Hijab Experiences

This article explores the relationship between hijab and gendered Islamophobia and how it affects Muslim women’s daily experiences. The authors highlight that the hijab has become a symbol of Muslim identity and a target of hate and discrimination in many Western societies, making Muslim women more vulnerable to hatred and intolerance. The article emphasizes the importance of intersectionality and recognizes the unique experiences of Muslim women who belong to multiple marginalized groups. Through personal stories, the article sheds light on the discrimination and marginalization that Muslim women face while wearing hijab, calling for increased awareness and action to address gendered Islamophobia.

The article “Hijab, Gendered Islamophobia, and the Lived Experiences of Muslim Women” by Dr. Naved Bakali and Nour Soubani explores the relationship between hijab and gendered Islamophobia and how it affects the lives of Muslim women. The authors argue that the hijab has become a symbol of Muslim identity and a target of hate and discrimination in many Western societies. They also discuss how this gendered Islamophobia affects the daily experiences of Muslim women, including incidents of discrimination and hate crime, harassment and microaggressions, and feelings of alienation and marginalization.

The authors use a qualitative research approach, including in-depth interviews with Muslim women in the United States and Canada, to explore the experiences of Muslim women about hijab and gendered Islamophobia. They find that Muslim women who wear hijab often face significant challenges, including physical and verbal assaults, workplace discrimination, and negative stereotypes and prejudices. Additionally, the authors argue that hijab is a key factor in the perpetuation of gendered Islamophobia and its impact on Muslim women, as it makes them more visible and identifiable as Muslim, which can make them more vulnerable to hate and discrimination.


The authors suggest the importance of Muslim women who wear hijabs in discussions about gendered Islamophobia and discrimination

The authors also discuss the importance of intersectionality. Muslim women who wear hijab may face discrimination based on other factors. Such as race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. They also highlight the need for increased awareness and education about gendered Islamophobia and its impact on Muslim women. As well as the need for effective interventions to address and counteract these negative experiences.

Hijab and gendered Islamophobia are deeply intertwined. Muslim women who wear hijab are often subjected to negative experiences and discrimination. The authors call for increased attention and action to address gendered Islamophobia and its impact on Muslim women. As well as recognizing the importance of the hijab as a symbol of identity for many Muslim women.

Muslim Women Who Wear Hijab: Impact of Gendered Islamophobia

In 1989, Kimberle Crenshaw introduced the term “intersectionality.” Crenshaw wanted to address the problem with feminist and anti-racist identity politics. That overlooked essential differences within a group for a unified political cause. She believed the feminist movement treated all women like their experiences were the same. In contrast, the anti-racist movement treated all people of color as if their experiences were the same. Ignoring the overlapping experiences of women of color. Intersectionality encompasses the intersection of multiple identities, such as race, class, gender, and citizenship. How the combined effects of marginalization contribute to a unique experience for those who belong to multiple marginalized groups.

When it comes to Muslims, it is essential to recognize that not all Muslims experience Islamophobia in the same way. Islamophobia affects multiple levels, compounded by struggles of race, class, and gender. Muslim women, in particular, experience Islamophobia about religion and gender. The hijab, in particular, plays a role in the experiences of gendered Islamophobia among Muslim women. The figure of the Muslim woman and the hijab has been a central part of Western society’s narratives. Those of colonization, invasion, and violence against Muslim communities. The hijab has often been objectified and used to justify military occupation. It has been a source of controversy in European politics, with attempts to ban it from public space.

Lived Experiences in Hijab

The article then shares the experiences of a young White convert to Islam named Noor. She reported that she did not face much discrimination but still acknowledged the existence of anti-Muslim sentiments. Despite not experiencing much racism, she was personally targeted for her Muslim appearance. Shared an incident she faced while taking public transportation.

Noor was born and raised in a community and was part of the majority population. She faced verbal and physical abuse and was told to “go back to your country.” Whenever she started wearing the hijab. This treatment shows how wearing a Muslim symbol like the hijab can make someone feel like an outsider. Even if they are a part of the majority population. According to Abo-Zena, Sahli, and Tobias-Nahi, Muslim women who wear the hijab often face marginalization because of hate speech. Noor’s aggressors saw themselves as the ones with the power. They were to decide what was acceptable in their society and what needed to be rejected. Her wearing of the hijab marked her as contaminating the nationalist space. Which showed that her perceived belonging to the society was based on her conformity to the majority culture.

The Hijab and the Burden of Representing Islam in America

The idea of the nation is more than just physical borders. It’s also an imagined community produced and sustained by citizens. Those who imagine they share a strong bond and separate themselves from people outside the nation. However, wearing a hijab, which suggests a change in religion, can lead to a change in perceived race. This process of racializing Islam results from imperialism, slavery, war, and conquest. As a result, Muslims in America are diverse but are often seen as one racial category. Noor’s experience as a white convert differs from that of Arab, Black, Latino, and South Asian Muslim women. Those who face the added racialization of being seen as terrorists, immigrants, and thugs.

Ayesha, a high school student, reflects on her experiences of wearing the hijab for the first time in grade nine. She mentions that wearing the hijab made her feel like she had to become a spokesperson for Islam. Whenever there would be a debate or discussion about Islam or Muslims in her classes. Everyone would look to her to provide the answer, despite her being just 14 years old. Ayesha describes this phenomenon as “spotlighting,” which refers to the idea that students of minority. R.0

eligious, ethnic, or cultural groups are expected to speak for or otherwise justify their group’s beliefs or actions.

Ayesha’s experiences reflect a broader discourse about Islam that tries to reduce world events and actions of Muslims to matters of culture rather than historical, societal, and political processes. This type of analysis often assumes that Muslim students can explain the motivations of those who committed acts of terror, even though they do not agree with these actions, and that they should be able to explain the actions of hijackers just because they share the same religion.

A woman wearing a white hijab, a mask on her face, while standing.

Hijab and Islamophobia

This article focuses on the gendered aspects of Islamophobia as experienced by Muslim women in North America who wear the hijab. The study uses an ethnographic approach to explore the various ways in which these women face Islamophobia, including in societal interactions, educational settings, media representations, and through the sexualization of Muslim women.

The goal of this qualitative study is not to provide general conclusions about the experiences of Muslim women in North America but rather to shed light on the participants’ experiences. Through this, the study contributes to the broader understanding of systemic and interpersonal racism experienced by racialized communities, with a particular emphasis on Muslim women who wear the hijab.

The hijab and its relationship with Islamophobia are intricately intertwined in Western societies. The experiences of hijab-wearing Muslim women provide insight into how the hijab is perceived as a symbol of race, sexuality, culture, and national identity. The stories shared in this paper serve as a starting point for further examination and understanding of the complexities of Islamophobia and its gendered dimensions.

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