Before I converted to Islam, I tried out some interesting and unorthodox (to say the least) hijab styles to see what it would be like if I converted. I did not wear hijab immediately after I converted, I was (and still am) in a process of learning and unlike wudu and salaah, which I began practicing immediately the same day because I saw them as absolutely obligatory, hijab outwardly and inwardly took time for me to believe and accept as part of my life.
I remember when I became convinced of hijab reflecting on some verses in the Quran, so that same day I began to observe hijab and viewed it as a continuation of my spiritual growth and learning process. I observe hijab because I believe it is a command from Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and is obligatory, period.
I don’t observe hijab because any of the supposed wisdoms or benefits, or to be respected, or as a political statement, or because some people might want me to, or because men are weak, or whatever. For me it’s quite simple, I believe it’s a religious obligation and failure to do so is blameworthy.
My non-Muslim sister came down over Thanksgiving break and asked if she could accompany me to Friday prayers and I said, of course. She seemed genuinely interested and mentioned that while she was in Greece over the summer she was not allowed to enter any Greek Orthodox churches because she wasn’t Greek Orthodox.
She asked me if she had to cover her hair and I said no but that she might want to so as to avoid unwanted stares. So she wore her regular clothes, jeans, sweater, and a bandanna and off we went to the masjid. She got a couple stares mostly from young girls but everyone else was friendly.
Muslim and Non-Muslim women that do not observe hijab come to the masjid all the time without covering their hair seemingly without much problem although I’m sure they encounter occasional harrassment. So the phenomenon of drop-top convertible hijabis is somewhat of a mystery to me. I don’t understand why a person that goes about her daily life without hijab would then come the masjid in some semblance of hijab but wear it in such a lackadaisical manner such that if someone were so much as to look or breathe on her it might fall off.
I can understand that there is a communal pressure to wear hijab and not wearing it will often attract unwanted attention and so perhaps wearing a drop-top is a way to strike a balance between this pressure as well as asserting that if she had her way she wouldn’t wear it at all.
It seems to me that a woman that believes hijab is obligatory and observes it is being honest and sincere about her belief, at least outwardly. And it seems to me that a woman who does not believe hijab is obligatory and does not observe it at all is also being honest and sincere about her belief, at least outwardly. So I find it strange that a person that does not observe hijab away from Muslims and the masjid, will then put it on at Muslim functions or at the time of prayer but do so in such an irreverent manner as to negate the very meaning of hijab.
I find it hard to understand that mindset, unless like my sister they just wanted to avoid the pressure, the stares or the comments that might be directed their way. But even my sister who is not a Muslim was able to fasten her bandanna in such a way that it actually covered most of her hair and was not about to fall off with the slightest movement.
I don’t know why any woman that is known not to wear hijab would want to put on that sliding drop-top, half of the hair exposed hijab or maybe they don’t want to wear it and that is the whole point something akin to a child pouting and offering a weak sorry after being forced by someone else to apologize. Perhaps it is a reflection of their understanding of hijab, or to avoid being harassed, or is a protest to show that she can’t stand hijab and doesn’t feel it’s obligatory. I freely admit that I do not understand it as well as I would like to.
I’m not judging anyone’s intentions because I cannot see into the hearts and I know many good drop-top hijabis some seemingly better outwardly than full niqaabis or your run-of-the-mill hijabi but to me as a hijabi that believes it’s obligatory that sort of drop-top convertible hijab is (vaguely) offensive, perhaps more offensive than if she didn’t even try to pretend to be respectful or to cave into the expectation of others and makes me feel as though I as a hijabi and belief in hijab are being mocked.
I tried but could not watch (not even with my gaze lowered or on fast-forward) that movie by Theo van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali because it was so offensive. For those that don’t know, the film is ridiculously melodramatic and features a naked woman wearing a see through cloth that is supposed to resemble a burka, which is also completely absurd with verses of the Quran written all over her body and is only delightful to those with no hayya or modesty and a sickness in their hearts. It’s complete and utter nonsense.
There are many Muslims I know personally and many prominent Muslim women that do not observe hijab but when they go to a masjid, Muslim functions, Makkah or meet with Muslim leaders they wear drop-top convertible hijabs but I don’t get it. If you don’t feel that hijab is obligatory, why wear it at all? And at the very least if you are going to wear it, while still feeling it is not obligatory, can’t it be done with ihsan or excellence?
Drop-top convertible hijab is not hijab and it’s not respectful. I support a woman’s right to be able to decide for herself what she wants to wear and if she wants to wear the drop-top I cannot force her to wear an underscarf or to wrap it a bit more tightly and I’m not going to pester her about how much of her hair is showing but please don’t think that you are doing anyone any favors by wearing your drop-top convertible hijab because I find it (vaguely) insulting.