this hijāb

by Aqeela Naqvi

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fatima. khadijah. marryam. aasiyah. zaynab.

yours is a legacy of strong women.

they will try to make you forget this.

do not forget this.

the purity of Islam has been preserved through this line of woman warriors. intellectual leaders. social reformers. spiritual masters.

woman warriors – and their shield, this hijāb.

they will try to make you forget this.

do not forget this.

to the world, it may seem like just a cloth. and this is what those seeking to weaken its power would have you believe. but to the guardians of its secrets, the preservers of its message, the ones who have uncovered its knowledge… it is starlight. it is magic. it is the taste of flight.

this hijāb is revolution incarnate.

it is not a mere thing, to be neatly packaged and photographed, consumerized, fetishized, pluralized, interpretized, glamorized, objectified, accessorized. it is not yours to sell to the highest bidder.

this hijāb is the great and terrible beauty of ancient seas.

it does not bow to your modernity. it does not answer to your so-called progress. it does not change its tune to the whims of puppeteers.

this hijāb, is the wild majesty of the water’s crashing roar. and should you be foolish enough to attempt to tame its vastness to serve your smallness,

it will swallow you whole.


Rise and revolt…with the help of your hijab, the depth of which you have now fully realized, which has bestowed upon you the infinite capacity of being human, and which has liberated you from all the criteria of imperialism and exploitation.

…I am free. I am released…Throughout the millennia of decadent history you have used me as a domestic servant, a tool for the bed, and a source for enervating willpowers, stupefying the brains, and destroying supreme values and have turned me subservient to the whims of man…you have diverted my mind… [but] now, in the shelter of modesty and chastity I have abandoned the display in streets and markets and the mass media of communication, the…works of…poets and writers who, by picturing my eyes, eyebrows, and my body try to make good for their lack of aptitude… With my Hijab, with the heavy social responsibility of the commands to do what is good and forbid what is wrong…I enter the stage of society and conquer all its planes.

…The type of woman who you had yourself forged, had yourself trained, had yourself taught ideals – the way of talking, laughing, wishing, longing…you have now lost such a woman, such a stronghold…this stronghold shall never fall into your hands.”

—Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, ‘Beauty of Concealment and Concealment of Beauty’