Stories about hijab

Why our mosque culture needs to change: An open letter to Masjid Aunties

Dear Masjid Aunties, It’s common for you to undermine people who don’t meet your religious standards, especially in a place of worship. Converts get pulled out of prayer by the arm for not praying with an abaya. Women are publicly shamed and bashed for not wearing the hijab correctly. If someone doesn’t regularly go to the mosque, they’re looked down upon. It’s sad, but it’s a rampant issue in the women’s section of the masjid (mosque). Informing someone about something advised against is fine, but please, do so respectfully. Women at the mosque judge and gossip amongst themselves. This mentality can be ...

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Feminism needs to cater to Muslim women, not the other way around

Feminism needs to include women of colour, Muslim women, disabled women, sex workers, trans women, gay women, queer women, fat women, skinny women. It needs to cater to all women. The fact that the term ‘intersectional feminism’ exists proves that the general movement is often exclusive and largely white. Mainstream, western feminism isn’t always intersectional. There are feminists who often don’t realise or can’t relate to the fact that for women of colour, of different faiths, abilities, it’s not just gender that they’re discriminated on. Such women are affected by these circumstances professionally, socially and mentally, and yet don’t always receive the ...

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Why are Iranian women protesting against the hijab now?

Religious freedom has been a pipe dream for years now, especially for women, who are subjected to male dominants in this society. A major portion of the woman population has embraced this situation as a norm and continues to cultivate it within the minds of their young girls as well, others, however, have not. They have strived and fought for basic rights, such as education, health, the right to vote and the liberty to go out unaccompanied. While the tide of feminism and many socialist organisations have washed part of the misogyny that exists in numerous societies, there is still ...

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My hidden miscarriage left me broken and alone – while he moved on, happily

I waited too long to write this story. Allow me to introduce myself. First-generation South Asian Muslim, daughter of two hard-working parents who just wanted to provide the best life for their children. Born and raised in New York, it was confusing and difficult to balance ethnic culture with western culture, on top of balancing my faith in Islam. Even more importantly, it was difficult trying to establish myself as an opinionated woman in the very patriarchal culture, founded both in the western and South Asian culture. I was 15 when I first met him. Two years older, tall, smart, same ...

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Benazir Bhutto can wear western attire at Oxford and be praised for her achievements, but Malala Yousafzai can’t?

One can often witness how wearing hijab becomes an obstacle for women here in Pakistan. Be it at work, school or university, you will always be judged and scrutinised for everything you do. However, I have always wondered how a piece of fabric covering one’s head can depict an individual’s personality, to an extent that people believe it gives them the right to judge you for each and everything you say, do or wear. Recently, I came across the news of Malala Yousafzai getting admission into Oxford University and later being ‘spotted’ wearing a pair of jeans and a shirt with a dupatta covering her head. To my surprise, instead of being happy for her admission into one ...

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Rounding up the usual suspects in Casablanca

Morocco – a country filled with diverse culture, memorable sights, sounds, and a remarkable cuisine. There are so many things that make this country stand out in my eyes. The divine bed and breakfast boutique hotels known as ‘riads’, the beautiful resorts, and the list goes on. My trip lasted a total of ten days, and started in Casablanca, followed by Marrakech and Fes. “Mystical” is the one word that describes my trip to Morocco the most. As I walked down the streets, I felt everything was alive around me. The atmosphere was thriving, and the energy was inexplicable. Women were ...

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It is time for Trump to say, “I won the campaign, guys, you can stop the racism now!”

Donald Trump ran an unscripted and an unpredictable presidential campaign and took American politics to an unchartered territory, one that was hideously troubling and rocked the very core of our value system. What Trump’s inflammatory message did script, however, was a very predictable future – a fiery and fierce future, one that will bring out the worst in people, wake up the sleeping demons and cause a socio-political stir of schizophrenically unprecedented proportions. It is painful to witness the plight. It’s apocalyptic just to think that we, as a nation, by electing Donald Trump as president, have decided to put ...

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Should the Wheaton College Professor have been suspended for wearing a hijab?

Whether in Islamic theocracies or places with visible minority Muslim populations, from China to the United Kingdom, the hijab twists conservatives and liberals in their support or opposition to dress normally associated with fundamental religion. We see bullies “rip off” hijabs; one such incident recently took place in New York City. On the other extreme, groups like the Taliban declare, “wear hijab or be disfigured.” And they carry out such threats. Nushin Arbabzadah summed up this contrast in The New York Times: “Women may want to express ‘solidarity’ with Muslim women by covering up. But Muslim women don’t need to cover up. This act ...

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Of course she is oppressed, she wears a hijab!

The hijab has always seemed to invoke extensive debate in Muslim and non-Muslim societies. There have been numerous cases of harassment of hijab-clad women in the western societies, with the French going to the extreme of banning it. The west believes that hijab is a symbol of oppression towards women. When you see a woman wearing a hijab walk into the coffee shop, and order a mocha latte, do you wonder if she’s oppressed? Do you wonder if her male relatives watch her every step? Do you wonder if hijab limits her in any way? Do you feel sympathy for her? How many of the above-mentioned ...

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An open letter to my younger self

Dear Tanzila, Today your wish will come true. You will get what you had always wanted. Remember that hair straightener set? Mum has gotten it for you. It has curlers too! But I have some bad news: you will forget about the beloved straightener within three years and never think about it again. Why? Because, you will embrace the hijab as your identity – don’t freak out! You will love it. Today, as the 26-year-old ‘you’, I have reached out to you of the past to share some lessons. Some of them I learned in Sweden, some as I was sitting in a training session ...

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