“But you guys put on the scarf to portray you are holy holy”.

My face dropped…and so did my fingers that were holding on to a half piece of plantain I was munching on.

Though this statement actually emerged in the form of a joke from a Non-Muslim work colleague of mine whilst we were having an interesting chat on marriage and relationships over lunch today, it struck me…that much. Now, it was not that I found it offensive, not in the least. I was just amazed…and most dominantly, worried.

With a face of amazement garnished with a laughter-like smile, I blurted out “Really?…it’s just a scarf ooo, the fact that a person scarfs her hair does not make her an angel oooo. I still steal meat from my mum’s soup and I do things ooo…I’m not an angel oooo”. He looked back at me laughing and said “Eiii Hajia, you do things erh?…agbenaaa!!!!”. From his response, I’m sure you get a picture of how he understood my use of the word “things”…haha (Agywin boni tins…haha).

But truly, on a more serious note, that’s all it is, a scarf. It’s not a graduation cap that says “You’ve succeeded the test of being a good female. Congrats, you’re an angel now!”. It’s not a uniform that is worn by the most pious Muslim females (and even some other women in other Faiths). It’s not a ticket that takes you to the land of infallibility and above making mistakes.

All it means is “Spiritual Journey Construction ahead: Work in progress”.

Interestingly, even from a cultural view, especially in Northern Ghana, ladies who scarf their hair are seen to be more respectful, pure, modest and not likely to ‘sin’ than a lady who leaves her hair to the view of the public.

Why I am worried? It’s because when people (both Muslim and Non Muslim) begin to see the headscarf as the ‘destination’ rather than a journey to pleasing God, then we have a problem…a big one. The worst of them being the rift it causes between Muslim sisters: This so called ‘Hijabis vs Non-Hijabis’ AKA ‘Angels vs Demons’.

If there is one thing I want to point out today, it’s that Muslim ladies who scarf (hijab) are fallible too. We ‘drool’ over guys too (haha..reminds me of when I once told a female friend of mine how cute a guy I had spotted looked…and she turned to me suddenly and was just like ‘Whaaaat!?!’). We sometimes gossip too. We sometimes don’t pray on time too. We sometimes lie too. We sometimes do bad things that you can’t imagine us doing too. I am not black mouthing ladies who scarf either.

The bottom line…We are not holy…no body is.

We are only struggling to be holy, just like everybody else. We put on the scarf not to signify that we have graduated from ‘falliabililty’ to ‘infalliabilty’. We put on the scarf because we want to please our Maker, even when we know we’ll still make mistakes.

So, the next time you see a Hijabi, kindly see her as a human being capable of good and bad…and do say a prayer for her too, just as you would for the sister who does not hijab. She’ll be glad you did…at least, I will…smiles.


The writer is Khadijah Abdul-Samed,
formerly a radio presenter at Radio Universe 105.7 fm.
Contact her via email –  khadijahabdulsamed@gmail.com