I found this in my draft section. It’s a topic that’s been occupying my thoughts lately, and I must have written this post with the intention of starting a series that never really survived my lethargy. The letter is imaginary, but I’ve come to the painful realization that the concerns expressed within are somewhat close to the realities of many of our fellow ladies.
Also, a disclaimer: the ‘Hijab Removed’ post written here before, and now published in the book needs considerable revision, regardless of the positive attention it retains. Well, I might resume that series after all and reply to the imaginary letter..
Do share what you think.
Excuse the length of this message, but do know that you must reply.
Can my Hijab be the reason why I’m unhappy?
This is a thought that had been conceived somewhere in the womb of my past, and that has since then been feeding on the morsels left of my sanity, one night at a time. I have looked in every corner of my life in order to find that one villain I can accuse of stealing my satisfaction with myself, but only in vain. There’s this wish my hair has, and that’s to meet the free air of the outdoors; it started crawling on my chest around the time its sister thought was conceived. A lethal twin, I tell you.
So I don’t really have a unique story. I try to make myself unique, to make my suffering outlandish, but the truth is, the story is one. It’s so one it kills me. It usually starts when you give one habit of yours the attention it’s not equipped to bear. I once did that in college. I used to always go to class and sit exactly in the middle. I have done it for years, and then one day, I just wondered what it would be like to sit on the right, or the left. Those right rows have better lighting, and the left ones, they’re cozier. Why do I have to be in the middle, right in the face of science? Guilty of attentiveness?
And so the next morning I go to class and have one silent struggle with my usual seat. I mourned its friendship, but not so much as to alloy my happiness with the new one on the right. Being farther from our geeky professor also, I used to skip some details during my lectures; I was happy it eventually stopped annoying me. What’s so wrong with missing one or two details?
And not so long after I made friends with my new side of the class had I abandoned it into the far left. It was way better. It was shadier, cooler, charismatic, and calming. Day after day, I kept shifting back in the rows, and one night class I was so tired I decided to put on my headphones and be desperate to music. I also astutely remember the fun I had when I missed my first lecture ever. It was sensational. Six weeks later, I dropped out.
So now I’m focusing all of my powers on Hijab. I try to converse with it, reason with it, only to fail. Summer approaches me, dreadfully. Hot nights and blistering days. Sweat and fatigue. Thirst. Fixing pins and putting on the extra garment, and getting back home dead from the heat. I have many friends who don’t wear Hijab, and to be honest with you, we are not very different than each other. In fact, I have spent years of my life admiring the fact that their not wearing veils had not affected their felicity in the least.
Shouldn’t sins depress us? Why don’t they feel any guilt? How did they make peace with something that’s supposed to be abominably sinful? In fact, one of them actually once decided to wear Hijab. It lasted for two or three months, and then she abandoned it again. I kept watching her, trying for any traces of guilt, sadness or regret. There was none. It was like she was trying something new that she eventually grew out of liking. Just like you’d buy a new cellphone that you’d get rid off sooner than you know.
The ironic part is, I sat with many ‘sisters’ before. I think I used to be a ‘sister’. Sisters these days, you know what they do? They kneel for their nation, and start carrying the burdens of everyone. Day after day, night after night, as a sister I met with women who were oppressed into absolute marring, and with girls who lost their souls to men. I even met with ex-sisters, exactly like what I’m turning into now, who couldn’t bear anything no more, and who decided to throw it all at once, onto the back of someone else, or if not, into some figurative black hole.
I really hope you wouldn’t be someone from those who constantly lie to themselves, for I’m going to pop that bubble of yours now. Religious people wake up everyday and convince themselves that as long as they’re obedient to God, then He will make them happy. That is not true, Ibrahim, at least not to me. I have seen how the lives of women who abandoned Hijab had turned to the better. One of them told me, very much candidly to my reckoning, how amazing her first morning felt without Hijab. The weather wasn’t too hot yet, and the breeze tickled her soul and made her hair fly, she said.
I had read your ‘Hijab Removed’ post before. The one that’s on your book now. In that post you said that if someone is suffering such with Hijab, then they should take it off because that’s then closer to being oneself, and the closer one is to themselves, the saner they become, and that is all for the best of their interests as far as their religious duties are concerned. But the thing is, Ibrahim, don’t you think that this is besides the point?
If you’re aiming at my absolute freedom of any tying references, then you shouldn’t have threatened me in that post with ‘God’s wrath’ and talked to me about ‘religious duties’. That only repelled me more! Also, how am I to assume a released stance when you’re making it that painstakingly important for me to try and get closer to God, and learn about my religion, and bla.
I sent you this message because even though I’m solidly sure that you won’t have much to say, I have this dying hope that you’d disappoint this conviction.
P.S. Do not preach me.