Recently I read a Facebook post by a feminist page supporting a trending tweet #burntheniqab because it’s ‘not in the Qur’an, it erases women’s identities, and is not empowering’.
Westernized Muslims whose families have adopted a negative opinion of hijab or worry that a hijab will compromise the woman’s safety, often discourage female family members from covering. Also, women make up the majority of Muslim converts. If they chose to cover, it often creates a conflict between them and their families. In some cases their families cut ties with them. Similar to women being forced to cover or be shunned by their families, these women often have to choose between family and religion.
Furthermore, it is becoming more and more popular for countries to limit what Muslim women can wear. If not law, there is a very loud societal pressure for Muslims to “assimilate” by removing their covers; otherwise, “go back to your own country”.
Why is it okay to force women to remove their cover but it’s not okay to force them to cover?
The correct answer is: it’s not okay to force women anything. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again to be very clear, no one should be forced to cover nor should anyone be forced to uncover. Feminism is freedom of choice. Whether that choice is informed or just based on societal expectations; you do not have the right to question or interrogate someone for the reasons behind their choices.
Of course, certain cultures have socialized women to wear certain things and often there is an unspoken pressure to conform to society. If the women of Saudi Arabia want to take of their niqabs and burn them, then go ahead, but don’t use that to insult women who choose to wear niqab using the “brainwash” argument.
While some argue about whether or not the command to cover is in the Qur’an, women who choose to wear a hijab or niqab have interpreted certain verses as instruction for them to cover. Moreover, wearing a cover does not erase their identity, being a hijabi or niqabi is a piece of their identity. Most importantly, these women find empowerment through their connection to God which is enhanced by following, what they believe, are His commands.
It’s so annoying when people peddle their own agendas under the guise of feminism. If you don’t like Islam or you don’t like the way Muslim women dress, then just say it. Don’t act like you’re some superior freedom fighter and decider of what is or is not empowering for people.
Newsflash: If your feminism doesn’t acknowledge the intersectional identities of people, then it’s not feminism.