It is a big decision for Muslim women to begin wearing a hijab. It’s an outward declaration of religious affiliation and it can come with stigmas.
Mahbuba Fidda, an MSU Law Library assistant who is Muslim but chooses to not wear a hijab made a point that Islamic women are not the only individuals who cover their heads. Jews, Christians, Hindus and many other religions practice similar forms of modesty.
“To me, religion is inside, between you and God. It’s very private to me. Religion shouldn’t be other people’s business and everybody should have a choice,” said Fidda. “There are good Muslims and bad Muslims, good Christians and bad Christians, good Jews, bad Jews, good atheists, bad atheists, but people should have the freedom of choice.”
MSU student Malak Aldasouqi said she’s faced judgment for her choice to cover her head.
“Sometimes it is hard to get up in the morning because sometimes you’ll be walking and you’ll get these unbearable stares in your face,” said the college freshman. “They’re looking at you like you’re different and unwanted. Often in the car I’ll be flicked off so that’s hard, but also it kind of strengthens my character and makes me more unapologetically Muslim.”
MSU assistant professor of psychiatry Farha Abbasi frequently speaks to students about her experience as a Muslim woman in this country and the emotional burden those who enter the U.S. feel. She gave the challenge of thinking about five things that define a person as an individual and then telling them hypothetically they have to give up two of the things to be accepted. She said this is often how people who wish to wear the hijab feel in society.
“How can humans adapt if you are from day one going to say ‘first of all you are not welcome and now you are only welcome under certain conditions?” asked Abbasi. “To me, that’s very unnatural. It’s very detrimental and it’s not going to benefit either of the parties.”