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Hijab & Me

Length - 09:29
Published - Sep 2019
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

Hijab & Me – Three young Muslim women called Ambar, Ilhan and Athena give their personal (and very different!) opinions on what it means to wear hijab, and the status of women in Islam.

A film by Kim Roden

Created in collaboration with the Advocacy Academy

Shortlisted for Best Short Form Documentary at the Broadcast Digital Awards 2020.

Nominated for the Educational Film Award at The Learning On Screen Awards 2020.

Nominated in the Children’s Broadcasting category at the Sandford St Martin Trust Awards 2020.

Nominated for the Content for Change Award at the Children’s BAFTAs 2019.

TrueTube films are designed for use in a number of ways. Some ideas of where this film could link to your curriculum are below:



Component 2: Thematic studies:Theme A: Relationships and families- Sex, marriage and divorce - Islam - Gender roles, Gender equality, Gender prejudice and discrimination including examples.



Area of Study 1 -Section 2: Marriage and the Family -Islam - Muslim teaching about the equality of men and women in the family: divergent Muslim beliefs, teachings and attitudes about the role of men and women in the family with reference to the Qur’an, including Surah 4 and the time of Muhammad.



Component Group 2–Religion, philosophy and ethics in the modern world from a religious perspective - relationships and families - religious teachings about the nature and purpose of families in the 21st century, sex, marriage, cohabitation and divorce. Issues related to the nature and purpose of families; roles of men and women; equality; gender prejudice and discrimination.



PART B- Theme 1: Issues of Relationships - Issues of equality: gender prejudice and discrimination - Diverse attitudes within Islam toward the roles of women and men in worship and authority  Teachings: Qur'an 2:228, 40:40, 4:1



Component 1 (Route A):Religious, Philosophical and Ethical Studies in the Modern World : Theme 1: Issues of Relationships:Issues of equality: gender prejudice and discrimination

Hijab & Me

Ilhan        I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

Ambar     Sorry. Yeah.

Athena    Okay. Should I start now?

Ambar     A hijab, literally is an Arabic word, meaning curtain or barrier. Um, but for a lot of people it means lots of different things.

Ilhan        A lot of people do see it as the covering of a woman's hair.

Ambar     So for me, for example, to wear the hijab would be to dress modestly. So this could be interpreted as wearing the hijab.

Athena    But the real hijab is meant to be the one that covers your whole body. What I'm wearing today is a jilbab, which is the orange colour, and the niqab is anything that covers the face.

Ambar     We come in all different shapes and sizes. We dress different ways. Lots of women think different things about hijab, and that's because the ground is open to interpretation.

Ambar     And tell the faithful women

Athena    To cast down their looks

Ilhan        and to guard their private parts,

Athena    to make their outer garments.

Ambar     Hang low over them.

Ilhan        So as to be recognised and not insulted.

Athena    I interpret the verse about the hijab as the covering from the opposite gender. Normally girls wear it outside in public, if they were to come across men. If you're at home with other girls or with your family, you don't have to wear hijab. But if you're on camera, then hijab is something that you have to wear.

Ilhan        For me, it's not about I'm not going to look at me because really and truly, if men wanted to look, even if you're wearing a bin bag, they are going to look.

Ambar     It doesn't say in the Quran that women have to cover their hair specifically.

Athena    It's something that I believe we have to do as believing women. And if you don't wear the hijab, you do gain a sin from it.

Ilhan        One of the reasons I like to wear it is it's kind of a religious tradition. It's something that's been done for many years. It's always inspired me ever since I was a little girl. So these are my four sisters.

Ruqiya     I want to do it myself. My name is Ruqiya.

Ilhan        When you're a child, your mum usually puts on the small pull on ones, but when you start to get a bit older, you wear the wrap ones. And at first it is hard to wrap it so that it looks nice on you.

Ilhan        It's messy. Maybe fold it a bit, at the front.

Ilhan        It makes you feel more grown up. It's quite an exciting experience. Set, go.

Ilhan        I feel like we're all part of one massive community of Muslim women all over the world who also wear it. It makes me feel empowered.

Athena    When I first wore my jilbab, I felt like a princess, like, I'm not going to lie, I felt like a princess because jilbab just made me feel modest and happy and girly, and I'm a very, very girly person. Growing up, I had a huge crisis in who I was as a person, because my parents didn't want me to wear the hijab. I would do my hair in different ways, my makeup in different ways. Modesty is a very important factor of your religion, and it was something that I wasn't practising, and it felt like that was the one thing that was keeping me back. So on my 17th birthday, I decided that I would start wearing the hijab. I remember spending two hours trying to play with it and putting the pins in the right place. I went downstairs and I told my mum and I told my dad, I'm going to wear this. My dad was like, how am I going to take you to school? It was a time when I was getting ready to basically come out and say, this is who I am, and whether they accepted me or not was something that I would have to face. Every person has their identity of what they like. It could be how they choose to dress or what brands they like. For me, and for majority of Muslim girls, our identity is Islam. We want people to know we're Muslim, to dress the way I'm dressing, it's hard, but we want to do it.

Ilhan        I was always around other people who were wearing headscarf. However, being a black Muslim, I would sometimes look at my black community and see how hair is a big part of the culture. Braids, weaves, extensions.

