Friday, June 26, 2009

Juma Thoughts: Non Muslims Wearing Hijab

Women who do not follow Islam as their religion but feel drawn towards hijab often ask me if we Muslims will feel disrespected by them wearing the hijab. No, we do not.

Modesty is a right God-given to all womenkind, that we should be valued for more than our curves or features en Vogue dictated commercially.

I was once a non-muslim hijabi. I wondered the same thing, a day at a fair in Oman when I was wearing an abaya. Since I was not wearing a headscarf with it, I wondered if I was disrespecting the garment, so I kept tying the front-open abaya up above my knees so it was like a long tunic top, rather than a beautiful floor-length creation. They probably thought I was wearing the abaya very odd, but they definately didn't find my love of their clothing to be disrespectful.

In fact, my quest towards understanding Islam, began with the hijab, which I used to find oppressive, before, when my plane first touched down upon the Seeb airport in Oman. I stared at the Omani girls in their bulky chin wrapped hijabs and black silky night-gown flowing abayaat (abayaat is plural of abaya), and thought they were jealous of me and my mother and sister. LOL, if I had only known what they were wearing UNDERNEATH their abayaat:D

At first, since my extra long linen tourist shorts still caused men to gape at the grocery but girls to smile kindly and patiently with me, I ventured out into wearing salwar kameez outfits, which confused people entirely, the pakistani population especially. But I found them comfy and wore my shalwar suit alot. Even though the top part of the suit left my arms bare, in the hot sun, I often wore the dupatta over my hair. I saw girls in their abayas but the fancy abayas in the mall cost too much, and my parents told me it would be disrespectful for me to wear one anyway, I didn't buy one until near the end of my stay, but once I got it, I put it on after I left the house, and even put on hijab, and felt... completely safe. Still sexy, but secure and safe.

I didn't feel comfortable wearing my abaya because of my misinformation soooo, I wore the cotton jalibiyias and a headscarf and all the Omanis we knew actually seemed sooooooooo happy about that. The girls would talk to me in Arabic and I would talk back and we couldn't understand a word of what the other was saying but we'd actually talk for a whole half hour at a time LOL. The three boys who policed our neighborhood (who we annoyed all the time because they were the only men who would speak to us without hitting on us) laughed so hard when they saw me start wearing jalibiyias but that's probably because when I first met them I had run onto the road out of our walled garden crying and without shoes onto the burning pavement. Yeah, so the jalibiyia was probably a big improvement:D

If you want to wear something, go ahead. As a Muslim, I have reasons I can't wear certain things to certain places but if you are a non-muslim and like hijab, who is stopping you from feeling comfortable and safe and secure in your clothes and skin?

Honestly, I respect more covered women more than uncovered ones (if we are talking about physical first impressions---it takes me a second to recover from a woman's breasts shoved in my face or seeing her thong) but it is the woman's morals, ethics, and her way of dealing with people that keep my respect. If you wear hijab, because you respect yourself, I am proud of you for your sake. Hijab is an issue one has with one's self.


Ruqayya said...

Great post, mashallah!

When I was eleven or twelve, and before I was a Muslim, my Girl Guides group toured a masjid and we all obviously had to wear a scarf. I remember feeling safe and secure, like you said, even though I didn't fully understand it. I do like how hijab feels like a security blanket to me.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

I am one of those women for sure. I just feel so much better wearing floor length skirts, longer sleeves, and sometimes a hijab too. I think it benefits everyone when everyone is modest and not flaunting what belongs to someone's current or future spouse anyway.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so, so much for this thoughtful post. I definitely will not hesitate right now to wear a jilbab or the like from time to time. Sometimes I do wear clothes that are more revealing, but under one condition: I do not want to appear as a sex object, drawing attention to my protruding breasts or a very low rise pair of jeans where a thong is easily visible. Or a skirt so short that were I to bend down you would indeed see what I have underneath. To me, that is degrading. I am MORE than that. I seek to be comfortable in what I wear, and to find beauty in it, beauty that helps me bring out the beauty already WITHIN. But it can't do much more than help since clothes don't make the person, or the Muslim either.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

"Hijab is an issue one has with one's self."

This is, in all honesty, the most brilliant and, I feel, truthful thing I've ever heard on the subject of the hijab. Just brilliant.


Amber said...


