“Dina, that’s not a hijab”

There has been a rise in Muslim fashion bloggers removing their hijab recently and the Muslim community is having none of it.

Simply take a look at Dina Tokio’s comments on YouTube and Instagram. The constant barrage of hate she is receiving for displaying a few strands of hair or, as seen in her earlier videos, comments around how she wrapped her scarf.

I wore a hijab since I was in primary school and thought it was the norm and anybody who didn’t wear it wasn’t a Muslim. I see this in my 9 year old sister now who constantly questions if I follow Islam because I don’t wear a hijab. I remember in Islamic school I told a teacher that a girl who was probably 9 wasn’t wearing her hijab because to me it was seen as a big taboo.

This was my frame of mind till I attended a girls school in year 9. Suddenly I was surrounded by people from other religions along with Muslims who didn’t wear a hijab and I really struggled with this culture shift. I guess this was the point in life where I became too ‘western’ for my parents.

In the first 2 years of uni, I would go to the bus station or shopping mall toilets to get changed out of my hijab and burka because I stopped feeling comfortable with it. I felt constantly trapped by it because it was never my choice in the first place. It wasn’t until 3rd year of university that I finally told my parents I didn’t want to wear it anymore. Since then, I’ve felt a real change in the community of Muslims and how they behaved around me. I was no longer invited to talks, my mum’s friends stop being overly caring towards me and my dad ‘gave up’ on me.

I was seen as a whore in my dad’s eyes who was making choices in life because I wanted a man around me. People like my father can’t understand that I was on a journey in figuring out my own identity and that all the hateful comments I was receiving from family members was only proving the fact that removing my hijab was the right thing to do and pushing me away from Islam.

Not too long ago my uncle, who used to abuse his ex-wife and parents, told me that I was letting down the family and tarnishing their izzat by removing my hijab. Because apparently physically abusing your wife isn’t?

Is the hijab the only thing that makes us Muslim? I’ve heard from guys who have been clubbing and dated who say they want a hijabi wife to make them a better Muslim. No, we can’t hypnotise you into praying 5 times a day. We don’t exist to rehabilitate you as Muslims and as people.

People like those who comment on Dina’s posts only make me question if I’m allowed to call myself a Muslim because I don’t wear a hijab. It wouldn’t matter if I prayed and had the compassion, humility and kindness Islam sought. It’s the personal autonomy that threatens many and, in their eyes, makes me a bad Muslim. I’m only a Muslim if I wear the hijab.

Ok cool it is 2am and I have therapy at 9.

Bye bye ~

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11 Comments

  1. I’m really happy and proud of how much courage you have to take that huge step despite the toxic mentality of people surrounding you. I can totally relate to your story but I could never build up the strength to take my hijab off!

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      1. Would appreciate if you could expand on your comment. Am always looking to be educated about Islam rather than being told off.

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  2. This is a honest insight into what’s it like to be Muslimah not wear a head scarf. It just makes me sad that people put more emphasis on appearance than how the person carries herself.
    Perhaps if family were more supportive it would have encouraged you to continue wearing headscarf, though it is your choice as person how you choose to dress and practice your faith.
    I think people need constant reminder that just wearing Islamic dress doesnt make you an angel its who you are as a person. Judging only people only shows their ugly side.
    I keep thinking if people in my own life too were more openly supportive it would make room for positive growth.

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  3. I’m not a Muslim. Just a fashion fan. As an outsider looking into the Hijab community I see so much judgment and hate directed at people from their brothers and sisters in religion. Muslims experience so much judgement in this world I think that you don’t need to pour the extra hate on fellow believers.

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  4. This is very brave of you! Living in a majority muslim country, where children are told to wear the headscarf before they understand the concept of Hijab, I soooooooooo get you! My opinion of people who think you can only be a muslim if you cover yourself is this, if you’re doing it to please the people around you, and not god, are you being sincere? Aren’t you doing it just to please the people around you so that you in turn will be loved and cherished more the way your mum’s friends treated you when you wore your headscarf… Your job as a muslim is to submit to god, not other followers of Islam… If you as a muslim woman cannot accept and continue to criticise, demean even and bully other muslim woman for not wearing the hijab, are you worthy of the name Hijabi?

