“I want to cover my hair, but I don’t want to be disrespectful”.
-Sister to Sister
To all of my Sisters who share this concern, I want you to know that it’s not disrespectful if you decide to cover your hair.
I titled this post (thanks to an accountability partner who actually gave me the title) “Muslimah Appropriation unCovered” as a play on words. It’s not appropriation because you aren’t taking anything without permission. You already have God’s, the Author and Creator of Life, permission to cover. So let’s uncover why it is not disrespectful and then cover.
It does not matter what your beliefs are. Choosing to cover your hair is one of the best decisions that you can make as a woman. Even if this decision is only for one day, it’s very impactful and it’s an experience that you will never forget.
Before you continue to read, I first want to share if you don’t believe in the scriptures, that’s fine. I just want to provide additional understanding of why I choose to cover my hair. Let’s not focus on beliefs, but more-so on our experience of covering and uncovering our hair.
Here are the reasons why I cover my hair:
- It’s God’s law.
First, God and both The Bible and Holy Qur’an provide instructions on women covering their hair.
Sisters your hair is an adornment.
1 Peter 3:3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel
Adornment: something that adds attractiveness; ornament; accessory
Our hair is not just hair. It’s a part of what makes us attractive to a man. When covering your hair, as a woman you’re noticed for your mind and not just for your physical beauty.
I am approached with caution and care when my hair is covered. However, I will admit that the way I cover my hair also makes a huge difference.
If I cover my hair in what I refer to as a “relaxed” or “fun” way, I tend to blend in with the group.
However, when I wear a draped scarf to show I’m a Muslim in The Nation of Islam, I get the utmost respect that I demand with my presence alone. And I honestly don’t blend in. I don’t share this in a boastful way; it’s a very beautiful experience each time.
**I can’t share why I cover my hair without touching on the headpiece. The headpiece is valuable it makes me feel like a very angelic being, a god. I literally feel as if I’m being elevated with every moment that it’s covering my hair. My headpiece speaks without me saying a word. It tells the world that I am a follower and I stand with The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, under the Divine Guidance of The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. They instantly bring life, so every time I speak, even when I’m not wearing my headpiece, I better be a light for those I come across. As I stand, I better be a reflection of grace.
Although, it is way lighter than an experience of wearing a scarf, it isn’t light weight to be in a headpiece. I put my life on the line to earn the right to wear a headpiece, Brothers and Sisters of the first (phase of The Nation of Islam) sacrificed their life to make the headpiece a reality. So although I’m still here physically, every time I’m wearing my headpiece, I stand for them. There are many who don’t desire to see me in this stance, so with every opportunity that I get to wear it, I am killing the devil inside self.
The headpiece also helps me with accepting my natural appearance. When I look in the mirror and see nothing, but face *laughs*, it truly brings a smile. Not only does it help me to love me, I know I am pleasing Allah when I’m embracing the headpiece.
It represents acceptance, beauty, courage, healing, and life.
My headpiece is important to me because when I wear it, it is the most beautiful I’ve felt inside. It has given me an abundance of reasons to live. The headpiece is freedom, justice, and equality.
From a casual covering to a draped scarf to a headpiece, they all may be modest, but they each have a message. I appreciate each covering, but I’d rather wear the headpiece. It’s the protection I need.**
You see the difference? What do you want to reflect? What will you stand for?
When I walk in a room where Brothers are engaging in conversation that may not be elevated, Brothers will instantly apologize and change their topic. Sometimes they’ll even ask how I’m doing. Regardless if they stop to speak with me, the fact that they acknowledge me by being willing to “level up” their thoughts and tone scale, honestly makes me happy on the inside (especially when these are Brothers I don’t know). It also lets me know I have a huge responsibility as a woman. The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches: “A nation can rise no higher than its woman”. Sisters we are the standard. When men see us rise, it lets them know it’s also their time to step up to the plate, according to how we serve (and I’m not talking about food – how you serve yourself).
This next point may sound crazy, but my family and friends are also cautious with their language. If they slip with a curse word, they apologize. I don’t expect or ask them to do this at all. They have always been really respectful of what they are saying around what some calls my “innocent/youthful ears”.
Plenty of men have offered or just went to hold the door for me or carry my belongings, walk me to my car, (Brothers who don’t consider themselves to be Muslim and who don’t attend a mosque) just because of my hair covering. It’s like I’m wearing a sign that reads “get that door Brother” *laughs*. Honestly, at first, it’s feels weird when you notice chivalry still exists, but once you come to realize you deserve it and this is the way life is supposed to be, it becomes something you enjoy and prefer.
If there was any fine print with this post it would read, “Sisters, every Brother isn’t going to hold the door or your belongings for you or care that you’ve walked into the room. People won’t always think to protect you. We already know that without covering our hair. However, this just means that he does not have the knowledge of self yet. *smile* There can’t be expectations when it comes to covering.”
Last, I feel most confident when my crown is on my head. I feel and know I am free, despite how anyone may attempt to make me feel any other way. I am modest, not just in my appearance, but also in my mindset. How I communicate is very thoughtful. I have to admit that I’m not always the modest version of me when I make slight adjustments to how I cover. I don’t compromise. I just get relaxed at times and it’s honestly a reflection of my actions. I know that I’m a work in progress though. God is not done with me (his wonderful book), yet. I am so thankful for His patience with me. Most importantly it’s not just about covering my hair. I cover my entire body with loose fitting clothes. There’s power in this Sisters, but that needs an explanation for a different post.
Wearing your scarf for the first time may not be easy, but it’s definitely liberating. I’m happy to share my first experience in a later post.
How can covering your hair be disrespectful when it is a sign of respect? I hope you feel empowered to cover your hair when you choose and as you choose. Also, there are a lot of women who admit they are Muslim, who aren’t always seen covering their hair. So how can anyone who is Muslim say anything to a woman, who may not say they are Muslim, for covering her hair when they themselves may possibly be disrespectful to their beautiful selves and what they say they believe. Zero judgement. Just truth. We all have something we’re working on. The only time it’s disrespectful is when you wear something that is a representation of something else. If you’re not in The Nation of Islam and following The Teachings, don’t wear a headpiece, just as I wouldn’t wear the uniform of anything that I’m not following.
If you decide to cover your hair, feel free to do so in whatever way makes you comfortable. Don’t worry about what others will have to say or what looks you get. There is always going to be someone judging you even when your hair isn’t covered. If you need anyone to ask questions as you begin your journey or just to share your experience with, you have a Sister here.
For another perspective of why a Sister covers her hair, here’s a short good read, “Why I Wear My Headpiece” by Sharien Muhammad.
Join your Sisters on National Hijab Day (February 1) or any other day to cover your hair. Your crown makes a better you!
**Updated Wednesday, January 17, 2018