By Fatima Zaheer (Attorney at Law, USA)
My mother, the woman who made it her goal to raise a child with open eyes, open ears, an open mind and an open heart.
My mother, the woman who made it her life to make sure she raised a daughter who loved life and loved everyone.
I heard you were not happy today, when you saw me with that infamous cloth on my head.
I heard you cried for me today, cried for my freedom, because you too see me as oppressed. You’ve seen the Blue Burqas of Afghanistan, so case dismissed.
Mother, have you heard that it was I who made the choice?
It was I who made up my mind, to live by the values I find dear
So please do not fear.
Those who claim I am oppressed suggest I should be undressed. But isn’t forced conformity oppression?
That’s just my observation.
“Take off your Hijab!” they yelled, as they ripped it off and ran out of that subway car.
Do you know what I did mother? I ran after them, I asked them to explain their hatred. I fought hatred with hatred, didn’t see I was wrong- all I did was blame them.
Enlightenment occurred, and I felt cured when I reflected.
Realized those souls were just misdirected.
See, they are oppressed as they undress.
Objectification of the female gender, value placed only on outer good looks.
No time to be aware, stay informed and read those good books.
Mother, must I be nude to be considered art? To be considered a free thinker?
My beautiful veil is my artistic expression of a Believer.
The Veil is my outward representation to my devotion to the One and Only God.
Why is that sad? Why is that bad?
Mother, have I harmed anyone in any way with the veil I chose today?
Mother, I heard your heart hurt with the news. My heart hurt too.
For I am not abused.
So hear me now and hear me loud!
Because I am proud to say I live oppression free, to live a life I chose for me, to not succumb to the puppetry of how society expects me to be.
I am free.
Mother, I am free.
Note from the Author: I wrote a spoken word piece regarding my experience with the reception of my mother when I told her I started wearing the hijab. I am an attorney, I have been practicing for about 2 years now and I have only started wearing hijab since October 2013. I used to wear hijab in High School but after having my hijab pulled off of me and beaten up in a busy NYC subway, I am sad to say I stopped wearing it. Alhumdulilah, I have started after coming back to Islam in 2011. It has been a challenge being a professional and a real minority-being a Muslim woman who also wears a hijab but I really don’t think I can ever go back.