Things Not to Say to a Hijabi


Photo via WinchesterMeg/Twitter

Amany Nassar, Staff Writer

As a Muslim girl who wears a headscarf (aka, a “hijabi”), I’ve been asked plenty of, well…interesting questions, to say the least. There is a very big difference between asking questions out of pure curiosity and just being flat-out offensive and/or annoying. Hijabis are constantly being asked annoying questions wherever they go. Of the frequently asked questions, here’s what not to ask us:

Do you have hair?

Yes… just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean we don’t have it. We wear the hijab to maintain modesty and privacy from unrelated men. “Yes, it’s all under there; you may even see some baby hairs sticking out,” laughs Asiyah Moiz, a freshman at Dominion High School.

Do you shower with that on?

Yes, we use hijab and shoulders to wash our hijabs. No, I’ve never quite understood this question. Do people think we hop in the shower in a full outfit? I’m pretty sure that completely defeats the purpose of a shower.

Are you forced to wear that?

No. This is a stereotype that continues to be portrayed in the media about Muslim women. There are many practicing non-hijabi Muslims, and just because they don’t wear the hijab doesn’t mean they aren’t Muslim. Hijabi girls have the choice of putting on the hijab when they hit the age of puberty or after, and whether or not they decide to wear it is up to them.

“I was inspired and motivated by my friends and family to wear the hijab,” says Rayya Thraya, an 8th grader at Hughes Middle School.

“It’s different for everyone,” says Sally Hassan, a freshman at South Lakes High School.

Where are you from?

This is the most frequently asked question hijabis get, and we’re tired of it. We’re Americans just like everybody else. We aren’t your portal to some foreign country. The only reason people ask us this is because they see a scarf on our heads and immediately assume we’re foreigners. Almost all of us were born in America. I was born in Flint, Michigan. It can’t get any more American than that. 

“There’s a difference between religion and ethnicity,” says Rayya Thraya.

How do you swim with that on?

We swim just like everybody else. I regret to inform you that hijabis don’t have their own swimming techniques. We swim with our hair and bodies covered. 

What happens if someone sees your hair? 

They will disintegrate into thin air! I’m just kidding, nothing happens, at least I don’t think so. I’ve been asked this question while with a friend and it honestly took me by surprise. I hadn’t really thought about what other people think happens when someone sees my hair. 

Are you hot with that on?

No, we have air conditioners under here. I mean seriously, if you’re hot without it then obviously we’re hot with it. The amount of times I’ve been asked this question is crazy. I would think it would be a pretty clear answer especially on a hot day.


Next time you see a hijabi in the hall, just say hello like you would anyone else. We want to be treated just like everybody else. It’s ok to ask questions, just make sure they’re polite and respectful.