American Muslim Women Who Choose Niqab Explain Why

Beyond the Veil | Today’s NYTimes Style section looks at American women wearing niqab or the Veil. Hebah Ahmed and her younger sister Sarah are women 32 and 28 who agree that Islam doesn’t require a woman to wear a veil. They chose niqab to be closer to God and also to be taken seriously as women. 

“I do this because I want to be closer to God, I want to please him and I want to live a modest lifestyle,” said Ms. Ahmed, who asked that her appearance without a veil not be described. “I want to be tested in that way. The niqab is a constant reminder to do the right thing. It’s God-consciousness in my face.”

In a funny moment about a challenging decision for many American women to understand, Hebah says: 

“A woman in the car next to me was waving, honking, motioning for me to roll down my window,” she said. “I tried to ignore her, but finally, we both had to stop at a light. I rolled down the window and braced myself. Then she said ‘Excuse me, your burqa is caught in your door.’ That broke the ice.”

Now that the women wear niqab, they say they are taken seriously by men, especially in their jobs. No more getting smacked on the butt a couple times or being the subject of crude jokes. In this respect wearing niqab becomes liberating. Read on at NYTimes For American Muslims, Choosing to Wear the Veil Poses Challenges. 

Our own involvement in the burqa debate began a year ago, with an article While the World Debates Burqas, Fashion Designers Show Beautiful Abayas at Paris’s George V Hotel. We will revisit the burqa topic in depth, to commemorate that anniversary.