Empowerment from under the folds of the hijab
To don or not to don has been a close call to make for a certain category of humans who find themselves facing the prospect of a curious indeed element of dressing dimension, with more than definite undertones of religion to abide by or sometimes even cultural connotations to continue along with and which therefore has managed to rake up the curiosity of the world in no subtle leveraging of its ‘fame’. As a long standing symbol perceived in modesty- and morality as well, deriving from its more than integral seating in the alleys of the religious and finding parallel interpretation therefore as being an imposition of the fanatic fumings therein or in its heralding of views more conscientious- whether that be finding expression as an assertion of choice by pledging allegiance to the religion one is so devout in their belief of or in other capacities of its functional identity stemming from cultural, moral and social explorations, the hijab has always been a prominent enough marker of its unmissable existence. In its identity though, whether that prominence has managed to be as empathically assertive is another question often needed to be dealt with along the folds of its non linear wraps around the head.
Despite all its present day prevalence across a multilinear premise, the hijab though continues to persist along the essentially religious basis of its being. Even in its relevance today as an item of fashion, as one among the many other accreditations that have come to rest upon it, there’s no untying the hijab from its intricate indeed weave into the garb of the Islamic sentiment and it is in this very essence of it that this otherwise ordinary veil acquires a distinction in diversity. Like every other element of religious leanings, it is in yielding this particular ‘power’ of evoking the ideals of the divine, endowed though by human propagators of such principles of belief and worship, that the hijab takes upon itself a denotation both doing and undoing of it in equal measure.
- Source: ABC News – Walt Disney
Even in its unquestionable ties with religion, this particular form of headscarf called the hijab might be exclusive to women of Muslim identity but the practice of covering one’s head or face is one mandated differently by different religions along their mode of working. And yet it is the hijab that has managed to command utmost attention, in such universal understanding of it that has time and again singled it out as being a tool of oppression. The duality of such judgement might be perplexing but at root is the commonly held world belief against Islam being largely a religion harbouring of more radical views, in what should be a strikingly inappropriate stereotype of regarding any premise that only seeks to bring one closer to the universe but that which persists despite it being a notion as further from the truth as possible. Across such long standing infestation of minds and ideas by a view largely unaccounted for within the purview of what it is understood to stand for, it though should not be very surprising perhaps that the hijab has been long frowned upon as being a coercive device of sorts of forcing one to submission to the power yielding presences across the fore of the Muslim world.
That might be a strand of thought not completely unreasonable, given how many a Muslim women themselves, otherwise avowing of their faith in utter devotion have spoken out against the hijab in such misuse of its symbolic strength that counts indeed as exploitation of those forced to draw that veil upon their selves. And given that there does not exist a larger consensus as to the exact specifications religiously recorded in Islamic scriptures as to the necessity or otherwise of the veiling practice, it indeed is certain that such a discourse in supposed divine distinction would not command an overwhelming world majority in favour of it. Rather what has emerged is that in such essence of it that comes across as restrictive- in coveted ideas of modesty over liberty that entails also such physical effects as inconvenience or in being imposing of codes of decorum against the practicality of choice as well as in its visage of covering that seems to deliver a notion in enforced confinement, the hijab has largely treaded the undesirable trails of coming across as regressive a trait of something essentially needing to be worn rather than being incorporating of the fancied flauntings of choice.
A reading between the lines of many an assertions of this (un)popular opinion of the hijab though reveals a picture quite contrasting and coming as they do from accounts and inferences of women as steeped in their Islamic belief as any one else of their creed, this alternate reality running across the free flowing might of the hijab makes for a case of discovery in rather empowered a stance substantiating of its substance. Even in being a manifestation of one’s religious identity that they live by, the hijab though is allowing of more variegated concerns to unfurl along its esteemed viewing across the spiritual realm, assuming a context flexible indeed in its interpretation. Diverging substantially from it being seen as a mechanism of oppressive origins, the hijab has time and again signified instead a peculiar upholding of liberty of the Muslim masses. Ironically though, that is a view emanating from the general displeasure that the hijab has stirred particularly in the Western world, where living under a veil is essentially interpreted as a mark of subjugation. In offsetting such uninformed views about its basis, Muslim women in fact took to wearing their hijab in all public view, establishing it therefore as symbol of national and ethnic identity. Also associated could be the more apparent ideas of signalling one’s religious identity as well, as something they take pride in as a definite part of their being. Interestingly, the hijab stands also for enlightening people not very conversant with the Muslim identity either in reference to their religion or in terms of their origin and ethnicity while being also a mode of opposing the Western ideals infiltrating their way across uncalled for premises the world over, in perhaps an attempt to make everything assimilating of their way of life and living. In such leanings of it therefore, the hijab in fact encompasses a powerful essence of overruling the status quo thereby endowing upon itself an assertion of freewill and identity far removed from its usual holding in contempt.
We are #DressedNotOppressed and we will not stand by while our sisters are oppressed in India and denied access to education!
— World HijabDay (@WorldHijabDay) February 10, 2022
Other affiliations to which the hijab owes its allegiance are altogether removed from the religious context wherefrom it springs, not taking into cognisance even the premises of identity across which it makes for a case in empathic deliverance but dwelling on more commonplace considerations of social and sometimes cultural continuity. The expanse of expression takes upon itself though as diverse a demarcation as possible, essentially encompassing elements of empowerment across existences, permeating aspects of life far removed from each other but interconnected still across such streams of character that sum up the entire essence of elaborateness through which life expedites its flow in living. Either in putting up a resistance against the societal scouting of physical appearances as the ideal across which the notion of femininity is explored to determine the worth of womankind by masking therefore this very physicality across which women all over face so much objectification that amounts indeed to a greater form of oppression than what the religious reference of the hijab does or in concealing thereby that apparent identity upholding such interests in general that pertain to careers and workplaces of jobs and promotions earned and gained on sheer dint of talent and not subject to the universal working of the attractiveness bias, the hijab holds in its might a power harbouring of the ideals of equality over its oft associated demerits of subjugation and dominance. Other equally dramatic assertions across which the hijab goes on to unleash its might in multifarious meanderings of it along the socio- cultural sphere relate to shielding woman indeed from the utterly uncomfortable gazes and leers of a world forever considering themselves entitled to the grace and beauty of the feminine figure, overriding therefore instances of harassment and torture through demeaning of the individual identity and worth of women.
In other far flung areas of assertion, not removed though from the larger picture across which life unfolds, the hijab presents instead an image in further flair emerging this time as a fashion unfurling not just sought out by the Muslim women. As a staple increasingly sported on runways and ramps as well as coming to gain more commonplace expression in its charm of individual idiosyncrasy while sported also defiantly in whatever assertion by prominent public figures and celebrities, the hijab has come a long way indeed to defy notions of what many tends to believe as being a not very noble nature of it. The hijab might not exactly be accorded a status as being the harbinger of all things hearty in their harbouring of the good vibes but the route along which it has forayed thanks to many a hijab clad woman who refuse to veil anything beyond their faces under the garb of this graciousness is one founded upon the premise of empowered expression. No wonder the 1st of February every year is celebrated as the World Hijab Day, upholding indeed the integrity of which the hijab is essentially eminent in despite its rounding up of the hazy delusions of a world more veiled in its ignorance than what the veil of the hijab can ever shroud.