Yes I can be excellent, no I will not remove my headscarf
I am a Muslim woman and I am unapologetic about my beliefs. When someone looks at me, remedy they visibly can see I am Muslim because of my Headscarf. I have never been ashamed, nor will I ever be. The battle we face breaking down the stereotype of us being submissive and voiceless is tiring. I am everything I am told not to be. Therefore, being told I can’t do something is not something I will allow. If I am physically capable, I will try even if I fail. We are more than capable and I want Muslim women to remember their greatness too.
Muslim women shy away, in the name of ‘remaining modest’ .It’s the use of culture, in the disguise of religion that breeds this narrative. Muslim women are told to not do certain things because they will lose respect for themselves. As Women, we need to remember that respecting yourself is personal. Respecting yourself is about loving yourself entirely. You do the things you love, showing how much you respect yourself to put your happiness above all. Your happiness being a priority is brave of you. It shows you value yourself.
It is hard for us. Imagine, having people assume you’re inadequate because of a headscarf and for being a woman. We forget a headscarf is a piece of cloth. It holds significance due to my religion. But yes, it is a material that I bought at a market. My headscarf does not take away from my abilities, it actually makes me want to do better. My qualities do not disappear every morning I wrap my headscarf around my head. I am still me. Do not belittle me and most definitely do not assume I am not worthy. For this reason, we should feel responsible to correctly judge situations without ignorance or prejudice. Ignorance shouldn’t be acceptable because it exhumes laziness. Especially, if you are in a position to educate yourself.
— Brad? (@saidjama5) 23 February 2017
Recently, a Somali girl went viral for being great at basketball. She outran a group of males before scoring, whilst wearing the headscarf. Everyone was shocked. The question I asked myself was; did she go viral because she’s a great athlete or she’s a great athlete despite wearing a headscarf. It angered me because people indirectly are saying Muslim women are incompetent.
Another example is Halima Aden. The First Somali Muslim woman to be featured on CR fashion book. She made her first appearance at New York fashion week and Later on at Milan fashion week. This movement was iconic due to her fulfilling her dreams whilst remaining true to herself by keeping her headscarf on. She represents what we are, capable people like we’ve always seen ourselves. Currently, Women empowered is widespread. Campaigns after campaigns of women being awesome, as Halima shows. Women are doing great things despite all the misogynistic views that are spewed at us daily. I live and breathe for our empowerment. I want all women to have a voice even if it shrikes.
Both these women are examples of excellence. They embody what it is to be unapologetic. They scream ‘And what was you saying?’ The type of attitude we all need to embrace. As Muslim women, we should begin to be do what makes us passionate. You urge to express yourself through architecture, do it? You want to be the next Viola Davis, Be my guest. Do not apologise or shrink yourself for being great at what you do or want to do. Excel in your field because it will fulfil you. In turn, it will inspire generations to do the same. People assume we are unqualified due to lack of representation, it is time to change that.
Also, a reminder, Women we value ourselves because we do. We do not need a reason to hold ourselves in high regard. If I think I’m the baddest, so what? The moment we learn this, the less we will doubt ourselves. And why should we? Everyone is freely allowed to be themselves but we somehow can’t. Society assumes, as a Muslim woman, I need validation. I’m happy and I am unapologetic being all that I am.
Written by Ikram Dirie
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