23 نوفمبر, 2017 - 4 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439

I live in Australia and I am tired of people’s bad reaction to my hijab. Please advise me

I live in Australia and I am tired of people’s bad reaction to my hijab. Please advise me

Question

I live in Australia and started wearing hijab nearly five years ago, I was really happy with my decision and I used to ignore ignorant people who stares or react badly to my hijab, but recently with all what is happening, I feel depressed and don't want to leave the house, I fed up from the stares and the feeling that everyone is watching me. I have two kids at school and they love to make friends, but I'm feeling that my hijab is affecting their relations at school as some of the other mums when they see me in the hijab they don't want to talk to me or my kids. I'm thinking to take off my hijab but to keep my modest clothes. Please advise me.

Answer

The accumulated feeling of discomfort which builds up inside of you due to people’s strange ways of looking at you is rather normal as no one would be delighted with being the odd one out. At the same time you have to realize that people are usually the enemy of what they ignore. We as humans are filled with curiosity towards strange, new and different things that we don’t usually see in our day to day life. Wearing a hijab in a non-Muslim country definitely makes you stand out as you are adopting a new style of dressing that the people of this country are not introduced to before.

Covering your hair and body and only showing your face and hands could have a religious background like nuns in Christianity or adult women in Islam; it also could come from a personal preference, cultural or medical reason. The point is that people should respect our individual choices regardless of its religious affiliation, cultural background or ethnic origin. Humanity thrives on diversity which enriches our human experiences and expands our potentiality to a new horizon.

We understand that the strange looks you get due to your outfit have in its roots the fear of Islamophobia which is unfortunately disseminated by fear mongers. This mentality of fear of being endangered by every Muslim is both rootless and baseless and thus easily defied.

People tend to believe what they repetitively hear if they don’t find in reality actual facts which counteract such rumors and stereotypes. The adoption of predisposition and ready-made stereotypes could be easily countered with warmth friendship and extending kindness to one’s neighbors, school mates etc…

You mentioned that you have been wearing hijab for five years and I can only wonder if during all this time you did not develop friendship with your neighbors and your sons’ parents among other people who live close by? You can have a party gathering all your sons’ friends and invite the parents as well in an act which will bring peace to the hearts of these parents that there is nothing suspicious about being part of a Muslim family. Also you can adopt a project to get to know your neighbor; here is a good initiative which you might like to think about http://www.100neighbors.org/

Taking off the hijab will not take the resentment and the anger off your shoulder, feeling that you are unable to express your religious identity and the pressure of being forced to take off the veil to fit in will only leave you angrier. We live in an age and time which entertaining differences is the vibrant reality that enriches human composition. Hijab should not be thought of as a way of hindering you back from being integrated but rather should be thought of as an invitation to others to entertain new religious experiences and be introduced to various religious beliefs. Islam does not want us to live in our own little cocoon or be isolated in our ivory towers. We should reach out to people as Islam is not a stumbling block to our integration but rather a means to live with people in harmony and compassion. We as Muslims are encouraged to reach out to others in love and friendliness as Muslims believe that loving the Creator entails loving those He created. In this regard, Muslims reach out their hands and show compassion and kindness to people regardless of their cultural background, religious affiliation, or personal preferences.

Our advice to you is to change the way you think of your faith and your religious identity; make it your driving force to show people the best moral characteristics, open up your heart and reach out to others with kindness and compassion. This is how Prophet Muhammad deal with others and you should do your best to follow suit.