In an e-mail to NPR, Assia Boundaoui explains her decision to stop wearing a hijab, or headscarf, at least for now.
It's been a few months since we met, much has changed and much has stayed the same... here's a glimpse into life currently as I know it...
Since we last spoke in June, I've gone through with my decision to no longer wear hijab. The decision has been a year in the making, and it's been quite a deliberate and introspective personal journey. Hijab is and will always remain an internal spiritual force within me; it goes to say that hijab isn't a mere external covering. In my mind hijab is modesty manifested in every aspect of my life, in my actions, words, and choices. So although I have chosen not to embody hijab physically, it remains an empowering and integral force in my life.
My decision has been completely supported by my family as they similarly view religion as a journey rather then a destination, and fully support me in the decisions and choices I make throughout my personal journey. As for my acquaintances and community, although they may not entirely understand my choices (and to be frank aren't necessarily expected to, seeing as my personal choices are precisely that... personal), I believe that their respect for me as an individual extends to the personal decisions I make in my life. My close friends have been incredibly supportive and sensitive throughout this reflective passage in my life — their love, guidance, and counsel has been invaluable in making the turning points in my life less daunting.
Hijab aside, this is also a very transitional and exciting period in my life in that I've decided to delay my graduation for a year, and take a year off to travel abroad. I've accepted a fellowship with an international human rights organization in Sicily... [I] am incredibly anxious and excited to begin my incredible expedition. Traveling overseas has always accorded me a unique perspective on life, politics, religion, etc. and I think that a year abroad will work to help me develop a stimulating and prolific state of mind.
So that's where I am right now. Life is good, lots of changes, all quite intriguing. I read something this summer that really stuck with me. In Western Muslims and the Future of Islam Tariq Ramadan writes, "In the natural order... human beings express needs according to the measure of their qualities and nature. With regard to the latter, the most natural of human quests is, when all is said and done, to know the source of the power and energy that gave life to the world — in fact, it is the search of the divine ." I suppose that's how I view my life at the present, a quest for knowledge, sincerity, truth, myself... and when it comes down to it, in fact, a quest for "the divine."