Quid Rides? De te Fabula Narratur

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Non-Hijabi Solidarity Day

Posted by Anthony on April 14, 2009

By Anthony J. Aschettino

Once again, it is time for Islamic Awareness Week here at Rutgers Newark. This is in and of itself a good thing: we here read the name of the week in two ways, namely that non-Muslims become more aware of Islam while at the same time Muslims become more aware of non-Muslims. There are several events marking the week such as a discussion on faith and reason, an analysis of Malcolm X, and an invitation to watch and learn about the Friday Prayer.

There is also the “hijab challenge”, in which non-Muslims are invited to learn about the headscarf worn by some Muslim women and are even encouraged to pick up a free one and wear it; ostensibly to understand what it “feels like” from the other side. There is nothing wrong with this: one of the ways that people grow as humans is by cultural exchange and experiencing different values and ways of life, and this is no different.

In honor of this willingness on behalf of Muslims at Rutgers Newark to engage in cultural exchange, we here at Quid Rides would like to sponsor a “non-hijab challenge” for all Muslim women who currently make the headscarf a daily part of their lives. After all, what could be better than showing non-Muslim women your willingness to experience what they go through on a regular basis so that they won’t be tempted to think that Muslims are simply acting in a non-reciprocal fashion here?

Yes, Non-Hijabi Solidarity Day is a day when Muslim women who normally wear the scarf can go out and experience what life is like not only for non-Muslims but also for the extremely large number of Muslim women who do not wear the scarf. For example, they could thereafter empathize when their non-hijabi Muslim sisters are cast disparaging looks by both the men and hijabi women in the community, or when speakers at Islamic events make claims such as “how can one tell the difference between a woman who doesn’t wear hijab and a common street whore?”

For non-Muslims who might worry that this would somehow violate part of Islam, your collective fears can be put to rest: wearing the hijab is not mandatory in Islam, and there are absolutely no proscribed punishments from Allah for not wearing it which, one would think, there would be if not wearing it were a punishable offense.

We know that many Muslim women will protest that wearing the scarf is their choice, and in America there is some truth to that: unlike in some Muslim countries, where the wearing of the scarf is the alternative to being doused with acid or beaten, many Muslim women in America feel that the scarf empowers them by removing them from the rat race of the “looks are everything” attitude so prevalent in America.

Yet there are also so many Muslim girls who desire to cast off the veil but are pressured into keeping it on by an archaic patriarchal infrastructure (both in the family and the mosque) which treats women as the source of all iniquity and the root of all licentious behavior. Perhaps this day could be the start of something new for them: an opportunity to see how differently people treat one when dressed like the majority of women in the world.

When it comes to Islamic proselytization, the water all seems to flow in one direction: non-Muslims are invited to come watch and participate in the Islamic prayer, but how many times do Muslim groups make an earnest effort to go watch and participate in a Christian, Jewish, or Hindu prayer? Likewise, non-Muslim women are invited to hear about how “liberating” and “empowering” (two words one will hear ad-nauseam at the tent where the “hijab challenge” is being held) putting on the scarf is, but how many Muslim women are willing to be exposed to the “liberation” and “empowerment” that their sisters who do not don the scarf in their daily lives experience?

Therefore, in the spirit of true equality, Quid Rides is proud to support the establishment of “Non-Hijabi Solidarity Day”. The date of the event is negotiable, based upon the willingness of Muslim women to participate in it, and so those who would like to suggest a date, or otherwise comment on the idea, are invited to email the Observer which will pass along all comments to the writer for consideration.

On the most culturally diverse campus in the most culturally diverse country in the world, we are thrilled at this opportunity to foster a lesson in tolerance and understanding between divergent sectors of our community.

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One Response to “Non-Hijabi Solidarity Day”

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