It’s not the hijab, it’s the attitude that bothers me

Published: February 3, 2013
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The hijab is your choice, but don't look down on people who choose not to wear it. PHOTO: AFP

Legend has it that when the clock strikes midnight, a terrifying army of beasts awaken who call themselves “The Westernsteins.”

They comb our cities, with the sole mission of shaming and persecuting women who wear hijabs or traditional conservative clothing.

Such was the terror of Westernsteins that families across Pakistan forbade their women to leave their homes without donning skinny jeans and spaghetti-strap tops. The flame of hope had ostensibly been extinguished, when the nation decided to fight back with a passionate campaign to promote hijab.

The dream was that one day women would be able to wear hijabs as freely as they get to wear Western clothing.

Before continuing, I must emphasise that this satirical chutzpah is not meant to invalidate the difficult experiences hijab-wearing women have faced because of their choice of clothing. The object is to shed light on our nation’s collective paranoia about being oppressed by malignant foreign influences, to provide balance to the one-sided coverage of women being persecuted for their clothing, and to deal with some gross misconceptions people have regarding what liberals think of hijabs.

The commonest objection that liberals and feminists face is regarding their apparent hypocrisy of calling for women’s right to wear whatever they wish, while criticising their choice to wear hijabs. That is not what the criticism is usually about.

Their concerns are as follows:

Allocating respect by clothing choices

There’s a growing notion that the amount of respect a woman is entitled to be determined by the type of dress she wears. By portraying non-compliance with hijab as “immodesty”, we propagate a dangerous idea that women without hijab are fair game for judgment, scorn or even sexual harassment.

By doing so, the public can potentially pressurise women into choosing hijab in order to become socially accepted.

Hijab is never a choice, unless you have the freedom to remove it without being looked upon with contempt. Otherwise, it simply transforms into a social obligation.

More-modest-than-thou syndrome

Although certainly not a universal trait among hijab wearers, self-righteousness occasionally becomes palpable.

Your choice to wear a hijab is beyond question. Your choice to judge others for not abiding by the same dress code as you is unacceptable.

They may have different cultural values, or a different interpretation of religion and do not deserve your condescension.

Acceptance as a one-way street

You cannot criticise or shame a Western woman for her decision to wear a mini-skirt, bikini or any dress you’ve deemed too provocative, but cry a river when she displays the same attitude towards your hijab. Demand respect for your cultural values only if you’re willing to reciprocate it.

Gender-specific sartorial restrictions

Feminists traditionally have expressed concern for any restriction that disproportionately affects one gender group more than the other. Naturally, when they see women imposing excessive clothing restraints upon themselves – the kind that men never have to put up with – they tend to view it as self-discrimination.

Furthermore, they may see this as enforcing the idea that the onus is upon women to protect themselves from men’s uncouth or even criminal behaviour, instead of making men practice self-control.

Your right to wear a hijab is unchallengeable, and I find nothing wrong with the garment itself.

What liberals find disturbing is the promotion of hijab as an honourable choice as opposed to other choices that make you less worthy of respect.

It is the glorification of hijab, not just as a garment that brings you closer to God, but something that makes you better than others who, for their own reasons, have decided not to wear it.

It is the moisture of ethnocentricity and sanctimonious condensing around hijab that we find intolerable, not the hijab itself.

Read more by Faraz here, or follow him on Twitter @FarazTalat.

Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

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

  • sameer

    If you ask any liberals or secularist why they have problem with hijab or why they ban this piece of clothing, they will say they considered it as oppressive piece of clothing. They automatically assume women who wear hijab as someone who is being forced to wear this. As matter of fact, they do not want to people to wear anything associated with religion.Recommend

  • Aijaz Haider

    The challange is in practising while obeying God and yet considering oneself inferior to others. Thank Allah for being guided and pray for others’ guidance too.Recommend

  • http://pakistaniteen.wordpress.com pakistaniteen

    In short : Wear what you want to and stick to it.Don’t critisize other’s for their choices when it comes to dressing or whatsoever.

    What I feel is people back in Pakistan are insecure, this works as a basis for ‘Holier-than-thou-syndrome’.As far as Hijab is concerned , You see , even prostitutes in Pakistan observe it.It’s practice what makes one different, not what one wears.

    On the other-hand, I have seen amazing ladies who wear hijab and have flaw-less character.What I say instead of obsessing so much over the pair of jeans or burqas you got ,be pure from inside. ‘Tazkia’e’Nafs they say.

    So don’t be a hijabi-whore, be a hijabi-lady :) Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    Awesome.Recommend

  • Rurouni

    I’m sorry but I find your analysis disingenuous at best and contrived at worst. Most women who wear hijab are not actively prosletyzing their ‘sartorial’ cause as you might have been led to believe. In fact most of them would only be too happy if people let them be instead of assuming they are oppressed or projecting some holier-than-thou aura. Women who wear hijab DO NOT care if the girl next to them in a class is wearing a mini-skirt. They become irked only when the girl in the mini-skirt taps them on the shoulder to ask as to why they would wear something as oppressive as that. Leave women in hijab alone and you will find that they have neither the time nor the capacity to care about what women around them are draping themselves with. Recommend

  • John B

    Oh boy, you are in for trouble. Expressed my comment last year world hijab day. Nothing changed since then.

    Why the women in hijab can shout “Ban mini skirt ” in her misspelt poster but if I cry “Ban Hijab” I am an islamaphobe?

    Hijab, as in the picture is an invention of modern times and it is ugly and despicable and degrading to women. What is wrong with the regular street clothes women wear in PAK?

    I have old pictures of Islamic societies dating back to late 19th century and the muslim women of those times looked happy, free and showed up among men in public market square and none ever wore a burka although a few covered their head. In officers group photos men sat along with their wives as it was typical of group photos of those era.

