“I am a Muslim but I am not comfortable wearing a hijab.”
This is what GenZ Muslim performer Murline Uddin told republicasia when asked why she doesn’t wear the traditional head cloth used by people with whom she shares the same belief.
The Islamic tradition and doctrine are among the most conservative in the world, and members of the congregation follow particular moral rules as they interact with society.
For instance, Muslim women are encouraged to dress modestly and to cover their hair, arms, and legs. They typically wear a piece of clothing called the hijab, which means to “cover,” “screen,” or “curtain,” and refers to a specific form of veil worn by Muslim women in general.
Who needs a hijab?
Traditionally, Muslim women are required to wear the hijab in front of any man they could theoretically marry. They can choose not to wear this veil in front of their male family members and other Muslim women. However, there is an ongoing debate whether they could reveal their head and hair to non-Muslim women.
Islamic traditions have also been heavily influenced by modern times, and now, there are many Muslim women who have dared to defy the Islamic custom and refused to stay hidden behind this veil.They have freely expressed themselves in their unique ways.
Murline is an 18-year-old musical theater actress who calls herself a “Disney princess,” and who confessed that she doesn’t feel the need to cover her head. She feels comfortable with who she is and the things she does.
One common misconception about the Muslim community, which Murline debunked, is that women are obliged to wear hijabs. Non-Muslims often ask her why her head is not covered with cloth in relation to her religious affiliation.
Contrary to public belief, Murline was taught that she has the privilege to choose if she wants to wear it or not.
“Tinuruan po ako na kung gusto mong magsuot [pertaining to hijab], you can wear it,” Murline said. “Kung ayaw mo, it’s okay.”
But Murline also shared that she still wears the traditional veil during prayer rituals or mosque visits.
While wearing hijabs is said to be a Muslim woman’s obligation to her faith in Allah, the act of wearing this piece of cloth is not part of the pillars of Islam. One could wear hijab all the time and not practice her faith while other Muslim women may not be wearing their covers but still pray everyday.
A Muslim in the entertainment industry
Murline, who works as a singer and a theater performer, said she could still practice religious customs she is expected to perform.
But the GenZ performer has experienced limitations related to her religion.
Murline recounted one experience where she wasn’t able to eat what was served during a previous event as the dishes offered included pork, which is a taboo in the Islamic belief. Fortunately, her coworkers and her superior were kind and generous enough to order food that she could eat.
The theater singer also disclosed that she is allowed to do most work-related activities as long as she isn’t exposing her body and would not be forced to do non-Muslim gestures, such as doing the sign of the cross.
Murline briefly mentioned that Muslims are homophobic but did not disclose the context behind this.
But studies have noted that Muslims have shown homophobia, as the religious body stringently prohibits the union of individuals of the same sex.
Because of this, Muslim members of the LGBTQIA+ community experience immeasurable amounts of strain and anxiety.
Moreover, Muslims’ conservative nature prevents some GenZs from exploring various fields due to the lack of support from their parents and family.
Don’t be afraid
But Murline reminded her fellow Muslim GenZs that they are not alone and that they should use their voice to speak up about what they want to do, as long as they keep their faith and kindness in check.
“It’s okay to speak [up],” Murline said. “Use your mouth to say the words you intend to say, as long as wala kang naaapakang tao, as long as you have faith, it’s okay.”
For Murline, the only way to break free from stereotypes is to freely express who you are.
Watch her full confession on YouTube.