Do I look like a suspect for harm?

By: Mesha Iqbal

5 Votes

Do I look like a suspect for harm? - Mesha Iqbal

Iona College


The hijab signifies who I am through representation of my religion, while expressing my true colors. Does the Hijab make one think of 9/11? Terrorism? Radicalism? Oppression? These stereotypes have haunted me throughout my childhood and stages of matureness. Self-expression is a characteristic I have obtained and used to overcome dark periods in my life where I was constantly contemplating my actions and thoughts.

The hijab started out as a beautiful accessory, a beauty defining object yet once I started wearing it, I was morphed into a strong, independent young lady. It had influenced me into changing my outlook on life!

Changing a whole school environment and transitioning from the elementary school to the middle school was such a vital point in my life. I faced many challenges yet approached them with confidence. Seeing my mother wearing the hijab and showing off a rainbow in every outfit she wore, had inspired me to do the same. Not knowing the real value of the hijab, I concentrated on my looks more and wanted to look the best everywhere I went. However being in the middle school, I felt like the smallest star in the galaxy wanting to be that one shooting star everyone looked at. I was blinded until I noticed the negativity that came with wearing a hijab. The thunder of fear I had as people spoke harshly about who I was because of my appearance would change my attitude towards body image and its ideology. I was being judged based on my religious garment – my hijab. I wanted to reflect beauty while covering up almost like snow covers the Earth displaying the perfection of nature.

Realizing the momentous impact of 9/11 had upon the United States made me feel unaccepted and like an outsider. I had been threatened, told to go home, and also told that my father was Osama Bin Laden. I felt like strong cologne, grabbing everyone’s attention yet being inhumanely attacked. No one had known my story; I was hurt and bullied yet I did not let it get in the way of my life. This encouraged me to stand up and regain my respect starting from the smallest dust particle in the air. I got involved in researching about the true meaning of the hijab. It is a seal, which didn’t let the evils of ones eyes check out a woman, the conservation of beauty would be preserved. It is conciliation from bad influences, while presenting modesty in the simplest form.

I thought of taking my hijab off completely but realized I am an independent women and the criticism of others shouldn’t weaken my faith rather strengthen it. People would ask questions about my religion and become fascinated by its offerings. Many students realized that a covered individual even on the hottest days of the school year was still able to represent her faith and was so strong internally that she didn’t complain, rather seemed cool throughout the day. I felt as though representation of Muslims wasn’t felt. Through hard, dedicated work, I got a reputation within the school, where even the bullies started to show more consideration and respect. Knowledge had become my power and made people look at me differently. Raising awareness of my presence and the reality of Islam greatly changed everyone’s viewpoints. People understood me more and fell in love with my various styles and the meaning of the hijab.

Realizing such aspects, I have permanently decided to wear it and have sparked interest in my younger sisters to do so as well. Coping with the bullies made me stronger internally so their words now strengthened me. I needed to show them what they knew about Islam is only the slimmest portion of the things that make up Islam. The hijab reflects the peacefulness of Islam and strengthens our faith more than ever before!