“Hijab or No Hijab”: Examining Spiritual Identity (Re)construction of Muslim Graduate Students Through Duoethnography


The question of whether a Muslim woman is required to wear a hijab is a multifaceted topic that continues to evoke diverse perspectives. This complex debate has extended beyond religious circles, impacting the perception of political and cultural pluralism. This issue leads to identity complexity within the context of a secular and diverse education environment. As Muslim graduate students originating from Indonesia and living in the United States, we attempt to understand the recursive process of spiritual identity (re)construction. This study focuses on the experiences of two female Muslims (one with hijab and one without hijab) while navigating academia as both students and researchers. By utilizing personal narratives, dialogues, and personal reflections, we exchange discussions on how internal struggles, societal perception, and political discourses affect our spiritual identity in two countries. By critically examining our experiences, we have found that our expressions of spiritual identity including the hijab have been affected by our immediate surroundings. Through Thematic analysis, we have uncovered personal strategies to overcome challenges, such as finding cultural alliances and personal boundaries and encouraging safe spaces for (re)constructing our spiritual identities. We also highlight the significance of increasing spiritual practices as a means of fostering this process. This research not only expands the application of duoethnography but contributes to a deeper understanding of transnational and spiritual identity formation. The findings present practical insights for female Muslims as international academics, encouraging them to critically shape their spiritual identities that transcend societal boundaries.

Author Information
Biaz Nabilla, Arizona State University, United States
Asri Nurul Qodri, Arizona State University, United States

Paper Information
Conference: IICAH2024
Stream: Ethnicity

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon