My Independence Day

My independence day was my wedding day. The day I planned to start wearing a headscarf.

July 7, 2021

Yes, my wedding day – a day some see as a woman losing her independence.

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And yes, wearing a headscarf – a sure sign for many of a woman being oppressed rather than independent. European Christian women used to cover their hair with scarves – just as those who accept Mary as mother of Jesus believe she always did. Traditions changed: women covered first with bonnets, then hats, now with hats only on special occasions like weddings. In the UK today, I feel scarf wearing is often regarded with a bit of suspicion.

I’d become Muslim a couple of years before my wedding. And I’d read in the Qur’an God says: “Say to the believing men that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts. That is purer for them.” before He goes on to address women. So while it seemed to me the burden rested on men first to observe modesty, I thought a scarf may just help focus men’s attention on what I said rather than what I looked like.

I figured my wedding day was the perfect time to start wearing a scarf. Wedding guests would see I was happy and not oppressed. None of them would be surprised the next time they saw me. And I thought:  if I couldn’t do what I wanted on my wedding day, a day I became independent from my family, when would I ever do it?

My family wanted me to wait. My father explained: ‘If you wear the scarf at the start of the wedding, then this will be perceived by us – and by our friends – as rejecting all you previously stood for.” They too could see wearing a scarf on that day was symbolic, but clearly saw that symbolism in a pretty different light to me. Tensions were high.

We agreed another option: wearing it from when I said goodbye at the end of the wedding day. My father supported it: “It will then come across as part of an exciting and gentle transition into your new life.” he said

So that’s what I did! The transition began. My independence day started just a few hours later than I’d planned.