Stories about hijab

My life as a Muslim in the West’s ‘Gray Zone’

Some months ago, I gave a reading from my most recent novel in Scottsdale, Ariz. During the discussion that followed, a woman asked me to talk about my upbringing in Morocco. It’s natural for readers to be curious about a writer they’ve come to hear, I told myself. I continued to tell myself this even after the conversation drifted to Islam, and then to ISIS. Eventually, another woman raised her hand and said that the only Muslims she saw when she turned on the television were extremists.  “Why aren’t we hearing more from people like you?” she asked me. “You are,” ...

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I had to take off my Hijab because society refused to accept me

Out of the 50 Muslim majority states in the world, Pakistan ranks second in the list with a Muslim majority population of 97 per cent. And it was among these Muslims that I felt discriminated for donning a hijab. I began the practice of hijab during my second year in art school. Initially, most of my friends did not pay attention to my additional piece of clothing and encouraged the practice. Eventually, however, I realised that while all my relatives, friends and acquaintances professed to be Muslims, very few supported my choice to wear a hijab. During the first few weeks of donning a ...

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More power to the women and less to the dupatta

Recently, I came across an article that seemed to propagate the indispensable role of ‘dupattas’ in our ‘cultural dress code’. I was amused by the fact that the article, which stressed on preserving Pakistani culture, began with an Indian song featured in the movie Barsaat, which was released in 1949. If I’m not mistaken, it was sung by the famous Lata Mangeshkar. So much for celebrating our own culture. What was most appalling about the article was the fact that it was propagating the idea that men stare, ogle, and gawk at women because they do not cover themselves up with dupattas. It quoted ...

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Reza Aslan versus Bill Maher: Learning the crucial difference between culture and religion

Responsible schooling, governance, international diplomacy, accountability and conscientious citizens are the demands of modern society. However, popular media despite its presence in every home, remains the most ignorant, irresponsible and manipulative aspect of modern life. With its capacity to communicate instantly, the world with its current atmosphere of extremism, global stress and social and political upheavals is more open to suggestions in a way it was never before. Therefore, manipulation by entities with access to an audience has wider influence than before. Labels are among the pithiest vehicles of language. They appeal most strongly to unthinking individuals, starting with those of all faiths in the pulpit ...

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Being groped, harassed and video-taped on Independence Day

For anyone who has an ounce of respect for other beings, the 39-second video, which has gone viral in Pakistan, is difficult to watch.  In the said video, while on a crowded street at night, a vile young man drabbed in Pakistani national colours, evidently celebrating August 14th, sexually harasses a burqa clad woman. As his friend watches with a devilish grin wide enough to let an airplane in, he attacks a lady sitting on a bike by grabbing her from behind, gyrating against her, and then continuing the abuse for a several more uncomfortable seconds. I am not sure how this video found ...

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Some of us cannot afford the hijab of today

There is a school named The Clifton High School which is not in Karachi but in New Jersey, USA, and Abrar Shahin is a Muslim student of Palestinian descent who recently graduated from this school. Sincere congratulations and best wishes in her subsequent career to the young lady who appears to possess a strong sense of identity since her photograph shows her wearing a hijab, and who is about to present us with what I hope, a healthy debate. In the hormone-charged atmosphere of high schools, where girls dress quite revealingly, it takes conviction to cover your head with a scarf at ...

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Dear TV channels, stop commercialising Islam in Ramazan

Sawab, Rounaq Ramazan, Ramazan Hamara Emaan, Pakistanion ka Ramazan, Marhaba Ramazan, Subhan Ramazan, Ramazan Sharif, Bismillah Ramazan, Shan-e-Ramazan, Ishq Ramazan, Jashan-e-Ramazan, Mohabbat-e-Ramazan – the list is exhausting… and utterly monotonous. These are some of the many special Ramazan shows that have been lined up to be aired on various TV channels during the holy month of Ramazan this year. Along with these shows, many channels have also come up with their signature game shows to lure in audiences. Just like last time, nearly all news channels are planning to run shows where the hosts invite so-called religious scholars to discuss topics of religion and Islamic jurisprudence, recite naats between the show, cook different delicacies for iftar and interact with viewers ...

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5 things I learnt after moving to Pakistan

When I made the decision to move to the notorious land called Pakistan, because of my husband’s job, there were mixed reactions from the community (to say the least). My non-Pakistani and non-Muslim friends were terrified for my safety and were keen on reminding me of the short list of communities; their concerns involved my husband’s salary, the tough humidity, and the eternal inconvenience of load-shedding.  Ignoring all concerns, I decided to take on the adventure and assured my friends that I was happy and ready for anything. Boy did I lie. I was terrified – but very much in love. I had ...

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Rupi Kaur: Staining a woman’s modesty on Instagram?

This week has seen Instagram caught in a furore about its decision to remove a controversial photograph of a woman, Rupi Kaur, who was lying on a bed fully clothed except for a bloodstain which showed on her pyjamas, indicating that she was menstruating. The girl involved in this fiasco is a self-proclaimed Canadian poet who took great offence to Instagram’s decision to remove the picture stating that she “bleeds every month to help make humankind a possibility”. She posted the picture again only for it to be deleted again but by then the picture had gone viral. In order ...

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On Frida Deguise ‘nuding’ her fashion line

Being happy in one’s skin is not an easy task. Being happy in one’s clothing is an almost impossible adventure. I have been told that the greatest form of happiness is to be one’s true and natural self. This is not a universal truth that I am preaching but merely a life lesson and something to live by. My good friend, Pramit, a leading journalist, and I were once working on a project together. It so happened that we were both invited for a breakfast meeting at the White House, a key location in our little town of intrigues and ...

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