Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Choice of Hijab

Behind the Veil
in The Daily of the University of Washington
By Jeremiah Rygus, June 4, 2008

During the last six years, images of Islam have flooded the media — some positive, others negative, but almost all of them misunderstood.

For many Americans, the most common image of Islam is of a veiled woman. Pictures in newspapers or on TV depict everything from a completely covered woman in Afghanistan to the more common headscarf.

These images conjure a myriad of thoughts and emotions for many who have little understanding of what the hijab is and what it means to the women who choose to wear it.

Hijab is an Arabic word that literally means “cover.” More accurately though, the word means, “to veil, shelter or protect.” Here in the West, we refer to the head covering itself as hijab, but in its Islamic context, the word refers to the virtues of modesty, privacy and morality.

“There’s much more to hijab than a piece of cloth,” said Zakiya Qadir, a senior and Near Eastern Studies major. “It’s an entire lifestyle. The way I dress is just a part of being a hijabi.” A “hijabi” is someone who wears the head covering.

If a woman decides to don the hijab, there is more involved than simply placing a scarf on her head.

You may read more of this basic and informative article by clicking on the title link above. Image above is directly linked from the webpage article.

A simple observation by Crossings at blogspot, an English professor working in Palestine, in "Student Daydreams":
Although most women on the streets of Nablus wear the hijab (covering their hair and often neck), my students make it clear that this is a choice, not a requirement as it is, say, in Saudi Arabia. They see the current popularity of head coverings, in Palestine and much of the Muslim world, as symbolic of a general conservative reaction to the influence of Western / American culture and values. (A generation ago Palestinian women did not cover their heads.)
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