Posted by: yemenia68 | October 20, 2009

The hijab controversy

hijab 2

 

I hope there is a way to address this issue without causing any commotion. The past few weeks, I have been debating “the hijab” with one of my readers, who like many, believes that hijab is a choice.

What I want to know is, why has “believing that hijab is a religious obligation” become offensive to so many people? Why are people offended by the hijab? Logically, people should view women wearing hijab as something inspirational because it represents modesty, which is preached by basically every religion. Ironically, these days it is offensive to even encourage modesty.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all have declared that head covering is a religious obligation. If you really want to find the truth in what I’m saying just look it up. Some people will say that this was in the past. Can someone please tell me, since when are people allowed to alter religious beliefs.

You don’t even have to be religious to know that women, just until the 19th century wore head coverings. Call me dumb, but I don’t really think that women decided to cover their heads just for the heck of it, there has to be some origin to this custom. I’m not even going to mention nuns, because obviously, if that was considered, the discussion in hand wouldn’t have to go any further. Maybe some people “choose” not to see the truth, even if it is right in front of them.

I’m not saying that women should be forced to wear hijab. What I believe is that it is an obligation to Muslim women to wear it, as it is obviously stated in the Quran. It should be encouraged as a religious principle. The issue of actually wearing it or not is up to you. With that being said, not every Muslim abides by Islamic laws. Everyone has a choice. If, as a Muslim, you choose not to wear hijab, that is your choice, just as choosing not to pray or fast is a choice. Like I said; not every Muslim abides by Islamic law.

One question that remains unanswered though is, why is promoting the hijab so offensive to non Muslims and Muslims alike? You can’t help but wonder about the “fear” surrounding this issue. It almost seems like people are threatened by it.

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Responses

  1. I’ll try to answer your unanswered question; I guess Hijab is “uncool” these days at least where I study I heard a couple of girls talking about how much uncool the Hijab is which is pretty shocking to tell you the truth. For me I picture a girl wearing Hijab, at least as an external point of view, as someone who values not only her relation with Allah but also as an active member of an Islamic society.

    Back to the point, I guess some Muslim girls/women gave a bad reputation to Hijab itself as only a cover of head, I mean seriously why should a girl with Hijab wear a very tight t-shirt or top with a very very tight jeans or trousers. of course such Muslim girls who aren’t convinced with Hijab shouldn’t use this as an excuse but I guess their weakness and sickness of faith made them like “Look at her she wears Hijab and shake hands, or look at her joking, loud laughing with guys.”

    I hope I didn’t confuse you but this issue just gets my nerves!

    Great post by the way, keep it up!

  2. Saifallah:

    Unfortunately, not too many Muslims support the concept of the hijab any more. Like you said, it probably seems uncool for the younger generations, which is something I can understand, considering the negative media surrounding this issue. Although I believe that Muslim parents should stay strong in their beliefs and encourage their children to do the same.
    What does that say about us as Muslims, we are too weak and easily influenced to stand our ground when it concerns our religion.
    Sadly enough, there are people I know who would rather allow their daughters to take off their hijab just to “fit in” to the culture.

  3. “What I want to know is, why has “believing that hijab is a religious obligation” become offensive to so many people? Why are people offended by the hijab?” and ” why is promoting the hijab so offensive to non Muslims and Muslims alike”

    The two questions they are the same and hence have the same answer: To answer it we need to look at how Many Muslim born girls and women are thinking which is if the west don’t like it and see it bad then so should we, we are so weak nation that we take what others have done to their nations and doesn’t suit us and we try to make it a rule that should be followed under the name of the so called freedom of choosing even though this freesom is all with wearing Clothes that shows more than covers. You get Seculars screaming if we promote Islam but if they promote Adultrey, Homosexuality, Atheism, Attacking Religion then it’s their rights.

    At the end didn’t the prophet said that their will come a time we will follow others to whatever they do, i guess the time he refered too is this time

  4. Ahmed Hamdan:

    I agree. I guess we’ll have to call it the “non-religious” era. It almost seems like the more immoral you are the cooler………wow, talk about twisted times.

