I met Sara in high school. We are kindred spirits. We are both random and wacky and inappropriate. After high school we talked off and on, but sadly more off than on. We got to facebook chatting today and I (obviously) stalked her facebook page for awhile. Then I saw she wasn't wearing her scarf (or hijab that I have always known her to wear. I always thought Sara was brave. She wore her scarf after 9-11 and despite what anyone else thought, she wore it with pride and was always confidant in who she was and what she believed in. I adored her for her spirit and bravery. I wasn't that sure I could be that visible about my beliefs especially in such judgmental times. That brings me back to the present.
Sara posted a note about her "coming out" and not wearing her hijab anymore. I wanted to share because I think it is beautifully written and honest and soul baring... and also I am so proud that she is someone who I call a friend.
"Breaking up with a piece of fabric was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made.
I became a 'visible' Muslim a few months before 9/11, so it is difficult for me to separate the hijab from Islamophobia, and breaking those stereotypes was at the core of my identity.
I did not know who I was without it. Being 'That' Muslim girl became, to a certain extent, my crutch. I used to associate taking off the hijab with bowing over to the pressure of Islamophobia. While I have never believed that clothing correlates with faith, I did fear that people would perceive me as one who 'gave up'. My focus was on debunking stereotypes and representing Muslims in a positive light. Disrupting the 'usual image' of a Muslim woman was just another day on the job. That began to override my own spiritual journey. Negotiating my identity is still a very real part of my existence. I am not alone in this. Many of us carry a lot of different cards, I just happen to be making sense of a very visible one.
At this point in time, wearing a hijab is not right for me, but I refuse to be ashamed or apologetic about it. I am the same person. I still make questionable fashion choices, I still speak to strangers, and I am still very loud. I am not ashamed of my identity, and I was proud of being a hijabi. However, I think that I needed to find myself outside of that persona.
I debated 'coming out' on Facebook, for a number of reasons. It is uncomfortable for me to 'come out' to an audience that consists of many people that I have not spoken to in years. It is for this reason that I refuse to outline some of the deep and personal feelings that are tied into this decision. At the same time, as I start to build my experiences as a writer, I felt that I could no longer progress without allowing my picture to be online.
It is my hope that I will be met with sincerity and support from my peers, especially from the community that I grew up in. For those of you that would like to engage in a theological debate, I am not interested. Pray for my soul, if you'd like, but keep it to yourself. For those of you that are interested in gossip, I won't indulge that either. (In the words of every internet meme: Haterz gon hate) Finally, to those who support me, and have listened to me struggle with this change, thank you. You have kept me sane.
And finally, to my sparkly hijabs: It wasn't you, it was me."
So Sara, you will always have my support! Also I'm pretty sure you will be a world famous journalist quite soon :-)