular portraying themselves as the authority Recommend

  • majid
  • M

    @Sameer Kazmi:
    In Islamic terms, hijab does mean niqab. Socially, we take it just to imply covering the head. If the writer chooses to call it hijab, she isn’t wrong.Recommend

  • http://natashasuleman.wordpress.com Natasha Suleman

    LOL @ Amana. I wonder how you reacted to those questions :D

    But seriously I have actually heard a niqab wearing girl saying stuff like ‘ Yeh to main acne ki wajah se niqab karti hoon warna to mere abbu kehte hain koi zaroorat nahin cover karne ki’Recommend

  • Sanity

    Looking at this blog, I believe my blog on Hinduism and history Atheism/Agnosticism in South Asia was much better. But due to some unknown reasons, it was not accepted by ET. We have already read so many blogs on hijab etc.Recommend

  • bitterTrue

    @Tooba

    Your quest for explaining why hijab is not weird is the answer of why hijab is weird.Hope those European countries are satisfied with ur explanation.Recommend

  • shahid

    Can you pl.give me one good reason to wear Hijab?. The only good reason to me is insanity, Recommend

  • patriot

    Thats not hijab, but niqab that you wear, good article and you have the right to wear whatever you want but please, get your definitions rightRecommend

  • Architect

    Nice readRecommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    Loved it! People shouldn’t be taken on face-value. By the way, when someone wears western dresses, at times hijabis hurl questions at them too. A class fellow of mine, with a very tight abaya always taunted me during classes “Sarah tumhari shameez “camisole” nazar aarahi hai”, Sarah, shameez to pehan leti is lawn dress ke andar, tumhe kesa feel hota hai jab log tumhe dekhtay hain? (Although my lawn shirts were never objectionably see-through) and another one would tell me “tum bahar nikalti ho, tumhe sharam nahi aati half sleeves pehantay huay?”
    Recently, someone hissed in my office about another girl who wears sleeveless dresses, “yaar iske character ka tou andaza iski dressing se lagalo.”

    So it’s really a two way thing. Recommend

  • Rationalist

    Of course, no one is questioning woman’s right to choose what she wears. But the fundamental issue with niqab, burqa etc is that they are historical symbols of oppression of women. That is why anything that is related to oppression of women is looked upon with suspicion and contempt.Recommend