The Pride of Hijab


The wearing of the *hijab reflects the modern Muslim woman’s independence, her new world attitude in which she has a choice in whether she follows this old tradition or not. Her hijab displays her confidence to live life on her own terms and communicates the message that she is respected, intelligent and a pious person in her culture. She is also purposefully not drawing attention to herself vis-à-vis the male population in certain Muslim countries such as Bangladesh.

Beside religious value, this piece of folded head scarf can tell much about a woman. So, what does your hijab say about you? The colour, the style, the adornments, if any, all reflect the individual. There could be stripes or flowers that represent the softness, the brightness. These choices allow a woman to express who she is. The hijab sends clear signals about a Muslim woman and her personality. The increasing trend of wearing stylish hijabs or head scarves among young females in Bangladesh is not all about fashion nor has it been imposed upon them by Muslim parents or family. I have interviewed a hundred young Bangladeshi women and have compiled their opinions in order to know what has most inspired them to wear the hijab.

‘When I started hijab I wasn’t sure I could continue it or not. In summer time it is very hot in Bangladesh and traveling by bus become very hard for the weather. In the beginning it was very difficult but I have seen respect for me in eyes of people as a hijabi girl. I will continue to wear hijab’ – Adiba

‘I have been suffering from bad hair. After wearing hijab it has reduced. Hijab has brought a lot of change in my look also. I am feeling new. My family says it will protect me too’ – Jannatul Ferdous

The answers of these women I interviewed surprised me. Eighty percent of the women are wearing a hijab willingly just to protect themselves from evil eyes. For them this is a self-defense mechanism. Does that mean that all of the men of the country are behaving in threatening ways? Not exactly. But women who are wearing hijabs expressed that in adverse environments such as walking through the streets alone or traveling by public transportation, men used to stare at them inappropriately. The hijabi women said they have the courage to cover up themselves and still continue to walk on the same road with dignity. Many of these girls said, a Muslim girl would not entertain a man in the street by wearing see-through, distasteful dresses. Her ‘hijab’ is her message to the world to see women who are modest, decent human beings with dignity.
 

Saleha Nur

nahid haque

A few said straightforwardly, that they cannot close an ill-minded man’s eyes or his mouth but they can cover up themselves. When a man looks at a hijabi woman they see nothing but a message. That is, she is a Muslim girl and her life is ruled by Islam where there is no place for vulgarism. Her hijab is simply a reflection of her dignity.
What has inspired Bangladeshi young women to wear hijabs? Although many women were hesitant and some even refused to reveal their motives because I am a man, the following courageous women explained their reasons for wearing hijabs.

Juthi, a student

‘My hijab is my protection from all those evil eyes around me. The hijab is a message to wicked men that they no longer can stare at me rudely when I am on the road.’ – Juthi, student

‘As a NGO worker I have to travel a lot in public transport and sometime I come to home at late night. My hijab is my protection. It’s been 6-7 years I am covering myself as I had bitter experience of street harassment. Men used to look at women as if they are raping through eyes. As a woman I felt vulnerable and weak tough I used to wear modest cloth. But I have to confess from the day I started wearing Hijab men started to look at me less. I felt strong from inside’ – Siuly, NGO worker

‘As a NGO worker I have to travel a lot on public transport and sometimes I come home late at night. My hijab is my protection. It’s been 6-7 years that I have been covering myself as I had a bitter experience of street harassment. Men used to look at me and other women as if they were raping us through their eyes. As a woman I felt vulnerable and weak even though I used to wear modest clothes. But I have to confess that from the day I started wearing a hijab, men started to look at me less. I felt strong inside.’ – Siuly, NGO worker

‘I am a housewife. I feel very good after I wear hijab. Even when I look at girls who wear hijab seems very respectable to me. It is one kind of self protection and my aim is to follow footsteps of pious Muslim women’ – Jesmin, housewife

‘I am a housewife. I feel very good after I wear a hijab. Even when I look at girls who wear hijabs it seems very respectable to me. It is one kind of self-protection and my aim is to follow footsteps of pious Muslim women’ – Jesmin, housewife

Jinat jahan 12I study in class five. My mother tells me that my hijab will protect me. Also in the Islamic religion women have to cover their bodies’ – Jinnat Jahan (12 years old)

