I asked you on Instagram, how you felt about Muslim social media personalities removing their scarf, a current trend, and you replied. I have also read tons of comments.
Social media, spanning more than a decade, is still very much in its foundation phase. Many things we are facing as Muslims on media today, are still new to us. How we deal with things and each other on social media is mostly a knee jerk “reaction”. Until things become prevalent, then only do we begin to “choose” our responses carefully.
There are “reaction videos” to Muslim personalities, who wore their scarves and were advocates of the hijab and then completely removed them. Most of these videos fall into propaganda and are more tabloid in nature, done in a negative light and not in line with Islamic values. They do nothing but sensationalize and give the creators a rung in their ladder to fame.
Normally, I wouldn’t do a post like this as it’s a sensitive topic for most of us, but I felt it was important to have these conversations to better cope with changes.
My aim is for us to discover solutions or reach a higher understanding of our responses or sensitivity, to the removal of the hijab by influencers, rather than discussing in length about the wearing of a scarf versus not wearing one.
We are all Muslimahs with or without hijab.
Here are some of the responses I received via Instagram Direct message. All names are fictitious as the ladies wished to be anonymous.
“Disappointed. It’s totally different when someone is on social media and they are on and off with the hijab. It doesn’t confuse anyone. But then when u wear it all the time and then suddenly say u want to remove it just creates the impression to non Muslims that the hijab ties us Down
Like we are forced to do it and we can’t live our lives freely with it on
Like how on earth does a piece of material on ur head stops u from living ur life coz let’s face it “a certain Famous Muslimah” doesn’t go out clubbing nor is she someone who dresses up with see thru tight fitting clothes… So why then would she want to lose the hijab
I follow “said Hijabi” and she dresses up absolutely beautifully, she even walks the ramp with a hijab. She goes out to all kinds of events. She’s living her life to the fullest the hijab doesn’t stop her from doing anything. So I’m super confused by this
And these woman look absolutely stunning in hijabs
The hijab literally makes them even more beautiful!!! Its like using a product for ur skin that makes u glow and suddenly u stop using it coz u have some stupid reason.”
By Shaheema(fictitious name)
“To be honest so many women label themselves as an influencer so you influence people to wear this and that and start a brand and profit of people and now decide that’s not who you are anymore it’s bull it’s really unethical , I feel if you put your life out there it’s there to be judged I keep my life and my religious journey private because it’s meant to be that way it’s your own journey
And I know everyone says but they not our Islamic role models but the fact that they label themselves influences it’s natural to be inspired by someone
So it’s really not just about the hijab it’s about ethics you don’t start a business and than profit of people
And another thing is I don’t get why videos are made to justify your actions like Islam is literally a straight and narrow we make it far to complicated I just find they make just a mockery out of Islam that’s just my opinion.”
“Something that is part of Islam and a shared responsibility amongst the Muslim community is to correct when we see someone is doing something wrong but we have made it a thing ‘only Allah can judge’ and just because I done my part to correct someone’s wrong doing doesn’t mean that I’m judging you”
By Zaheerah(fictitious name)
“We don’t want to judge anyone but the sad part is many young girls follow them….they are known as influencers hence young girls want to copy their style….when they were wearing the hijab the girls may have thought it was cool & would try to don the hijab but now these very same influencers are making it look so cool without the hijab thereby misleading many young girls”
By Fathima (fictitious name)
“I know we shouldn’t judge but I can’t help but be so disappointed in them. After “a certain famous hijabi” took hers off I knew it was only a matter of time before “another famous hijabi” followed… I’ve been watching her tutorials for over 10 years now so it’s very disheartening to see the direction she’s going in now.”
By Nafeesa(fictitious name)
I had really interesting conversations with these ladies and I apologize that I couldn’t include all submissions or entire conversations. It would have been too much for one post. What I loved, is that though our opinions differed in certain instances, we were still able to have that conversation and understand each other.
This is what can be ascertained from all responses (including those not mentioned):
Muslimahs are concerned about each other, and how Islam and Muslimahs are portrayed via the actions of those who are famous.
Muslimahs want to carry out their duty as Muslims, to guide their sister in Islam, but this is often either taken the wrong way or done in the wrong manner.
There are biases about who we are ok with, taking the scarf out. We anger over those who preach about wearing the hijab or how to wear it, as taking it off is contrary to what they preach.
Ladies seem to be ok with those who remove the scarf and aren’t influencers, as they do not seek any personal gain (followers, subs or business) from wearing the hijab.
There are strong opinions that Muslim influencers need to take the responsibility that comes with being one very seriously. This is mostly regarding the direction in which they lead others.
Some women consider the hijab as a choice, others say it is compulsory, nonetheless, there is consensus that the hijab is an important part of deen.
All agreed that we need to change the way we communicate to correct, guide, and support each other.
