What Does It Mean When a Woman Wears a Muslim Headscarf?


The following was written by the liberal Canadian philosophy professor, Elsa Schieder, PhD, reprinted with her permission:

I've been experiencing a big personal change, to do with seeing a woman wearing the Muslim headscarf. I used to have no response. Now every time I see this, I ask myself: "Just what does she believe?"

Like most Western people, I've learned to be very accepting — and even appreciative — of different styles of dress, food, music. So I used to have no response to the Muslim headdress, the hijab. It was just — you do your thing, I do mine. My response was to the color, the style — in other words, I responded as if this were a fashion item.

That has been changing. In fact, this change has lagged far behind my learning about Islam. Perhaps shockingly, it's taken me years to respond more fully to the Muslim headscarf.

There's more than one reason for this. First, I used to see few headscarves in my home city. Then, there used to be less Muslim persecution of Christians worldwide. There was also no group declaring an Islamic caliphate, rampaging from one Middle Eastern area to the next.

Most of all, my sense is that it's taken a long time for it to sink in that I'm seeing women walking around advertising that they're part of a religion that seeks world domination, that seeks the destruction of my culture and way of life, that views all non-Muslims as filthy Kafirs — to be deceived, beheaded, crucified, plotted against, terrorized, humiliated, according to the Quran, which they believe is true — or what are they doing, wearing the Muslim headscarf?

Do most non-Muslims in the West respond with hostility, aversion, fear to women advertising their adherence to such an ideology? A Canadian journalist put on the Muslim headdress for a few days in order to record the prejudice Muslim women experience — and found that she was treated more positively than without it! (She saw this as a sign of racism — that people were not entirely neutral to the headdress, and instead cared to show they were tolerant and accepting! Oh well, what can you expect from the politically correct.)

I'm asking: Does it make any sense to be extra nice to someone belonging to a religion that has, as a goal, the destruction of my society? That views people like me as inferiors who are to be made to pay a special tax? That believes no one is to talk of any non-Muslim religion to Muslims? That approves of the murder and rape of non-Muslims, the enslavement of non-Muslims, the murder of gays, the inferiority of women?

No one has asked me to respond to people wearing the Nazi swastika as if this were meaningless, to people chanting Sieg Heil as if this were a quaint cultural artifact.

So what the blinkety-blank is going on here? It's vital to respond to what is happening. If we don't respond to, say, a lion prowling our way, we're much more likely to end up as lion supper.

That has made me sit down and create a handout. You'll find it at the bottom of the page. You're very welcome to download, print and distribute. You can also send it.

It starts:

A woman is wearing
a Muslim headscarf.
What does it mean?

For me, connecting the headscarf to what it stands for has changed everything. In fact, it melted something frozen inside me. It's only natural to connect something to what it stands for. A flag. It stands for something. If we respond positively or negatively, this is because of what we see the flag stands for.

Likewise with the Muslim headdress, the hijab.

The next thing. It's vital to get the word out.

The natural response of non-Muslims to the Muslim headscarf is recoil. It stands for something more dangerous than AIDS, than Ebola.

Most of us have had our senses numbed.

All the best to a world awakening to the reality of Islam and to taking appropriate action.

Again, if this suits you, you're welcome to download the handout below. It's a one-page two-sided handout.

All the best,


See, download, or print the PDF handout here: A woman is wearing a headscarf. What does it mean?

Contact Elsa by clicking here.


Walter Sieruk 10:49 AM  

As for females wearing the headscarf this is only a small part of the greater misogyny of Islam. AS explained, somewhat, by Brigitte Gabriel in her book THEY MUST BE STOPPED. For it reads "Across the Muslim world, even moderated Islamic countries, women's rights are almost nonexistent...women in Islam are considered unclean, deemed inferior even to dirt."

Anonymous 1:20 AM  

I think it is high time to de-mystify that Islam is related to Judeo- christian religion.

Just look at the rewards of 72 virgins in their paradise vs kingdom of heaven.

They are not from the same tree.

However issues such as , burqa, arranged marriage, honour killing, genetal multilation etc, which could be cultural not religion related.

But what is not fair and I doubt the women understand is that their man gets to play with 72 virgins,while women only get 1 men, please read and understand their paradise in details and its all about women and sex.

Jeanne 2:09 AM  

Fascinating article. It describes my own position of tolerance and openness to others, yet after reading the Quran and much about it, I too was beginning to think about the meaning of the Muslim headscarf. The simple logic you present helped me build an understanding of Islam and how it is so dramatically opposed to any other political entity I have ever faced before.

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

Interesting article, and I understand what you're talking about. I feel the same way, as soon as I started learning all about Islam and especially their attitude to women, my feelings toward the headscarf changed as well. I will still nod and smile at Muslim women, if they do the same to me (I don't want to be nasty to strangers, you don't know what they really believe, or if they're forced to wear what they wear), but every time I see the hijab or headscarf now I keep thinking: that piece of clothing tells me you think I'm a rapist. And really, I find that offensive. I hate using the word offensive, since it's been abused so much and being offended shouldn't grant you any privileges, but it does offend me. Because I'm not a rapist. Women don't need to cover themselves up around me. This is what the Grand Mufti Sheik Hilali of Australia said:

"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside ... without cover, and the cats come to eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats' or the uncovered meat's? The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred."

This really boils my p!ss. It makes me so angry, but thinking dispassionately it explains exactly the difference between Islamic thinking and the Judeo-Christian culture of the West. In the free world, people are responsible for their behaviour, morally and every other way. In Islam they aren't. That's why the West has scientific and cultural progress and the Islamic world doesn't. Islam needs to go into the dustbin.

Also the seeing the headdress is like that movie The Birds, every time you look around, you see more of them. And it's ominous.

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