My hijab does not define my career path, and it definitely doesn’t restrict me from having a career. It doesn’t determine who my family is or my views about marriage. It doesn’t tell you anything about my culture, my traditions, or my background. I am more than a hijab.
Tell me, does my hijab reveal my name? My favorite food or book? Where I live, my age, or salary?
Does it tell you I like to write? Go to college? Study journalism? Took a class about the Old Testament, Western religions, Eastern religions, and sports?
Does it tell you the language I speak most fluently is English, and I was born and raised in the United States? Does it tell you I love the Knicks and am slowly growing to love soccer?
Does it tell you I shop at Macy’s and worked there, love mall pretzels and frozen yogurt, and enjoy free WiFi?
My dad didn’t force me to wear hijab. Force is not a word in my vocabulary or his, nor is it a concept in my religion, for God Almighty says, “La ikraaha fi ad-Deen.”
So stop defining me by my hijab.
Don’t get me wrong–I love the piece of cloth on my head and what it actually represents, but know the only thing it tells you about me is I’m Muslim, Alhamdulillah. And with that identity, comes another whole world of stereotypes and assumptions.
Please, ask. I can’t read your mind, but I’d love for you to know who I really am. And I’d love to know who you really are too, because there’s more to you than blonde/brown/black/red/rainbow hair just like there’s more to me than a scarf.