A series of blog posts from Imaan members about their lives as LGBTQ Muslims.
WHAT IT’S LIKE BEING A NON BINARY MUSLIM THIS SUMMER
Dear Sister, whom I do not know,
I’d like to talk about why I wear hijab, and how I feel when I’m wearing it. I’d like to also talk about why I don’t wear hijab, what the implications of that are, and how it impacts my relationship with Allah. Basically, I’ve been turning your nasty comment I received on curiouscat over and over, feeling like a bad Muslim, an imposter, a bad hijabi. So I’ve decided to write this in answer to it, to get my feelings out and to settle it.
I am a Muslim. I am a revert. And I am a hijabi, at least part-time. And there is nothing wrong with that, at all. It’s unusual – but then so am I. There isn’t a guidebook for non-binary Muslims to follow, so I’m having to carve my own path, and no matter where that path takes me, I know that every step of the way, I’m striving to be a better Muslim, and that’s all that matters.
I wear hijab for a lot of reasons. I want to feel closer to Allah, and when I wear hijab I do; but that is only when I feel my most feminine, when I feel like the word “woman” could be applied to me. If I wear hijab outside of that, I feel like an intruder. I wear hijab to feel closer to my fellow feminine Muslims, my sisters, and that is incredibly important to me. It doesn’t matter whether you think that’s a good reason or not. I wear hijab because I believe I can achieve the modesty that the Qu’ran requires of everyone in many different ways, of which hijab is only one, and the most traditional. I believe, primarily, in modesty of the soul. The hijab doesn’t matter, as I fight to be modest no matter what I’m wearing. But it helps, and it helps others to understand me. I wear hijab as a suit of armour; to proudly present my colours and say to the world: Here I am. I am Muslim. I am proud. I wear hijab because I like wearing hijab, and I refuse to be told that isn’t a valid reason.
Sometimes, I don’t wear hijab. Sometimes I wear shorts and vest tops, or skirts and t-shirts. When I’m feeling masculine, or somewhere in between, I choose not to wear hijab, because I don’t think it’s appropriate. In that sense, I am a part-time hijabi, as much as I am a part-time woman. And there is nothing wrong with either of those things. Plenty of women and non-binary people who wear hijab show their hair, and I think that is a very relevant point: I don’t see you over there, accusing them of having no devotion to Allah.
More importantly, my break from wearing hijab this summer, as evidenced by my selfies, was due to disability. I have a sweating disorder; it puts me at high risk of heat stroke and makes me incredibly uncomfortable. The first time I wore hijab, I developed heat stroke. So I don’t wear hijab when it’s hot, because I can’t. And I know Allah understands that, for he is all knowing and does not ask for more than we can give. So even when I could and would have been wearing hijab, I could not, and I know that Allah knows that, and he is the greatest of forgivers.
My relationship with Allah is none of your business. And I don’t mind if you think I’m doing it wrong, because you don’t get to judge me; only Allah has the power to do that. And so yes, I will sometimes wear hijab, and yes, I will sometimes wear shorts and show my hair and tattoos and shave the side of my head. And one day, when I’m less afraid of your stares and your tuts, maybe I’ll do both. You don’t get to dump me in a gender bracket and call me out for breaking its taboos. When it comes down to it, there are no rules in the Qu’ran for non-binary people specifically. So I have to guess, and I might get it wrong, but again, that is between me and Allah. You don’t have a say in that relationship.
I am a Muslim. I am a hijabi, and sometimes I’m not a hijabi. I am trying really, really hard to be the person that Allah intended for me to be. And the last person I’m looking to please is you. Islam is about being kind to each other; about guiding those who are lost, about caring for those who are forgotten; Islam is about sisterhood, brotherhood, siblinghood. And so even though you have hurt me, and made me question who I am, I will make excuses for you, I will cover for you, I will assume you had the best intentions when you made such hurtful comments towards me. I will love you as a sister, despite that hurt. I think that’s what Allah would want me to do.