Rabina Khan’s “My Hair is Pink Under This Veil” is out TODAY, the 20th of May, 2021. It is a personal memoir ranging from the journey to wearing the veil, tackling the misconceptions and prejudices after having worn it, to the politics surrounding it around the world. “My Hair is Pink Under This Veil” is an open and bold plethora of real life experiences that relates to everything and anything that has to to with the veil or hijab; it even addresses issues that most people may find too controversial for conversation, the “let’s not get in too deep” kind. That is why we need a book like this on every bookshelf; it’s a book that will stir up discussions that most choose to avoid, but NEED to have!
I first became familiar with Rabina Khan after her publication of “Ayesha’s Rainbow.” For me, a Bangladeshi-American, it was a huge deal to see a Bangladeshi author published in the UK or USA at that time. After having become a published author, myself, I sought Rabina’s guidance and advice based on her personal experiences. I used to live in London at the time and we met! She was so humble and kind. When I discovered Rabina would be publishing “My Hair is Pink Under This Veil,” I was elated! Let’s get to know more about the book and its author:
R. I love the title of your latest publication, “My Hair is Pink Under This Veil!” This is not your first publication. You have published other books too. Tell us about them.
My first book, “Ayesha’s Rainbow,” was written for children and tells the story of a seven-year-old Bangladeshi girl, growing up in London’s East End, who befriends an elderly, white neighbor. It explores the racism, prejudice and stereotyping that young Muslims experience in Britain today.
I was also involved in collating the anthologies, “Silent Voices” and “Behind the Hijab.”
“Silent Voices” is an anthology of writing by emerging British Somali writers. Their voices express their poignant experiences of being Somali, living in Britain and the issues that have affected them in their lives. These writers are part of the diversity of contemporary British writers.
“Behind the Hijab” is an anthology of thought-provoking essays, poems and short stories written by Muslim and non-Muslim women, which tackle the contentious issues now surrounding the wearing of the veil. The book attempts to unravel the complex politics of the headscarf post-9/11, as well as broaching some uncomfortable questions. Is the veil a symbol of liberation or suppression?
R. Your book, “My Hair is Pink Under This Veil” a personal memoir. Publishing a memoir is a huge step in any author’s life. What or who inspired you to do it?
Yes, it is a memoir, but also includes experiences of other Muslim women, celebrates their achievements, and explores misconceptions regarding Islam, inequality and integration, at a time when Britain faces its own issues with radicalization, extremism and political divisions. It shows how the hijab has become a symbol of the modern Muslim women’s personal styles and strengths rather than the false notion that it is a symbol of oppression.
R. How much of your upbringing has shaped the author you are today?
My upbringing has had an enormous impact on my life, my choices and the way I have handled challenging situations. My parents’ own experiences of prejudice and my father’s advice to treat people with courtesy and kindness even when they are unkind to you, has definitely made me determined to challenge these issues through my writing. My mother always behaved with quiet dignity when she was subjected to discrimination and cruel jibes. My parents taught me that other people’s opinions do not have to be your truth, and that often these comments are made out of ignorance and misinformation.
R. Tell us about your hijab journey.
I haven’t always worn the hijab and neither was I forced to do so by my parents. In fact, it was a personal choice that I made when I was about 23 years old. Once I began wearing it, I immediately noticed the attention that it drew to me and the different way in which some people began treating me.
As a young child, I remember the day I found my mother sobbing in the bedroom with her face buried in a ball of black material. I quietly crept behind her to see what it was. It was the ‘dreaded’ burqa that seemed to be associated with sadness and change. A piece of material that had been part of her familiar and normal life in Bangladesh, and which had never attracted stares or prejudgement. It had, at that point, become an item of controversy and misperception, but as a young child, I did not immediately make that connection.
At primary school, one of the boys asked me if, as a Muslim girl, my grandfather would have been angry that I didn’t wear a black scarf, and would I cover my face soon? Another, who had a picture book with a dark-skinned girl wearing a crown, asked me if I was a princess.
After I began wearing the hijab, I was somewhat used to strange questions and learned to answer calmly and with humor, remember the values that my parents taught me. I have been asked what number wife I am!
R. How can we get our hands on this book, when, where and how can we follow your journey?
The book is out TODAY, the 20th May, 2021 and is available on Amazon and in all good book stores. I write regular articles for The Independent newspaper and contribute occasional pieces to the Guardian and Huffington Post, Washington Post and The National. These articles generally focus on a topical subject, but always include a diversity angle. Follow Rabina’s writing journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.