The topic of hijab is one that evokes and provokes. It generates within all of us a plethora of thoughts and emotions. The web and media are replete with opinions of Muslim women and politicians on this sensitive topic. Some non-Muslims have used hijab as a springboard to unleash virile anti-Islamic polemics. Here I wish to share some thoughts on hijab from the perspective of a Muslim male living in America and preempt any perceptions of dogma by providing relevant evidences. Hijab is such a grand concept that one cannot write about it except with awe.
According a 2007 Pew Research Center report on Muslim Americans, only 38% of Muslim women wear hijab all the time whereas 48% do not wear any head covering at all. As a side note and interesting factoid, 48% of Muslim American women pray the obligatory prayers five times a day compared to 34% of Muslim men. The sisters as a whole are undoubtedly keener to hold fast to the religion. Yet the issue of hijab bifurcates Muslim women and creates tension.
Why do the majority of Muslim American women not wear the hijab? What are the reasons that some choose to wear the hijab? What does a Muslim man think of hijab and how does its adoption or lack thereof affect him? These are questions I will attempt to answer below.
Women who choose not to wear the hijab come under many categories, some of which are as follows:
Women who deny the obligation of hijab
Women who think that hijab is “only strongly recommended” but not obligatory
Women who do not feel naturally shy when wearing revealing outfits outside the home and have mentally and physically adopted the dress code of the occident
Women who want to wear the hijab but are afraid of the consequences in the form of occupational discrimination, stares, glares, comments, family resistance, spousal resistance, etc.