A Muslim teen asked her dad what he would do if she stopped wearing a hijab and his response is going viral
The Internet can feel like a cesspool of filth sometimes. In fact, a HazMat suit is often required before wading into the comment section of our favorite websites. Lamyaa – a 17-year-old Muslim teen from Pennsylvania – is no stranger to the no-holds-barred brand of hate that breeds on the Internet these days, but last week she decided to strike back – not with more hate, but with truth and honesty.
During a group chat about the president and the current political environment, the conversation turned heated. After Lamyaa identified herself as a Muslim woman and criticized the president’s opinions about Islam, someone responded, “Stop defending Islam Bitch shut up you couldn’t take that scarf off or your dad would beat your ass.”
By “scarf,” the commenter was, of course, referring to the hijab –a head covering that some Muslim women wear as a sign of their faith – but a hateful bigot wouldn’t know that, right?
Even though the teen is used to negative and ignorant attitudes from non-Muslim Americans, she said she was compelled to prove this person wrong so she texted her dad in Saudi Arabia.
“Baba, I want to tell you something,” she texted.
“Talk to me,” he texted back and then asked her if she was okay in Arabic.
“Yeah, I’m okay,” she responded. “I was thinking. I want to take my hijab off.”
“Sweetheart that’s not my decision to make,” her assured her. “That’s no man’s decision to make. If it’s what you feel like you want to do, go ahead. I’ll support you no matter what. Is everything okay? Did something happen?”
Lamyaa took a screenshot of their conversation and posted to Twitter on Friday. Since then, the post has gone viral and has been shared more than 144,000 times.
“I have gotten many heartwarming messages of people showing me support, but also of people wanting to learn more about Islam or wanting to be a part of it,” she told Upworthy. “I felt like I could help in a way, and it was very humbling.”
People sometimes associate Islam with misogyny and violence, but this is due to either a lack of information at best, or hateful bigotry at worst.
“People believe that Islam is misogynistic, hateful, or violent, and I think that stems from their inability to differentiate culture and religion,” she explained. “Islam is a religion and, like all religions, it is what you bring to it.”
Although the response to Lamyaa’s tweet has been largely positive, some Muslim women pointed out that they don’t feel the same freedom to remove their hijab that she does. Lamyaa was quick to clarify that oppression is cultural and not due to the Muslim faith.
“Women — in the Middle East specifically — face oppression but it is due to culture not religion,” she said. “People often mix the two and say the cultural practices are religious practices. That is far from the truth.”
She clarified her intentions in the follow-up note, expressing her commitment to standing up for the right of others to choose what they do with their own bodies and how they express their faith.
“They misunderstood my tweet, but I do understand their anger,” Lamyaa told BuzzFeed News. “My intention was in no way, shape, or form to speak over or offend anyone.”
The reasons many women wear a hijab are highly personal, just like it is a individual decision for a woman to wear a cross necklace or a Jewish man to wear a yarmulke. To each their own, right?
“I wear my hijab because it is sacred to me,” Lamyaa told Upworthy. “It displays my connection to my faith and God. When I have the hijab on, I act kinder and I am more aware of what I say and do. This is because not only am I representing myself, but I am representing a faith much bigger than me.”
So how do we clear up these misconceptions? Well, Lamyaa offers a pretty simple answer – talk to each other.
“If I had one thing to say to people who have misconceptions about Islam, it would be: Speak to a Muslim,” Lamyaa said. “Have a conversation with a Muslim. Many of us are willing to answer any questions and clear up any misconceptions. Muslims are not some separate group. We are a part of America. We are people.”