Three students in my “Muslims in American Society” course at Rice University wanted to learn more about why young Muslim women do – and do not – cover. To explore this issue of covering the students interviewed four of their peers. Here is a passage from one of the four interviews:
When I come to Rice, everyone wants to celebrate my hijab, to celebrate diversity. But, sometimes I feel like people want to show support for me because they think that I am oppressed. I am empowering myself. I don’t need anyone. I think there are lots of women out there that are being oppressed, oppressed on what they can and can’t wear. Those countries face a lot of oppression, and I don’t want to dismiss that. But at the same time, in America, I don’t think that’s the case. In general I think 90% wear by choice. Some young girls wear due to social pressure, but I wouldn’t say it’s abusive or oppression. It’s more like, “oh, my parents would be mad at me.” So, I guess it’s a form of emotional oppression, but I wouldn’t compare that to abroad. You should know Muslims are all over, and we aren’t all oppressed.
The author’s of the blog continue by explaining that “the practice of covering or not covering, in itself, is a clear example of how Islam is not a monolith. Considering the various narratives of Muslim women at Rice, wearing a Hijab, or other forms of covering, is only one aspect of all that can be included in identifying oneself as a Muslim. A Muslim woman is not labeled ‘Muslim’ based solely off of her decision to cover or not, or at least she shouldn’t be.”
Read the whole post on our course blog Muslims America