Not Every Woman Who Wears The Headscarf Is Oppressed

Portrait of a woman on the window of a cafe in Istanbul.
Portrait of a woman on the window of a cafe in Istanbul.

The headscarf is a controversial and widely-discussed issue today. It has been perceived as a political symbol, a symbol for oppression, as well as a fashion statement. So, what is it? No one can really decide. Can't we just call it like it is? It's a headscarf.

There are many reasons why women wear headscarves. But no one expected that a piece of cloth could divide society in that way.

We live in a country that gives us freedom in all aspects of life. That means that while we are bound to the constitution and to unwritten rules of co-existence, we have the right to individual expression. And one way that human beings express themselves strongly is through the clothes they decide to wear.

People have taken the phrase "clothes make the man" literally. The headscarf has been declared a deprecatory garment, and so every woman wearing a headscarf has been deemed an oppressed housewife living in a parallel society. These women are confined to stereotypes to the extent that no one notices that many of them are well-educated and confident members of society and the workforce. And yes, they wear a headscarf! And yes, they wear it out of conviction! And yes, they wear it voluntarily!

There are people who find freedom in putting a piece of fabric on their head, wearing long, loose clothing and not calling everyone by their first names.

Nowadays, life is all about appearances. Everywhere you look, you see representations of the perfect face and the perfect body -- even the perfect personality. Perfectionism seems to have developed into a religion of its own. Everywhere, beauty-gurus are preaching about what "perfect" really means. The argument that real beauty is on the inside is completely overlooked amid this perfectionism craze.

The body is viewed as a construction site -- there is always something that needs to be repaired, be it temporarily or permanently.

In the grand scheme of things, there are people who do not seek to force themselves to reach perfection. There are people who simply desire to feel free -- they desire the freedom not to show the whole world their whole self. There are people who only want to be seen -- regardless of the question of perfection -- by the people closest to them. There are people who find freedom in putting a piece of fabric on their head, wearing long, loose clothing and not calling everyone by their first names.

Why do we want to rob these women of their freedom, by forcing them to get rid of a piece of fabric on their heads? Why do we want them to give up their individuality? Why is it necessary to make their lives difficult?

It would be quite understandable if people were opposed to hijab-wearing woman trying to force other people to also wear the headscarf, or if the act of wearing the headscarf harmed anyone, by restricting their freedom in our freedom-loving society.

But this is not the case -- women wearing the headscarf do not try to force anyone else to do the same. And their hijab harms no one.

It is therefore inconceivable that one would want to disturb the souls of these women, by forcing them to keep their outer selves out of tune with their inner selves.

A Muslim woman chooses to wear the headscarf because she loves her creator unconditionally, and is prepared to follow this commandment to cover herself.

But why does a Muslim woman decide to wear a headscarf? As I mentioned before, there are many different reasons for women to wear a headscarf. I will not rule out that some Muslim women are forced to wear it. And I feel sorry for these women, for being robbed of the personal decision to wear or remove the headscarf. I also have pity for the people who force the headscarf on these women. To me, being a human being is about giving every person their freedom.

However, there are also women, like myself, who wear the headscarf voluntarily. But why? The answer is simple: Because love is blind. When a Muslim woman decides to wear the headscarf, it means that her heart and soul are so immersed in the love of God, that it is self-evident for her to follow one of his many commandments.

When a human being loves another human being, they would do everything for their happiness and satisfaction, if only to demonstrate their love and admiration. Similarly, a Muslim woman chooses to wear the headscarf because she loves her creator unconditionally, and is prepared to follow this commandment to cover herself.

God does not force anyone. He asks with love. This allows me the freedom to make a statement, and, at the same time, to urge people to get to know the real me -- the part of me that is eternally covered in a veil of beauty.

I will not let myself be bought by people, because I have sold myself to God. As tough as this may be for people to hear, as long as I do not harm anyone with my headscarf, then no one needs to harm me by asking me to take it off.

A small note at the end: As Muslims or non-Muslims, we have to understand that wearing a piece of cloth does not make a person any better or worse, because humans are fallible creatures, with whom we must be tolerant.

This post first appeared on HuffPost Germany. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.