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  5. Wow, I feel so sad reading this. In hindsight now I realise how lucky I was that my culture doesn’t have an obsession with hijab wearing & as such I never was expected to wear hijab by my parents, my mother didn’t either. I can’t belive people think wearing hijab is the only way to preserve modesty, these are brain washed people indeed. May God open their hearts and minds!

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  6. I hope you find peace of mind and heart, may your journey reach our Creator, and if you or Dina Torkia or any other sister in
    Islam for that matter should devide to return to the hijab or not, know that you are still our sisters in Deen and we ought to pray and support each other.

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  7. Dear Sisters

    As someone who has lived through this I can offer some insight. I also removed my hijab at one stage in my life (a period of 6 years) but I eventually came back to it with Allah’s guidence, Alghamdulilah. I see a number of factors as the cause for removing the hijaab. Hijab is deeply personal and factors which influence it is nature, nurture and environment. I will list them and what remedy I believe works: (not all my points will apply to everyone)

    1) incorrect aqeedah and little or no understanding of the islamic ruling that requires us to cover.
    – studying tawheed (understanding who Allah is) will increase your taqwah (God conciousness) and will cause u to love Allah and will make u want to obey him to please him and because u trust in him to know whats best for u.
    2) not enough knowledge of our islamic history and the great muslim women of Islam.
    – knowing the correct women to emulate and take as role models helps us to hold ourselves to a higher standard. Muslim women were th forerunners of liberation. Fatima al fihri ipening th first university, Aisha (ra) the greatest female islamic scholar who reported th most hadeeth, maryiam mither of jesus who was pure and chaste safeguarding her virtue, khadija first wife of prophet muhammad who was a business woman and married th prophet when he was 25 and she was 40, etc.
    3) environment and friends: living in a place where muslims are attacked and persecuted and/or a non muslim environment where there is peer pressure to be more westernized
    – in the first case where it becomes difficult to practice islam due to physical safety then it is compulsory to move to a place where u can practice freely. In th second case of peer pressure, this is where parents need to shoulder some of the blame. Placing your child in a non muslim environment places them in a peer pressured situation where if they are not strong personalities they will succumb to the influences around them. And adults r old enough to decide for themselves to change jobs or move to where they can practice freely.
    4) marriage to a man who is not practising and or who lacks sufficient knowledge of the deen so he would not be able to adequately lead his family.
    – marrying a man who is pious will help you strengthen your emaan. You will help each other remain steadfast. In sister Dinas case unfortunately it seems that her husband has been ill equipped as he makes it clear that he questioned her and found it weird that she wore a headscarf all the time.
    5) and my final point is sins. Sins over time slowly weaken your emaan. Things like earning a non halal salary, eating haraam food, listening to the haram types of music, even the most minor sins etc. These are things which may seem insignificant but over time it weskens your emaan and makes you more susceptible to bad influences and makes doing th right things harder.
    – repent often and consisteny try to be better everyday. U dont hav to place yourself in a box of hijabi or non hijabi. Just slowly but surely better urself everyday.

    At the end of the day the definition of a Muslim is one who submits to the will of God. So by that very definition the only real CHOICE we have is to obey Gods commands or to ignore it. Its as simple as that. If we r sincere and truthful then we have to admit to our shortcomings, we should not try to justify and make excuses. We don’t have to be perfect, we dont have to judge or bully each other but we have to strive to better ourselves everyday and sincerely ask Allah to help us and to make it easy for us to obey Him.

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  8. Hey, thanks for your thoughts! I was once a hijabi as well, and then decided to take it off. So I feel your pain. Every woman has the choice to dress and behave as she likes, and no family, man or institution shall have a word there. It’s as simple as this to me. I don’t believe anymore, that we are required to wear a hijab. Isn’t it funny, how Muslimas always get judged by two things? What’s on our head and between our legs? (This is valid for the Muslim community and the Non-Muslim one.) I recommend Mona Eltahawy’s “Headscarves and Hymens” as a read.

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