Saturday, February 27, 2010

Why I Like Wearing the Veil

Like any mosque, women must veil their head to go inside. At the Hariri Mosque - as the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque is called by most people - I was given a full length robe and veil to wear. And, simply put, I liked it.

In Islam, the veil is called the "hijab." Outside of Iran and Saudi Arabia, women are not required to wear the veil. However, a woman's choice to wear the hijab has become rather controversial in some areas. The most well-known example lately has been France's banning of the veil in public schools.

Many people see a woman wearing the veil and think she must be oppressed, by the men in her life, or her culture, or her religion. While this is the case sometimes, it's also certainly not true for all veiled woman. Many women choose to wear the veil as an independent, personal choice. It might be to honor her religion, to force people in society to interact with her on the basis of her personality and intellect instead of appearance, as an affirmation of her identity, or other reasons.

Why do I like it? It makes me feel comfortable and secure. I am stared at each and every day wherever I go here in China, and often judged (positively, I must admit,) purely on the basis of my skin and hair color. When I wore the veil in the mosques in Lebanon and Syria, limiting the ability of people to judge me based on my appearance was very attractive. It's not that I'm considering wearing it in my daily life, but that I appreciate the experience.

Besides, the concept of covering one's head has appeared in different cultures and religions all over the world:

For more on the veil, read one woman's explanation of her decision to wear the veil here.

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