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Speaking of words we call ourselves, I must mention the derogatory terms. “Hojabi” and “muhajababe” have worked their way into our vocabulary (hojabi even has its own entry in UrbanDictionary.com). And, they are pervasive enough that non-Muslims have begun to use them in reference to us. They exist because we ourselves have invented them and used them, and they are born out of words that describe what one wears on one’s head (I haven’t come across any derogatory terms for bihejabis, but feel free to enlighten me).
Hojabis are defined as “…Hijabis that wear the Hijab then try to even out not showing thier hair with short sleeves, capris and the all famous low cut tops. These girls give other Hijabis a bad name. You might spot one of these “Hijabis” in a group of Ahem! guy “friends”. This group of too “friendly” Hijabis do everything a muslim let alone a Hijabi should NOT do. We hope none of u fit this description…if u do…we say to u with nothing but love…Respect the Hijab…Stop being a HOE (sic).” This word has unquestionably malicious intent and is used to make a morality judgment on a Muslim woman. Whether it is applied only to those who wear hejab, I’m not sure.
The term muhajababe was made popular by the book Muhajababes by Allegra Stratton, about fashionable young women in the Middle East. A muhajababe is “a veiled but sexily dressed young woman.” While it ostensibly has a similar connotation to hojabi, it is used in Stratton’s book as a term with more positive connotations: i.e., a muhajababe can be fully covered but very stylish, modern, and progressive. Also, the term does not make any inherent judgments on a woman’s morality or chastity, whereas a hojabi innately defines the person to whom it’s applied to as a “ho,” insinuating that she has no morality.
I find these terms unacceptable. Even though “hojabi” is the more derogative of the two, these words take into account not only what is on a woman’s head, but what is on her face (i.e., makeup), and what is on the rest of her (skinny jeans, designer purses, low-cut tops, whatever), and makes a usually negative judgment call on them. Whatever happened to judging a sister by what’s in her heart?
Furthermore, it implies a hierarchy among Muslims. These terms are designed to take away a woman’s equality to other women: if someone is called someone a hojabi, it implies she is a lesser Muslim. When, in reality, passing the judgment that is reserved for Allah (swt) makes her accuser a lesser Muslim.
As a woman who still believes in a Muslim sisterhood of sorts, I find this a little like biting the hand that (hypothetically) supports you. Why do we get so angry when non-Muslims call us things like “towel-heads” and “ninjas” (which also refer to things on our head/face), but we freely make up and use derogative terms toward each other? Not to mention the blatant use of these words for backbiting, which we all know is haram and just plain not cool.
So why do we use them? I say it’s time to stop. I don’t normally make new year’s resolutions, but this is one I can definitely get behind.