9 stupid questions you hear when you wear hijab

Published: October 25, 2011
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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.

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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.