K is for Being KNOWN
“Allah himself has laid plain the reasoning for Hijab: That we may be known. Like a sports team, we recognize each other. Like an ethnic background, we feel comfortable with each other. Like a flag held high in the field of battle, we bravely go out each day in every country of the world, representing our Prophet, sallalahu alayhi wassalam, representing our religion, representing our men who too often blend into the background, representing our hurting women who need our activism, representing any woman of any faith who does not know how to show her conviction. We wear the scarf that we might be known.”
That quote was taken from a speech given by Anse Tamara Gray. It is one that I so often go back to when contemplating why I wear the hijab and how it affects my behavior.
For as long as I can remember, Hijab was just another rule in the lawbook of life. Just another part of my clothing. Since hearing this speech however, combined with starting college and beginning adulthood in the real world, the concept of my head covering has changed for me. Instead of something I feel requires lengthy explanation, I’ve let it speak for itself. Instead of focusing on defending my reasons for wearing it or being almost apologetic to those who feel uncomfortable around it, I’ve embraced the power that the hijab has given me.
The hijab is one of the most recognizable symbols of a Muslim, and so I invite others to judge me. I’m not an advocate of judging and stereotyping, but if you’re going to judge something, let it be the hijab. Don’t narrow your view of Muslims to what makes it to the news. Let it be our strong, spunky, beautiful, and genuine women who tell Islam’s story.
Lately I’ve felt so empowered by wearing the hijab because it is an opportunity for me to actively change the stereotype – not be subject to it. When one of my clients asks if I’m Muslim, I say yes and then proceed to ask him how his day is going or where she got her shoes or how cool I think it is that he knows five languages. I allow myself to be obviously identified as a Muslim, and then I just be me. I be the one to make them scratch their heads and wonder how I fit into the stereotype when the way I act doesn’t.
It should be assumed that along with all of this, I do my best to be a generally good person. That, I’m not doing for the hijab. It is simply for me and my own salvation. I feel so much for the girls who start wearing a headscarf and feel all of the expectations to start being “pure” and “perfect.” Those things are important of course, but they are important for everyone, not just those who put a piece of fabric on their heads.
We who wear Hijab are not perfect. We make mistakes. We try our best. THAT is what I want people to take away from interacting with me. I’m a Muslim, who’s just trying to do my best.