Hijab4Men: Let’s turn the tables and show men how it feels

Published: February 5, 2014
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What would it be like if men and beards were treated like women and headscarves? PHOTO: FACEBOOK PAGE (https://www.facebook.com/hijab4men)

You’re showing too much hair. You’re wearing a lot of makeup and your tight jeans? Well, you’re ruining the reputation of the hijab.

These are just a few examples of the criticism many hijabis face. 

Recently there were even adverts all over the Middle East comparing Muslim women to wrapped sweets – a lollipop with a wrapper symbolises perfection, that is, the angelic Muslim maintaining her pardah, while an ‘unwrapped lolly’ attracts flies to the haram enticement of an exposed ‘sweet’.

The men behind such adverts will deny that comparing Muslim women to sweets is objectifying us. They will contest that they are merely using the analogy as guidance for the benefit of their Muslim sisters by showing concern.

Here is another example, circulating its way around the web.

A Christian asked a Muslim,

“Why do your women cover their bodies and hair?”

The Muslim smiled and got two sweets. He unwrapped the first one and kept the other one wrapped. He threw them both on the dusty floor and asked the Christian,

“If I asked you to take one of the sweets, which one will you choose?”

The Christian obviously replied,

“The covered one.”

Then the Muslim said,

“In the same way that the wrapper protects the sweet from dust, the hijab protects our ladies from the sins and evil of this world.”

Photo: Twitter/Gautam Trivedi

There is an increasing expectation for Muslim women to conform to a certain ‘saintly’ exterior when wearing the hijab , otherwise there is a risk of ruining this clean-cut image. It doesn’t matter how much she prays or heaven forbid how much knowledge she has, let the men focus solely on her headscarf.

It is not just these advertising campaigns that are to blame. The West’s orientalist vision of Muslim women doesn’t help either.

From Pew Research polls of ‘how people in Muslim countries prefer women to dress in public’ – complete with different diagrams of hijab styles – to World Hijab Day which paved the way for white saviour complexes to post selfies of themselves in hijabs, turning it into a costume for the day, once again the West appropriated Muslim women and condescendingly tried to understand us without giving us a voice of our own.

Photo: File

Is being a Muslim woman really all about appearance?

Before you start playing the moral police,  let me ask you this.

What if the tables were turned?

What if we did the same with men?

Hijab4Men did exactly that with their satirical Facebook page. Although this group mocks the stupidity of such advertising campaigns, some Muslim men should take a taste of their own medicine.

The ethos of Hijab4Men is simple,

“What would it be like if men and beards were treated like women and headscarves?” 

Pictures such as a bearded Muslim praying in comparison to a man wearing swimming trunks on the beach can be used in the same context of the hijabi-candy adverts can’t they?

Photo: Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/hijab4men)

There was one caption that had me in fits. It accompanied both, a peeled and an unpeeled kiwi and I’ve shared it below:

Photo: Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/hijab4men)

If Muslims want to progress, it is imperative to understand the double standards when it comes to women in Islam, as Hijab4Men so hilariously demonstrates.

Zab Mustefa

Zab Mustefa

Zab Mustefa is a British journalist who specialises in women's rights and culture. She tweets @zabmustefa (twitter.com/zabmustefa)

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