Athena    As a woman, you want to appear attractive. You want to do your hair. You want to do your makeup. It's natural. You'll find that we have hair straighteners. We do keep up with the latest makeup trends. We still do these things, but we just don't do it in public.

Ambar     I only wear the headscarf when I'm praying or when I'm reading the Qur'an, so when I'm praying, I'm obviously praying towards God, and the same with when you're reading the Qur'an, because it is the word of God that's been passed down all the way from the time of the prophet. It's a symbol of me showing respect, but I don't feel like I need to wear it all the time to show that, it's only in those specific circumstances.

Athena    What I would tell a Muslim woman who chooses not to wear the hijab, is that ideally we should try and wear the hijab, but her prayer may be better than mine, her character may be better than mine. So we are told not to judge other Muslim women.

Ilhan        When it comes to prayer. Men and women are separated as a way of making sure that your focus is on the prayer, rather than looking around at who's in the room.

Athena    For example, for having a wedding, we're told to have it so that men and women don't mix because we believe that they might have lustful thoughts about one another.

Ilhan        Because I'm Somali, we like to wear these kind of, like, dresses, that are actually quite see through. It's okay that they're see through, because it's just women in the room, so it just makes it more fun.

Ambar     I know a lot of Muslims think that splitting off men and women is something that should happen, but I don't agree with that at all. And I think that the emphasis that some Muslims give within the community on not being attracted to the other sex or not being attracted to the same sex, even. It can be so dangerous for young Muslims who are going through this period in their life, and they have questions about themselves, about their body, about their sexuality. Young Muslims need to be able to talk about it without feeling that they're doing something wrong, because it's not. It's quite normal.

Ilhan        A lot of people assume that it's only Muslim women who have to observe hijab. The Qur'an actually addresses the men's hijab, before the women's hijab. Men are encouraged to cover their awrah, which is from their belly button to just below their knees. Even though the Quran does talk about men and women's hijab, a lot of pressure is put on the girls to make sure that they're covering up properly.

Ambar     Some Muslim men, the way that they're interpreting the Qur'an, they are purposefully cherry picking the passages that give rights to men and just ignore the rights of women. I think that is the main issue. Um, and until we actually tackle that, then it's going to remain an issue for a while.

Ilhan        Because I wear a headscarf, people can see that I'm Muslim. You do face some Islamophobia.

Ambar     The Qur'an was being revealed 1400 years ago in a time that was very different to us. Women were told to cover up those parts of their body, to protect them from the kinds of things that were going on at the time. And I think given the current society with what's going on, there are Muslim women who are being identified as wearing the hijab, wearing the niqab, and they're being attacked because of it. So as a form of garment that was initially introduced to protect them, it's now actually having the opposite effect.

Ilhan        My grandma's always being like, be careful, there's people out there that don't like Muslims. Imagine your grandmother having to tell you to be careful, because there are people who don't like you specifically because of what you choose to believe. It's like very specific to you as a person and you and your beliefs. And so, yeah.

Athena    I do have a YouTube channel. Hateful comments always come with YouTube and so do positive ones. Some girls told me that I have to cover my eyes, or that I'm drawing too much attention to myself by being online in the first place. So, for them, Muslim women shouldn't be online. They should be hidden, they should be at home. And then you get the other spectrum. Why are you covering your face? Why are you covering your hair? Especially as women, we always get people telling us what to wear, how to dress. You have to learn to be confident in who you are as a person.

Ambar     I think some of the things that people get wrong about Muslim women specifically is that we're oppressed.

Athena    Whatever form of hijab you choose to wear is oppressive.

Ilhan        To me, what I see as more oppressive is people trying to, like, plant ideas into my mind that I must feel uncomfortable, but really, it's them feeling uncomfortable.

Athena    I don't get pressure from my family. I don't get pressure from my husband. For me, my main thing that empowers me is my religion and being able to practice my religion freely.

Ambar     Women have Quranic rights that are drawn out in the Qur'an, and whether or not people pay attention to that is one thing, but nonetheless they are there.

Athena    Before Islam came, girls were being buried alive, they were either sold off or married off to people that they didn't know.

Ilhan        After Islam came about, women started to have the rights to education,

Ambar     the right to marry, to choose who they could marry. They had the right to divorce.

Athena    Having a voice,

Ilhan        the right to inheritance, and the right to ownership of property.

Ambar     It was a liberating religion.

Ilhan        One of the women that I find really inspiring is Khadija, who was the Prophet Muhammad's first wife.

Athena    Khadija was a businesswoman.

Ambar     She was the one who bankrolled the religion, essentially.

Ilhan        She even asked for the prophet's hand in marriage.

Ambar     And she was also the first person to actually believe him when he was saying that he was getting these verses from God.

Athena    The great women of Islam, they give us an example of how we should be.

Ambar     What I want people to understand about women in Islam is that, hmm, that's a tricky one.

Ilhan        Even though the hijab does hold great importance, it is just a piece of fabric. It is just a cloth that is around my head.

Ambar     You are from a different background, different culture, and, but that doesn't mean you're an alien.

Ilhan        If you are able to see us as normal people, who live our lives and are struggling just as much as everyone else, I think that would be great.