    Guess the women in those days were immoral? Recommend

  • Queen

    Kudos to the writer for writing this article. I really believe that Hijab should not be the criteria to judge a woman’s modesty but unfortunately in our society, it has become a norm. I have seen Hijab wearing girls getting involved in some activities which does not suit their holy image. I am not saying that all Hijab-wearing girls are the same but we should not be have prejudice against anyone just because she does not wear Hijab. Hijab is a matter of choice not something that can be forced on someone. Again Kudos to the writer !!! Recommend

  • anwar suhail

    You have summarized it nicely in your last sentence. And Hijab doesn’t make one better. I agree.Recommend

  • Mj

    Soon: Abayas for babies, if a Saudi preacher were to have his way.

    Isn’t it just amazing? I can’t wait for technology to progress to allow for invisibility cloaks. In the mean time camouflaged patterns would have to do. I respect the right of people to wear what they want but I feel that particular types of coverings which fully conceal face and identity such as niqab and shuttlecock burqas are inherently oppressive and promote self-abnegation and outdated religio-patriarchal constructs. Recommend

  • Jai

    Bravo!Recommend

  • Parvez

    I think this subject should be given a rest…………because its really not going anywhere.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    Good blog Faraz !

    Frankly, women who choose to wear the hijab / niqab have the right to decide how they should dress. I respect their decision completely but I don’t fully understand it.I don’t understand why any woman would willingly want to look like the women in the picture above – frumpy and unattractive. I have respect for all religions but I don’t see why one should follow it blindly for the sake of being deemed religious/pious and ‘pleasing’ god. I can’t see how your choice of dress is a matter of concern for the almighty. I’d think good behaviour, compassion towards others, honesty would pretty much cover what he expects from you. A dress certainly does not transform you into a symbol of piety / righteousness. Niqab wearing women get raped too so the argument about the niqab protecting you is rendered moot here.
    To each his own I guess, women should have all the freedom to wear the niqab/hijab if they wish to. Yeah, but please don’t look down on women who choose to wear fashionable clothes and try to look as attractive as they possibly can – they have as much of a right to choose their clothing as you do.Recommend

  • alicia

    I don’t care if somebody wears a Hijab or not. But I’m sick of people imposing it on others. Also in Pakistan where 90% women cover their heads when going outside whats all this hulla gulla on hijab?Recommend

  • Ali

    The best way to proceed forward is by allowing women to wear whatever they want.The government should declare Pakistan Secular country to halt extremism,sectarianism and fundamentalism prevailing in the country since long time.In this respect we can take help from Turkey Model.Recommend

  • Nobody

    Perfectly on point. Perhaps so on point that I simply have no comment except to say I don’t give a rat’s diddly if you wear hijab or not, don’t act holier than thou and I’ll respect you same as I would anyone else.. You’ve already stated what I would say to most hijab related blogs. By the way, the first paragraph, loved it in all it’s satirical glory. Recommend

  • Ali

    The only way forward is to declare Pakistan a “secular” country like Turkey to get the whole nation out of this mess.By doing that we can also halt ever growing extremism and fundamentalism prevailing in the country ever since Zia-Ul-Haq so-called “Islamisation”.Recommend

  • Reasonable

    A fairly balanced piece there Faraz. Hats off!Recommend

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

    I sympathize with women in the non-Islamic countries who may find themselves being discriminated against because of their hijabs.

    But Pakistanis would have to be grossly out of touch with the reality of what goes on in this country (as demonstrated by the satirical part in the beginning) to make a fuss about hijab being some sort of an endangered garment.

    You want to know what discrimination and harassment feels like? Try walking down a street in Gawalmandi in a Western dress.Recommend

  • Faisal

    it’s another worthless attempt to belittle Hijabis. You keep trying but Hijab will prevail Insha Allah.Recommend

  • Ash

    If u r a muslim, you HAVE to take a hijab! Attitude. Or no attitude! Its compulsory like salah! Do we question people’s attitude when they pray? No! I dont why its debatable!Recommend

  • omair

    So you mean to say people who wear hijab are not entitled to hold an opinion? If they believe they are more moral than those who do not wear hijab then let it be so.

    Also get out of the whole what women should wear debate. Leave a womans closet to a woman.Recommend

  • some one

    @There’s a growing notion that the amount of respect a woman is entitled to be determined by the type of dress she wears.

    You are saying that in reality a ugly=beatuful, small=larger. short=large and less dress=full dress, and decent dress=velgure dressRecommend

  • Mahjabeen Rizvi

    The article has hit the nail on the head by expressing sensible concerns regarding women who donot wear hijab. By and large our society is judgmental and love to instigate a feeling of shamelessness just to get a top notched position in the society. The dress code is least factor of one’s personality and tell less about the moral scruples of a person. However, we are just capable of making judgement of superficial symbol. Women taking hijab have never excelled in universal morals and wisdom, infact they are more focused on covering their head using hijab as an easy mode of morality. This hijab factor has fomented a milieu of absolute nonsense where one has not been able to decide whether one is better with hijab or without hijab.

    On the contrary it is appalling to see the attitude of women not wearing hijab their favorite cause of fear from hijab wearing women would be their pre conceived extremism which becomes more palpable than their hijab. In this regards both sides need to contemplate their behaviour towards each other so that we donot remain stuck in a dark tunnel Recommend

  • Rida Malik

    Nailed it Faraz. People should keep thier personal opinions to themselves unless thier constructive. Why is this attitude there in the first place, “fear of Hijab”, its because of muslims intolerant attitude towards people not compliant with thier faith. How do you expect anyone would request you if you keep caling them “Mushrik” in thier face and say ye “Jahanumi” hai or staring at them with eyes that clearly yell, you are “fahisha” etc.
    If you are going to march on the roads carrying slogans that promote violence and your ignorance ofcourse they would hate you and they would fear hijabs because they would see this as a sign of terrorism.
    Everybody values thier life afterall.

    Hijab is everyones personal choice, PLEASE understand that as a muslim i RESPECT hijaab, but as a liberalist, i just request you to stop belittling other people because of thier faith and choice of life because you have absolutely no right to do that as noone else has the right to belittle your Hijaab.

