Hijab; the veil or headscarf most commonly seen worn by Muslim women has been perceived by the mainstream world as an oppression of women’s identity or slavery of their freedom. However, looking a bit deep, this is not the case to many Muslim women.
While hijab strongly supports and expresses their religion and identity, it goes beyond just those aspects. Just like other religions such as Christianity and Jewish women wearing the headscarf as a cultural practice and piousness, Muslim women wearing the headscarf is not a preferment of oppression.
There are various reasons for a Muslim woman to choose wearing Hijab, but the fiercest motivations come from God’s instruction on women’s modesty and piety. Hijab signifies the values of women and gives them a sense of protection from evil eyes and malicious intentions from men. Hijab compels men to look beyond the physical beauty of women and sanctions acts from the other parties and give women the authority to control stranger’s reaction to her. It also legitimizes the relationship one has with God and allows freedom of devotion and faith.
However, the important fact is wearing Hijab is not a bad or depraved action, it is about the women’s choice if she chooses to do or not. It’s about the right of the women and her perceptions and actions to belong in her community. While the western perception about Hijab has been mainstreamed as oppression, the West has forgotten how their religious faiths have also adopted veil and headscarf as a deed of modesty and devotion. Even if we view Hijab from a feminist angle, the same goes. Muslim women are choosing their right to dress modestly and practice their religion in freedom, and its hogwash that mainstream media narrates and manipulates this as oppression or radicalization.
For me it’s also surprising that the tolerance shown towards women featured topless or lewd in ads, movies, music, etc. are acceptable, but the same tolerance cannot be extended towards women who are dressed modestly or wearing hijab. They are immediately scrutinized as a radical Muslim person who would not dare to have any other objectives than obliterating this world. Thus, can we then assume the mainstream media and the West cannot even uphold their definition of feminism? And the provocating and lewd dressing choices are also a form of oppression the West imposes on their women? Hence, then where does the rights and equality of men and women to practice their freedom – feminism – come in.