I don’t want to be buried under the etiquette “theologist hodja lady”.

I’m a person who got in the hijab at the age of 11 by being influenced by her best friend. My family didn’t pressure me on this issue, but they also didn’t say “Don’t do it, you’re too young.” I have been veiled as long as I can remember. I didn’t find this situation odd then, because I was supposed to be that person according to the environment I was in. Like many hajis and hodjas, I had very conservative ancestors. I can’t explain why I did this to myself when I look at all the things I bottled up inside me.

I went to Imam Hatip because my family wanted me to. Again, I started studying theology at university because my family wanted me to. I started studying in this department as a person who hated theology just because I could study in my dream city. I was religious when I was in high school, I wouldn’t think of unveiling, I was a person who could adapt to any environment, I was by nature a person who was silent, calm, and on her own. Still, I made my life in Imam Hatip miserable for myself because the person I wanted to be wasn’t the person in that school. Now I hate theology, people who compete to see who is “the most religious,” and hodjas who drown in the arrogance of their own knowledge. It’s this easy to estrange a person from Islam. Yes, maybe I didn’t go to study theology willingly, but I would never think that I would be this alienated from religion, because I used to be a person who fulfilled all her religious duties, was perfectly veiled, and went to religious talks. Now I can’t do any of them, and I’m almost going to hate the headscarf I carry on my head. I’m so tired of constantly being judged by my veiling. As a person who wears long and loose clothes, it upsets me to be declared as an infidel just for the tight trousers that I wore. Because, according to them, true veiling is simply ferace and burqa. My family also thinks that wearing skirts is being a good Muslim. The attitude I get from my family and others estranged me from Islam. Why do they have to do this, why do we always have to be criticized; I can never understand. I don’t want to be buried under this etiquette “theologist hodja lady.” Maybe I can’t unveil my head, but I want to prepare for the university entrance exams once again and get away from this environment. I hate living in this world where you are valued for your clothes, and morality and humanity have no importance.

  1. Hodjas are masters in Islam whose primary duty is to teach the religion, similar to priests.
  2. Hajis are pilgrims in Islam.
  3. Imam Hatip schools are educational institutes in Turkey where people are trained for religious professions such as imams.
  4. Long-sleeved, collarless, loose, long black outfit for women to cover all parts of their body.

Translator: Leto

(Image: Nikoleta Sekulovic)

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