    Give respect and get respect, as simple as that. You never know, you NEVER know that western girl might go to JANNAH earlier than you do because she was not a hippocrite and a harmful person to society and MAYBE you were, you never know that so stop labeling your muslim self as a sure way to get away with anything.

    Though it seems to me whatever im saying would not make any difference at all and ill be labeled God knows what too. Sighs.Recommend

  • Rida Malik

    @some one:
    Nope, he means to say that no one is “ENTITLED” that judgement whatsover. What doesnt concern you doesnt need your judgement on it.Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    Mr Author Guy, why are you writing on this issue of Hijab, while you are a man? It gives an impression to me that the so called liberals like yourself as as much women controlling freaks as your so called mullah counterparts. This discussion of Hijab is for the ladies, so leave it to them! Same goes for all the ‘liberal’ guys commenting above. I’d be happier if ladies discussed this topic among themselves. You liberal men do not need to meddle in their life, if you liberals truly practice what you preach!Recommend

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

    Omair:

    “So you mean to say people who wear hijab are not entitled to hold an opinion? If they believe they are more moral than those who do not wear hijab then let it be so.”

    That’s not “holding an opinion”. That’s called ‘being self-righteous‘.

    Garments don’t make you more or less moral than others. That is determined by your behavior. And if you’re treating people around you with scorn and judgement just because they’re wearing clothes you don’t approve of, then a thousand hijabs won’t atone for your misbehavior.Recommend

  • qaiser

    ‘If you see evil, you must try to stop it by your hands; if you cannot do that, then at least speak out against it; and if you cannot do that, then at the very least do not accept it in your heart – but that is the weakest position for a person of faith.’
    [Muslim #70].
    In another narration, Auf bin Malik (r) said, “O Prophet of Allah, do you recommend that we fight them?” He said, “No, don’t fight them as long as they do not prevent you from your prayers. And if you see from them something that you dislike, dislike their acts, do not dislike them. And do not take your hand out from obedience to them.”
    End of Discussion. Happy Recommend

  • http://www.state.gov JD Eliot

    Hijab and especially niqab are unhealthy! They block the sun and natural light, which provides critical vitamin D, and they prevent girls and women from participating easily in sports. These coverings were INITIATED by evil and insecure men. Even if many women have bought into the concept, it is only the same situation as Stockholm Syndrom (look it up). Ban headcoverings!Recommend

  • Fiza

    @Rurouni: I disagree, I think Hijabis are the most judgmental individuals i have ever come across in my life, a least the ones i interacted with. One more thing, most of them are not an epitome of chastity or moral sanctity. Wear hijab and then date, that’s quite contradictory…but apparently that’s quite acceptable by hijabis!!! Nothing wrong with dating but if you claim to be so religiously inclined then follow the religion in letter and spirit rather than superficially justifying your love for religion by taking an additional garment; the very purpose of which is to create strength of character and modesty! I feel hijabis are the most hypocritical lot and that’s my opinion!Recommend

  • abhi

    the picture is really funny. Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    A well balanced article. ThanksRecommend

  • Firaaq

    @some one:
    Velgure – is that the latest collection from Giorgio Armani?Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    Practice what you preach….Why can hijabi’s be left alone let them excersize there own free will as the one wearing not wearing.. Why this hate hijabi campaign ??Recommend

  • tong

    What’s the big rant? Seriously I mean if you see Megan fox in bikini….what’s the first thing came from your mouth? She’s hot!!!! Did any of you said she’s modest or after watching her in bikini said “what a respectable woman”.. Get real people..in Lahore most of people don’t judge others by their dresses.. O yeah and we call or at least think in our minds, if we see a girl wearing “hot clothes” as kya bachi hai and the girl wearing hijab as ehhh hijabi…wasay b purpose of wearing good clothes is to look good Tu if someone call u kya bachi hai Tu you shouldn’t mind that..ok English muk gyiRecommend

  • Ansari

    One more show of secular extremism. I really fail to understand why secular guys are so intolerable when it comes to anything related to Islam, anything at all. As I said before, secularists lack what they preach i.e. tolerance !!!Recommend

  • BRUISED INDIAN

    Ever been to Kuwait, Saudi, Qatar or the UAE? Under that very Hijab is a very voluptous body of a thing sashaying in a tight pair of jeans. Or the Abaya – ever sooo tightly stitched that body contours are a MUST show! Or the hijabi there wearing a traiditional dress but flashes a Playboy pendant round her neck! Recommend

  • Inam ul haq

    those who wear hijab need hijab,,,as far as veil or purdah is concerned its something more cultural than religious..though religion does have a say,,
    There is a cultural compatibility with islam in those societies where women is regarded as something precious though inferior. Hijab in our country merely shows the islamization of Punjabi culture, as it was already in harmony with the Sindhi, Balochi and Pathan traditions. In Punjabi culture women is treated more fairly as she performs a great deal of agri-related work and economically more independent. Her fair financial standing in a house is depicted in her dress, and the varieties of duties she performs. She uses a dupatta only to cover her head and mostly in front of elders or “others”, a sign of respect or modesty.
    It were Punjabis who were made more pious Muslims as they were to run this Islamic Republic o Pakistan. Mr Jamshed is an example of Punjabi turned Muslim turned Pakistani.Recommend

  • Turbo Lover

    Has anyone wondered that we tell the women to watch over themselves but do not teach the men to control themselves? And that veiled/head covered women can also be subject to sexual abuse?Recommend

  • http://thedayisgreen.wordpress.com Azhar
  • Chris Ranmore

    @sameer: “If you ask any liberals or secularist why they have problem with hijab or why they ban this piece of clothing, they will say they considered it as oppressive piece of clothing.”

