Monday, 1 February 2016

Isolated for wearing my hijab feat. Maryam

Max Lawton
Maryam is a blogger over at VeilbyMaryam who blogs about modest fashion and beauty. I really enjoy reading Maryams blog because it's really unique. 
Find out more about 'What is World Hijab Day?' and why I am doing this interview with Maryam.

 1. What does the Hijab mean to you? 
The hijab is way more than just a piece of fabric that I wrap around my head. It’s my identity. It’s the first thing that makes people identify me as a Muslima. It’s a reminder for me not to do some things that society may consider normal, that are not in front of Allah. For example when I want to do something bad my friends will tell me “but you’re wearing a veil you shouldn’t do that” and they’re right. 

2. How do you feel when you wear the Hijab? 
I feel complete. That might be such a cheesy answer but I tried to go out without my hijab once but I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t step out of my house. Something was missing. Also I feel less “objectified”. I have more control over what I decide to show, I’m not dictated by the rules sat by society when it comes to appearance. I have power over myself, I am free.

3. When did you start wearing the hijab and what lead you to making that decision? 
I didn’t really had a decision to make. Wearing the hijab in my family is kind of like a tradition. You know that when you become a women you’ll have to wear it. My case wasn’t an exception. But instead of just wearing for the sake of wearing it, I did my researches. And when, I found out about the beauty of it and wisdom behind this concept, I was then proud to wear it. 

4. Were your family and friends supportive? What did they say? 
My family was really supportive. My friends too, Alhamdulillah. They respected my decision, asked questions about what they didn’t understand, some admired it. It’s also amazing how much my hijab showed me who my real friends were. Some people suddenly became a little bit less comfortable around me. A little bit like the veil that I was now wearing had changed something about my personality. I like to believe that didn’t like me for who I was since the beginning. 

 5. What reactions did you get when first starting to wear the hijab? 
A lot of people asked me with a disgust “why are you even wearing this? You’re so young.” At the time I didn’t know what to answer, as I said before I started wearing just because I had to. Others just expected me to be perfect. So when I would listen to music or something like that they’ll say “Are you allowed to do that? I thought that once you start you start wearing it you had to stop doing this or that”. 

6. Have you ever had any negative attention while wearing the hijab?
Yes I did. When you wear hijab, your religion is no longer a secret for anyone. I had to go through the dirty looks after each and every terrorist attacks. 

7. Have you have any positive attention while wearing the hijab?
A lot of non hijabi girls told me that they wanted to wear it too and that I inspired them to do so. I was the only hijabi in high school so I guess people felt like they’ll be left out if they wear it. Taxi drivers will always compliment me about my dress code. Once a pastor told me that I took decency to another level and every person who wants me to take my clothes off only wants to degrade me. I was a little surprised but I didn’t mind. 

8. Do you feel like the events in the media have given you more attention?
Yes. Especially because of the Boko Haram movement. I’m Nigerian so sometimes my teachers would tell me ‘please wait for me to finish my class before you explode yourself” or some of my classmates used to say “Tell your terrorist brothers to stop bothering us”. And of course just like any other Muslim really I had to go through hard times after terrorist attacks. The fear and the exhaust to face people, the lack of energy. 

9. Have you had any funny comments or moments while wearing the hijab? 
So many. But the one I can clearly remember all the time is that every time it used to rain at school and people didn’t have umbrellas they used to say “I wish I had her hijab on right now” I just walk like a boss. 

10. If you could say what you wanted to non-Muslims regarding the hijab what would you say? 
I would like to tell them that I’m ok. I didn’t ask for help regarding my hijab so I don’t know why they’re so preoccupied by this issue. Especially when it comes to Feminists that reject the hijab. If your feminism doesn’t include me and my choices, don’t expect me to change to fit your version of freedom. If a Muslim women needs help, do help her because she’s a woman not because Muslim women are oppressed. Everyone is allowed to make a choice, but I don’t have to right to choose what to wear? When someone qualify your dress code as provocative “But it’s my choice” is the first thing you’ll say. Then my hijab is my choice too. If you tried to understand it but still couldn’t, remember that you don’t have to understand everything, you don’t even have to agree with the things you don’t understand but you have to respect my choices. I’m confident enough not to need to take off my clothes to express my beauty. If you’re as beautiful as I am go beyond what you see. 

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 Very inspiring answers from Maryam make sure you go and support Maryam over on her blog. Thank you Maryam for doing this interview with me. All of Maryam's links are below.

Maryam's Blog     Maryam's Facebook     Maryam's Twitter    

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