The names we call ourselves has been on my mind a lot lately. It started when I read a fellow blogger’s post that about an alleged hejabi- and niqabi-only cafe. In it, she implied that right-wing conservatives used the term “hijabi” and “niqabi”. Since I don’t consider myself a Muslim version of Michelle Malkin, I gave my perspective on the issue: I use the terms “hejabi,” “bihejabi,” and “niqabi” because of their easy accessibility to both Muslim and non-Muslim readers, because of these words’ proximity to Farsi, and because I don’t speak Arabic and thus find the term “muhajabah” and “munaqabah” a little cumbersome. I don’t find anything inherently offensive or derogatory about these terms, and assumed that they were neutral.
After searching around the blogs a bit, I found that there are people who disagree. Sugar Cubes has a post entitled “Don’t Call Me Hijabi,” which is about this very subject; though the comments make up the bulk of the discussion, it’s a great manifesto about self-identification.
I confess, I didn’t get much further than that—it’s difficult to wade through the thousands of posts with the term “hijabi” or “muhajabah”. But this got me thinking about the terms I use. I use the term “hejabi” in all of the relevant posts, the term is used on MMW’s statement of inclusion, and all our contributors use this term in relevant posts, as well.
This also made me realize that, in the statement of inclusion, I refer to my Muslim sisters by their form of dress: “bihejabis, niqabis, etc.” And since I’m always bitching about how offensive it is to reduce a Muslim woman to what she wears (or doesn’t) on her head, I came face to face with my own hypocrisy, however unintentional it was, and felt ashamed. So I began to think about how we, as Muslim women, refer to ourselves.
There are number of Muslimah bloggers out there who identify themselves by what they wear on their head/face: Confessions of a Funky Ghetto Hijabi, The Happy Hijabi, Digital Niqabi, Munaqabah Writes, etc. So some Muslim women not only think it’s acceptable to be referred to in this manner, but they prefer it.
I’d like to know your thoughts on this, as Muslim women. Do you find it acceptable to be categorized to by what you wear (or don’t)? Is there another type of categorization that you would find acceptable? What do you preferred to be called, and why? Also, which terms do you find acceptable/unacceptable, and why? I want to know your thoughts on this.