You View Me Only for What I am: A Servant of My Creator." - Yasmin Mogahed
A Letter to the Culture That Raised Me
by Yasmin Mogahed
With My Hijab I Put My Faith on DISPLAY-Rather Than My BEAUTY.
My Value as a Human is Defined by My Relationship With God, Not By My LOOKS.
So I Cover the IRRELEVANT. And When You Look at Me, You Don't See a Body.
"With my veil I put my faith on display-rather than my beauty. My
value as a human is defined by my relationship with God, not by my looks. So I
cover the irrelevant. And when you look at me, you don't see a body. You
view me only for what I am: a servant of my Creator."
Growing up, you read me the Ugly Duckling. And for years I believed
that was me.
I am a woman-that ugly duckling among men. For so long you taught
me I was nothing more than a bad copy of the standard. I couldn't run as
fast or lift as much. I didn't make the same money and I cried too often. I
grew up in a man's world where I didn't belong.
And when I couldn't be him, I wanted only to please him. I put on
your make-up and wore your short skirts. I gave my life, my body, my
dignity, for the cause of being pretty. I knew that no matter what I did,
I was worthy only to the degree that I could please and be beautiful for my
master. And so I spent my life on the cover of Cosmo and gave my body
for you to sell.
I was a slave, but you taught me I was free. I was your object, but
you swore it was success. You taught me that my purpose in life was to be
on display, to attract, and be beautiful for men. You had me believe
that my body was created to market your cars. And you raised me to think I was an ugly duckling.
But you lied. Islam tells me, I'm a swan. I'm different-it' s meant to
be that way. And my body, my soul, was created for something more. God
says in the Quran: "O mankind, We created you from a single (pair) of a male
and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one
another (not that you may despise each other). Verily, the most honored of you
in the sight of God is the one who is most righteous" (Quran 49:13).
So I am honored. But it is not by my relationship to men. My value as
a woman is not measured by the size of my waist or the number of men
who like me. My worth as a human being is measured on a higher scale:
a scale of righteousness and piety. And my purpose in life-despite what the
fashion magazines say-is something more sublime than just looking good for men.
And so God tells me to cover myself, to hide my beauty and to tell
the world that I'm not here to please men with my body; I'm here to please God.
God elevates the dignity of a woman's body by commanding that it be
respected and covered, shown only to the deserving-only to the man I marry.
So to those who wish to 'liberate' me, I have only one thing to say:
Thanks, but no thanks. I'm not here to be on display. And my body is not
for public consumption. I will not be reduced to an object, or a pair of legs
to sell shoes. I'm a soul, a mind, a servant of God. My worth is defined by
the beauty of my soul, my heart, my moral character. So, I won't worship
your beauty standards, and I don't submit to your fashion sense.
My submission is to something higher.
With my veil I put my faith on display-rather than my beauty. My value
as a human is defined by my relationship with God, not by my looks.
So I cover the irrelevant. And when you look at me, you don't see a body.
You view me only for what I am: a servant of my Creator. So you see, as a Muslim woman,
I've been liberated from a silent kind of bondage. I don't answer to the slaves of God on earth.
I answer to their King.