Hijab & Niqab Misconceptions Poetry & Fiction

Angry Hijabi

by Aasiyah Abdul Musawwir

deletelet me be frank with you,
gender and women studies major,
waving your flag of female liberation
up in my face –

Man (with a  capital “M”)
has not colonized my mind.

i am not beaten,
or subjugated
by my heinous male relatives.

and the only thing
militant about my father
and brothers
is their militant hospitality.

so beware, oh guests
of the Abdul Musawwir household –
nay, you will not be skewered
but you can expect
skewers of spicy kabob
and stuffed grapeleaves
piled a few inches too high
on china plates lined with gold.

heaven’s kitchen
resides in my home.

hands too wide for triggers and switches
can only extend, palms up in hearty embrace…
“tafadal, tafadal
el henna washifa.”

so when my eyes flare
and i spit fire

in defense of this ummah
do not attribute my passion to
stockholm syndrome –
a lunatic’s love
for the patriarchal society
that has rendered me
under a wrap-around of heavy metal.

the people of which you speak
speak beautiful words,
and their tongues break the dull ceilings
of your thought chambers
as they whisper:
Allahu Akbar.”

and as for this piece of cloth
that consumes you
more than envious socks and tank tops
could ever dream –
know that
you stand correct –

i bow
subservient –

this scarf, my apron in servitude

not to men –
but to truth
and the command of


The Unique
The Most Merciful
The Fashioner of all things beautiful –

Allah who defines jihad
as struggle against oppression
and struggle against one’s inner demons

Allah who commands man
to observe the universe
in all its stunning intricacy
to speak for justice,
even against oneself.

Allah who related through the prophet
that smiling at a passerby
is good charity.

and so
buzz cut
child of the universe,
i offer you a smile –

in my family’s tradition of offering,
in subservience.

About the author

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  • Assalamualaikom Aasiyah,
    Sowing Knowledge being an example of Love, will break any hardness in any Heart.
    God bless You and all your Family.

  • Aasiyah, beautiful poem. A few comments:

    * “Mao-quoting” sounds a bit dated.

    “the only thing
    militant about my father
    and brothers
    is their militant hospitality.” –

    I love that, it made me smile, and the stanza after it with the kabobs and grape leaves made me laugh out loud. Very nice play on “skewered”.

    “the people of which you speak
    speak beautiful words,” – using the word “speak” twice consecutively is a little awkward.

    I like that socks and tank tops are envious of your hijab, that’s cute.

    I love the way you play on stereotypes and flip them around into something else, for example: “hands too wide for triggers and switches”. The poem works best in those lines when you write about your family; slightly less so when you are angry, reactive or critical. The last three lines epitomize that focus on family and their tradition of generosity and kindness, and wrap up the poem very nicely.

    This poem was a pleasure to read. Jazak Allah khayr.


    Stockholm syndrome is going to be discussed more and more especially since that Angelina Jolie movie about Bosnian women is coming out…

    More posts like this would be awesome!

  • Way to stereotype. You don’t like when people essentialize us, but you feel comfortable saying something as ridiculous as
    gender and women studies major”
    to describe *every* woman who’s made generalizations and wrong assumptions about Muslim women? What an embarrassment this piece is.

    And for the record, I am a gender studies major—and a muhajiba. So thanks for stereotyping your Muslim sister (me) along with those you tried to reproach.

    • I think that the author is just trying to use imagery in the poem. I doubt she’s trying to judge all individuals who are gender studies majors.

      • Are you sure? I mean, this sounds very idealistic ” I’m not beaten, abused”…sorry to say this but muslim hijaabis and nonhijaabis both can and some DO suffer abuse. It happens in every religion, race, or culture…. it can happen next door! One in every four woman is abused; this means that woman can also be a hijabi too…

        A capital letter “M ” calls for a capital letter “W.” God talked about the “believing men” AND “believing women” 🙂 .

        • But that “abuse” has nothing to do with the religion or the headscarf, which is what she’s talking about. She’s not saying that abuse doesn’t exist in her religion at all – it does, but it is not religious at all so don’t BLAME the religion.

  • I am cautious of this kind of speech. Wearing hijab *can* be a blessing…those of us who wear it and know *why* we wear it are privileged when compared those who must wear it because it is state-imposed (Iran, Saudi), and perhaps are blinded from appreciating it because of this. So yes hijab is a blessing (I wear it myself) but at the same time we should not forget that not everyone has the privilege we have of wearing it out of conviction.
    Also, I think we should be careful to portray feminism as the “anti-Islam.” Feminism in the Western context brought many good things for women (voting, equal pay, etc.). It is not all bra-burning and man-hating. I think we owe it to some of those women not to simplify their positions, just as we don’t wish for others to simplify ours. Salaam alaikum wa rahmatullah.

