A recent post by Col Lang on the wife of President Mursi led to a spirited discussion on the hijab. Many weighty comments were advanced on its pros and cons (cons mostly, as I recall), and its personal and sociological significance. A recent news item ─ though about a sad event ─ highlights how irrelevant the wearing of the hijab is to the kind of person one is, and what one can do in life.
Lieutenant Commander Wafa Dabbagh, a doctor in Canada’s military, died recently of cancer at the age of 50. A Palestinian, who was born in Egypt and grew up in Kuwait, she came to Canada in 1990, and in 1996 applied to join the Canadian military. Well qualified (she had two degrees), the only problem was that she wore the hijab, the first such woman to apply. Swallowing hard, the military took her on ─ and never looked back.
At her memorial service, which was attended by the Chief of Defence Staff and many other senior officers, people spoke about and remembered her many fine qualities and the impact she had on the people who came to know her. No one mentioned the hijab having anything to do with the kind of person she was or what she achieved.
Wafa was fortunate that she came to Canada, a country and society where, by and large, the way you look or what you wear does not determine your worth, nor limit what you can do. It does not matter much if you wear the hijab or (as famously stated by one of Toronto’s ‘finest’) “dress like a slut”.
Dare one say: perhaps Canada, too, was lucky to have Wafa Dabbagh, hijab and all!
-- FB Ali