I’ve been thinking about this since it happened-this past February 1. It’s taken me a while to process, because I have lovely Muslim friends I have every reason to respect. But what February 1 was two weeks ago is larger than it was a year ago, and it will be smaller than what next year makes it. Because of this, I’m ready to share my thoughts.
World Hijab Day—February 1— is a day that girls in many nations have set aside as an opportunity to show solidarity with Muslim women globally who choose to wear the Islamic veil (hijab). It is seen as a means to end discrimination against hijabi women by inviting non-Muslim girls to try the veil for themselves and hopefully find virtue in it. If the veil isn’t so bad, then perhaps Islam is harmless as well, right? Maybe it’s even appealing, like the courageous girls who opt to wear what to many has become Islam’s divisive emblem.
Like with anything else, if there is a World Hijab Day, it might also be World Not-Hijab Day. Courageous ex-Muslim girls (and even some Muslim ones) who have been forced to veil their whole lives come out in strength to remind the world that most of its Muslim women don’t opt to veil, because they don’t have a choice. And indeed, opponents to World Hijab Day would cite the Qur’anic texts and hadith that prescribe the practice of veiling. They would decry the punishments they had expected to suffer for not veiling, whether they were young or old hijabis. To them, Islam and/or the hijab might not look so good.
I am a follower of Jesus. I have lived in a fundamentalist Muslim nation, and I have visited Muslim nations that identify with varied levels of conservativism and manifold veil practices. I understand that the value women seek, whether veiled or not, hinges upon honor. Muslim community lavishes honor upon a girl whose modest attire and behavior reflect well upon them all. If a girl lacks modesty, her shame becomes everyone’s shame, and it must be expunged.
Sadly, what the Muslim world struggles to understand or simply cannot accept is that Jesus, who is much more than the prophet they esteem him to be, came to earth with the sole purpose of elevating all of humankind from our pit of sin-shame, to a place of unsurpassable honor, where we become joint heirs with Christ himself.
God elevated us by paying our sin debts with his own life. I both grieve and cherish the thought of Christ crucified on my behalf. I picture it this way: An agonizing Jesus cries out, “Tetelestai, Myra. Your sin debts are paid in full!” With His last breath the temple veil that barricades virtually everyone from direct access to God tears from top to bottom. That tearing offers all of humankind unhindered, intimate access to the Father, for now and forever! The book of Hebrews equates the torn veil with Christ’s flesh, which was itself torn to pay the price of my shameful transgression.
Torn so I might freely step into His presence and be grafted into His own most honorable family line.
So “World Hijab Day” or “Not-World Hijab Day”, what should I do? Even my Muslim friends take different sides. How should I respond?
Jesus wants me to side with Him. He doesn’t need me to advocate for any person’s right to wear a veil or remain uncovered. Jesus has placed me amidst Muslims and Muslims near me because of His consummate love for us all. The only significant difference between them and me now is that I know Jesus, but they have most likely never once heard the truth about who He is.
On Jesus’ side, I get to tell them! There’s no better conversation than the truth about Jesus, and no joy greater than getting to share it with someone who has yet to hear it. Jesus is most appealing, always. He is Truth.