Rowaida Abdelaziz, a high school senior in New Jersey, explains she doesn’t wear the hijab as a sign of submission, as some Americans might think, according to an article published today by CNN about why some Muslim women who live in the United States wear a head scarf. She sees the hijab as preserving and keeping safe her beauty.
I gained some new insights from the article, such as that some Muslim women are puzzled by why their daughters might decide to wear the hijab, when the mothers were happy in not adhering to the custom when they moved to the United States from predominantly Muslim countries.
As is true with any cultural or religious group, people within that group have a range of opinions over various customs or practices. So it is also with Muslim women and the head scarf.
I still remember once taking note of a Somali teenager in the Columbus, Ohio, public schools who covered her whole head and face except for her eyes and wore long, flowing black clothing. At the same time, I noticed the toenails shining through her sandals were painted bright red.
I had questions I wanted to ask, such as whether it had been her decision or someone else’s to cover her face except for the eyes, and whether she viewed painted toenails as a means of self-expression. But the youth’s clothing and appearance weren’t the subject of my story, so I didn’t ask.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.