  5. Hmm can i intercede? i’ll be gentle, or at least try to.
    Regarding “What I want to know is, why has “believing that hijab is a religious obligation” become offensive to so many people? “
    Because they simply disagree with that notion, and by you insisting on it being a principle you effectively nullify their allegiance to islam and the other aspects of their worship by branding them immodest, that’s at least the party that is committed to islam but just doesn’t wear the hijab and there are other opinions but i think this one is the one you are being most unfair towards.
    If we take quran and whats mentioned about hijab in the quran, its not really all that cut and clear. Remember hijab (as a piece of clothe) was already part of culture before islam. So rational thinking impedes that we ask the question what does the hajib in islam stand, is it just the piece of clothe or is it more of a call to modesty while in public? just like there is a case for niqab, a case can be made for the other side of the spectrum.
    Now personally i believe in the freedom of choice, so its up to the women to decide and no one else …. and that concludes the gentle attempt now to the part that pisses me the hell off!
    Yemenia you know how things where back in the day, atleast u would hear of them so you should know better than call these times non-religious times. Actually if anything these times are stifling with religious stupidity. Compared to 30 years ago, there are more people who would describe themselves as religious, there are women who are covered, and there are more people in mosques. And those people never cease to amaze me by how amnesiac they can be about how immodest our times are, thats neither true and neither is the problem. Actual problem is that of intolerance, and the religious folks are the ones that are least tolerant of others and their opinions and unless you start being a bit more tolerant then all i can say is that you reap what you saw.
    sorry for the long comment .

  6. Bambam:

    First of all my dear, I hope we can have a “pleasant” debate without getting all “hot and bothered”, for the lack of better words. After all, we don’t want to confirm the accusations of “Arabs do not have the ability to debate respectfully” do we?

    When I say that hijab is a religious obligation, I am expressing my beliefs, which is my right, just as others have rights to atheism, homosexuality, abortion, and so on. Whatever I believe shouldn’t even matter to those who are religious, because deep down every individual should be confident of his/her relationship with God. For everyone else, WHY do you care? By promoting the hijab, I am not implying that women should be forced to wear it; to the contrary, that is their choice.

    I honestly believe that women are missing out on the true meaning of hijab, to merely say that it is just a piece of cloth and shouldn’t make a difference in regards to religious principles is just a means of justification to their beliefs, which they are entitled to. Everyone has the right to defend their beliefs. By debating this issue, we all get a chance to prove our point of view.

    Without laws in any civilization there would be chaos. Religious laws are here for a purpose. God teaches us how to behave morally. Doesn’t it make more sense for a woman to cover her physical attributes to avoid temptation? Come on people, do I need to spell it out for you. Men are weak in the face of temptation. Everyone that has half a brain knows that. For anyone to say that they are “modern men” and aren’t affected by temptation is simply impractical. It’s in your physiology men, don’t deny it. God created mankind, He should know better about our physiology, don’t you think, which is why through religion, we are presented with moral codes that prevent us from doing wrong.

    • Okay. I read your whole article even though, as you said, I’m religious, and a Muslim, but do not believe that the Hijab is part of our religion, and I take no offense, except in minor parts, where you called the rest of those who don’t wear a Hijab immoral. But what ticked me off was, men can control themselves. You’re one of those women who blame rape on women too, right? That’s really sad. Everyone has the power to control. We’re humans, we have choices between good and bad. Men CAN control themselves. If you don’t think so, you’ve just met a lot of wrong men in your life. A very sexist approach. I’m a Pakistani girl, if you were wondering.

      • Where in my post have I stated that not wearing hijab is immoral or that a woman is to blame if she has been raped? If you would actaully like to debate this issue please come up with something I can work with. One way is to convince me that wearing hijab is not required in our religion and that the purpose of “hijab is a choice” is merely an option for fashion purposes, but please don’t insult me with incomplete comments that don’t prove anything.