Kasfia

‘It’s been two months since I started wearing a hijab. I feel encouraged by so many girls nowadays wearing hijabs. Two out of five girls are wearing hijabs. For me it brings peace as my family often remains tense when I am out of the home. The hijab is my protection from all evil looks.’ – Kasfia

Jinath rehana sheuli

‘In Islam it’s mandatory for women to cover their bodies with veils. Islam gives women a respectful place in society. Since childhood I have been wearing a hijab. It has impacted my life as it is not only about folding a cloth and covering the body but it also encourages a woman to stand up and move with dignity. Because from the heart I know I am not only covering my body but also not letting men look at me badly. I believe it gives women respect.’ – Jinath Rehana Sheuli

‘As a student I have to travel everyday from home to university. After doing hijab for two years I face less eve teasing and it has given me a sense of good feeling that I am maintaining my life in the light of Islam’ – Laboni

‘As a student I have to travel every day from home to university. After wearing a hijab for two years I face less evil teasing and it has given me a sense of good feeling that I am maintaining my life in the light of Islam.’ – Laboni

Liza‘I started wearing a hijab religiously. No one has asked me to do it but I feel I should do it and it brings me respect.’ – Liza

Mumu a student

‘You can look stylish as a modern Muslim woman when you wear a hijab. It gives me protection and also makes a woman look very beautiful in a hijab.’ – Mumu, a student

Muna

‘Some girls wear hijabs in order to get a good marriage proposal or they just to do it to be in style. But for me it has come from inside. When I did not wear a hijab I experienced men who looked at women as if they were a product on the road and could eye them over any way they wanted. I have seen ill-meaning men’s expressions while on the road. But since the day I started wearing a hijab I have never faced such vulgar looks any longer. My hijab is my safety and self-respect.’

– Muna, school teacher

Lima

‘Dhaka is a very busy city though a few women travel by bus. Whenever I went outside I faced the problem that men used to look at me badly. I started feeling very angry and did not know what to do. My friend started wearing a hijab a couple of months ago and advised me to also wear a hijab. After wearing a hijab I am mentally satisfied that at least I am not showing my body to people. If they still try to see me, it is their ill behavior.’ – Lima

Nahid

I am in the last semester of my MBA. I have been wearing a hijab for six years now. It wasn’t for any reason of fashion nor for conservatism. Islam encourages women to wear decent clothes and commands them to cover their heads and bodies when they go out in public. I easily can move around as I feel safe in a hijab.’ – Nahid Haque

Tania

‘As a student I have to come out of my home every day. It is very difficult to manage time to get ready. When I am wearing a hijab it helps me to get ready easily. Also my family does not have to worry about me much as girls who wear hijabs face less teasing in the street.’ – Tania

Tajnuva‘Many girls are wearing hijabs for fashion. But this should not be. A hijab is to protect you from evil eyes. The girls who are very open and show their bare skin in public are seeking attention from men. But a hijabi girl is beautiful because she realizes her inner beauty more than her outer beauty.’ – Tajnuva

Sharmin

‘A girl can wear a hijab and still be beautiful. It gives us protection and respect.’ – Sharmin

Sniya Sultana , a student

‘From my teenage years I have been wearing a hijab. It is part of being beautiful. In some universities in Dhaka a full veil is not allowed, so I choose a hijab. It is comfortable and always protective.’ – Sania Sultana, a student

‘I am teacher and doing hijab for three years. I do not support girls who are doing ti for style or take it as fashion. It remains as women protector for hundreds of years. Women felt comfort and it brings security for a decent girl who does not want to show bare skin. Some people argue a woman should not do hijab as it makes them look weak, but I completely disagree. It needs courage in a world of style where owmen tend to wear short clothes. Its Muslim women’s dignity who cover up their body and go for searching respect than seeking attention’ – Simul, Teacher‘I am a teacher and have been wearing a hijab for three years. I do not support girls who are doing it for style or who use it as fashion. It has remained as a protector for women for hundreds of years. Women feel comfortable and it brings security for a decent girl who does not want to show bare skin. Some people argue a woman should not wear a hijab as it makes them look weak, but I completely disagree. It takes courage in a world of style where women tend to wear short clothes. Its dignified Muslim women who cover up their bodies and go searching for respect rather than seeking attention.’ – Simul, teacher

