by Shazmeen Zahid
Are you this quiet because most Muslim girls are oppressed in their households?
My self-proclaimed guardians and well-wishers have often told me that if I’m more subdued, less opinionated and agreeable towards everything that a man says, I can be better Muslim woman and more favourable in Allah’s eyes.
Growing up in a family that respected all religions, my parents never questioned my choice of friends and welcomed them all with the same love that any other family member would have received.
I am sure every non-hijabi Muslim girl has been asked why she does not wear a hijab and later advised to follow Islam completely by orthodox clans. It is also common for us to be told by non-followers how it’s a sorry state that we have to wear one.
A woman who chooses to wear a hijab is in no way superior or inferior to anyone, nor does the presence or absence of a hijab play any role in enticing a man (a common argument used by patriarchs to justify the hijab).
I would like to clarify by saying that not all families impose their will upon women forcing them to wear a hijab. Most women wear it out of their free will and most Muslim families give their daughters the liberty to make that choice themselves.
What happens is that you end up constantly educating and re-educating people about this, but, honestly, do you really have to? After a point, you just becomes numb with all the mindlessness around.
It also comes as a rude shock when your liberalism is questioned by orthodox clans who try to ‘correct’ your views, saying you are spoilt and blinded because you didn’t have a Muslim female friend as a course corrector.
Most of the time I am too baffled to react to such statements where every argument is converted into a religious appropriation by people who themselves are no great examples.
If you ever try explaining to these wonderful people that in order to follow Islam, one does not always have to hate the world or atheists, you might end up being attacked with inappropriate remarks on your character and how your future is doomed if you don’t mend your views. On top of this, all this may conveniently be garbed by hardliners as a means of showing love and care.
Whenever I have expressed my resentment towards such questions, people have often retaliated saying that they are just trying to have a healthy debate, and then laughed over it. It’s difficult for them to accept that one cannot entertain such questions because they are extremely offensive towards the entire community. These people fail to understand that we already have a set of people whom we respect and as much as we try to respect their views, they should not take the liberty to impose theirs on us.
As women, we face gender disparity everywhere, irrespective of what religion or caste we belong to. We often end up being shamed for everything that is wrong with the world. Often, sexist comments are hurled upon us based on our clothing or lifestyle just because it’s considered that as women we should be okay with it. Sadly, religion is most commonly used as the basis to justify such arguments.
It’s a struggle to follow your religion and still welcome the changing world and its views. When there are multiple ways to pull each other down, religion should be the last of them.
Why make it toxic for others when everyone has their own battles to fight!