Umm, excuse me, I don’t mean to sound ignorant, but do you have to wear that thing when you go to sleep? OK, this might sound like a stupid question, but, when you take showers, do you leave it on? Do you have hair? Are you a nun? You know that thing, that rag – actually, I don’t know what you call it, but, do you ever take it off? That “it” or “rag” is something we Muslims like to call a (head) scarf, hijab or khimar. Despite popular opinion, we, Muslim women, cover ourselves because we choose to (Granted, not every Muslim woman does, but then again, that underlines the fact that the scarf is a personal choice like any other). We cover to fulfill our duty to God — not to men, not to parents and not to husbands. We, covered women, are students, doctors, mothers, government officials, community activists, teachers, lawyers, business consultants and Muslim. And what?! The Qur’an mandates that both women and men exercise modesty. Women realize this modesty, in part, by covering in a certain way. From hadith, the sayings and doings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the women in his community, we understand this to mean wearing loose clothing as well a scarf. We cover ourselves when we are in public settings and in the company of men who are not relatives. This is what we do to follow Islamic guidelines. Now here are some of the advantages of doing so. We are judged by our merits, not our bodies. We receive respect, on sight, simply on the basis of upholding our moral convictions, whether or not people agree with our reasons for doing so. By being identifiably Muslim wherever we go, we know somebody’s “got our back.” Wearing a scarf also serves as a public declaration of our convictions, as well as a personal reminder of our commitment. Recently, the Turkish government, one example of ignorance operating under a false notion of modernity, has banned the wearing of a hijab. The government has also denied women the freedom of religion, the freedom to work, to learn and to participate in government. They have been denied the basic human right of personal choice. Protesting the Turkish government’s oppression, on Sunday, Oct. 11, Muslims and other concerned individuals all around the world gathered in support of the Muslim women in Turkey who would simply like to practice their religion. In Turkey, Australia, Germany, Britain, Bosnia, Chechnya and Washington D.C., thousands chanted and marched in solidarity. Turkey, however, is not alone in its discrimination against Muslim women. Right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., in clear violation of First Amendment, some companies, schools and even governmental agencies still discriminate on the basis of religious expression. Reports have been logged wherein Muslim women are denied jobs or fired for “not adhering to dress codes.” Never mind the fact that the hijab is a religious mandate, not a personal whim designed to annoy those who create dress codes. Why is it that Muslim women are so negatively perceived anyway? This is probably because people have a hard time separating fact from fiction. Fact: I cover. Fiction: I’m oppressed. G.I. Joe once said, “Knowing is half the battle.” And that still holds true. The more people that are educated, the less Muslim women will be discriminated against. Whether we wear long black dresses or loose jeans and long sleeve shirts, we are Muslim women; we are religious women. We should thus be treated with the honor and respect that this dictates. So consider this the first lesson. Any questions? Comments? Feel free to ask. We’re easy to find. just look for the scarves. Undried Ink appears Tuesdays in The Hoya

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