by Ranya Fadel, Israel
I hesitated a lot before writing this blog, since I thought it might be considered offensive to some of the religious people whom I respect; but in the end decided to write it nonetheless.
I have a very good friend; she is very beautiful, educated and super smart. A while ago, I had a big event, and invited her to it. When she arrived I was surprised by a change that she made -- it was a very small change, but she looked happier than always, more confident and shining, and you could see it in her eyes.
After the event I asked one of our common friends whether the change she made is forever or only for the event, and she told me that it was occasionally only and that before she left the house she was so scared to make it, she was worried about what people will say, how her society will look at her family, and she even started talking to herself in front of the mirror, encouraging herself to go out without a Hijab (Veil). She was saying to herself: "yes you can, yes you want it, yes you have to do just what you like to do with your own body." I always knew that she never liked the Hijab, and she told me once that even according to Al-Azhar (one of the biggest centers of Islamic learning in Cairo), it's not part of the Islamic religion; but still, despite her being a very conservative girl, she wasn't convinced of wearing it, but she, like any other girl in her village, was forced by traditions (not by religion!) to wear it, otherwise she would be considered a "bad girl" even though she holds such a good position and has such a wonderful personality, that anyone would just like to have her as a sister or wife.
After this event, I remembered my cousin who belongs to another religious minority: she was also forced by her husband, himself influenced by society, to cover her hair; and then I remembered my amazing Jewish Haredi friend: she is a CEO of a big organization but still has to shave her hair and put on a wig instead, and to wear long clothes. Suddenly I saw that all of us no matter to which religion we belong, are forced- in the name of the religion- to control our body as women without this even being a part of our different religions, and who are we to do differently? Who are we to challenge God's will?
And here I ask myself again, is it really God's will? Or is it the society rules that control our lives in the name of GOD? And how come in the same religion you could see many groups that each has different codes of religious behavior? If these are really God's orders then shouldn't they be similar at least in the same religion? And why in hell should any family suffer from society's judgment because of their daughter's "rude" behavior, as it happens in any traditional community?
I always thought and still think that wearing or not wearing Hijab or any other religious symbol of any religious group as a personal decision that should be respected.
I have no problem with religions and their rules, and I'm a big supporter for any woman that decides through convincement to be religious, as long as this is really what she wants inside of her; but yes, I have a huge problem with the social rules that only try to limit women without any logical explanations, and even if they do have one, they still have no right to do so; because my body is only mine, I have the full freedom to treat it as I want and it's none of my society's responsibility and it doesn't show anything about how good or bad I am. It's only about how I feel and it starts from how I should wear my clothes and ends in how I should shape my reality and future.
There is an Arabic phrase that says: "a healthy mind in a healthy body." Maybe it's time to change it to "a free mind in a free body"? So dear society, my body is none of your business and you know what? Not my relation with GOD as well!