The majority of women wear hijab in Kuwait. And there is a significant portion of women who wear the face veil. I am often dazzled by hijab fashions in Kuwait. I try not to stare, but I am intrigued by the whole face veiling. I find that face veil does not preclude sexual attractiveness, since a lot of niqabis wear tons of eye make-up and are dowsed in so much perfume. Some of their abayas are form fitting and attention getting also. I’ve already mentioned the ‘ho shoes. Don’t get me started on designer bags and the cat-walking in the malls. Maybe niqab is not about modesty, but about anonymity.
I think this really hit home today. As we left the Friday Souq two stylishly dressed, and presumably young, niqabi ladies were sitting on a bench. They spotted us and broke their neck to follow us as we made our way out the market. It must have been the English, plus the group of seven brown people running amok. Normally staring people look away when you look back at them. I looked up and stared back at them. Neither one broke their gaze. I said in English, assuming a greater than 50% chance that they’d understand me. “I guess niqab allows you to stare at people.”
I have noticed that niqabis will just stare you down–hard. They had the advantage tonight. They were anonymous and we were not. I noticed that niqabis stare down men too. For me, niqab isn’t something new. I have friends who have worn niqab in the states for years. I’ve even tried it on for kicks. But I have not seen as many niqabis as I see here. Nor have I seen the levels flash that is often associated with khaliji style veiling. In my short stay in Egypt, I saw black enveloped and brightly robed niqabis, alongside the many veiled women. In Morocco, I saw the traditionally dressed women in jallabas, with their veils tucked just under their nose. During my stay in Fes, I came to dread encountering them on the street. No matter how smartly dressed, how neat their jallabas were, they’d hit us up for money. If we didn’t have that, they’d take our cokes, if we didn’t have that, they’d take our water. Nothing like a crowd of niqabis begging harrassing you. After awhile, I scoped out the street before heading down the block I saw a old school niqabi lady chillin on a stoop someqhere, I went to the next block. I’d cross the street sometimes.
As a non-niqabi, when I see a striking person, I tend to lower my gaze. I may look a few times just to gain an imprint in my mind. But as for looking at men, as a I follow the proper decorum. I tend to lower my gaze. One, I’m not trying to catch eye contact. Two, I tend to be kind of shy in public. I’ve never been one to stare down a man. Well, not on the street at least. And I won’t talk about the few times when I did try to those come hither looks. But that’s not going down in the Middle East. I lower my gaze. I know enough Arab men to know that one mistaken look and some random dude on the street may think I have the hots for him. I mean, I could have had something in my eye. Maybe his dishdash was blinded my vision in its crispy whiteness. I could have been trying to identify my surroundings or trying to judge the distance between me and him so I don’t run into a pole or something.
I was walking with a friend who wears niqab. After we passed by two Kuwaiti men, she murmured, “I see you two Kuwaiti men looking at me friend.” I told her I didn’t see them looking because I was staring at the ground. She said something like, “Hey I’m wearing niqab and I can look at them dead up in their face.” Maybe this niqab thing is not so bad after all. You can be a bit bolder in your use of public space. I might try this niqab thing. While donning it I can stare at who I want when I want. All the while I can pretend I’m the most beautiful girl in the world. Ahhhhhhhhh, next purchase Kuwait!!
22 thoughts on “Why you all in my grill?”
I think it’s interesting to note that niqab is about being looked at but not being SEEN. But all the same, these ladies should get a little humility. Staring somebody down is just impolite!
Have u seen the last hijab style? ((the aliens) lolllll
Ppl in kw don’t need a reason to stare,they satre ,u stare ,it’s just how life iz around here 😉
The niqaab in that second picture looks ridiculous. It’s so tight against her face and it’s see through. What’s the point in even wearing that!
I’m sorry, I just feel a deep visceral reaction to covering a woman’s face–it’s like blanking out her identity, saying she’s a non-person. It isn’t Islamic, it comes from pre-Islamic patriarchal cultures where women were chattel with no rights, which contradicts Islam.
Now Arabs have made it their own, and it looks like you’re getting used to seeing it around you all the time. But this here Amrikiyah still in Amrika just can’t get used to it, I’m not going to get used to it, I feel it’s so very wrong to impose this on women.
I have no problem with hijab as long as they don’t negate our faces. We are people too. All fun with looking, gazing, flirting, staring, aside. OK, I get that it’s a hoot to subvert the overt signifiers to make them ironically the opposite of their ostensible meanings. But I feel the niqab is just the wrong signifier to start with. I’m happier as an overtly uppity Amrikiyah enjoying my freedom and equality over here, plain and simple.
I think you had the right idea with keeping your gaze down, which is the real hijab, not a piece of cloth which is more of a fashion statement.
And frankly keeping-the-eyes-down is practiced MORE by unveiled infidel Western women in their miniskirts here than by niqabi sisters in the Middle East flirting all over the damn place with their eyes.
I keep being reminded of Muhammad `Abduh’s trip to Paris: “In Egypt I saw Muslims but no Islam. In Europe I saw Islam but no Muslims.”
It’s a plain matter of practical safety on the street for women not to meet strange men’s eyes–we all learn this from experience quickly enough, and don’t need a holy book or bearded preachers to be reminded of it.
i also found in egypt that niqabis tended to stare me down
its quite scary
or maybe it just seems that they are or just that they are intimidating
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Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu. The wearing of niqab is Islamic and mustahhab. The wives of Prophet Muhammad (sas) wore it. By the way, I am an African-American niqabi from South Central LA (now overseas). I have identity, a voice, courage, worth, strength, self-respect, dignity, purity, humility, sensibility and chastity. Alhamdulillah.
