Author Topic: Wearing a headscarf if non Muslim?  (Read 3164 times)

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Amanita

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Wearing a headscarf if non Muslim?
« on: April 09, 2013, 02:48:36 AM »
With any luck, I'll be going to Dubai late this year. I've been working out what I'll wear- how to look cool and still feel cool. I suspect I'll want a head covering of some sort- I've got a cool broad brimmed hat, but being felt I'm sure it will be too hot, not to mention hard to fly with. (It looks like the one Weird Al wore in his Amish Paradise video) I don't wear baseball style caps, and I'm not a fan of the floppy, wrinkly fabric hats that a friend of mine always wears.

So I was wondering if wearing a headscarf would be cool, or in a Muslim country, would it be viewed as appropriation or otherwise offensive for a non Muslim to wear one? FYI, Dubai does not require people to wear Islamic dress, the locals just ask that people dress respectfully, that is keep shoulders, cleavage, midriffs, and such covered.

Nemesis

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Re: Wearing a headscarf if non Muslim?
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2013, 03:39:22 AM »
I think it will be fine. Of course, peoe will naturally assume that you are a muslim too. But that should be fine. Note that if you go to a hotel for alcoholic drinks while wearing a head scarf, you might get a stink eye or two. So just remember to take it off before you order :)

Pen^2

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Re: Wearing a headscarf if non Muslim?
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2013, 07:05:56 AM »
I have a friend who grew up in Dubai, who says that wearing a headscarf would be very appreciated.

Thipu1

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Re: Wearing a headscarf if non Muslim?
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2013, 09:33:44 AM »
If it's comfortable and you like it, wear the scarf.

  There are a number of Moslem people in our neighborhood and some of the scarves they wear are absolutely gorgeous.  Scarves might make lovely gifts for folks at home because many can also be worn as shawls. 

RingTailedLemur

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Re: Wearing a headscarf if non Muslim?
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2013, 09:46:20 AM »
If it's comfortable and you like it, wear the scarf.

  There are a number of Moslem people in our neighborhood and some of the scarves they wear are absolutely gorgeous.  Scarves might make lovely gifts for folks at home because many can also be worn as shawls.

Please be careful - that word is now generally deemed very offensive.

LadyL

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Re: Wearing a headscarf if non Muslim?
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2013, 09:56:52 AM »
If it's comfortable and you like it, wear the scarf.

  There are a number of Moslem people in our neighborhood and some of the scarves they wear are absolutely gorgeous.  Scarves might make lovely gifts for folks at home because many can also be worn as shawls.

Please be careful - that word is now generally deemed very offensive.

I had this sense but didn't know the history. Apparently the changed pronunciation changes the meaning to a pejorative for practicing Muslims. Interesting. More info here: http://hnn.us/articles/524.html

NyaChan

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Re: Wearing a headscarf if non Muslim?
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2013, 10:59:53 AM »
I find it fairly usual for even non-Muslim people to wrap a scarf around their heads either in mosques out of respect or in countries where it is the norm for women either from respect, to be comfortable, or for fashion.  Don't worry, no one would normally think it was odd or that it was offensive.  To be honest, some people would probably be relieved or impressed that you had covered up  ::)  Far more likely (though not really in Dubai cuz it is more traveller-friendly) in Muslim countries that you would be eyed askance should you not wear some sort of head covering.

Thipu1 - I would probably figure you just transcribed an incorrect pronunciation rather than were trying to offend anyone :) 

Thipu1

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Re: Wearing a headscarf if non Muslim?
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2013, 11:37:09 AM »
If it's comfortable and you like it, wear the scarf.

  There are a number of Moslem people in our neighborhood and some of the scarves they wear are absolutely gorgeous.  Scarves might make lovely gifts for folks at home because many can also be worn as shawls.

Please be careful - that word is now generally deemed very offensive.

I'm sorry if I offended out of ignorance.  It was not my intention to offend. 

What term should I use when referring to people who follow this belief system? 

RingTailedLemur

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Re: Wearing a headscarf if non Muslim?
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2013, 11:40:47 AM »
If it's comfortable and you like it, wear the scarf.

  There are a number of Moslem people in our neighborhood and some of the scarves they wear are absolutely gorgeous.  Scarves might make lovely gifts for folks at home because many can also be worn as shawls.

Please be careful - that word is now generally deemed very offensive.

I'm sorry if I offended out of ignorance.  It was not my intention to offend. 

What term should I use when referring to people who follow this belief system?

I know you didn't mean to offend :)  Just use the word "muslim".

MerryCat

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Re: Wearing a headscarf if non Muslim?
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2013, 12:20:41 PM »
This reminds me of a funny story that happened when my father was working in Abu Dhabi (same country as Dubai, different city). I was around 15, then, I think?

Anyway, I was walking over to my friend's place, and I'd wrapped a scarf around my head to keep the heat off. Suddenly an older lady suddenly took ahold of my arm, led me aside, and started scolding me in broken English mixed with Arabic for doing my scarf so messily that my hair was visible.

She wasn't angry or yelling or anything, just sort of tutting and fussing like a mother hen while busily re-arranging my scarf for me. I have to admit that when she was done it looked really nice, with the pleats being all neat and straight. She gave me one last look, nodded her head in satisfaction, and then bustled off into the busy street.

