.

Saddleback Speaker Offered 101 Reasons to Cover Up for Allah

Mona Ebrahim compiled a list of 101 reasons to wear the hijab. Credit Peter Schelden
Mona Ebrahim compiled a list of 101 reasons to wear the hijab. Credit Peter Schelden
Saddleback College students were lectured Tuesday afternoon on the value of wearing the Muslim veil known as the hijab.

The one doing the lecturing, Mona Ebrahim, said she covers up to make a feminist statement as well as to serve her god. Her new book of humor, "101 Reasons Why I'm Glad I Wear Hijab," was published in late October.

"Men were much more flirtatious and attracted to me when I had my long, curly, black, Egyptian 'ooh la la' hair," she said. "I was just sick of it. I wanted to get rid of it. I don't want to be sexually attractive to anyone. That's temptation."

Although she puts away the hijab at home, Ebrahim said she has worn the veil in public since college.

Her father was alarmed.

"My dad was like, 'What? Oh my God. How are you going to get a job? How are you going to get a husband?'" she said.

She did find a husband after college, and he also warned her against wearing the garment following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He feared for her safety.

But Ebrahim continued to wear the hijab, saying that it was a part of her identity.

She said that while she initially felt "horror" after witnessing the attacks, she also feared the ensuing backlash against Muslims in America. She said many Muslims believe conspiracy theories in order to avoid any association with the attacks.

"Psychologically we want to remove ourselves," she said.

Her book uses comic illustrations to take a light-hearted look at a subject that attracts much political attention. Her first reason for covering up? "I don't need a Bluetooth. I just stick my cell phone in my hijab."

Ebrahim said that while wearing the hijab has always been a choice for her, there are governments, societies and families that force women to cover up. But she said that as an American, "I believe that we are forced to uncover."

Students challenged the speaker on several points. One said that by wearing brightly-colored hijabs, sometimes with sequins, Muslim women draw as much attention to themselves as they would without the head covering.

Ebrahim responded that Muslim women have different reasons for covering up, and while some may wear the hijab out of religious devotion, others wear it for fashion.

Another said that Ebrahim, who had described herself as a nonconformist earlier, was actually conforming to the religious preference of her parents.

Ebrahim said that she came to her religious convictions on her own terms.
M Ebrahim December 12, 2013 at 02:46 PM
Thank you for the article, but I must note that there were a lot of misquotes and paraphrasing.
Peter Schelden (Editor) December 12, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Paraphrasing is necessary for a story like this. What was misquoted?
M Ebrahim December 16, 2013 at 03:15 AM
Almost every quote was a paraphrased sentence(s) with quotation marks around it. This quote: "I was just sick of it. I wanted to get rid of it. I don't want to be sexually attractive to anyone. That's temptation." is odd; they were all paraphrases of sentences from different points of a Q&A session that went on into almost two hours. I would never say those words in that sequence. I said my friend (not husband) advised me to take off the scarf after the events of 9/11; not a big deal, but a misquote. I did feel horror, but I didn’t use that word. I did not say many Muslims believe conspiracy theories… After describing how Muslim Americans like myself first felt the shock, fear, helplessness, and lack of national safety at the time of the attacks, we dually go into feelings of, “Please don’t let it be a Muslim”. Further, when it is ever announced that a Muslim does something horrible like a terrorist act, SOME people latch on to “conspiracy theories” that helps them deal with the question of “how can a Muslim do this?”. It may not be significant to you, but “some” and “many” are two very different words; especially when dealing with the most heavily generalized faith-group in the world. Similarly, it was reported that I said: “Muslim women have different reasons for covering up, and while some may wear the hijab out of religious devotion, others wear it for fashion.” I did not say that. I responded that she had a valid point, and that although a bright colored or sequined hijab is just as much of an “adornment” as hair, I felt from experience that the hijab did make a difference in the way men viewed me. When the questioner struggled with how the hijab seems it should be a form of asceticism, I mentioned that Muslim women are at different levels of attachment to artistic expression/fashion, and in some cases, like in Egypt, some women wear it to be fashionable. The title and opening are not in my jurisdiction to correct, but I will note that they were misleading, for I never used the word Allah the entire time I was there. I technically spoke for 15 minutes about my comedic book and why I wrote it, then answered contemplative and curious questions from an awesome positive group of people for almost two hours, way over what was planned. I neither lectured nor hymned, I had a great time engaging with a great group of intelligent & introspective people at Saddleback. So I thank you for the remainder of the article, which correctly reported what was said and took place, but the rest, I could not in good conscience agree that it occurred. I understand you have a certain amount of words to cover an event, but you need to be careful what words you allocate to the speaker. Thank you for the effort!

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »