The Dynamics of Wearing hijab for Muslim American Women in the United States
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AbstractOver the past decade, and particularly since the September11th terrorist attacks, the Muslim community in the United States has experienced an increased level of social and religious scrutiny. This unfortunate incident has fundamentally changed the way the American society views Muslims, especially Muslim women who wear the veil or hijab in public. Muslim women have experienced various instances of discrimination including people trying to remove their hijab, and/or name calling. A unique aspect of Muslim women in the US is that they not only confront the stigma of gender, race, ethnicity and religion, but that which is attached to Islamic dress as well. Despite some of these problems, however, the experiences of Muslim women in the United States remains one of the least researched topics in sociology. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the social and familial factors that affect Muslim women's decision to wear the hijab and how their families react to their decision to wear the hijab. I specifically argue that the process through Muslim women in America come to wear the hijab is multi-faceted and involves both social and familial factors. I also argue that these women encounter both supportive and unsupportive attitudes from their families over their decision to wear the hijab. With Muslim women as such visible symbols of Muslim American society, it is imperative that they become active in the Muslim society as well as in the mainstream American society in order to improve the public impression of Muslim women as meek, uneducated and confined to their homes. This thesis also discusses the reaction of their families to their hijab. Future research is needed to study how these women negotiate their everyday lives while wearing the hijab outside their homes.