"Can Non-Muslims Wear the Hijab?" & Other FAQs on Cultural Appropriation

Yesterday was World Hijab Day.

While the organization has received criticism in recent years for promoting cultural appropriation and slut-shaming, it has played an undeniably vital role in bringing to light the struggle of millions of hijabis around the world. It has also sparked an important debate on cultural appropriation and dressing in solidarity with Muslim women. This post will answer some of the most frequently asked questions pertaining to the subject.

   1) Is it okay for a non-Muslim woman to cover her hair?

Although the headscarf has become synonymous with the Muslim faith, it is not a practice exclusive to Islam. Both men and women from other faiths also cover their hair for religious purposes. Non-Muslim women who cover their hair should refrain from referring to their headscarf as a hijab, however, as that word is used exclusively by Muslims. 
While women of other faiths can cover their hair, they should not refer to their headscarf as a "hijab".

   2) Can I wear the hijab to conduct a social experiment?

No. This is extremely offensive as it implies that my experiences as a hijabi are not enough to convince people that the discrimination I face is real. Why is it necessary for a non-Muslim to "prove" Islamophobia is real? There are hundreds of Muslims who have gotten killed, stalked, and harassed by Islamophobes. Their stories have been shared widely around the world. Plus, there is ample statistical evidence to prove Islamophobia is a serious concern for Muslims in Western nations. Why don't you believe us when we tell you our stories?

   3) Can a non-Muslim wear a hijab in solidarity with hijabis?

There are other ways to show solidarity with us. Supporting our businesses, fighting for us when we are being harassed in public, offering to take public transit with us to protect us from Islamophobic attack, and giving us more representation in your artwork are just some of the many things you can do to help us. Unfortunately, non-Muslims wearing a hijab does not help us out much.

   4) Can a non-Muslim buy modest clothing from Islamic stores?

Absolutely, as long as it's not traditional clothing like kaftans or shalwar kameez. Dresses, skirts, and hijabs are fair game.

   5) Can I wear a headscarf because it's beautiful?

Since religious women are ostracized for covering their hair, it is inappropriate to wear a headscarf because you think it's "cute". 

Sorry, gothmummi.

   6) Can I follow hijabi beauty bloggers and share pictures of hijabis on my page?

Of course. As long as you're not fetishizing us.

    7) Can I cover my hair to protect myself from the weather?

I am not going to encourage you to freeze to death or suffocate in a sandstorm because you were trying to be culturally sensitive.

    8) What if a hijabi insists I wear one for a special event?

This is considered cultural exchange, not appropriation, and is completely alright.

Got any more questions that need to be answered? Don't hesitate to contact me!

Posted in , . permalink. RSS feed

18 Responses to "Can Non-Muslims Wear the Hijab?" & Other FAQs on Cultural Appropriation

  1. yes! it is very important to finding the most excellent clothing for comfort levels. Visit: Hijab

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm late to comment on this, but I only just found your blog through Facebook. Ironically, this topic is something I've thought of a lot, because (for health reasons that aren't interesting enough to get into), I am a pasty white lady who has bad reactions if I'm left out in the sun for too long (30 minutes- 1 hour, depending on the heat/ intensity). And I don't mean I burn- I break out in hives and get mild flu-like symptoms. As a result, I end up wearing a headscarf on days when it's very sunny and hot. Quite honestly, I'd consider covering my face too, if I wouldn't feel completely insensitive by doing so.
    This is my way of saying that I'm happy to read your thoughts as a hijabi on this matter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kate - i have the same struggles about sunshine and hot - in Italy there is a special medication (it's basically made up of some minerals) to soothe your troubles... one of the three main integrients is Kalium and Magnesium...try this!

      Delete
  3. Very informative and interesting post. It is really a big help. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
    why do muslim women wear hijab

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi !
    I have a similar question...
    Does a non-muslim white woman can wear a hidjab in a small sketch of a play, with the intention of denouncing the prejudices around it?

    Thank you !

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi !
    I have a similar question...
    Does a non-muslim white woman can wear a hidjab in a small sketch of a play, with the intention of denouncing the prejudices around it?

    Thank you !

