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Muslim clothing is representative of culture

Staff Writer

Published: Friday, November 5, 2010

Updated: Friday, November 5, 2010 14:11


Think about the clothing people wear. Think about the impressions people get from seeing certain garments on people. Someone with sweatpants and a t-shirt may have just rolled out of bed, gotten back from the gym, or just felt like wearing that particular outfit for comfort. Someone dressed in business attire may have a class presentation, interview, or has to dress that way for their job, or just wants to look nice for the day. It is human nature to judge a person from what they wear, the perceptions they give off from how they present themselves in their attire, and clothing can also tell about an individual’s economic status. Throughout history and even now, people have used clothing to show their class rank and wealth. Sometimes we let clothing define who we are. As humans, we cannot really help judging a book by its cover sometimes, such as judging people based on their attire.

Take the hijab as an example. A girl or woman with a head scarf on, veiling their hair, neck and ears. One would assume that they are Muslim, for it is traditional for them to wear a hijab. Most Muslim women I see around campus wearing the hijab match it perfectly with their clothing; a fashionable head scarf, with ornate patterns and colors, looking as if it were made from silk or another very soft material. Covering the entire head just to reveal the face of the wearer, one can see a natural beauty of the many women that wear hijabs.  Such a beautiful headpiece, that just exposes the face of the wearer, brings so much controversy. 

It can be argued that Islam is not just a religion, but also a culture. Muslims are those who follow the Islam religion and they have many traditions from centuries ago that are still upheld. The hijab is not just part of the religion, but also the culture. Modesty is seen as a way of life for many Muslims and the hijab symbolizes this. Women may have different reasons for wearing the headpiece, but for the most part, being a modest woman is a large part of their culture. In our American culture, it may be seen differently. Prior to September 11, women wearing hijabs were seen as oppressed. Their culture and religion was misunderstood and many may have felt sorry for the women having to wear their headpieces. These women are proud of what they are wearing. Anida Masuod, an American born Muslim, states that the “hijab is empowering… men know to respect us and we in turn are respecting ourselves. It is not to say that women that do not wear hijabs are disrespecting themselves […] it is just part of our beliefs”. 

After September 11, the nation had a heightened sense over people who were different. Such as when communism was big in Russia, people worried about Russian spies.  When the United States experienced the Pearl Harbor bombing, people feared Japanese Americans. To make people feel safer in this country, Japanese Americans were imprisoned and oppressed. Surely there was much discrimination afterwards towards them because of the fear the nation had. Muslims in America after September 11 were also discriminated against, seen as terrorists and so forth. Perhaps when you see a woman wearing a hijab, your first thought is “they are Muslim” and may be followed by the idea of terrorism and thoughts of September 11. History tends to have a way of repeating itself. A group, minority, or culture that is so different from “American” ideals will always be discriminated against. As much as people want to change the perspectives of others, the sad and realistic truth is that with time, these perspectives do change, but unfortunately, there will always be another group to target in terms of discrimination, racial profiling and cultural differences.  

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