A Thinly Veiled Sideswipe

Nejoud Al-Yagout
Nejoud Al-Yagout

There are many of you out there who choose to wear the veil*, and I respect your choice. I honor your commitment . I know that many of you wear it with pride. You have found immense peace in your decision.

But, there are also many of you out there who are forced to wear it, and I am speaking on behalf of you. I want you to know that I, like many others, feel your pain. Immensely. Your relatives may think it is merely a tiny piece of cloth and you shouldn’t be so emotional about it; but you know – yes you know – that being forced to wear it symbolizes far more than that. It means that you have to practice your faith in a way that contradicts your personal views. It breaks my heart to see you struggle because someone else made such a life-altering decision for you. And it breaks my heart a little more knowing that some of you have to take pills for depression because you feel repressed. People – outside the realm of your prison – tell you to remove it, to not be so weak; but, the fabric of society is a thin one, and removing it would most likely tear your family into shreds. You know this. You fear this. This might seem highly dramatic, almost unfathomable, to someone who is not a member of this community; but, this is, in fact, the case.

Last year, a good friend of mine told me that if she removed the veil, her father would never speak to her again. When she was younger, he informed her, menacingly, that she would not be allowed to go to school if she did not wear it. And so she wore it. This is the same father who took away all her books, years later, and burned them because he feared that too much reading would lead her away from faith. (Ironically, he led her away from faith, because of his antagonism in the name of it). What he didn’t know, and doesn’t know, for that matter, is that nobody can ever impose faith on another human being. What he doesn’t know is that his daughter – like many, many other girls – removes the veil when she goes out or travels. She feels free knowing that her father can never change the way she feels on the inside. But, she feels immense anguish leading a double life and is envious of fellow females of her community, who share the culture of her father, yet are given the choice by their parents on whether or not to veil (even if their mothers are veiled). She is also tormented because she lives in Kuwait, a country where the government gives her the freedom to roam without a veil if she chooses, but she cannot exercise this right.

We, here on planet Earth, interfere all the time. We make life a living hell for others. Every day is Judgment Day. We have forgotten that heaven exists, too, in this world of polarities. The game would be different here, if only we remembered. We would reward people with the power of choice, the power of freedom, instead of punishing them for not adhering to our ways. This coercion to adhere has made hypocrites of all of us. In this way, we are all wearing veils, albeit in different ways.

•In this article, the word veil is interchangeable with hijab, niqab, abaya or any other form of ideologically-imposed outerwear

By Nejoud Al-Yagout
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