An Atheist Wore a Hijab for a Day to Understand What Her Muslim Friends Have to Deal With October 2, 2015

An Atheist Wore a Hijab for a Day to Understand What Her Muslim Friends Have to Deal With

Amber Barnhill, who’s been featured on this site before for her activism and a post she wrote about sex negativity in her religious past, conducted a neat experiment on Wednesday.

She put on a hijab and spent the day experiencing the world as a Muslim woman for her sociology of religion class.

Amber Barnhill (center)
Amber Barnhill (center)

Barnhill spoke with Nada Hammad and Oruba Shahid, two Muslim students who wear hijabs, to make sure she wouldn’t be offending the Islamic community.

“She’s doing it for educational reasons,” Hammad said. “To see how it feels (to be Muslim) is not offensive at all. If you’re a Muslim and you decide to wear it one day and not the next, that’s offensive because you’re not taking it seriously.”

It was a great learning experience for her, she said.

None of this prevents Amber (or anyone else) from criticizing Islam where it’s warranted. I think experiments like this are a very humanizing thing to do, and I would encourage others to try similar ones, whether it’s wearing Muslim garb, visiting a Christian church, or just trying to figure out where an ideological opponent is coming from. Atheists often talk about how we should criticize the belief but not the believer, and it’s a lot easier to make that distinction when you’ve been in the believers’ shoes, even temporarily.

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