Thank you for this post. My clothes, more and more, are starting to resemble the 'Muslim style' and my two concerns were that I was going to be mistaken for a Muslim, and/or that Muslims would be upset that I was wearing hijab without *being* a Muslim. But, on the first count, people have apparently being thinking I was a Muslim for a year or so, so oh well. And you've made me feel better about the second. :)

Anonymous said...

As salaam alaykom Pixie!

For several months I have been following your blog (since its days as "Beautiful Muslimah") and it has been a real inspiration to me.

I LOVE wearing hijab and jilbab even though I am not a mulsimah - yet.

It is good to know that my wearing hijab and jilbab is not seen as offensive.

Also, thank you so much for all the wonderful information about this beautiful religion that I am growing to love more and more with each passing moment.

Jazzakallah kheir, Pixie!

Margaret (Fareeda)
Toledo, Ohio, USA

Aisha said...

Salaam Aleykum ! I am non muslim but I thught to be a muslim n I have a lots of hijabs and abayas from friends though I never woar like Muslima...correctly yet..I want to try . Hijab makes me much confortable and feel safer than wearing short pants and be able to respect other women's jeorous! but I can not wear because i do not have cofidence and scare to be stared by muslim people who may ask me why? So, What can I do to overcome with it? Pixie, can you help me that? ... Your blog sometimes cheer me up as if I am a muslima and how to wear it correct well as I am learning about al quran.. Thanks for your interesting post! Aisha

NoortheNinjabi said...

Salaam Alykom wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu,
There's only been one occasion as a Muslim woman where I've been offended by a non-Muslim woman wearing hijab and that was because of past dialogue history with the woman and the comments she made while in it. If I see women in hijab, or even just covered in the summer heat, they get smiles :D MashaAllah, it would be nice if everyone in the US covered up just a little bit more!

Gidds said...

Dear Pixie,
You don't need to publish this comment as I just wanted to communicate with you. Again: love your blog, I think it does wonderful things for fostering understanding and respect between Muslim and non-Muslim North Americans. I think Americans and Canadians of other religions would be more respectful and seek understanding with Muslims if they saw Muslim women out-and-about while being true to Islam in their dress and demeanor. I imagine there are many Muslim women who love outdoor activities and sports, because I think these things are universal across cultures. I love your little outfit collages and I would love to see some for Muslim women who enjoy the same things I do: walking/hiking, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and kayaking.(especially loved your post about "Hijab doesn't stop me from doing anything") I love cycling and mountain biking too but I am at a complete loss as for how you could manage them. If you like this idea I am adding some links for things I use, or am thinking about using, to cover up during my outdoor activities because of the sun or for modesty. You might be able to adapt/"hijabify" them. :-) You will have to think up what would make a good overgarment because I have no clue. :-D Keep in mind that I live on the Gulf of Mexico so it is very hot and humid here!
I usually wear this:

with this:

and a wide-brimmed hat over a head scarf for non-water sports. Very not hijab I know but just to give you an idea. If they made an abaya out of the same material as these pants it would be wonderful, or the fabric Columbia Sportswear is now using for UV shirts, which alas I cannot afford.

Links you may find useful for putting together sporty/outdoorsy hijab:

You are so creative I am sure you will think up something great! Looking forward to your hopefully many future posts!


Anonymous said...

I have a quick question. I have always been drawn to the hijab and modesty in general. This post is very interesting, so thank you. I am wondering what to tell people who ask about the hijab. Thank you

Bee said...

I would like to thank you for sharing about this topic. I do not practice Islam, but I do live in an area with many Hijab wearing women. I live in America, I will see jeans, shirt and hijab or a full flowy garment with hijab (as you describe in the post). But all these woman are welcoming, friendly and were willing to answer my curious questions.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pixie,

I discovered your blog (and this article)just a few minutes ago. I'm happy to read different comments about wearing modest clothing and the hijab. I honestly say I don't practice any religion, but I do have respect for all religions. I happened to fall in love with islamic clothing and the hijab about 4 months ago. I'm often astounished by the beauty of the colors, the elegancy of Islamic clothing. I don't have the need to wear short skirts and revealing clothing anymore. I want to dress more modestly and at the same time elegantly.

Melba said...

Thank you for your post. I'm a Christian lady who covers and I didn't want to offend any of my Muslim neighbors by wearing same style. The hijabs are BEAUTIFUL and so are the women & girls wearing them. Bless you for your modesty.