SALAM I THINK I FIND THIS VERRY INTRESTING BUT MOST PEOPLE DONT USE IT FOR THAT
SALAM ALAKUM HI MAY NAME IS SHUKRIYA
AND I THINK THAT PEOPLE JSUT STARING OTHERS DOWN AND FOLLOWING THEM IS A DICRACE TO THE REASON WHY THEY ARE WERING A NIQAB ,A NIQAB IS TO VEIL YOU FORM OTHER EYES NOT FOR YOU TO STARE DOWN OTHERS I THINK ITS JUST WRONG
Salaam! Im polish student – 22 y o girl. I have many muslim friends and I believe in Allah. Im not like other european girls. I dont want to feel like a thing for men. I would be proud to wear niqab. I think its fantastic solution. But here, being a muslim is not safe. My family wouldnt accept it. And if i would wear niqab here, i would be killed in few days. 😦 Here, if I wanna hide my sexuality, i can just wear long cardigans, big trousers etc…and it doesnt look good. I would like to wear hijab or niqab 😦 Big hugs for you, sadiki.
strength to you Umm Isa. I agree with what you said. as well as with waht shukriya and Asia said, very good points masha ALLAH.
I don’t agree with everything you say but writing and addressing issues that people want to keep underwraps is very refreshing and a great eye-opener.
i find us as muslims cant be proud of us instead of being impressed by the fact they following the right way we rather insult and mock and stereotype muslim women as submissive un educated women
im 14 yaers old and i live in the u.s. i have just recently started to wear my hijab and people make fun of me and call me a terrorist somtimes i cry but i dont kno what to do?????
KEEP TOTAL FAITH IN ALLAH AND ISLAM, FIND YOUR OWN STYLE WITH HIJAB OWN IT AND INCORPORATE IT INTO YOU BEING AND PERSONALITY,AND SOON WHEN YOU BECOME COMFORTABLE IN YOUR OWN, YOU WILL BE AND INSPIRATION TO OTHERS INSH’ALLAH, AND YOU WILL BE PERFORMING WHAT IS CALLED DAWAH,IF I’M NOT MISTAKEN,I AM A NEW CONVERT MYSELF,WHICH IS THE PROPAGATION OF THE RELIGION OF PEACE…ISLAM. ALLAHU AKBAR.
I LIKE ALL THAT I HAVE READ HERE AND I AM GLAD I CAME ACROSS THIS SITE.
IM IN THE USA BERKLEY CALIFORNIA,AND I’M INTERESTED IN MEETING MORE MUSLIMAHS,
I DON’T KNOW IF THIS MATTERS BUT I AM OF AFRICAN DECENT AND A MIXTURE OF OTHER THINGS I GUESS.
SO HERES THE THING, I WANNA HAVE MORE MUSLIMAH FRIEND BUT MOST OF US OR THEM ARE SO UNAPROACHABLE I MEAN EVEN TO OTHER WOMEN, AND I HAVE TO SAY ITS MOSTLY THE ARAB ONES. ME BEING AN NEW CONVERT AND THERE NOT BEING MANY AFRICAN OR OTHER RACES OF MUSLIMS PREVELENT IN THE AREA I FEEL LIKE IF I WANNA BE SCHOOLED CORRECTLY THEN I SHOULD BUILD A FRIEND SHIP WITH ONE OF THESE SISTA’S…?
MOST OF THEM IF THERE BLACK ARE NATION MUSLIMS AND…WELL LETS JUST SAY NOT FOR ME.
ANY HOW SHOULD I APPROACH A PREDOMINATELY ARAB MASJID,ALONE BECAUSE MY HUSBAND IS NOT MUSLIM.DOES THAT MATTER?
DONT TAKE ME FOR RACIST BECAUSE RACE MATTERS NOT TO ME IT JUST SEEN LIKE IT IS A BARRIER FOR THE MAJORITY BUT WE ARE ALL BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN ISLAM.
Salamu Alaikum Warahmatuallah!
Your article hit the nail right on the head. I have seen and even heard about some sisters who wear niqab like that. I am a new muslim alhamdulillah. Almost two years now. I think that what you are talking about is very cultural. I know some arab women who even just wear hijab and act like that. They see hijab and niqab as a fashion statement, they dont see its true purpose. LOL THE HO SHOES!!!!!! I knoe EXACLTY what you mean. The 6 inch click click click shoes. Those drive me nuts.
Sister, have confidence in yourself. Know that inshAllah you are doing what is right, and pray that these sisters see the error of their ways. Be blessed.
Salamu Alaikum Warahmatuallah
aww! i want to be a niqabi! but I dont want to give up my high heeled shoes – they are covered by my abya anyways – look at me justifying! make dua for meeee!
i’m going to try wearing it the first day of ramadhan and if I last then khalas – i’m a niqabi insha’allah!
I think that the niqab is absolutely beautiful, and they can wear the make up if they please. But modesty is really key and staring down people is just plain rude! Staring at men like that is haram too. I would personally stare back :] I grew up in Kuwait and I never noticed that. If I saw a niqab clad woman she would be soo nice to me!! So surprising to hear that they can actually be quite rude
What about the ones for children ?
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II think wearing the niqab and abaya is hesutiful, especially if full modesty with eyes veiled and gloves 🙂