    Actually, it’s more because we despise the attitudes that led to the hijab – that women must be hidden, that men can’t control themselves simply because they see a womens’ hair and that there is something inherently dangerous and sinful about finding a women attractive. And don’t pretend that all women wear the hijab voluntarily – I’ve witness the persecution and bullying of women who dare to do otherwise. Recommend

  • Yeah

    Trust me, us modern hijabis don’t have it easy either. We get the omg you’re not wearing it properly!!!!1!!!1 too you know. Lest we want to wear colourful (long) tops, funky shoes, bangles, long necklaces, perfumes, make up, in some cases even smile! According to some, until we’re all not completely clad in a black tent, we’re going to burn in hell for ever. So spare us a few thoughts too. I don’t have a holier than thou attitude and hold the phone: I live and let live AND turn the other cheek when I get verbally attacked by people. Non hijabis do judge, before speaking to me and then the issue is resolved! On a drastic change I’ve been spat at, threatened with violence, called a terrorist, hell even my scarf has been snatched off as I go about my own business! Very recently some random man thought it would change my life if he rolled down his van window, verbally abuse me and go on his merry way, as I stood for my bus to uni!! So it’s not easy for us either!Recommend

  • Ali S

    @John B:

    You ignoramus the women in the picture are wearing a niqab not a hijab.Recommend

  • Stuart

    @Ash:
    Rubbish, these coverings are cultural not religious.Recommend

  • Insaan

    Author: “Your right to wear a hijab is unchallengeable, and I find nothing wrong with the garment itself.”

    In an Internet conversation a Canadian desi Muslim woman told me she wears burqa to protect herself from getting raped? At the same time she told me most of her close relatives (women) in Canada don’t wear burqa. I asked how many of her relatives have been raped? She just ignored my question………..

    I personally think a Muslim woman will behave like her American sister over time when she gets equal freedom.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/britishmuslims Mohammed Abbasi

    Excellect article Sheikh Faraz, JazakAllah!Recommend

  • Siddiqui

    I think as long as hijabis dont force it on others, they have all the right to hold narcisstic opinion about their choice being more pious of them all… If you feel bad someone else’s narcissism, you are only hurting yourself…Recommend

  • Shamaila Khan

    One of the most ignorant, sanctimonious articles I have ever read. Women who wear hijab have enough rubbish to deal with, fighting for their rights to remain scarfed in the western world – its’ disgusting to think that we have to fight for the same right in a so-called Muslim country.

    The author states that in Pakistan, women are pressured to wear hijab to become socially accepted. In my experience, the very opposite is true – I have lived in Australia my whole life, a secular country, and yet, nowhere do I get more ridiculed for my choice to wear hijab than I do in Pakistan. My mother and I used to get called ‘ninjas’ by our family members, our choice to cover ourselves mocked. We would attend weddings and functions in our hijabs, and became accustomed to having people come up to us and ask why we were wearing this ‘thing’ on our heads, whether we were trying to copy the Arabs, why we would want to hide our beautiful hair. Several women would tell me that I would never get proposals from men if I wore a hijab, and that I should take it off, and start wearing it again after I found a man, “IF my husband let me”. The disapproval and mockery was blunt, to our faces, and completely unfair – this choice of ours to wear hijab was as personal a decision as a someones’ choice is to pray 5 times a day, or fast on Mondays – it has absolutely nothing to do with society, or fitting in, or trying to look better than girls who don’t wear hijab.

    The part of the article I found most laughable however, was the authors’ suggestion that hijabi women are self-righteous, and that our choice to wear hijab is somehow carries with it an air of condescension… Apparently, the irony of writing a hideously self-righteous article on the superiority of liberal ideas about women and how they should dress is lost on Mr Talat. A shame to see an article like this published in the ET.Recommend

  • Westerner

    I would like to see a burqa/niqab ban in the whole of Europe, not just France.

    Yesterday British media reported a story of a girl, who worked at a lingerie shop, that got acid thrown in her face by a woman in a niqab.

    British police have difficulties in finding the perpetrator.

    I wonder why…?Recommend

  • Irtiza

    “Ban mini scirts” as one of the placards read. As if knee length skirts will be acceptable.Recommend

  • http://salmanzq.blogspot.com/ salmanzq

    I think the debate over hijab is useless and superficial. The only way some people will see the reasoning behind it is to see how this whole nonsense really started. Perhaps people will then realize that this is nothing more than an outdated concept and that someone going to hell for uncovering their hair is a ridiculous idea.Recommend

  • http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/1695142/ayesha_pervez.html Ayesha Pervez

    Utter nonsense! Haha just kidding… actually was taking revenge cos you wrote this on one of my blogs :D Good blog though … I agree with you on some points there! :)Recommend

  • http://naveenali.wordpress.com Smarty Pants

    Lol. Totally enjoyed this post. The hijab that I’m so passionate about is described in my blog post here:

    http://naveenali.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/the-mule-the-spider-the-ostrich/strong textRecommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    @Westerner:

    and you think banning that will prohibit people from doing so…you hate them, they hate you and it will go on forever…..many news reports shows that so called liberals attacked the religious people? so now wht ban them as well. Thats not the anwer fellow friend.

    till human dont start respecting other cultures and start accepting ,that if they dont understand a culture it doesnt make it wrong or stupid….its like give and take…..Recommend

  • Asaad

    Pakistan came into being on the basis of religion, and we wanted to practise our religion here.
    We wanted to make it a religious state, not a secular one. Laws are already defined in our religion and we want everything implemented accordingly.

    @Fiza: you said, “Hijabis are the most judgmental individuals”. Don’t compare someone’s good action with his/her bad action.
    People don’t like Hijab, but even then they consider those individuals Judgemental. Recommend

  • Ali

    What about Christian Nuns of church, would you criticise their dressing and want to liberate them from ” their Hijab” as well ?

    Muslim women, in my understanding, are simply following the teaching of Quran and Sunnat. All the Holy Wives of Prophet (Pbuh) arranged to have a Hijab, so whats the point to this dress code ?Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/430/faraz-talat/ Faraz Talat

    Ayesha Pervez,

    Hah! Well played..