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for this post. I was talking to a friend of mine just today on whether this would be an acceptable way to a) express solidarity and b) decrease the Muslim woman's exposure since we are in an area with very few women wearing the hijab. (Kind of like the zebra camouflage, poor example but effective in explaining what I'm meaning)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have worn scarves all my life to protect my hair from wind and weather. So does the Queen of England. I have liked the fashion since Jackie Kennedy made scarves a fashion statement. It has no religious significance for me, and I see no reason to change. I wear a scarf, or sometimes a shawl. Not a hijab.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm middle eastern Jew. My family originat came from Israel and Yemen and wore hijab. I wear it because I believe it's more modest and I like the style and because my religion commands me to cover. Muslims wear styles from all over the world. The headscarf and hijab isn't exclusively muslim. Jews were wearing something almost identical thousands of years before islam. so long as you understand that people will see you as muslim from a distance and you aren't doing anything to disrespect that then anyone should be able to wear it regardless of the reasons. it's the right of every women not just muslims to cover or uncover as she pleases

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm middle eastern Jew. My family originat came from Israel and Yemen and wore hijab. I wear it because I believe it's more modest and I like the style and because my religion commands me to cover. Muslims wear styles from all over the world. The headscarf and hijab isn't exclusively muslim. Jews were wearing something almost identical thousands of years before islam. so long as you understand that people will see you as muslim from a distance and you aren't doing anything to disrespect that then anyone should be able to wear it regardless of the reasons. it's the right of every women not just muslims to cover or uncover as she pleases

    ReplyDelete
  10. as a hijabi myself, i wouldnt mind non-muslim women wearing the hijab. writers on cultural appropriation love to talk about how its unfair that people who appropriate dont have to deal with any actual consequences. the way i see it, that isnt their fault. second of all, marginalized groups like us muslims may face adversity in western countries because some people in western countries arent educated about other cultural practices due to the fact that they havent had much exposure to certain culture. if other people wear hijab WHILE understanding its significance, then other people can ask any non-muslims they come in contact with about the hijabs significance THUS raising cultural and religious understanding of different cultures so that over time, marginalized groups of people like us muslims dont get hate for wearing the hijab etc.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Kate, it's your body. You are absolutely free to cover your hair and face however you please. I'm saying this as a Muslim woman who wears hijab and wore a Niqab overseas at one point. Imho anyone who says you're "appropriating" them is pushing this too far. My happiness does not and will not ever depend upon what you wear. I get a headache when social justice goes too far.

    ReplyDelete
  13. There is no such thing as cultural appropriation, you cannot appropriate what cannot be owned. Anyone can wear what they like and call it what they like. For any group to try to ringfence an item of clothing, a pattern or a symbol as something exclusive to them is chauvinistic and discriminatory and should be resisted.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I lost some hair through medication so I ware a headscarf I tried goi g outside without it on but cannot as I feel naked so I always ware it my motto is I not asking people to like me I also think the body should be covered is this me wrong thinking

    Non Muslim woman

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for the post about wearing these dresses, please check http://eprice.co.in/shawls/ | http://eprice.co.in/products/ as well.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I do not know where to begin other than saying that I would like to begin to wear a hijab style headscarf. There are many reasons for this but the main reason is that I am very tired of being overly sexualized. I want people to see me for me and not just my appearance. I have done a bit of research on what women have to say about wearing hijabs and I have to admit that I was very moved and inspired. I have spoken about this with my parents, my father was fine with it (his grandmother wore headscarves), but my mother is completely against it. My father grew up as a Jehova's witness and my mother as a Roman Catholic. They both stopped actively participating in their religion when they got together but they are still inherently religious in their hearts. They both have openly discussed and shared with me their religions growing up but they never made me choose one religion over the other or any religion for that matter. They wanted me to choose for myself and that has lead me to respect people of all religions and walks of life. Therefore, I want to know if I would be disrespecting anyone in anyway for wearing a hijab style headscarf. I believe my mother is strongly against it because she fears for my safety, but lets face it, as a female, most of us normally aren't 100% safe in most of our days. I am more empathetic with understanding the feelings of empowerment, respect for oneself, and modesty that comes along with deciding to wear hijab.

    ReplyDelete

Powered by Blogger.