It was the weirdest encounter and I honestly didn't know what to think. Later my friend and I decided that, because of my ethnicity and the way in which I'd tied my scarf, the lady had most likely mistaken me for a Muslim girl.  That's probably why she had felt the need to jump in and help me. It was weird at the time, but in hindsight it's kind of funny and I got a pretty scarf pin out of it.

Not to scare you off Amanita. Generally as long as you are dressed relatively modestly people don't look twice at you, especially if you are obviously a foreigner. It's just that the talk of Dubai and head scarves reminded me of this story.

White Lotus

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Re: Wearing a headscarf if non Muslim?
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2013, 12:32:19 PM »
You might find a product called a Buff useful.  It is a kind of bandanna tube or head band made for serious athletes, often used as a helmet liner.  It is made of a breathable, lightweight, fabric, and does work (you can wear the bandanna ones many different ways) as a hair and even face covering in situations where that might be socially courteous, or when there is blowing dust or snow. You can layer another scarf over it -- and they have gorgeous ones -- if you want without having to worry about knowing how to pin it to keep your hair covered.  I do it if it is the custom of the country.  I think it is courteous.  What tourists wear in some parts of the world is profoundly offensive to locals and restricts interaction with them, IME.

Amanita

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Re: Wearing a headscarf if non Muslim?
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2013, 12:36:55 PM »
There's actually a local business that sells Muslim headscarves and clothing, I'm thinking of buying a couple from there. They actually make a couple of styles designed to be convenient- they just slip on over your head, kind of like a ski mask, but they leave your face exposed, while covering your hair. They plan to get a couple of styles in that when worn, look a lot like the Shayla style scarf a lot of Emirati women wear.

On another note, I am seriously thinking of showing one of these slip-on hijab to my security company supervisor, in case we ever get a Muslim applying for a job with us- the plain Al Amira style tend to be close fitting, and their simple style would be in keeping with our uniforms. A traditional scarf might be a safety risk- loose fabric somebody could grab, but something closer fitting might take care of that possible safety issue.
http://www.alqamar.ca/Feminine-Ruffle-Hijab-Black-FRH-BLA.htm

Marrycat, that is neat indeed! When it comes to clothes, my styles can be unorthodox (I make things myself), but I tend to keep well covered up- No short shorts or skirts, midriff and cleavage covered. I've got a couple of lovely long dresses- if need be, I can make modesty panels for the necklines.

fountainsoflettuce

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Re: Wearing a headscarf if non Muslim?
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2013, 12:50:49 PM »
OP, I'm jealous of your trip.  Until your post, I never considered wearing a headscarf in Dubai as it was one of the more, um tolerant? (not sure of the word I'm looking for) areas of the world.  A friend of mine visited about 6 months ago and had a wonderful time. (She didn't wear a scarf.)   Are you going to dress up in costume while you're over there?   Take lots of pictures!

Amanita

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Re: Wearing a headscarf if non Muslim?
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2013, 12:54:52 PM »
Dunno if I would go so far as outright cosplay (Although Dubai DID just have a comic convention so it does happen), but I definitely want to wear some of my other handmade goodies. My main reason for thinking of wearing a scarf is to keep sun off my head, but there are times when wearing it for other reasons would be good- apparently the locals like it when visitors make an attempt to fit in.

Minmom3

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Re: Wearing a headscarf if non Muslim?
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2013, 12:58:36 PM »
You might find a product called a Buff useful.  It is a kind of bandanna tube or head band made for serious athletes, often used as a helmet liner.  It is made of a breathable, lightweight, fabric, and does work (you can wear the bandanna ones many different ways) as a hair and even face covering in situations where that might be socially courteous, or when there is blowing dust or snow. You can layer another scarf over it -- and they have gorgeous ones -- if you want without having to worry about knowing how to pin it to keep your hair covered.  I do it if it is the custom of the country.  I think it is courteous.  What tourists wear in some parts of the world is profoundly offensive to locals and restricts interaction with them, IME.

Heh.  What people wear in THIS COUNTRY (the U.S.) can be offensive to locals...  I'm from California.  I spent my summer after high school going on backpacking trips with the Sierra Club, doing trail maintenance.  I came home much browner and much stronger.  It being summer, I was usually wearing cut offs and a tank top.  It was the summer of '73, and I've always had a big bust (so I never go braless outside my front door), so the tank top was a lot closer to a sleeveless t-shirt than the current spaghetti strap tanks, but still, my collar bones showed, and my arms were completely bare. 

On our way to the trail head in Montana, we stopped at a Hooterite farm produce stand and bought eggs and breads and all kinds of yummy stuff.  I got asked to please wait back in the car, as it was uncomfortable to all the staff that I was so unclothed.  All of the male staff were wearing black pants and white shirts and black hats, and the women had full length (or lower calf length) dresses with long sleeves and high necks, and white cotton caps covering all their hair.  In weather that had to be up in the 90's, I remember being very hot and sweaty that day.  I wasn't behaving poorly at all, but because I was showing so much skin, they were extremely uncomfortable.  So, you don't have to travel too far from your 'home territory' to find different customs that need at least partial accommodating to be a polite visitor.
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