    .

    Shamaila Khan,

    That would’ve been an outstanding review, had it not leaned so heavily on strawman argumentation. Nowhere did I make any blanket statements like “Hijabi women are self-righteous”.

    Your family is not a perfect sample of the Pakistani population, and your personal experiences do not represent those of the general public. For most of this country, pardah is the socially accepted choice.

    As I specifically wrote, the article is not meant to belittle any difficult experiences hijab-wearing women face here or abroad. This includes the ones you’ve had.

    But if you really wish to discover what a bad experience feels like, try taking a stroll through Sunday Bazaar wearing a Western-style dress. For a woman who endures taunts like “besharam!”, “behaya!”, and other unrepeatable words, “ninja” starts to sound rather flattering!Recommend

  • Yeah

    @Shamaila Khan:

    That sounds terrible. Its worse, I think, when people who you would consider your own shoot you down. I have that in my family too. I’m from Britain, born here, grew up here. I decided to wear the scarf at 18/19 years old, so fairly late and it took guts to do it, because basically I love my hair!! I have family members from PK that say the same to me. I’ve had an uncle try to take my scarf off at a dinner table(!!) My UNCLE! (and it was a mixture of family and friends at the table, had it been just family, it wouldnt have been on, also it was draped like a dupatta, not pinned down) My aunt has sworn that if I wore a headscarf, she would never speak to me again!! But it does go to show that SOME people are very anti-headscarf, even family! All I can put it down to is that they don’t appreciate us being from a foreign country. i don’t know what to call it, a complex, whatever. I’ve never understood it. And this article hasn’t clarified the matter.

    Stick to it and stay strong. You’ll get haters no matter what you do. People like you and I need to stick it out :). We won’t be accepted by the super-religious, we won’t be accepted by the other end of the pole either. We come under the umbrella of normal people going about there everyday business. Just like the rest of the universe, hijabi AND non-hijabis alike…WHO GET ON LIKE A HOUSE ON FIRE, can I just say!!!

    And also I think the writer’s reply to you is unacceptable, which is basically saying “you think that’s bad?! Well look at how bad my scars are!!”. Any form of persecution is unacceptable and for you to say “well, if you want to discover real bad experience, then x, y and z” is rubbishing her sentiments Respect is a two way street, you having written that in your article, haven’t practised it very well.Recommend

  • Rurouni

    @Fiza:
    I’m sorry, but where in the entire Islamic literature does it say that women should don hijabs only when they have acquired the entire compendium of saintly attributes? Having a hijab does not preclude the fact that the person might have another failings.As for your experience with hijabi women being judgemental, aren’t you being judgemental yourself when you judge these women for going out on dates in your post above?Recommend

  • Umer Rasheed

    AgreedRecommend

  • Insaan

    @Shamaila Khan “My mother and I used to get called ‘ninjas’ by our family members, our choice to cover ourselves mocked. We would attend weddings and functions in our hijabs, and became accustomed to having people come up to us and ask why we were wearing this ‘thing’ on our heads, whether we were trying to copy the Arabs”

    Why do you think even your family and friends mock you and your mother for wearing Hijab?
    You say wearing Hijab is your personal choice. Is it a personal choice or you do it for your religion?Recommend

  • Bond

    Hijab is mean to control the better half of humanity for the whimsical whims of a brutal man.Why can’t this beast known as man can wear the hijab and know how does it feel.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Rurouni: Leave women in hijab alone

    A few girls in USA / Canada got killed for not wearing Hijab and/or dating.
    It is men who want woman to wear Burqa/Hijab but make it look it is pious thing to do.
    If all Muslim men lower their gaze when they see a woman according to their religion, it won’t matter what women wear.

    One should not wear a burqa or hijab if self image is a problem for them.Recommend

  • S

    @Faraz Talat:
    ‘Your family is not a perfect sample of the Pakistani population?’ Wow, just wow. How on Earth did you reach that conclusion just from reading three paragraphs about someone else’s life? Miss Shumaila’s experience isn’t the exception, Mr. Faraz, it’s the norm. The only area where hijab is the norm is KP. Other than that, the overwhelming majority of Pakistani society is condescending to and apprehensive of people in hijab. You’re sorely mistaken if you think people are looking upto people in hijabs and beards after all the TTP and Al Qaeda episodes people here have been through. Beards and hijab are fringe elements in Pakistan now. There was a time when they were mainstream but that is not the case anymore; it hasn’t been the case for a long time now. And if you seriously think people with beards and hijabs have it easy, I’d suggest you grow abeard (or if you were a woman, put on a hijab) and just walk around your city. I’d love to see how being considered besharam fares against being considered a bomb threat.

    P.S: If you weren’t making a blanket statement about self-righteous hijabis, why bring it up in your piece at all? If the phenomenon of self-righteousness isn’t the norm and isn’t ‘blanketing’ as you put it, then what really was the point of bringing it up when it could have been chalked up to an exception to the general hijabi experience?Recommend

  • Historian 1

    Why a woman want to hide her face? I thought only criminals, Taliban and ugly hide their faces. Recommend

  • observer

    @Shamaila Khan:
    Women who wear hijab have enough rubbish to deal with, fighting for their rights to remain scarfed in the western world

    Really?

    And which countries in the Western world don’t allow you to remain ‘scarfed’?

    And what do you suggest for those who want to be un-Veiled in the Islamic world- Saudi Arabia for instance?

    And if you suffer so much in the Western world, why go there? Recommend

  • BRUISED INDIAN

    @Ali S: Bhaiyyaji. Foot in the mouth ho gaya yeh toh!!! They are wearing a Hijab alongwith a niqab….Recommend

  • Shaharyar Khan

    The article is a complete nonsense and an attempt to disgrace Pkistani islamic culture.The author is not even aware of the fact that from 100% only 40 to 30% female in Pakistan wear hijab and no one is judged by the fact that wheather their wearing a hijab or not.Recommend

  • Midhat

    @John B

    “Hijab, as in the picture is an invention of modern times and it is ugly and despicable and degrading to women. What is wrong with the regular street clothes women wear in PAK?”

