Unapologetically Muslim: Aisha Abdul Rahman
I learned about hijab from reading the bible, so when I walked into a masjid to learn about Islam and the beliefs of the Muslims, the people there assumed I was Muslim because my hair was covered and I was dressed modestly. Hmmm, what an interesting assumption.
"O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves part of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful." Surah Al Azhab 33:59 There are many verses of hijab that are were written in the bible, way before the Quran existed. The face veil and headscarf were not spiritual laws given to Muslim women. In fact, the Quran does not tell a woman to cover her hair, it tells them to use their headscarf to cover their chest, specifically their cleavage area or the top part of our shirts and chests, where the head goes in the shirt. “And tell the faithful women to cast down their looks and to guard their private parts, and not to display their charms, except for what is outward, and let them draw their scarfs over their bosoms” Surah An Nur 24:31 The Quran assumes that during this time, women were already covering their hair based on previous scripture revelations. They were covering their hair, however it hung down in the back, leaving the chest open to be seen. “Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. ...” 1 Corinthians 11:2-16
So when I began my study of the Torah and then the Bible, I began to adhere to its laws. I stopped eating pork, I dressed modestly, and began covering my hair, as a Christian. In fact, I found more verses in the bible that talk about the dress of a woman, compared only to the only two mentioned in the Quran.
Today some see the modest attire that a Muslim woman wears as a symbol of oppression and control of a man over her. In today’s society many Muslim women choose to dress modestly and cover their hair as a sign of empowerment not oppression. Our dress is a symbol of our honor to god, an honor of ourselves, and that our bodies are not for the view of strangers, especially the hair and the face. Our role model is that of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Have you ever seen the hair of our beloved mother Mary?
If you cover a woman’s hair , the questions about the color, length, texture and style of which she wears is in some cultures, especially that of Americans of African descent, unfortunately determines her beauty as well as her since of self-worth. The tighter your curl, the less beauty you have within. Do you have 4a, 4b or 4c hair; this is the conversation that many women of color have about their hair. Is it long, short, perm, weave, loc’d or natural? Can I touch it, is it real, people NOT of color ask? The covering of ones face even more so.
The preference of a woman to cover her beauty and not place it on display for one to judge and decide if she is” worthy” is the very reason that I as an American Muslim convert of African descent choose to dress modestly, cover my hair and at one time even covered my face. It is a message and a symbol to the world, that no, you cannot look at me and judge me with your eyes. You must listen and watch my character and decide IF I am beautiful, if I am trustworthy. You cannot use my looks, ethnicity, or skin color to make the choice for you. My hijab is, not just my scarf; but my character, my behavior, my attitude, how I carry myself, show up, and yes, my scarf, is a symbol. It is a symbol that I am a believing woman, a Muslim, and therefore not harassed nor abused. Not abused nor harassed based on how I look, the color of my skin, or my ethnicity, rather I make you look twice, think twice and wonder, who is she, what is she all about? The only way to know is to say Hello and smile.
My name is Aisha La’Don Abdul Rahman. I am an American Muslim Convert. I converted to Islam after studying theology of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I converted to Islam in 2002. Two years after studying and obtaining my ijaza in Shafi Fiqh. I continued my studies in Metaphysics and then obtained by PhD in Transpersonal Psyhcology.
The history of hijab and the modest style that we see many Muslim women were today did not start with us, however we are the women that continue to carry on this tradition of hundreds of years. Depending on what country you are in, you will find various styles in which we observe our modest dress; it is a mix of tradition with modernity, we wear it well and we wear it proudly.