      • Let me be more eloquent: The hijab might not be a choice to you, but it is for us. The least you can do is respect our decision, like we respect yours. I’m not speaking for those idiots who love to force their opinions down other’s throats, pro-hijab or not. Modesty is acquired, it is not shown via clothing. Anyway, you obviously disagree, and you know what, that’s alright, everyone has opinions and they are entitled to those. But you said in one of your comments that men will be attracted to a female, or something equally obvious, so females should cover up, in order to avoid that. Your logic: Close down banks, because people want to rob them. PLEASE don’t blame the women for what the men are up to. We already have a lot of sexism in this part of the world. What men do with their eyes, hands, whatever, it’s completely up to them. I’m sorry if I sounded pissed off earlier, I really wasn’t.

      • There is always a way to debate an issue without making negative comments about the opposing side. You state your opinions and beliefs in order to prove your case.
        The fact that I believe that the hijab is a religious obligation is something I sincerely believe in and I also have every right to speak my mind.
        If you disagree, you can talk about why you believe otherwise, but I don’t think that being upset and making negative comments is going to resolve anything.

  7. we can 😀
    thats the point, i don’t like the idea that men are weak in the face of temptation.
    Even if i suspend by belief to the contrary, isn’t it rational to differentiate thoughts from actions.
    That idea that hijab protects a women from out of control men is simply not true. Men are not instinctual animals they should learn how to cope and deal with their temptations in a civilized manner.
    also the flip side of that coin is that women don’t have that temptation either, which i hope you acknowledge as not true. they seem to be doing fine coping with, or is it that the culture codes that we live within that give a free license to men to just let their harassment loose because those poor creatures don’t know any better.
    Moral codes are like contracts and require both parties to adhere to them, they are not implemented with divine guidence but with mortal actions… and hence are the realm of us mortals and in the end defined by us.
    We as humans define whats moral based on our experiences, not every situation is handled by divine moral codes sometimes we have to consult our brains and make as decision and thats how our morality is born

  8. bambam:
    I didn’t understand what you meant when you said: “We as humans define whats moral based on our experiences, not every situation is handled by divine moral codes sometimes we have to consult our brains and make as decision and thats how our morality is born”.

    • I just meant that not every situation is handled by religion, and morality in the end is the choice that a person makes in a situation based on what his experience inclined him to do.
      Every religion built a system for that situation, but they institutionalized it. in the case of islam they called it a fatwa. rationally speaking in every new situation you are faced with, you might issue yourself a mini fatwa is waht i was trying to say. (in other words)

  9. Whether you like the idea or not, “research” yes research, not religion, has proven that men are weaker to temptation and they also have a stronger sex drive than women. That doesn’t necessarily mean that women are resistant to temptation, which is why men should dress modestly too.

    Yes men should learn to cope and deal with their temptations in a civilized manner, but don’t you think that modest apparel helps prevent temptation? Why is it so wrong for people to dress modestly? Why do people always feel the need to challenge nature? I’ll ask you a question, and I want an honest answer. Does it make any difference whatsoever to you how a woman dresses? Does it matter to you whether a woman wears clothing that reveals most of her femininity or dresses modestly?

    You say “We as humans define whats moral based on our experiences, not every situation is handled by divine moral codes sometimes we have to consult our brains and make as decision and thats how our morality is born” The question is, where did you learn these codes? From your parents and them from their parents and so on, but what is the basis to morality? Where did it come from?

    I say, without religion, morality would never prevail. You should’ve expected that from me 😛 I’m not saying that non-religious people are immoral; to the contrary, some have higher standards than religious people. What I’m saying is that religion is the basis to morality. Throughout civilization, religion has reigned over us and provided us with laws and regulations to follow which help preserve our humanity. From the ten commandments to the Islamic sharia, we adapted moral codes from generation to generation. It would only make sense that even non-religious people inherited these moral codes like the rest of civilization.

