This photo comes from Hijabs High, a blog inspired by the on-the-street fashion photographer The Sartorialist. However, Hijabs High has a more specific mission; collecting photos of women sporting the Islamic hijab (head scarf), and showcasing “international street style from fabulous hijabistas.”

It’s a refreshing image when so much of what we hear about the hijab, or the burqa and niqab, is steeped in politics and ideology — a more recent example being the emergence of the head scarf as a political symbol in the Indonesian presidential election. What seems to get lost in these stories is the day-to-day experience of women who wear a hijab not as a symbol or political statement, but as an expression of their personal faith.

This is what I love about the image above; it seems to give us a glimpse of that lived faith. What I see in this photo is a young woman balancing different cultural pressures and expectations — and doing it with style and personality.

This fall we plan to produce a program about “expressions of Muslim identity,” modeled on last year’s program “The Beauty and Challenge of Being Catholic.” Like the Catholic program, we’ve put a call out to Muslims to lend their perspective — and I think the above photo offers one impression of the type of story we’re looking for:

If you are Muslim, we’d like to understand more about the complexity and diversity of “the Muslim world,” as it is often called. What does “being Muslim” mean to you? What do you find beautiful about Islam, and how does it find expression in your daily life? What hopes, questions, and concerns are on your mind as you ponder the future of your tradition?

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It's sad to see this oppression of women being celebrated as something positive. While I have no problem if Muslim women choose to cover their heads, it's the ones who don't wish to and are forced to do it by threats of violence that concern me. Where is a story about that?

Dear Mo,

High heels, pantyhose and thong underwear are equally oppressive to women, yet social pressure forces so many women to suffer in them to get outside approval and feel good about themselves. This girl is obviously happy about keeping her faith alive and expressing her individuality. That is what we are celebrating. I wear the hijab and so do my friends. I have yet met any person in the US that are "forced" to wear it. In Muslim countries, it is also the same. Go to Egypt, Syria, Indonesia, Turkey, etc. There are many women who do not cover by choice, and women who cover by choice. Even in Saudi, I have seen many Saudi women who do not wear the hijab. Perhaps only Afghanistan under the Taliban was the exception, but we know that was not a form of real Islam. While perhaps a small minority of Muslim women are forced to wear hijab, the opposite is more true, those who feel they cannot wear it because they will miss opportunities to study, work and feel accepted. France and Turkey are the prime examples, but it is also true in the US. Job opportunities are much harder to come by for a practicing Muslim woman. Is that not oppression and against the freedom of religion? You should know that the majority of Muslim women who wear the hijab do not consider the hijab oppressive, it's only those who don't wear it who have this opinion.