- The primary purpose of the present study is to explore the effect of wearing the hijab in a Western society on Muslim women’s well-being, their motivation to wear it, and the different modifications that they have made on their hijabs. To investigate the relationship between the hijab and Muslim women’s well-being, the self-determination theory and the clothing comfort model, as well as the feminist perspective, guided the researcher while collecting, analyzing, and discussing the research data.
Four research questions directed the data collection and analyses processes: (1) For Muslim women who wear the hijab and live in a Western society, how does wearing the hijab relate to their well-being? (2) What motivates Muslim women living in a Western society to wear the hijab? (3) How do Muslim women living in a Western society demonstrate the type and level of internalization of their motivation to wear the hijab? (4) How have Muslim women modified how they wear the hijab while living in Western society, and what has motivated them to do so? The researcher employed qualitative data collection and analysis using the conventional content analysis and directed content analysis approaches. Guided by semi structured interview guides, 22 in-depth interviews and follow up conversations were completed with 15 of the 22 women interviewed. The sample (N=22) included Muslim women who live in Corvallis, Oregon. Four of these women are over 50 years old and wear the Multipurpose Modern Hijab, and 17 are 18-41 years old and wear the Traditional Hijab. The interviews were completed in person, where the participants displayed and discussed their hijabs, what they mean for them, and how they are related to their well-being.
The major findings showed that the hijab has a positive impact on Muslim women’s well-being, demonstrated by showing that they have a high level of satisfaction for their three basic psychological needs. The results also specified that the thermal comfort of the hijab is the main physiological need for Muslim women, and these women give the material properties of their hijabs special attention because they affect their physical needs. The high level of satisfaction for the three basic needs demonstrated intrinsic motivation and a high level of internalization for extrinsic motivation, known as integrated regulation, by most of the participants. All of the participants were motivated to wear the hijab in a Western society by their desires to obey Allah’s order, present their religion and identities, attain self-empowerment, and maintain modesty and protection. The results also demonstrated that the participants modified their hijabs when their psychological, physiological and physical needs were affected. However, they always made the choices and modifications that were in compliance with their values and beliefs, otherwise their well-being would have been negatively affected.
This study provides an initial indication of the effects of the hijab on Muslim women’s well-being. Further studies that provide more understanding of the topic are needed. Future studies should consider developing and using standardized scales and questionnaires to objectively measure Muslim women’s type and level of motivation to wear the hijab and live in Western societies. The self-determination theory could be used to compare the type and level of motivation to wear the hijab across cultures.