In French, they say ‘L’habit ne fait pas le moine’. It means, ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’. If you translate it literally, you get ‘Your clothing doesn’t make you a monk’. I like this version better because it’s befitting to this post.
Team Muhammad (Dalilah and Ibtihaj) won medals for the Unites States of America at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. You will think that these two athletes will be celebrated the same way because they are triple minorities; Black, Muslim, and Women who performed outstandingly for their country despite some of their fellow compatriots that treat them like second class citizens.
However, the trend we see is many Muslim communities favoring one athlete over the other because of hijab. Why is that? Many patriarchs love to impose their views of hijab on women. Women have to be ideal Muslimahs, totally perfect, when they aren’t even ideal, tolerant, perfect, and understanding toward the female gender. I wear hijab thoroughly and it doesn’t stop men from hitting on me. It comes down to taqwa and self-control.
I followed the Olympics and I’m not going to lie. At one point, I wondered if any running athlete (Muslim or not) had to wear panties and the likes to run. I just felt naked for them. It had nothing to do with religion I assure you. My husband who is more a ‘by the book’ person interjected, “It’s all about aerodynamics. The less clothes you wear, the faster and better you can perform.”
To be honest, I was surprised by his answer and he had made a very good point. I’m well-versed in Physics and I know the force any weight can have on movements. It’s very material and it makes a difference. Having said that, I commend the Muslim women who competed covered and did their best.
To continue, aerodynamics is thus a main reason why many athletes almost perform naked. It has nothing to do with their beliefs. They probably don’t enjoy being watched for less than a minute by anybody in the whole wide world. And I noticed that most of them wore long sleeves and sweat pants before running. At least, I saw Dalilah in her sweatpants and matching long sleeve sweatshirt just before the final for the 400 meter hurdles.
Nowadays, depending on where a Muslim woman lives in the world, she can be a target. I actually want to say that she is a target at all times by men who take upon themselves to judge her, to be God, to intimidate her, and teach her ‘a lesson’.
That lesson can be sexual harassment in public, rape, honor killing if she’s uncovered and doesn’t live in the West. If she lives in the West, she’s targeted and called offensive names. She’s even banned to wear her religious clothes in these so-called free and democratic countries. Women just can't win on either side of the world.
A friend of my friend was pushed into wearing hijab because she sat in a taxi where the driver upon looking at her shorts started to jerk off right in front of her! Come on! Have some self-control and lower your damn gazes. It’s very simple. Our freedom stops where others’ freedom start. Why do women have to be arbitrarily called fitna when there is already chaos outside created by the enemies of Islam? Men also have hijab and they can be fitna for women as well. It's a two-way street.
What do we need to do?
- Stand together whether a member of the ummah chooses not to wear the hijab. Why? It makes us stronger from the inside out and nobody can harm us. It’s not our right to assess anyone’s faith. It’s not our job either. Let’s work on ourselves instead. We all have our demons and secrets we need to work on.
If we don’t stand up for each other, what happens?
- Our differences are used as ammunitions against us. Plain and simple.
No one has the right to question Dalilah’s choice of clothing. That’s between her and her Lord. She could be his dear Habib and we wouldn’t even know it. Oh, I know she is his friend because she won Gold! Congratulations to her and her parents for raising a fine young woman who is breaking stereotypes and records. May you continue to prosper!
In conclusion here, not covering or wearing hijab doesn’t make Dalilah Muhammad less Muslim. For all I know, she identifies herself with being Muslim. So, she’s Muslim like Ibtihaj. She’s Muslim like me, and she’s Muslim like you if you are. And she’s Muslim like any other patriarch Muslim out there.