‘Ex-Hijabis’ Remove and Reflect

They’re “ex-hijabis” – women who have chosen to no longer wear the Islamic veil. In their 20s from Canada and the United States, the three tell Women’s eNews’ Hajer Naili, ahead of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, of their relationship with the hijab and why they decided to remove it.

Sharmin Hossain (Photo via Women's eNews)

Sharmin Hossain (Photo via Women’s eNews)

One of them is New Yorker Sharmin Hossain, 21, who wore the hijab from the age of 12 to 20. While she no longer puts it on, the veil remains a part of her.

She submitted a photo of herself wearing hijab because, she says, “I think I look beautiful in it. I don’t mind posting one with it and just wanted to remind myself I can still rock the hijab.”

Hossain explains what the hijab meant to her.

“The hijab for me . . . in many (not all) experiences was a statement against the traditional male gaze that owns the femme/queer/gender non-conforming body. And it represented my relationship to Islam in a world filled with islamophobia and the hatred of women who were making decisions for their own body. (…)”

And she reflects on how removing the hijab has changed her perceptions of her Muslim identity and her values as a woman.

“Since I took off my hijab, I have been navigating and negotiating my Muslim identity without the hijab defining it for me in the Western reductionist complex, nor in the Arab-centric definition that alienated my Bangladeshi-South Asian body. Taking off the hijab allowed me to think of my values beyond the external, and let me get comfortable with skin and the idea of hair not necessarily being a hyper-sexualized object that needs to be covered in order to justify a mandate from the Most High.”

Visit Women’s eNews to read the turning point in Hossain’s life, as well as the experiences of two other ex-hijabis.

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