"This 'hijabi' community is starting to become a very toxic cult. The obsession and entitlement is appalling," wrote modest fashion blogger Dina Torkia before revealing she is no longer wearing the hijab full-time.
Soon after, the same group of social media users who had bashed her for not adhering to the traditional hijabi dress code and suggested she take off the hijab came out in full force to condemn her decision.
This was not an isolated incident.
An alarming number of Muslim social media users often take it upon themselves to criticize female Muslims, with bloggers constituting a top target for their unsolicited opinions, which sometimes amount to blatant cyber-bullying.
The "halal-police" undermine women's autonomy
There's no denying bloggers choose to expose themselves to the public eye, with all the scrutiny this field of work encompasses.
However, some of their followers (aka the halal-police) feel entitled to not only comment on the bloggers' fashion and beauty choices, but on the latter's personal lives, particularly the ways through which they express their religious beliefs.
The halal-police mistake public personalities for open books, often making assumptions about bloggers' private lives.
When it comes to the hijab, the halal-police seem to assume bloggers who wear "less modest" clothes are drifting away from their religion for shallow reasons pertaining to vanity and social pressure.
They undermine the women's autonomy and maturity, treating them as gullible social media stars seeking fame at any cost and thus in need of oh-so-enlightening advice from random social media users.
"I'm tired of being told to take something off because it doesn't agree with your version of what modesty is. That takes away the autonomy that I have to cover my body in whichever way I see fit," Kuwaiti blogger and entrepreneur Ascia Al Faraj, who wears the turban, once said.
Muslim bloggers are not religious idols
Many people tend to view a hijab-wearing woman as the epitome of a devoted Muslim.
However, like most Muslims, hijabis are simply trying to practice their faith in the best way they can or in the way they deem most applicable with their own beliefs. The same goes for Muslim bloggers, whose efforts to practice their religion are belittled through condescending comments.
Plus, it should go without saying that Muslim bloggers often create content pertaining to fashion, beauty, and design, so they should not be mistaken for religious icons.
When they bash a woman for modifying her dress code, people turn a blind eye to the circumstances and changes she has gone through as an individual. Just because a woman, at a certain point in her life, decided to dedicate her platform to her lifestyle as a hijabi, does not mean she is required to stick to that lifestyle forever.
Additionally, some of those who criticize bloggers for taking off their hijab have described them as bad influence to the Muslim community. One writer even suggested that bloggers are "denying their influence" on others when they take off the hijab.
However, it is simply unfair to expect a woman to prioritize her followers over her own well-being and over being at peace with herself.
Mansplaining is alive and well in the online Muslim community, and bloggers often take the hit
(Mind you, such guys are often far from being A++ Muslims and their haram tallies are less than stellar. But, apparently, their Y chromosomes render their wrongful deeds insignificant.)
"I swear if we scrutinized men [the] way they scrutinize us, they'd wilt and hide at home," Egyptian journalist and activist Mona Eltahawy once wrote in a tweet.
Taking off the hijab is not a "trend"
Taking off the hijab is not a "trend." Women feeling empowered to authentically express themselves is not a fashion statement.
The halal-police ought to acknowledge the overwhelming emotional labor that often accompanies the decision to stop wearing the hijab, especially when a woman is a public personality.
There are various reasons why a woman might opt for more revealing clothes or take off the hijab.
But regardless of what the reasons may be, and regardless of how convincing they may or may not sound, the fact remains that one's followers - who happen to be complete strangers - are not entitled to any justification for how a woman chooses to dress, let alone any opportunity to invalidate such reasons or make assumptions about what they might be.
To wear the hijab or not to wear it is a matter of personal choice, and it's high time we start treating it as such.