    Let’s just say that religion never existed, does science have an explanation on the origin of morality? What do you believe? We inherited our morality from our ancestors, the apes? Let’s not go too far into this discussion; we’ll leave this for another post.

    Back to the hijab, since you believe that it should be a woman’s choice whether to wear hijab or not, you confirm that the hijab is referred to in the Quran, or am I wrong?

    • I know a lot of guys who only are attracted to girls who wear the hijab. Now what? Kill herself?

      • What exactly are you saying? Please explain.

  10. You ask me that question and simply i’ll reply that i might find it aesthetically pleasing, but then again i don’t take myself as the norm.
    It’s not wrong from people to dress modestly, thats not what i was complaining about. what i was complaining about are 2 issues. One is that Hijab is a principle of islam and whoever doesn’t do it is in sin, two that we live in times where people are less religious.
    As for the issue of morality, to not delve too much into the matter but evolutionary psychologist say that morality has an evolutionary advantage and its basically ensuring the unity of the group.
    So while that might and might not be true, the reality is that we did inherit certain moral norms from religion, we also inherit some from culture and some from our own experiences as well. At the end as a society we should not limit our selves with the moral ceiling provided by religion. For example, is there anything morally wrong with homosexuals? other than for religious reasons the rational answer to that question is no.
    The Hijab was mentioned in surat il noor which dealt with the demeanor and behavior that prophets wives should uphold. It did mention that there should be a barrier between them and other men, but it made quite a few exceptions. one of which is that of men who don’t have the desire as well. knowing the culture of the time, the sanctity of a woman’s body was not exactly honored if she didn’t have protection of a clan, hence to me i see hijab as a symbol of belonging and protection. if that protection is provide elsewhere, for instance laws against sexual harassment then that might meet the religious aim of the hijjab in a different manner, and act a barrier to it.
    Hijjab itself has a lot of situations where its no longer required even, one of which is old age as well. principles in islam are life long, given that premise i can’t see it as a principle.
    Actually nowadays more so than ever hijjab doesn’t protect a women from harassment, those who wear the hijjab solicit approaches as often as the ones who don’t don it.
    So it seems hijjab or not the temptation of men is still pretty pervasive

  11. bambam:

    What is it that you find aesthetically pleasing….females who prefer not to cover their femininity? Well of course you do, there is not a man alive who would not “enjoy” a female’s physical attributes. I believe I choose the wrong question to ask….my bad. As a matter of fact, that is precisely the reason why women should wear the hijab, to cover the aesthetic appearance. The whole point is to prevent temptation.

    Ok, let’s try this from another angle. One thing we can agree upon is that Muslim women are required to cover their body and hair while praying………….please don’t tell me you don’t believe in that either, because that just dismisses the whole argument. That would leave me with the conclusion that you are not committed to following any aspect of religion. Anyway, if you want me to believe the “hijab is a choice” theory, tell me exactly how was it determined that only while praying should a woman cover? Otherwise, there is no need to continue if your perspective of religion is one of doubt. In that case, you might want to see a sheikh, as I definitely am no scholar of Islam. I’m simply defending my beliefs.

    Another thing, why bother with sexual harassment laws when harassment can be prevented in the first place. Ever heard the saying الوقاية خيراً من العلاج

    You asked if there was anything morally wrong about homosexuality. That depends on how you define moral. The fact that it prohibits reproduction, has a higher risk of suffering from mental diseases, STD’s, substance abuse, does not exactly give it a constructive stand point. Hey, don’t take my word for it, look it up.

  12. I am not sure why so many people have such a problem with the hijab and with women who cover their heads. I’m a Catholic woman and I started covering just in Mass, having been lead to it by my conscience and scripture and quite a few people think I’m crazy. I think they’ll probably feel I’m even crazier soon, because I feel drawn to cover my head all the time.

    This experience has definitely given me a newfound respect for Muslim women who deal with the attitude that comes along with this all the time! I hadn’t thought much about it before.

    I also found that when I was in the West Bank a couple of years ago the other women in my group were bothered by how covered up I was. I wasn’t covering my head at that point, but I made sure I was covered from my chin to my toes. It just seemed logical and respectful to the people we were around. The women in my group, who were other Catholics, made a huge deal about it, kept offering me “cooler” clothing to change into and making comments about how my husband must be a “fundamentalist.”

    Lately the response I’ve gotten is “well you feel called to cover? I feel called by God not to cover!” When I asked why they thought God would “call” them to go against what is clearly mandated they get very very angry.

    I just don’t see why women who don’t cover feel the need to attack the practice of those who do!

  13. Cam:

    Thanks for your comment, I knew that Catholic women do cover for prayer, but some people just feel the need to deny the truth.

    What amazes me is the fact that the people who choose to follow their religion without the need to make alterations to God’s words are the ones who are laughed at and called fundamentalists, istn’ that ironic?

    My theory is, if you feel the need to make adjustments to your religious beleifs, by all means do so, but also allow me to follow my religion as I please.

  14. I understand your point for sure. If you want an answer, simply the majority of people are stereotyped espicially when it come to “Islam” and “Muslim Women” and ‘hijab’ is part of this wrong image they have about Islam.

  15. MediaCurves.com conducted a recent follow-up study among 1,431 Americans about their perceptions of woman wearing a traditional Muslim shawl, or hijab. The results revealed many positive changes in the respondent’s views with regard to the photo of a woman wearing a hijab. The woman with a shawl was viewed as more friendly, beautiful, and less strict, compared to an identical study that was run in January 2008. Respondents were also more welcoming of the idea of the woman depicted living in their neighborhood than in 2008.
    More in depth results can be seen at:
    http://www.mediacurves.com/Culture/J7614-MuslimHijab/Index.cfm
    Thanks,
    Ben

  16. hello, I do not have anything against hijab, I even find it attractive and charming in a way, but as for modesty… one can be modest with his own behavior not just by covering their heads so I guess it defines nothing like modesty , if I cover my head or face doesn’t mean I am modest or I am such a true believer it could be quiet the opposite.
    But,iIf that’s what makes you happy and closer to God ,then sure, like you said , everyone has a choice, by all means should women be forced to wear hijab, and by all means they should be criticized for not wearing it.

    • Hi Nelli,
      Actually, hijab is not only a head covering, it means to dress modestly and the head covering is just a simple part of hijab.
      The fact that religions other than Islam once preached the importance of women covering their heads says a lot, don’t you think?

    • Hey!!! I totally agree with you, but let’s say that there is a woman covered and a woman wearing tight clothing: In a devoted, muslim man he will have more respect for the covered woman. Kinda like first impressions, but only God knows what’s in the heart. Although there are some women who don’t have manners at all, yet they’re covered…..

  17. The reason alot of people find this is offensive is because in alot of countries, including iran where i come from, there is no choice. You talk about freedom and that you choose to wear the hijab, while you may choose to wear it you must understand that there are alot of women that are forced into wearing it, even in a democratic country such as America.

    The reason why people get angry at you for wearing the hijab is because they do not believe you, when you say you wear it as it is your choice. They see all the images in the media of people in countries such as Iran where women are forced to wear it and they see women walking down the street wearing the full hijab in hot weather with their husband wearing shorts and a shirt. There is also an element of hypocracy when you say its your choice to wear it, then quote “Islamic Law” implying that it must be followed, if its law then you have no choice but to follow it?, you also ask “Can someone please tell me, since when are people allowed to alter religious beliefs”, people ARE ALWAYS ALLOWED TO ALTER THEIR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS, not being allowed to is FEAR! then proceed to say “Maybe some people “choose” not to see the truth, even if it is right in front of them”, This could full well apply to you, these statements are not ones of thought and love, these are fixed in fear and falling out of favor with god. They are as you say “law” and hence removes all possibility of debate.

