Through My Lens: Observations from a Midwestern Muslimah
By Nadirah Angail
I was interviewed yesterday by a Christian playwright whose interfaith plays focus on the life experiences of people from different religions. She asked a bunch of questions about my childhood, my school years, my book, my personal life, and my beliefs and worldview. We talked for a little over an hour and not once did she go â€œthere.â€ You know where â€œthereâ€ is: the hijab question. To my delight and surprise, she didnâ€™t ask why I wear it, what it means to me, how others respond to it, or any of the other common hijab questions Muslim women usually get hit with.
Itâ€™s not that I dislike hijab or have a problem discussing it. I just donâ€™t see the need to continually (and sometimes exclusively) talk about that one subject when there are so many other pressing topics that need attention. Muslim women are quite interesting. We get advanced degrees, work important jobs, open our own businesses, play sports, make decisions, have influences, make contributions, raise families, and much more. But all too often, conversations with and about us seem doomed to go no further than topics of hijab and modesty.
We are not our covering. We have fully functioning minds that are able to generate brilliant ideas and opinions about every topic imaginable. Do not limit us to the obvious areas that only concern the way we look. The whole point of hijab is to remove the focus from the physical and force others to judge us based on our words and behavior. Yet and still, the issue of hijab stays on the lips of more than a few. It would seem strange if an intelligent non-Muslim woman was being interviewed and majority of the conversation revolved around her hair style. Most would see it as irrelevant and a waste of time. Muslim women, however, are constantly questioned about the choices we make when it comes to our hair.
I canâ€™t speak for everyone, but, in my opinion, it is insulting when a person canâ€™t seem to get beyond the piece of fabric on my head. â€œIs that really all you want to talk about? Do you honestly think I have nothing more intelligent to say than to explain why I wear what I do?â€ These are the thoughts that run through my head as I give the same educational answers Iâ€™ve given so many others who have inquired. Hijab is a part of us, but it isnâ€™t the whole of us. Remove the barriers and allow us to prove that.
Read more articles from Nadirah or buy her book On All the Things That Make Me Beautiful on her website, www.nadirahangail.com