  • Also for the record, women’s and gender studies scholars aren’t the ones likely to be making crude assumptions about Muslim women (it’s usually aged conservative men and “soccer moms” who *also* want nothing to do with feminism, so obviously, you’re attacking the wrong set of people). In fact, they’re far more willing to become educated about Muslims than most Muslims are to become educated about them and what they do (as is clearly demonstrated by your misinformed and simplistic bit of doggerel).

    • Agreed. I’m a Muslim, hijab-wearing womyn who is also a feminist studies major. And? Is this in any way a contradiction? No.

  • A bit too idealised given how it’s seemingly aiming for wit and humour. The problem with hijab/Palestine/related overused subject matter in Muslim art is the same as writing poetry about nature – it’s overdone, old and too ideal when you actually see the factors (many of them stark and unsettling) surrounding these issues. Contemporary challenges offers a much richer pool for inspiration and overall awesome creative work, insha’Allaah.

    But a good piece overall, masha’Allaah. Love the kebab-talk. 😛 Finally, a Muslim poetess who knows how to draft too! Enjambment is even used! 😀

  • Asalaamu alaikum Aasiyah!

    MashAllah! You have penned down the same thoughts that
    were running in my head in a great manner!

    May Allah give you more success and prosperity!

  • Amal, i think you are taking the poem out of hand, we shouldn’t sit there and pick out all the negatives out of the poem …rather we should try and understand the point Aasiyah is trying to get across. It’s a positive point and she is trying to break the negative ideas created about muslim women today in the media. I disagree that she is stereotyping back at the other woman because, its a poem, imagery and similes or metaphors or some type of tools must be used to make it into a poem. Do you see what I am trying to say sister?
    I personally loved the poem and brought tears to my eyes and the beauty of the meanings. Peace be with you:) Subhanallah

  • just for clarification, this poem was based on a specific incident. and the woman who approached me was a gender and women’s studies major and a self-acclaimed communist who actually quoted mao as she was speaking to me. i’m in no way trying to perpetuate stereotypes – this was in fact, a very singular experience. i know a lot of AMAZING GWS ladies mA and i’ve actually considered the major myself. let’s just say that this specific individual was PRE-transnational feminisms if you catch my drift 😉 and i will be the first to tell you that the discussion about feminism (and the various articulations of feminism of feminismS) is rich, complex, and deserving of more attention than it gets in the Muslim community.

    also, to address a lot of these comments, my poem is not meant to be any sort of universal declaration or truth. i’m not claiming that women don’t suffer abuse around the world. or that feminism is somehow evil. i’m merely presenting my own life experience as a counter-narrative within a media culture that vilifies Muslim men and presumes the subjugation of Muslim – particularly hijab-wearing – women. there’s a lot to be said about this, but for now, this will suffice.

    jazakum Allahu khair for all your support and constructive criticism! i really do appreciate it. the diverse array and complexity of muslim women’s experiences is definitely an important thing to keep in mind.

  • A Salaam u alaikum Sister

    Wow! MashAllah I truly enjoyed this poem. I thikn you made a great point, and it was so creatively done. Alhamdulilah. One thing I wanted to point out, and please dont take this as someone trying to be the haraam police, I just want to let you know; eating off of gold and silver plates is HARAM.

    One line, you said that your families plates were lined with gold, not sure if this is a metaphor but if this is real then you should let your family know to dispose of these plates InshAllah
    I heard the Prophet saying, “Do not wear silk or Dibaja, and do not drink in silver or golden vessels, and do not eat in plates of such metals, for such things are for the unbelievers in this worldly life and for us in the Hereafter.”

    JazakAllah khair.

  • Wassalaam brother,

    This seems like a great website mA, and I would be happy to have my poetry published alongside other Muslim poets. Jazak Allahu Khair!

  • I am not a muslim, but as a bible believing christain I love the sentiments of love through obedience in this poem and can identify with this. the writers desire 2 worship her God,. Allah, arabic for the God . In the bible he calls himself jehovah!. Unfortunately humans corrupt what is beautiful and God given. With tales of enforsed hijab wearing in some muslim countries abounding, one can be forgiven in believing the hijab as a badge of female subjugation. To the more thoughtful it is in its purest sense an expression of love and gratitude for the Creator and I as a follower of Him who is Holy and derserving of our praise and worship can identify with such love. Amen.

    • Thank you for your lovely comment Mary.i hope you continue reading about Islam and benefiting from this beautiful deen.

  • This is absolutely fantastic. I feel like printing it out and handing it to anyone who asks me the infamous “Why are you wearing a towel on your head”.

  • I likey! Loads! Its ashame some comments on here are very negative. tut tut id love to see you try one better!
    Love you all for the sake of one and only Allah(swt)!

  • Nice piece,
    It made me smile and laugh after I spent over an hour upset/sad/angry after reading some serious topics.
    After responding to some posts (Marital Rape/Spousal Abuse etc..), this was a good way to end my evening.

  • much as you probably loathe stereotypes, I presume the person you are addressing loathes stereotypes too. You seem to be simplifying her to a charicature even as you are protesting against being reduced to one.

    Salam, from, a feminist-hijabi

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