    You have to understand that modesty is a thought, It is not something that you wear on your head, it is a feeling, furthermore, you must see that these people who you say they fear you actually fear for you, instead of debating on whether you wear the hijab out of fear yourself you claim the religious freedom which you dont practice, because as you say, its law and it cannot be altered.

    yemenia68: No it is absolutely not ironic that the ones who do not alter their religious beliefs are considered fundamentalists, that is the exact meaning of fundamentalism. You as is everyone else, as long as you dont live in iran, are allowed to follow your religion as you please, but please dont insult my intelligence by saying you want to follow the exact word of your religion and not be questioned then have the audacity not to be called a fundamentalist. Your faith is meant to be questioned, that is why god tests you, you are supposed to question what is right and wrong so you are not only giving a lip service but actually feel what you believe.

    Now saying that the hijab removes temptation is wall that you hide behind. For whom is supposed to feel the modesty, privacy, and morality that the hijab represents? Does it stop people from having sex? does it stop people from committing adultery? Does it stop people from leering or having lustful gazes and thoughts? does it result in only pure love? and does it stop women from being raped?. The simple answer to any of these questions is no, it does not, now while i admit modesty is a romantic notion, the hijab does not stop any of the crimes that it is supposed to prevent. Humans have been immoral, immodest and irreligious before the hijab and will continue to do so long after, until we as humans realise that our infallibilities are caused by our thoughts and can only be cured by our thoughts we are always going to be considered to be fundamentalists.

    Open your heart and your mind will follow.

  18. First of all, I want to make it clear that by “hijab”, I mean modest dressing, which includes the head scarf as an aspect of the concept of “hijab”. This is why I believe that wearing hijab is to avoid temptation. I was raised in America and in my youth I did not wear hijab. As I got older, I realized the importance of hijab and started dressing according to Islamic laws.
    I’m sorry to hear that you are being forced to wear hijab, because that obviously alters your perspective on religion. I also understand that in most Islamic countries women are not allowed to go out without hijab. This does not mean that all Muslim women are being forced to wear it. What I can’t understand is why people cannot accept the fact that some women choose to wear hijab.
    My belief that hijab is a religious obligation should not offend you in any way. The concept of the hijab has been going on since the beginning of Islam, so why is my belief in it offensive to you?
    The fact that you might prefer not to wear it, does not alter my certainty in the importance of hijab, nor does it change the fact that I believe it is a religious obligation.
    Ultimately, what you choose to believe is something between you and your Creator.

  19. The problem is that women are murdered either in their society or in their own household if they don’t wear it. I consider that forced. Avoiding temptation? It’s another way of blaming women for rape. Why aren’t men forced to shield themselves? Oh yeah…they’re men.

    • Hey there Rachel, I understand where you’re coming from. There are some situations where men don’t get punished for committing the same crime as women, and that’s how our religion is confusing others. In Islam, men and women are equal, but people tend to mix Islam and their culture into a major misunderstanding. They tend to think of what the society thinks, but forget what God wants and commands. This is why people think that if a woman is raped or has committed adultery, then the victim/ woman is supposed to be stoned while the man lives his life, but God always gives back what’s yours. On the other hand, there are cases when a woman is raped, but is accused of what she’s wearing. I’ve read a book where this women is raped and on trial is asked of what she was wearing to provoke the man. It’s sad, but that’s why women should cover themselves to avoid things like that. It’s always better to safe than sorry. A famous saying.:)

  20. dont you think that hijab has become intyerest of plitics ratherb than islamic application? most of the girls wear it not for the sake of religion but for the sake of ideantity, as they look different.

    • If some women choose to wear hijab for the sake of identity, how is that political?

  21. Why are people offended by Christmas or the iron cross or the swatstika?

    • I understand your point, but that doesn’t answer my question.

  22. I’ll immediately grasp your rss feed as I can’t find your email subscription hyperlink or newsletter
    service. Do you have any? Please allow me understand in order that I could subscribe.
    Thanks.

    • Thanks for passing by.
      You can find the email subscription on the page where you found the post. I believe it is on the upper right hand side.


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