subarna parvin 28, school teacher

‘I believe in modesty. It’s been three years since I have been wearing a hijab. For me it is a self-defense as it has protected me from evil eyes. I am a Muslim and a married working woman. Since the day, I started wearing a hijab I noticed that men in the streets were not bothering me insistently. It has given me a sense of dignity and I started seeing respect in people’s eyes for me. When I cannot stop evil eyes at least I can cover up myself and follow the advice that my religion gives me.’ – Subarna Parvin (28 years old), teacher

Tajlima akter

‘I have been wearing a hijab for more than eight years. My mother, grandmothers all wore hijabs or veils. It is not about style or fashion. It is mandatory for a Muslim woman to wear a hijab.’ – Tajlima Akter

Papia

‘Muslim women can be stylish like Western girls. For that there is no need to show skin. I feel a hijab makes a girl more beautiful. Not only does it protect the dignity of the girl, but it also it protects hair and skin.’ – Papia

‘Everyday more girls are doing hijab. It’s a protection from sunlight and pollution. By doing hijab I am covering my hair and wearing decent clothes. I feel very much protected since the day I am wearing hijab’ – Pihu‘Everyday more girls are wearing hijabs. It’s a protection from sunlight and pollution. By wearing a hijab I am covering my hair and wearing decent clothes. I feel very much protected since the day I started wearing a hijab.’ – Pihu

(*what is a  Hijab – a veil that covers the head and chest, which is often worn by Muslim women beyond the age of puberty in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family as a form of modest attire.)

 

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13 thoughts on “The Pride of Hijab

  1. I am from Europe and we are here all equal man and women. So nobody look at anybody as a sexual object. I am happy that I can walk and talk to all people without analising what they can think about me. Because more less we just simply respect each others. I don’t need protect myself. There are no devils around and I don’t meed push myself to wear uncomfortable clothes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are no devils around except those designed by the men who invented certain religions. Too bad that women have to protect themselves against these men and their followers. I think that says enough about that “religion”.

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    • I am a Muslim and wear hijab. Nobody forced me. I live in a Muslim country where we are free to wear what we like; I don’t feel like the men have forced me to wear hijab because of their evil eyes or whatever. It’s more of a cultural problem in Bangladesh that causes the men to be so rude to girls. I wear hijab because I want to. Rather when I travel from the Middle East to Europe I felt people staring at me -not because of my hijab- but simply because of me being a girl.-Yes it is true that mostly women are equal to men in Europe. -And yes in some Muslim countries they aren’t- but don’t blame Islam. It’s the culture of those people. they try to twist our religion. I think you should stop playing the blame game on religions because no matter what religion the person is the same. It is each individual you should be thinking of because you are generalizing when you blame Islam.

      Btw, it doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable unless the material is bad. 🙂

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  2. Beautiful ladies, and having visited Bangladesh twice, I feel the women in their lovely saris, salwar kameez and hijab are the colourful heart of a beautiful country. I have friends there who wear hijab and friends that do not; it seems a very personal choice. What bothers me most, is that the main reason stated is to avoid the unwanted looks from the men on the street. Women should not be objectified, and made to feel unsafe in their own neighbourhoods, regardless of them wearing hijab or not.
    Beautiful images and accompanying story once again, my friend. Always a pleasure to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You always provide us with valuable insights and this is no exception. I tend not to think too much about this as an issue as I have spent quite a bit of time in Pakistan and the Middle East. It always seems to me as normal just different but this helps us to understand what is in the mind of the wearer. Thank you.

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  4. Wonderful work! Hijab IS a personal choice. So to those people who think women who take off their clothes are more free, that’s very narrow-minded of you. I freely choose to wear my hijab, and it offends me when you accuse me of being oppressed simply because of the clothes I wear. Regardless, I thank the photographer for this wonderful insight into the lives of the free women of Bangladesh.

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  5. Great work brother! I am doing independent research on the same topic, the popularization of veil among young women in Bangladesh. I would like to use this post as part of a conference presentation at JU, of course with proper accreditation. Please let me know your opinion 🙂

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