    John you dont want Hijabies to Judge women wearing western clothes yet you are comfortable in calling her choice ugly and despicable.. why the hypocracy?

    @ Nandita:
    I appreciate your respect for women’s choice but you think what my Hijabi friends wear is frumpy and unattractive?? bit to harsh eh? :) Recommend

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

    As I said earlier, any inconvenience or discrimination faced by hijab-wearing women is regrettable, and worth protesting about.

    But what about the suffering non-pardah-observing women have to go through in Pakistan? Who cares? They deserve it for being so, quote, “behaya“. The only thing that matters in the multiverse, is that hijab-wearing women get all the air-time to complain about the discrimination they face in the 2.5% of this country’s elite living quarters and institutions.

    Sorry, but this pity-party needs to take a break. We celebrated the World Hijab Day. We’ve had an endless line of blogs on ET about hijabis and their problems. It’s about time somebody steps up and talks about the discrimination faced by those who DON’T observe pardah.

    That’s important too!Recommend

  • Umar

    ALLAHU AKBAR PAKISTAN IN REALITY IS CHANGING. FIRST SHARIA WAS REMOVED AND NOW THERE IS A DISCUSING ABOUT hijab. IN ISLAM IT’S WAJJIB FOR WOMEN TO BEAR HIJAB. THE POLITICIANS SHOULD MAKE IT A LAW THAT ALL WOMEN SHOUD WEAR HIJJAB. what is pakistan changin in to ?Recommend

  • Loki

    Why do people in pakistan want to impose their conservative ideas on those who want to wear western clothes its all becuase of mullahs in pakistan they dont want democracy or want people to live thier lives freelyRecommend

  • Pharell

    Look not a big fan of hijabs, niqabs and burqas, and the notion that it is as obligatory as salah is complete BS. Don’t listen to your local maulvis and what not, do your own research and look at it with an open mind. If a woman wants to wear a hijab as a member of a free society she should be allowed to do so and on the other hand if she wants to wear a mini skirt as a member of a free society she should be allowed to do that as well. Look we have bigger problems in PAK than to be even debating these retarded things. Our economy is in the sewers, our society is completely brainwashed by maulvis and in ruins, our ethics need rethinking and we are at war. Be realistic PAK is a failed country unless we evolve our way of thinking.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Irtiza:
    Do Muslim women wear “mini skirts” in Pakistan?Recommend

  • Kataria

    Same way wearing the Hijab makes you oppressed and not modern. Can’t have it both ways libidos.Recommend

  • observer

    @Shamaila Khan:

    Women who wear hijab have enough rubbish to deal with, fighting for their rights to remain scarfed in the western world

    And which western countries object to the scarf? Please.

    We would attend weddings and functions in our hijabs, and became accustomed to having people come up to us and ask why we were wearing this ‘thing’ on our heads, whether we were trying to copy the Arabs,

    I learn 2 things from this. Number 1 that Pakistan is a Western Country. And Number 2 your relatives could see right through the cover.

    this choice of ours to wear hijab was as personal a decision as a someones’ choice is to pray 5 times a day, or fast on Mondays

    I have searched high and low, looking for a blog justifying fast on Mondays. Stil looking. Recommend

  • Fatima Omar

    @Insaan: Well, well, well, the same debate all over again. Yes sweetheart, Muslim girls do wear mini skirts in Pakistan. Just step out of your innocent little world and see. I am no one to comment on anyone else’s beliefs but I personally find this hijab think a bit too oppressive. Yes, I do cover my head but only while praying. I do wear mini skirts to parties, I don’t mind wearing shorts to the market and hold your breadth baby, I even swim with men around! Is that too much to handle? No problem dahling, you can just close your eyes and sing ‘See No Evil…Recommend

  • Fiza

    @Rurouni: I am at a loss for words here. I always thought that hijab constitutes more than just a piece of clothing. And I believed all my life that it includes comportment/behavior and conduct among other things, and not JUST the dress code. I don’t think this discussion is going anywhere unless you read Islamic literature and try to comprehend the real meaning behind hijab.
    And why is hijab always discussed in the context of a woman?? God has also prescribed hijab for men by telling them to lower their gaze.

    Now you are judging me and being judgmental yourself! It was only in response to your argument that Hijabis do not bother anyone if left alone. I think it’s a fallacy! but i don’t want to elucidate further as we are in a classic catch-22.Recommend

  • Rurouni

    @Fiza:
    I won’t disagree with the fact that hijab is more than just a piece of cloth. What I’m trying to say is that people are rarely perfect. Almost everyone sins in one capacity or the other and that sin is no reason to stop yourself from doing something good. By your logic a person who doesn’t pray the mandatory five times would think to himself, ‘Hey, you know what? Since, I’m already going to Hell why bother with any other good deed? Might as well leave my dying mother out to rot on the streets too.’
    Second, I never implied nor stated anything to suggest that men aren’t supposed to control their gazes. Every man in responsible for his gaze and his modesty. Nothing can change that.Recommend

  • Wtf??

    Can I just say au contraire to all you can’t be modern and hijabi at the same time please. Thank God I live in Britain!

    http://www.lazydoll.com/ Dina Tokio

    http://thehijablog.wordpress.com/ Imaan

    Also Hana Tajima Simpson, Yuna May

    They’re all western, they’re all hijabis, they’re all gorgeous…can’t see any frumpy-ness here. LMFAO at the narrow mindedness of some people. Let go of your prejudices!! Also LOL at ET who think that some of the comments here are acceptable. Shame on you.Recommend

  • http://Johanesburg LuvPak

    That’s it!
    It’s time now to start appreciating differences at a Grande Scale specially in Pakistan, if not anywhere else atleast for the current bloodbath the citizens are inflicted upon with, based on all sorts of pathetic, useless, uncivil, degrading and found-nowhere animosities on the scale & intensity breaking world records. How about we start it with a Culture-Appreciation Day. It will be a day to teach, promote, accept, tolerate, cherish & Thank God for the variety & diversity He bestowed upon us. He could have made all humans look just like a parade of Korean or Nazi army had he wanted so, but he didn’t.

