Why Bad Hijabi?

It's a satirical name, mocking the ridiculous notion of "bad hijab"–an actual crime in countries ruled by deranged Islamic regimes, such as Iran. Women receive punishment for being bad hijabis. On the other extreme, in 1936, under Kashf-e-Hijab, women were punished by the state for WEARING hijab and some even committed suicide because of the Western-backed Shah's forced unveiling laws.

As usual, women, in particular Muslim women, cannot win. Sexism exists universally, and forced hijab/bad hijab is the eastern version of sexism. The east wants to cover women up, the west wants to strip us. Either way, humanity seeks to control female bodies. It's obvious why. I hope I don't have to spell it out. 

Anyway, I would be considered a Bad Hijabi, I'm rebellious, I wear brightly coloured headscarves and western clothing. Sometimes I wear a beanie or a turban instead of a headscarf. I swear like a sailor sometimes, I’m not quiet or subtle. I don’t care what others think, or how much cool stuff they have—if you’re a sh1tbag you’re a sh1tbag, and no amount of bling will compensate for your assholery. I will tell you what I think, I will tell you the truth, whether you want to hear it or not.

I don't do tribalism or group think authoritarianism. I regard defending the truth and humanity and speaking out for the truly oppressed as a high form of worship. I would, no doubt, be a witch burned at the stake in medieval times because I simply refuse to obey! I'm exactly the way I'm meant to be–disobedient and fierce women get things done. In today's culture moral courage is often seen as disobedient and dissidence. I'm happy to embrace that in my crone-hood to set a solid example for my daughter and all women who follow in my footsteps or walk beside me. If you ask me what side I am on, I would answer the side of truth—God’s side. However ugly, bitter, smelly, I seek truth.

I like what Anthony Hopkins once said—what others think of me is none of my business, I am what and am and I do what I do; I expect nothing and accept everything. I strive to live according to that principle—I see this as the governing principle of hijab. I resist the urge to seek the approval of others—I don’t care what others think. No one is a projection screen for my ego and I am not a projection screen for anyone’s ego. That brings me to the heart of the matter—what everyone wants to know.

Why do I wear hijab?

I don't wear hijab for anyone except God, I wear it willingly. Every Muslim woman has the right to choose God in her own way. Women bear no responsibility for the behaviour or decisions or actions of sexist, abusive fanatical men, this includes Muslim women, this includes me. Muslim women who choose to practise hijab in no way legitimise the abuse of forced hijab—we are not responsible for abuse committed by others! Women are blamed for everything, especially the sh1tty behaviour of men, it’s intellectually lazy, it’s sexist and it’s a cop out.

Muslims need to remember that religion and God is about one’s relationship with oneself, ie it’s about regulating and controlling yourself and not about controlling and manipulating everyone around you.

A common reply to the question why do you wear hijab looks like because God commands me. As a rational, free, purpose-driven creature I call bullsh1t on that response—it’s a non-answer and a cop out. God gave us the faculty of discernment and the gift of free will, and He gave us this life to choose, and He revealed the Qur’an to provide guidance to humanity for all time. There is no compulsion in religion—each of us chooses how we relate to God, or if we relate to Him at all—not choosing Him is a valid choice and that lies between the individual and God. So, I was commanded doesn’t answer the question why did you do it, it tells people that you obeyed without question. If you cannot explain a thing to others then you don’t really understand that thing.

Hijab = practise. Hijab ≠ sartorial choice, though it can include that. Clothing doesn’t necessarily make the woman. Covering my hair and dressing modestly trains my ego away from needing external validation and social approval/glory. Hijab trains me to navigate humanity governed by principle and despite my ego, and not governed by any thirst for self promotion and glory. Hijab helps me live a values-based existence. Hijab helps me resist needing to make it about myself all the time. Principle demands my resilience and close attention to my character. Hijab should make a woman resilient not fragile. Hijab lets a woman own her character, it doesn’t let others own her, least of all men!

Hijab ≠ an identity. We market identity, identity demands external validation, social approval, acceptance—an anathema to the premise of hijab. Look, if I choose to remove my appearance and sexual appeal from the equation of interaction with others, then making every single interaction about my appearance seems to like a contradiction. I don’t need the whole world to see my hijab, it’s not a performance art piece, it’s part of my relationship with myself. I don’t wear hijab to be seen—I don’t need to be seen not being seen!

Reducing a Muslim woman to a headscarf and full length sleeves still objectifies her.

Ultimately I believe a woman's body is her own and no other human has governance over it—men need to get over it and remind themselves that the Quran (24:30) instructs them to lower their gaze FIRST, before women. We don’t need World Hijab Day, that’s identitarian stuff. Perhaps men need a World Hijab Day though—they seem to have horrific trouble exercising self control and lower their gaze. Seriously, why aren’t we haranguing men about their failure to hijab, because that is really the cause of much suffering and chaos around the world!

So, that's the story behind "Bad Hijabi" and an explanation of hijab.

About this space

This space has evolved as I have grown emotionally, spiritually (ie in my relationship with myself), and intellectually, finding my own footing and voice as a Muslim intellect and writer. Bad Hijabi reflects the dynamism of human existence and my attempt to make sense of it. You may see that my views and position on issues sometimes change—I hope so, because only ideologues and cultists are unable to change their minds when they encounter new information, and I am neither of these!

The voice of Bad Hijabi will primarily drive the content of this newsletter—the in-your-face-opinionated smart ass, cheeky character who uses flamboyant language in her essays seems to be what people want to read the most, so I will continue to develop that voice as someone who’s talking to you in this space.

I think the world needs more content from menopausal free thinking, bullsh1t-free, pluralistic Muslim women who remember not to take themselves too seriously. We don’t always need to talk about serious stuff, sometimes we just need to ask why stores sell Monostat in the family planning section, why Mexican food is not in the international aisle and has it’s own aisle in the Superstore, or how that 2 hours separating the United States from Canada is like several worlds wide, or how the left coast often feels like an alternate plane of reality. And sometimes my cats might want to take over the newsletter. Sometimes I might want to write about making art and my artistic process.

When it comes to serious stuff, my current pet topics of focus include the follow—

  1. Dezinformatisiya and the role of legacy and social media

  2. Bacha Bazi abuse in Afghanistan and the west’s role (vis a vis military invasion and occupation) in its explosion

  3. The general rise in fanaticism and in extremism

  4. Actual Islamic values and promoting religious pluralism.

Grown Up Stuff

Currently I offer all content without a paywall, however I have enabled the subscription option for those who wish to support my work—paid subscriptions cost $8/month or $80/year. Unless otherwise noted, all illustrations included in my posts are my own original artwork.

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