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Monday, April 7, 2008

And And

More random thoughts, some that I might be repeating...

Well, it's been almost a year since I started the scarf. It's still a part of my day to day wardrobe, which is a good sign. The main question that still gets to me is: WHY AM I STILL STRUGGLING WITH IT AT TIMES? I have heard from other Muslim women who wear the scarf that it is "a part of them," and they could not imagine going out without it. But for me, I often imagine going out without it and feel irritated that I have to put it on. Most the times that I feel irritated have to do with the weather. If it is really warm/hot outside, then I feel more negative about it. And also on days when I feel just grubby and tired and do not want any attention, I wish I did not have to wear the scarf. And there are still times when I try to figure out how I can do hijab without looking different, e.g. trying to wear a hat and a neck scarf. And there are lots of days where I feel like I don't want to deal with being seen with the scarf that I just do not go out (to the store/post office/apartment complex area/parks/etc). But it's not too bad.

One thing that helps me answer the question about why I'm still struggling is remembering that I am coming from a perspective where my family and my culture say that wearing the scarf is not really mandatory. And my culture includes BOTH Pakistani and American cultures.

Another thought I had...
Using the reasoning that women should wear the scarf/do hijab to "hide their beauty," works well when the women is young and attractive. But what about the other women who do not fit into the definition of beautiful? Should they skip the scarf? What about girls with low self-esteem who think that covering up will make them look even more unattractive than they already feel? I think the best way to deal with this is to use the reasoning that the scarf/hijab is to PREVENT VANITY. That way, the reason works for all types of women of all shapes, sizes, skin-types, and ages. And the reason helps men also be modest in their dress as well. It's vanity that will get us all in trouble. It is really difficult not to be vain, and observing hijab can be a way to help us out with that?

Another thought I had...
I wonder, with younger girls who have reached the age when wearing the scarf is required/recommended/suggested (usually age 9 in the Shia-Muslim community and at the start of menstruation in the Sunni-Muslim community), is it best that they are TOLD to do it or just encouraged gently? Or should the decision be left totally up to them? I guess the greater question is, how do parents teach religion and religious customs to children in the most fair way?

And...
in a previous post I mentioned that wearing an abaya is foreign looking and can seem ancient. I got many comments about that. Of course it is possible to look modern even while wearing an abaya, and of course it is possible by being totally covered up and yet being immodest. Here are some pictures where wearing an abaya does look stylish:





The above pictures are not entirely hijab, being that the sleeves are sheer and the hair is showing in the last photo, but the abaya style is there. It still looks good, but to me, it still looks Middle Eastern in style, which might draw more stares than wearing pants and a long shirt, or a skirt and a shirt with hijab. Anyhoo...that's it for now.

7 comments:

Alixianna said...

Yeah, these are the kind of abayas I usually wear (albeit with cute cardigans underneath). Love them. Women compliment my dress all the time. I think the look IS MiddleEastern, but I think that IS fashion right now---there is a swing towards modesty and just looking gorgeous in the fashion world, not being bony and grungy like in the 90s. Women want to dress up again and be SEEN as woman (not sex obeject---LAdieS) and we Muslim women ge the chance to lead in that. If someone asks why I want to wear an abaya I tell them I think it is simply more elegant than anything I can find in the malls, and my religion give me the excuse to dress like a princess every day while maintaining my morals. I think you can do this in a tunic top and loose trousers, (and if your are doing any climbing a robe just doesn't cut it--I admit but don't thes just look killer and flatter every body shape?)

Scarf Ace said...

i agree that a stylish abaya is very elegant on a woman. however, i am very short, so i don't think it suits me very well, unless i had it completely customized by a seamstress for me.

Alixianna said...

LOL, I'm five feet flat. What you need maybe is an open style, rather than a robe style (also easier to move in (I wear jeans and nice skirts with) as this olongates the body (while minimizing the boot). What sucks is, if the shoulders of your abaya is cut to wide, you look wide. The shoulders and sleeves should be fitted, and the bust and hips loose. That's the difference between an abaya and a garbage bag HEHEHE. I find long coats make me look shorter, but since a solider colour draps all the way to floor, it makes me look longer. Maybe it depends also on your proportions? You look gorgeous (masha'Allah) though in your long dress skirt and hijab though. This look would look killer on you: http://welovehijab.com/page/2/ Haute Hijabi Norah K

Scarf Ace said...

i'm 5 feet flat too! :-) thanks for the tips !

eyes serene said...

Assalamu alaykom,
I think that the problem with alternative styles of covering is that they sometimes stand out even more than does the hijab.

Abaya and jilbab to me are very stylish (unless it's sitti abayas and jilbabs, you know, the ones from the 80s with the boxy cut, shoulder pads meant for a linebacker, and the cuffed puffy sleeves.) If you're wearing a nicely made (and nicely fitting) abaya or jilbab, you look dressed up and classy without having to work for it. ;)

I suppose on a basic level, an abaya is just a big dress, and a jilbab is just a long coat. It can look ancient or "foreign" or it can look fashionable or office-friendly. Depends on so many things, cut, fabric, embellishments, etc.

I'm sorry that you struggle with you decision to wear hijab. Insha'Allah, I hope with time that it becomes less and less of a conflict (whichever path that takes for you.) I felt this way when I first began to wear it but I have crossed over to the other side that you mention... now it's just like wearing a watch or socks. Once in a while I think it would be nice to just step outside without having the bother, or, it would be nice to mingle in the crowd and actually blend. Sometimes I wish I could just go swimming in a mixed group... But those thoughts are MUCH fewer and farther in between than they used to be. Perhaps it will be the same for you.

My two main reasons for wearing hijab are as follows (besides the whole "God said so" thing!) 1) I am known as a Muslim because of it. This is dawah! Also, it normalizes hijab and Muslims for non-Muslims. People are afraid of what they don't know, and much more understanding and tolerant of what they do know. And 2) it keeps me mindful of God, my religion, and my behavior. Sounds silly but I must admit I've changed for the better over the past few years and I think that's got a lot to do with the fact that I'm more mindful of myself.

*Personally* I don't want my daughter wearing hijab unless she's ready and wants to wear it. I'm not going to pressure her because I consider hijab as a personal choice. I'm going to get grief from some quarters. It may not be always be a comfortable situation but I can't in good conscience force a child/teenager into something that brings so much responsibility and attention. A person needs strength to wear hijab. It isn't easy.

Scarf Ace said...

eyes serene,
thank you so much for writing such a thoughtful comment. i'm still getting used to the scarf as you said, it may take a while, but people like you inspire me to carry on.

eyes serene said...

Awww! That's so sweet of you! :)