    Believe me, the perfectionists' desire will not stop at anything. You clean this they want that, you change that they wanted this. There are at-least more than four dozen hard-core ideologies in Pakistan who think the friendly-believer sitting next to him/her is going to hell for some reason. Now how are you going to fix that? Just first perfectly correct & clean your inner-self than point fingers at other. That's for the both side of the curtain. Live and let others live. There is no shortage of misery already for the common Pak citizens. Thanks, but "No Thanks".
    Recommend

  • Femme

    I could not agree more with the “holier than thou” aspect mentioned here. I come from a moderately religious family, where hijab is commonplace. I however, do not wear a hijab. I do cover up and dress “modestly”. However, I feel as if a lot of hijab wearing ladies look down upon those who don’t. I’ve heard one of them say “It doesn’t burn to put it on your head you know, it’s an easy piece of cloth”. Exactly, it is a piece of cloth. What difference does it make to others if I wear it, if at the end of the day, it’s simply a piece of cloth. Hijabis often fight for people to recognize that they have the choice to cover and to be given the freedom to make this choice, but how ironic is it that they look down on those who also make their own choice? I think there needs to be a paradigm shift within the religious community because I know of many people who are scared off by this holier than thou outlook. I have lots of respect for the sisters to wear hijab, don’t get me wrong, but it often feels as if the respect is not reciprocated.

    (Sorry if my English has any mistakes, I’m a francophone)Recommend

  • Shamaila Khan

    @Westerner:
    Could you verify that? Please provide a link to an article from a valid news source to support your claim.Recommend

  • Shamaila Khan

    @Faraz Talat:
    Faraz unfortunately your article didnt need to explicitly state that hijabi women are self-righteous – the sentiment was implicitly strewn throughout the article. The very headline of your article condemns hijabi women as judgemental, with an attitude problem. When your whole article is awash with anti-hijabi sentiment, simply adding a weak qualifying statement at the end to say that you dont mean to belittle us just doesnt cut it, im afraid.

    I agree that my experience is not representative, but neither is your article a perfect sample of the views of Pakistanis. I was simply sharing my own experiences, and based on the above comments, it seems to be a view and experience that is shared by many. It is certainly a view shared by most Pakistanis I know in Sydney and Melbourne. It is a view that is informed by my own observations, just as your article and its ideas are informed by yours. The only difference is the Pakistan you see, is clearly very different to the one I see. Your article makes me wonder if we are even talking about the same country! When you say women are pushed to wear hijab to fit in to society, you cant surely be talking about Pakistan – a country where every heroine on television doesnt wear hijab, where talk show hosts present their stories dressed in short pants and sleeveless shirts? The country with a multi-million dollar fashion industry, which sees models parade around in next to nothing? The country which I have visited every two years since I was 6 months old, where women in hijab are viewed, at best, as backward, and at worst, with suspicion of harboring extremist/terrorist tendancies? The country where I walk the streets and can count the number of women in hijab/niqab on my fingers?

    I agree, and I have seen women in western clothes get stared at and cat-called in Pakistan, but thats hardly the fault of hijabi women. Can you categorically state that the abuse these women face comes only from hijabi women with an attitude problem? Because that seems to be the link you are making.Recommend

  • Rida Malik

    @Shamaila Khan:
    you need not tak it on your self Shamaila, while it is most respectable to do a thing that you’re doing, the author is only pointing out females who do not however have this approach, and trust me more often than not we find Hijaabi girls everyday laughing on passer by girls and commenting and laughing on them. I would say that i have had the pleasure to know some of the most amazing girls who were Hijaab clad for thier own personal choice and they were gem of a person, each one of them.
    There was one at my office who used to be really liberal earlier but then she started wearing Hijaab and said to me in general conversation that ” hey, i cant grab the tongues of people when they talk about me but i can cover myself up.
    she never preached, never. and nor did she ever judge anyone.

    But the author is not talking about girls like her, contrary to that i have met people who would wera hijab everyday but would shirk it off on events and such, let thier hair down and say “aik din se kuch nahi houta”
    THIER CHOICE but so not valid when they start pointing fingers on you.

    Gosspiing about your choice of clothes. This is a very wide topic Shamaila and not its not a stereotyped one, he is not asking us to defame Hijab clad girls or ablish hijab practices. He is just talking about the general attitude so it would take an educated and well learned person to just present thier stance un biased and not be provoked.

    “Sign of a well learned person is that they can entertain an idea without accepting it.” Recommend

  • Westerner

    @Shamaila Khan:

    Here is a BBC report:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21310263Recommend

  • gp65

    Agree with every word you have said. Great job Faraz.Recommend

  • gp65

    @Ash: “If u r a muslim, you HAVE to take a hijab! Attitude. Or no attitude! Its compulsory like salah!”

    I thuoght salah was one of the 5 principles of Islam. I do not believe hijab is that – right? I have seen many PTV plays in the 70s where the women would be wearing sarees and the girls a salwar kameez dupatta. They seemed modest enough. Are you saying they were all unislamic in those days?Recommend

  • DASH DASH

    @Nandita.:
    WOMEN HAS WHOLE RIGHTS she can do what she wants noone can say anything here in PAk… hmm u asked a good Question that why women choose to wear hijab/niqaab… go to facebook and Like a community or just visit STUNNING HIJABS (BRONX, NEWYORK, COMPANY) THERE u will find experiance of non-muslim girls of wearing hijabs… they feel good and safe and feel proud there are some girls who wear hijaab but their parents or family never ask them to wear but they like to wear and they are very happy with hijab… thanks wesay aap bhi kisi din pehan k dekh lo shaid apko b farqq nazar aajaey… :-) ha na good idea heheheRecommend

  • TTV

    @Shamaila Khan:
    “The country where I walk the streets and can count the number of women in hijab/niqab on my fingers?”

