The hejab in Egypt…

(please be forewarned a lot of what I will say below is my own personal opinion, I have very strong feelings about hejab and the reasoning behind covering because I faced a lot of opposition when I started to cover…so to me it’s a touchy subject. I’m also in no way stating that ALL Egyptian women cover for superficial reasons, I am friends with several deeply religious Egyptian women, and their daughters and many of them I really look up too)

I stumbled across this on YouTube yesterday… It’s a special from Al Jazeera in English about the hejab in Egypt.

It’s interesting on one hand but on another it sort of reinforced my understanding that unfortunately the hejab just seems to be a trend in Egypt for *most* (not all, I said most) women and that their reasons behind covering are more superficial than anything else.

I was pretty surprised at seeing actual “veil designers” in Egypt and also learning that many of these girls apparently spend hours infront of the mirror to make their scarves look trendy because they dont want “veiled girls” to look uncool.

Um, yeah? Since WHEN was the hejab supposed to be trendy and cool ANYWAY?

Maybe I’m old fashioned…yeah I know I’m Old School…but c’mon!!! Who are they being trendy for? I dont think God is going to care whether their hejab is done up all cute and a lot of their supposedly “mohajebat” outfits leave a LOT to be desired.

Pardon the personal rant but it’s hard, really hard wearing hejab (the right way) and doing it for the right reasons and it’s even harder handling peoples criticisms and the looks and stares and you really have to be doing it for the right reasons, to please God in order to handle these obstacles…

At least here in the States…I dont know maybe in Egypt it’s different. Maybe there NOT wearing hejab is hard or wearing your hejab PROPERLY is a struggle…hey, who knows…

I really do NOT agree with much of what the women wearing a scarf (turban) at the beginning says about how without the scarf you have to go to great lengths to prove your not immoral and the scarf shows everyone your a decent person…um, really? As thats NOT the purpose of hejab and covering your hair isn’t hejab either. Hejab is how you dress from top to bottom and your behavior. YES one would hope a hejabi is religious but it’s no guarantee to religiosity and personally it seems like-from this show-that the trend of covering the hair in Egypt is sort of popular now because it’s just that…a trend, just to show the world your moral. Hmmm
Really I don’t agree… why should Joe Shmoo down the block care whether your this or that or the other thing? They should ONLY be trying to please God and God knows everyones intentions…a scarf doesn’t cover up silly or stupid behavior and it doesn’t make anyone an angel.

Reminds me how Ive seen girls in Iran…totally covered up, looking like really pious Mohajebat…in full maghneh, mantoo & chador yet they flirt with guys IN the parks, give them their numbers and even go home with them! Ive even seen some making out with their boyfriends in secluded areas…sure one could say…well they are forced to cover, but no this statement isn’t right because generally the girls who are religious themselves or come from religious or conservative families dress like that. Girls from liberal, non-religious families don’t dress like that-at all. You’d expect the girls from irreligious families to do that stuff not girls in maghnehs and chadors…

anyway…I have strong feelings about this stuff…It just saddens me how “cheap” hejab has become…it seems to be pretty worthless to a lot of women. And fyi, I actually agree w/ much of that the non-hejabi girl says in the 2nd part.

On a side note, Ive noticed that there are like three types of styles that Egyptian women tend to go for…The most covering being the Niqab, the second being the really long and wide khimaar that many of the Egyptian women at my mosque wear and then the trendier styles.  I wonder if the first two styles are prefered more by the women who cover for religious reasons or a feeling of obligation to God whereas the trendier styles are worn by women trying to “fit in” and look chic. Any ideas?

8 thoughts on “The hejab in Egypt…

  1. There is so much baggage associated with the hijab in Egypt. Its that way in every country, islamic majority or not. That’s the problem, I think with wearing certain types of hijab in the West. They can attract a lot of attention, which is kind of the reverse purpose of what was originally intended.

  2. To be honest, this post is reminding me very much of when you started this blog with a response to an incorrect assertion regarding styles of hijab in Iran. There is fashion hijab, sure. But that most Egyptian women wear hijab for reasons unrelated to personal piety, or that one perhaps can tell religiosity by the style worn … I’m sorry, but these are places you really do not want to go.

  3. One of the reasons lots of girls in Egypt wear hijab but not in a very “religious” way is because they face persistent sexual harassment if they don’t wear some kind of headcovering. Of course, a large number of veiled Egyptian women (whether for religious reasons or otherwise) are still harassed. This is what I saw as a non-Muslim living in Egypt for a semester. Personally I love Egyptian hijab styles, although I do admit that some of them are a tad over-the-top.

  4. When you really think about it; a lot of these ‘trendy’ hijab get ups must be so uncomfortable to wear; as they involve several layers of polyester and nylon underscarves and scarves (on one Egyptian channel they were doing styles with up to FIVE scarves); and those thick nylon spandex body tops they wear now look like a surefire heatstroke risk. Not to mention the several layers of shirts, t-shirts, waistcoats, jackets and all manner of other items (I have heard of bikini tops being involved in the layering, yikes!). Give me my one layer of floaty overhead abaya with a thin shaylah underneath it anyday!

  5. Fashion is a major consideration in Egyptian hijab for most of the young women. Hijab has a lot of cultural and political baggage attached to it,and there are many reasons that women start wearing hijab such as family pressure, resistance to the government, husband-hunting, and peer pressure. Certain types of hijab are worn by specific political and religious groups, so a woman can’t just wear what she wants or what she likes without careful consideration.

  6. I definitely saw this in Egypt too. Although 80% or so of the women wear “hijab”, I was living there, not wearing hijab, and I felt that I was more modest than at least half the women I saw.

    I get the feeling though that it’s a bit of a journey for them too, though. They have parental or cultural pressure to wear hijab, and they have peer pressure to make it cool and fashionable. And just like girls here fall for the pressures of dressing cool with their skinny jeans and tight tops, the girls there fall for the pressure of the tight clothing and weird layered scarves!

    A couple of my husband’s cousins though were good at finding the middle ground. They are probably the more outwardly religious like keeping the prayers, staying away from inappropriate contact with males and wearing appropriate hijab. They pull off a balance between the young fashion styles (do the multiple scarf thing) but they are always wearing long loose, modest clothing, and their scarf covers the chest, and they always act appropriately. I’m really proud of them for that!

    I should add that one of them got married and I think she wears niqab now. I haven’t heard from her in 3 years but her younger sister is on Facebook and I’ve seen some pics and been in touch.

    About the women in the video… I think the first one is off on certain things… She doesn’t seem the type who really thinks about things too much… But she seems to be on the right path still… The last girl has good points of view for sure. I’d seen these videos quite a while ago… They give a pretty good idea of hijab in Egypt.

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