How to spot a hijabster

Tudung? Tudung is so out of fashion, only aunties (makcik) and ustazah Bahiyah wear tudung. These days, young smart Muslimah feminists do not wear tudung, they wear hijabs! Technically they’re the same thing, but fashionably they’re two very different outfits. Technically, tudung is hijab, the only real difference is that one is a Malay word while the other is in Arabic. But in these days of globalisation, and with the English version of Al Jazeera featuring European Muslimahs with British accents on TV, of course, hijab is the cooler version.

There’s a some sort of rennaisance these days among young female Muslim girls in Malaysia, a kind of a feminist awakening, seeing that indeed you can cover your “aurat” and at the same time be active and do things to realise your potential.

I credit the explosion of “hijabism” to two very significant events which became the catalyst of this new mass movement – one is when a Kedah-born lass by the name of Yuna Zarai decided to play the guitar in public and, secondly, when Hana Tajima, a 23-year-old British-Japanese fashion designer who became a Muslim four years ago, started modelling herself online.

Now before some of you begin on a path of misinterpretation, let it be clear that I personally am quite supportive of this whole new awakening/movement/evolution. Personally, I think it’s nice that girls do have these kinds of idols and that it’s nice to see that people now accept the fact that you can cover your “aurat” and at the same time be fasionable about it.

I’m fine and quite supportive of it in the general sense of things; however, it’s the little nuances that annoy me quite a bit and, me being me, having to figure out new articles weekly for FMT, I concluded that perhaps nitpicking on things can be quite fun when it comes to writing.

Indeed I’m okay with hijabs; it’s just that when hijabs meet hipsters, things go a little awry.

‘Chill yo…’

Anyway, take this article with a pinch of salt and, before some of you go on raving mad on me for belittling things, I would like to share a quote taken from a clown in a purple suit: “Why so SERIOUS??”

Moving on, so what is a hijabster then? Well, literally a hipster is one who wears a hijab, simple. So, you may ask, what is a hipster then? Well the answer lies in Google (or Bing, I’m not biased). I have a word limit here, so go search for it.

To observe a hijabster, one must first seek out her habitat or places where you may have a good chance of encountering her. Such prime locations would be Starbucks, Subway (Sandwich) or Tutty Frutty (the low-fat healthy yoghurt joint where girls can go to enjoy a lovely dessert without the guilt of calories).

Of course, wearing a hijab doesn’t automatically make you a hijabster; you have to add a certain flair to it because half of fashion is the attitude that you carry with the outfit. The best place to exhibit your fashion flair and attitude would be in your conversations. This had been true for previous generations where the way you speak is part of your fashion. For instance, in the days of “rock kapak”, “Gua sama Lu” was how they spoke.

Then came the hip-hop days when “Too Phat” (the Malaysian hip-hop duo) influenced young teens to wear snow caps and sweaters in the middle of the blistering tropical Malaysian afternoon.

In those days, phrases like “Wassup, chill yo, bro and yak ak au” came to prominence. Then, of course, we had the anime (Japanese animation) explosion and we heard “Japonified” wannabees utter phrases like “Kawaii ne, ganbatte, desu, Oishii…” in a high-pitched, annoying tone.

Quirky things

So, one may ask, what is the de facto slang for hijabsters? Well, fellow readers, the de facto lexicon would be what I would call the British-American English slang with occasional dash of Arabic words.

Just like how your usual PAS politicians would throw in occasional Arabic phrases and words so that they may seem religiously smart and pious. The same goes with hijabsters, but with one difference: politicians are sneaky while the latter are harmless and merely act as a way to complete the overall outfit.

So what are these dashes of Arabic that I am referring to? Simple, just take your usual Malay words that are somewhat related to Islam, then Arabified them to make them cooler.

For example, during Ramadan there’s your usual “buka puasa” (breaking fast) but that’s a big no-no for hijabsters: “buka puasa” is so kampung, whereas “Iftar” would be a better choice. So instead of updating their Facebook status to “buka puasa ngan kengkawan kat Subway ”, a hijabster translation would be “Iftar with the girls at Subway, yummies… Alhamdulellah, one day of fasting completed”. Sembahyang – Shalat, Air Sembahyang – Wudhu, Selamat Hari Raya – Eid Mubarak, Berkat – Barakah, Sembahyang Jumaat – Jumaa.

A typical hijabster sentence that one can usually find on a blog is: “On the way home, heard the call from the muezzin for Jumaa, masyallah beautiful, reminded of daddy when I saw men gathering their wudhu before the Shalat. Such a blistering hot day, cant wait to get home for a scoop of cold refreshing yoghurt while listening to Yuna/Maher Zain.”

So have fun in spotting them whenever you sip that expensive coffee or felt guilty about that dinner you had last night and decided to have a healthy sandwich lunch.

Of course, this is a simplistic conclusion of things and yes, I am generalising but that is what stereotyping is all about. Actually, I am highlighting the little quirky things that we see in our colourful society, and making fun of who we are.

Yes, girls who listen to Yuna while speaking in a fake accent are Malaysians too, even though sometimes they can be quite embarrassing.

Zaidel Baharuddin is Mr Right, Mr Right Wing that is, electronics engineer by day writer by night, Frank Sinatra fanboy all day long, catch me at, or follow me on twitter via @Sinatra_Z. He is a FMT columnist.