    I think you might have visited the wrong country. Pakistan’s the one between India and Afghanistan. Kinda looks like a giant T-Rex.

    Jokes aside, try visiting your driver/maid’s neighbourhood the next time you visit. You’ll run out of fingers and toes to count on. Defence & Clifton dwellers aren’t a representative sample of the Pakistani population.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @pakistaniteen: On the other-hand, I have seen amazing ladies who wear hijab and have flaw-less character.

    Are you talking about old ladies or young ladies? No one has a flaw less character if looked from his/her whole life view. Most moulvis and priests seem to have a flaw less character too.

    You have seen flaw less ladies and prostitutes who wear Hijab. One thing is clear Hijab has nothing to do with character.Recommend

  • Gulafshan Abbasey

    @ westerner, please read this news and believe that women wearing hijab are not VICIOUS BRUTES but women not wearing them as well..there are all kinds of people everywhere so stop generalizing
    http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/politics/17-Jul-2011/Pak-woman-in-hijab-assaulted-at-Niagara-Falls

    As for your article mr talat,what can I say,I have read so much crappy pieces about hijab and hijab observing women that your doesn’t take the cake..can any of you people WHO ARE AGAINST HIJAB please explain me WHY WEARING HIJAB is a problem..when you can tell me WHY ARE YOU WeariNG HIJAB? YOU LOOK SO UGLY,YOU WON’T GET A SUITOR,YOU HAVE BECOME AN EXTREMIST,YOU HAVE BECOME BLAH BLEE BLOO,SO WHY CANT I ASK YOU TO WEAR HIJAB??? I have been ridiculed all the time in Pakistan on wearing a hijab by women who don’t wear it…PEOPLE!!! HIJAB IS NOT JUST COVERING OF THE HEAD,IT’S A WAY OF LIFE THAT WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN,HIJAB IS NOT JUST A WAY OF STOPPING SEXUAL HARASSMENT BUT ITS A WAY TO BE SIMPLE AND FREE OF PROUD AND MATERIALISTIC THINGS..most of the women who take hijab do seem to have a way of scaring other women from it by JUST SHOWING THE OTHER WOMEN THE PICTURE OF HELL IF THEY DON’T WEAR IT,but if you SO CALLED LIBERAL AND SECULAR MEN AND WOMEN would actually go to the depths of why hijab is asked for the women to take I doubt any of you will ever write a PIECE ON HIJAB AND ITS ATROCITIES:) you don’t become a BARBARIAN on following religion the RIGHT WAY..Recommend

  • Shamaila Khan

    @TTV:
    Lolol, I’ve never set foot in DH or Clifton… Jhelum all the way.Recommend

  • Hatter

    In my opinion how one chooses to dress is a matter of their own personal choice and no one should interfere in it. As a society we should learn to have a tolerant attitude towards a womans dress regardless of wether she is flaunting her long legs in a mini skirt or she is hiding herself behind a veil.
    @ Westerner: For each one their own belief. While their are women who harass others for not wearing a hijab there are others who torment women for donning the Hijab. This persecution of the “other” arises due to ignorance and intolerance. As part of a global village we should all accept how each indivual dresses without critcizing them for their attire.The critical word here is ‘choice’ if a certain way of dressing is being forced on to you then only does your dress become a serious matter and you have a right to protest against the clothing/ Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Fatima Omar: Well, well, well, the same debate all over again. Yes sweetheart, Muslim girls do wear mini skirts in Pakistan.

    Are you trying to pull my leg…… I personally don’t see mini skirts or shorts as evils. I myself find shorts very comfortable in summer. Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Westerner: I read the news on the Internet. “London woman left disfigured by shocking random acid attack by mystery woman in niqab as she walked home from work at Victoria’s Secret”

    I am shocked. I think either it was done by a crazy Muslim girl or some one hiding behind a niqab trying to mislead police. Pictures show girl got burned bad. I hope whoever did this gets caught and punished according to the law. Throwing acid is just like an attempt to murder.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @DASH DASH: they feel good and safe

    In USA Muslim girls feel good and safe with any hijab or burqa. On the other hand Muslim girls/women get molested, raped, touched, harassed even when they are wearing burqa in many Muslim countries.

    In countries like Saudi arabia, religious police is needed to keep women safe. Lashing, beheadings, honor killings are done in addition to burqa to keep people behave morally.

    Hijab could not keep this married Pakistani girl from running away from home in USA…….She even mislead police into believing that she was kidnapped.

    blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/9513/the-curious-case-of-aisha-khan/Recommend

  • Umar

    Wonderfull reactiong form muslims here? Do any of you know the meaning of Pakistan? There is no god but Allah(subhanahu wa’ta’ala) and Muhammed (p.u.b.u) is his last prophet this is related to islam. Mr. Jinnah maked pakistan of a wish to establish a islamic state. But yes USA/NATO woud not accept it and will eliminate muslims as they are doing around the world. I know the last COAS Mr. Musharraf removed the sharia from Pakistan with the explanation that USA has warned us. But at least dear Pakistanis don’t opress womens who are wearing hijjabs but yes som of them are very closed personality which is wrong but it’s their choice. And Mullahs stop spreading hates about those womens who don’t wear hiijjab. Don’t divide youself people of Pakstan. This wil make Indian and islams enermy happy!!!!Recommend

  • Sane

    Useless discussion.Recommend

  • NuPak

    Something tells me from guts that my beliefs should not be based on hatred for someone but it shouldbe for my own soul. My belief must attract other and not repell them. My belief make me friendlier, calmer, maturer and tolerant than the totaly opposite. I guess this is the 100th comment…Recommend