The Hijab Superiority Complex

The moment I stepped into our project's office at one of the schools I work at, a Muslim teacher came into the office in a huff, shut the door behind her, and proceeded to spew out her frustrations at me.

Apparently, at the assembly that afternoon, there was a skit by students regarding bullying. And she was shocked that in the skit, the grade 5 bully actors were all hijabi girls and the grade 5 victim girls were not wearing hijab. The teacher, as a hijabi Muslim, was insulted that the girls wearing the hijab were "chosen" to act as bullies towards the girls who didn't.

I stood there stunned, tried to control myself from rolling my eyes, and calmly said "I just walked into the school and wasn't at the assembly, but I'm sure that it's just a coincidence that it turned out that way"

She then huffed and puffed a little more (while invading my personal space) about how Muslims are already depicted as such bad people in the media and she certainly didn't need 11-year olds also depicting how bad hijabi girls were at their school (wait...aren't all the girls in the school Muslim regardless of if their hair sees daylight?!)

But here's the kicker...she said that boys should have done the skit because it's harder to tell with boys how religious they are.

Huh?! You did not just tell me to my face that hijabi girls are more religious than those who aren't?!

I checked in with my co-worker whose eyes widened as much as mine when I told her the story. She confirmed that it was a coincidence, that no one else (even other Muslim staff) had mentioned this, and the girls were MILES away from the insight needed to make such a callous move during their skit. And knowing these grade 5 girls, I agreed. In fact, I don't even notice which girls wear hijab and which don't since really...WHO CARES?! They are all equal in our eyes and we treat them equally respectable for who they are as a person and not what they wear.

To be honest, I am tired of this hijabi as superior deal that some girls and women just can't get over. We are a community that is focused too much on the external rather than internal. Even though we see many girls wear hijab in the schools we work at, I guarantee you that many are confused about why and feel that while they are Muslim on the outside, they don't have a clue about who they are on the inside.

I thought I wouldn't blog about the hijab anymore, not so much because there's a lack of topics around it, but because my view of the hijab has changed significantly and it's personal to my own spiritual quest. But when I come across biased statements by people in positions to influence kids, it scares me and hence my need to vent it out appears.

Sigh...I am hopeful that biased views such as this one will change, especially as our generation of parents raise their children to be more internally conscious and aware of their spirituality and relationship with Allah. We don't need more hijab hijackers in this community...especially ones who can't see the beauty in a grade one girl coming to Juma'a prayer in the school and draping her jacket hood over her head as a hijab. She had to interrupt the girl and tell her she couldn't pray because she didn't have a proper hijab. Seriously...

As Amina Wadud posted as her Facebook status one day: "Muslims applaud women when they start to wear the hijab but condone those who choose not to anymore. It's called Freedom of Religion and should work both ways: try it out!"

I couldn't have said it better myself.


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