CULTURAL: Hijaab is part of a Muslim woman’s identity.

What hijaab means to me, today.

In a world gone mad as far as stereotyping Muslims are concerned, I am very happy to be a Muslim woman in hijaab, living in Cape Town. Here, people are tolerant and accepting of my headscarf and I certainly do not get seen as a terrorist!

Sadly, this is not the case around the world. Turkey does not allow women to don a headscarf in public institutions positions , and in France, the niqaab (a version of hijaab which covers the face, often referred to as “the ninja” in Cape Town) is completely banned.

The ill-informed masses still wrongly view the headscarf as a symbol of Islamic extremism, oppression and terrorism.

Muslim women, though, wear hijaab for one main reason – and that is because it is what our Creator wants from us.

So when we do cover ourselves according to Islamic teachings, we are in fact simply obeying our Creator.

I believe that all those practising religion – be they Christians, Muslims or Jews – should be proud of their faith, because submitting to your God is a beautiful thing.

To me, hijaab is a vital part of my identity and I am very proud that my headscarf makes other people know that I am Muslim. I also feel that by wearing hijaab, I am combating a common world trend where women get judged on their outward physical appearance, how much skin and hair we show – as opposed to seeing our real worth in our character and actions.

Wearing hijaab entices respect from those who deal with you, as they see that you value and respect yourself.

The sun does not burn less brightly when it’s covered by clouds. In the same way a woman’s beauty and intelligence are not dimmed when she is covered by her hijaab.

Just refer to the amazing Mother Teresa, always covered from head to toe, for confirmation of this.

In this democratic South Africa, I have never felt held back from doing or achieving anything that I wanted to do.

In fact, my hijaab makes me more comfortable in my own skin, and it’s given me the confidence to show exactly who I am.

Wearing hijaab certainly has not made Muslim women less competent to perform their jobs. You just have to take a look at all the Muslimas who are excelling in the workplace and climbing the corporate ladder!

It should be noted though that Hijaab is not merely about covering your body, it should also impact the way in which you conduct yourself and how you treat others.

If wearing Hijaab has made us more judgemental to those who don’t, then we have lost sight of what Islam is really about.

Because your belief cannot be judged by what people can see, only what God does.

Since we are all flawed, it is not for us to judge who the better person or Muslim is.

On the bright side, covering yourself Islamically has never been easier than it is right now in Cape Town. Designers, Muslim and non-Muslim, are creating large ranges of clothing which are fashionable and funky, yet modest too, and it appeals to women young and old.

These days scarves, turbans and headbands come in every colour, design and fabric to complement any outfit.

Wearing hijaab is a personal choice I make to obey my Creator, and if it is a personal choice, then I find it laughable that a Muslim woman who covers herself is seen by some as oppressed!

My choice to wear hijaab has not oppressed me, but rather, it has liberated me. It has given me the strength to stand tall and proud as a Muslim in very turbulent times.

Whilst we do have many problems and challenges in our beautiful city, religious intolerance is not one of them.

Be proud and rock those doekies, ladies!