I have seen some discussion lately from non-Muslims who have argued that a non-Muslim wearing hijab is inappropriate, as an example of cultural appropriation. But I am now wondering what are some of opinions in this question from those who are Muslim? If someone is trying to be modest or live properly, is it a problem for them to dress modestly in Islamic ways?
To put this into perspective, I've read articles saying that hijab is not entirely an Islamic teaching. Other religions also promote modesty through wearing a veil, but it is not as widely known as the hijab (or other variations) in Islam. I apologize for not being able to provide a good reference on this matter.
Related to that, we should see modesty as something that does not belong only to Muslim. Modesty is something we embrace in our own life and we share with people of other religions. Thus, having non-Muslims embrace this modesty should not offend us. On the contrary, we should be proud that non-Muslims also embrace this Islamic teaching of modesty. We should even pray that they also embrace Islam in full instead of cherry-picking the things that suit them.
Although I agree with the prior posts (you should be free to wear what you want, and Islam promotes modesty for all women), there are some possible problems that could arise.
Some non-Muslims wear hijab to show solidarity with Muslims (e.g. World Hijab Day), which is a bit controversial:
In the same way wearing an Indigenous American headdress to demonstrate support for their rights might cause people to scratch their heads... -- Zeynab Gamieldien
This is where the cultural appropriation kicks in. A non-Muslim wearing hijab for non-Islamic reasons should theoretically be fine. But we don't live in a vacuum; society associates hijab with Islam, so wearing hijab cannot be wholly independent of Islam. So...
If it's interpreted as showing solidarity with Muslims, it might be perceived as an insult to the many Muslim women do not wear hijab, do not fully cover their hair, or only cover their hair because they are forced to by law or social pressures. It promotes the idea that they're somehow behaving inappropriately, which they probably get enough of:
(Image source: http://www.hijabuniverse.com/hijab-is-not-like-this/)
You'll end up in "headscarf politics" territory:
Some places require covering by law, e.g., Iran. To counter this, My Stealthy Freedom publishes photos of Iranian women temporarily removing their headscarves. Hijab is sometimes viewed as a means of oppression, and a non-Muslim wearing hijab may be viewed as promoting this oppression.
It could be perceived as implicitly agreeing with notions that women are responsible for preventing male predatory behavior. This is summed up nicely below:
“[The headscarf] is a very tormented issue for American feminists,” [Cynthia Eller] says. “You want to support women who want to wear this as well as women who don’t. But the politics of the headscarf, especially in an American context … pushes the problem of male predatory sexuality back on women, [as though] women are supposed to dress in such way so as not to make themselves enticing to men.” -- Why are non-Muslim women wearing the hijab?
For Muslims, an essential part of hijab is submission to Allah; it's an expression of a deeply held religious belief. It could be perceived as insulting to treat the hijab lightly, like a dress-up costume. Hijab is more than just clothes.
It might be viewed as a social experiment or a fashion statement, perhaps along the lines of "hijab tourism", which may drown out Muslim voices.
While well-meaning, these examples show that more weight is given to privileged outsiders while ignoring the voices of members of these communities who can speak first-hand to their own struggles. -- Afa Ahmad, 2015
If someone is trying to be modest or live properly, is it a problem for them to dress modestly in Muslim sort of ways? the answer may be YES. why? because at least observing the apparent forms of Islamic code would be nice, despite observing other practical or beliefs items.
I said that because at least observing Islamic dressing or hijab would have its positive apparent effects on the view of non-mahrams and etc.
In Islam, whether a woman is Muslim or not, the Islamic law says her entire body is nakedness, except the face, hands, and feet. Muslim or not. It is best for her to cover. The proof is in Quran and Hadeeth about a woman's dress. It did not differentiate between Muslim or not. This is why in Islamic countries, all women must wear Hijab, like Saudi Arabia, Iran. Muslim or not. Even transgender women, in Iran and Indonesia for example, must wear Hijab. It is not disrespectful to Islam for a non-Muslim to cover, it's in fact most preferred.
Believe it or not, it is only very recently -say, the last 300 or so years-that people have stopped dressing that way. The difference between the Muslim woman and the 'women of the Book' was only that the Muslim woman would have her head scarf draped across her chest (33:59). There is no other difference, really between a hijabi and a nun. In the times of the Negus, the Christian women covered their heads almost exactly as did the Black Muslims during the time of Elijah Muhammad. Have you ever seen a picture of The Virgin Mother without her hijab? Jewish women are also supposed to cover their heads, and many of them still do. Certainly, Islam is a way of life sent to all mankind. Personally, I would not have a problem with a non-Muslim dressing modestly, but in this day and age, I would hope she would also behave accordingly , being that she will be perceived as a Muslimah (female Muslim).