Practicing Hijab (veil): A Source of Autonomy and Self-esteem for Modern Muslim Women

Article Title: Practicing Hijab (veil): A Source of Autonomy and Self-esteem for Modern Muslim Women

Author(s): Waseem Fayyaz, Anila Kamal

Institute(s): Government Gordon College, Rawalpindi; National Institute of Psychology, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad

Journal: Journal of Humanities & Social Sciences, JHSS XXII, No. 1, 2014 (April)


In various periods of history, hijab as a religious symbol has been under criticism by the west and the modernist forces. The disapproval of hijab increased in the aftermath of 9/11. The sections of society that oppose hijab associate this dress code historically with subordination and servility of Muslim women. In the present scenario, immigrant Muslim women in western countries and native Muslim women in the countries where the states control women dress code are specially frustrated in wearing the attire of their choice. However, they have asserted their dress preference against all odds. The present paper argues that hijab is merely a symbol. The oppression linked with it depends on the social and political dynamics of the society in which it is practiced. More than these, it depends on the will and the mental state of the wearer herself. This study develops the thesis that the present Muslim woman, by adopting hijab, is carving public space for herself and this dress serves as an instrument of autonomy and self-esteem for her.

Keywords: hijab; modern Muslim women; religious symbol.

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