Justice

This Teen's Text Exchange Sends an Important Message About the Hijab

April 17th 2017

By:
Anna Albaryan

A 17-year-old girl from Pennsylvania asked her father if she can take off her hijab. This was his response:

lamyaa screenshot

 

Though Lamyaa (who asked ATTN: not to use her last name) had no intention of removing her hijab, she said that she posed the question in order to prove a point about her freedom to choose who she practices her faith.

Lamyaa says she was prompted by a political conversation that took place in a group chat, which led one member to say this:

group chat

"We were having a discussion about several things, then the conversation was shifted to shed light on the presidency and the current tension. I, personally, had very strong views considering the presidency did impact me, because I am an Arab, Muslim woman." Lamyaa told ATTN: Monday.

She added that this type of response from non-Muslim Americans isn't uncommon.

But because Lamyaa knew the truth of her decision to wear the hijab, she set out to prove this person wrong by texting her father, who was in Saudi Arabia.

"The freedom to choose means a lot to me because I know that there are women in different parts of the world that do not have that option. However, people tend to forget that my choice to keep it on is still freedom," Lamyaa said.

After receiving support from her dad, Lamyaa tweeted out a screenshot of both conversations. The tweet quickly gained traction, exposing an often unknown truth about hijabs that a lot of people don't realize.

While religion may dictate certain practices, culture plays a huge role in communities as well.

And for some Muslim women, wearing a hijab is their personal decision — one that they can change if need be.

This is something most Westerners aren't aware of — the freedom that comes with a woman's relationship with her religion and the importance of knowing she can choose what to do with her body. While some women in the Middle East are oppressed, there are other Muslim communities who abide by starkly different cultural norms, and for them it isn't just black and white.

In an essay called "The Complicated History of Headscarves," one Egyptian-American student named Heba Elsayed shared this sentiment about her headscarf to journalist Liana Aghajanian:

“I don’t have to conform to how people want me to dress, rather I can choose whether I cover or not. That in itself is liberation. That is not oppression of any sort,” she says. “When I wear this hijab, I don’t want people to make a judgment on me about how I look, but rather I want them to make a judgment of my character and how I treat people.”

Elsayed and Lamyaa are free to choose. However, some users on Twitter quickly pointed out that this wasn't the case for other Muslim women:

While this user expresses one truth about hijab-wearing practices within the Islamic faith, it was met with an explanation from others that this was not Lamyaa's intention.

Lamyaa responded to this pushback by reiterating that she is aware of the oppression some women may face, and that she stands in solidarity with them.

"I would like to apologize to the women who do not have the choice of taking the hijab off. I am sorry that we live in a world where some women, humans, do not have the right to their own bodies and what they do with it. It is heartbreaking but I would like them to know that I stand with them. I will do my best to raise awareness to shed light on their lack of basic human rights. There are people who stand with them. I stand with them," she told ATTN:.

What Lamyaa stressed is that, when it comes to wearing a headscarf, the choice ultimately rests with the woman, and there shouldn't be any pressure for what they decide.

"I would like to say, to the women who are not sure, that they shouldn't let anyone or anything pressure them into wearing it. If it is what they want to do and they are sure about it, they should wear it. If not, then they shouldn't. It is their decision and they have a right to that decision," said Lamyaa.

[h/t Buzzfeed]