Influencers need to be considerate of their followers, who supported them and helped them grow, and careful of the messages they put out there. The Islamic community would not want to be party to “discouraging, belittling or teasing” in any way the wearing of the hijab. Any deception or wrongful intent, perceived or otherwise by the influencer will naturally anger their followers.
Muslims have been given a lot of negative labels we don’t deserve, and many brands/ companies or workplaces discriminate against women who wear the hijab. Those looking to work with these brands may find their scarves to be a limiting factor where brands want to keep the focus on them rather than Islam. This poses issues for Muslim influencers, and this is where many Muslim followers believe there may be a compromise of faith on the part of the influencer.
pic credit: @khaledkagii
· Our children are individuals and so are we. Society is made up of individuals. It is up to us to encourage our children to wear hijab. We each have a mind and a heart of our own and we can decide if we should or shouldn’t follow the example that influencers or others set.
· There are individuals and groups, dedicated to misinforming others about Islam, irrespective of the influencers, and their actions. I wish that this were not true, but it is widespread. Arguments about Islamic matters(including hijab) on open or public social forums and media just further their agenda. It is up to us as Muslims to properly educate the public about Islam, to dispel misinformation, remain calm, avoid disputes and maintain our akhlaq (good manners) especially with each other, if we want to control the narrative.
· If we feel the need to adversely react to those who negatively present the hijab, choose to speak to this sister in private, rather than call them out in public. If speaking in private is not possible, avoid slandering and backbiting said Muslim influencer, at the very minimum. We can also engage less with their posts, which drives their engagement rate down, and will translate to them that their followers no longer relate to them or their content.
· We can make our points on our platforms, without having to pull each other down. Rather focus on promoting the purpose, virtues, and beauty of the hijab, if that is what we truly care about and avoid focusing and growing the negativity we feel is brought about by the Muslim influencer who took it off.
· Remember why we wear the hijab: It is worn for the love of Allah, and to obey His (Allah SWT’s) command, for our protection, preservation of dignity, respect, and our chastity. It is an honor to wear it and we are not oppressed in any way by it. We do not wear it to become self-righteous or discriminate against others who don’t. Many Muslimahs don’t know that the hijab is defined in the Quran, and we are commanded to be in hijab. It is worth sharing this knowledge with them with compassion.
· We must not dismiss anyone concerning their knowledge, as we are all schooled differently, with differences in upbringing and more. Their knowledge may be better in that which we are deficient. Listen, try to understand where it’s coming from, and then lovingly and not in an accusatory manner guide them. This approach is highly effective, it garners respect and leaves them wanting to learn more.
· We have to accept that irrespective of educating others, not everyone will listen or do what we should do. Hidaayah is from Allah, but we must continue to do what good we can without loss of enthusiasm.
· Discrimination against those who wear the hijab is prevalent and we need to speak up about it. If we can stick with the hijab, we will have the privilege of paving the way for other Muslimahs who continue to fight for their right to wear the hijab, whether it is in other countries, or just in the workplace. This privilege is therefore, also a responsibility which lies not only with the handful of influencers but each of us as Muslims. No brand, company or workplace, big or small, should be allowed to discriminate against those who wear the hijab.
· We have to acknowledge that, much of our anger also comes from how we feel about them. Attaching ourselves emotionally to these influencers is inevitable after some time of following and supporting them through their growth and relating to their journeys. We may think we know them. We are likely to feel heartbroken, empathic, disappointed or deceived when they choose to take actions that are contrary to everything we supported them on. This is a lesson to us as an Ummah, to not place others on a pedestal or follow blindly (hero-worship or idolize) and that the responsibility which we feel they have failed to shoulder is also ours.
· Refrain from taking offense to the opinions or comments of others concerning the influencers taking off their scarf, and instead use your platform to properly educate and positively encourage the wearing of hijab. Our opinions are always going to differ. Taking offense to them is as useless as Darwin’s theory of evolution.
· We cannot control influencers but we can control the power of their influence over us and to an extent over those we love.
· The young and impressionable may be set on following influencers, but we can teach them to make good decisions, and trust that we have raised individuals that are stronger than we realize. We cannot stumble and lose ourselves, nor point fingers each time our youth make mistakes. They will make their fair share of mistakes, but they will also learn from them.
p.s. This would be an entirely different conversation if the influencers are intentionally deceptive to mislead, steal or otherwise, from people or the Muslim community, then their actions would be liable to punishment by the law and they would have to be held accountable.
Forgive me! This is a lengthy post and I hope this does not create any misunderstanding between you and I. There are certain things I chose not to encourage as it goes against Islamic principles, like that of boycotting each other (our Muslim brothers and sisters). I kept focus on what we can do going forward, and on how we can positively create a strong impact while maintaining our sisterhood ties. No one is perfect and this world is changing at a dizzying pace, how wonderful to have each other to traverse it together. Let’s help each other prepare for our final judgement rather than waste time judging each other.