Response to a Muslim Lady’s defence of ‘religious’ Hijab
By Rashid Samnakay
(A retired professional Electrical (Power) Engineer, of three scores and ten years. . . He tries to impart knowledge of the temporal and spiritual world, acquired from life long search for answers to complex questions, hand-on-life experiences, and leaving room for dissent and divergent opinion His studies of Quran have led him to firmly believe that Islam exults free speech and thought and that it is a societal code of life, that is it gives core values to adhere to in order to live and let live in a peaceful and rewarding life in the changing world. His motto for a Muslim, "Oh Lord in the service of humanity, we worship Thee.")
My Dear Sister Mehra:
You took umbrage to my reference in the sentence to Hijab as a show of piety and the cleavage as a sensual fashion. I was, sarcastically perhaps, trying to establish that to me they both are _expression of fashion, and no dress Arab or not, is reverential, hence the _expression such as ‘doubled up fan belt on the Arab head dress’ by our friend.
The French, Turkish and other Governments’ attitude to Muslim women’s head cover is naïve and foolish. They are scared of the -expression and the exercise of the Muslim women’s right to make political statements and protests. As I tried to argue that in fact the Skull-cap and the Cross are more religious than the Hijab. I now add the Sikhism’s Turban in the religious category.
The Scarf has been a part of lady’s dress from time immemorial. Historically it was a status symbol of the upper class ladies among the Romans, Greeks, the Persians etc. It is not a new invention of ‘Muhammadan’ era; nor of modern times. It is a hand-me-down apparel of Judeo-Christianity.
We have discussed the Universal cultural-etiquette of young women of the Subcontinent where they cover their heads as sign of respect for the elders, irrespective of the gender and Religion.
Let us consider the subject and my
understanding of the issues in the light of Quran. However I am willing
to be corrected. I contend the following in reference to it as brought
by our Rasool. The superscripts are only one reference, often out of
* I also believe that it is Hadis and the male-clergy (priest hood), who linked the scarf specifically to HAIR, and not the part of the female body that Quran puts the emphases on.
* Hair (She’run) Qur'an 16:80 is mentioned in Quran in respect to the gifts God has provided in animals such as their fleece, hair for spinning wool Quran: 16:80, not in respect to human hair.
* The Muslim clergy (the Muslim-Church) is riding the bandwagon of Religious Hijab to bolster their position and now by playing politics with it.
We therefore believe, Quran has never meant
Hijab as a means of hiding the hair on the head of a woman or a man for
We also contend that if the hair was so dirty and sensuous that it has to be totally covered in the name of the ‘religion’ then, men with ‘religious’ beards should also cover their faces in Niqaab/Burqaa! Or else shave their head and face at least once daily if not five times in the name of religion.
We conclude that according to Quran:
1. The seven places the word hijab ( Qur'an, 7:46, 17:45,19:17, 33:53, 38:52, 41:5, 42:51) occurs in Quran, it alludes to the aura of separation, the protocol, decorum, barrier etc. For example, God spoke to Rasul from behind a Hijab; there was a hijab between the people in hell and the people in heaven etc. The political metaphors of ‘Iron’ and ‘Bamboo’ curtain are an example, without the physical curtain.
4. Islam prescribes code of dress and not a mode of dress. Every decent dress, creating that aura of modesty and decorum- that curtain without a curtain; both for men and women is an Islamic dress irrespective of cultural differences and styles. Middle Eastern mode/style of dress is no more reverential and holy than the well attired Lungi/Kameez of Bengal and Burma, Kimono of Japan, Sari of India, Busuti of Uganda, Bueebuee/Kanju of Kenya, Banju Kurong/Todong of S.E Asia, Shalwaar/Kurtaa/Duppattaa of Pakistan etc.
5. Dress should be such as not to draw attention to your self so as be not molested (Qur'an, 33:59). Couple of sizes smaller, body-hugging attire accentuating one’s body contours falls into that category. (You told me that in the Subcontinent, males brazenly molest ladies in streets, what ever the dress! This is confirmed in the book ‘the Holy Cow’. See REFERENCE below.)
6. The only other dress alluded to in general is the Ihram-pilgrim’s garb (Qur'an, 5:3) for Hajj purposes only. The word Ihram is not in the Quran.
7. Zeenat (Qur'an, 7:32), adornment
and personal enhancement is acceptable to Quran.
It is admitted that the head scarf turns any woman, even a tramp, in to a lady. But no particular mode/style of dress is given in Quran and therefore none is holy. All over the Muslim world Design/fashion houses are springing up.
Because Muslim women are no less fashion conscious than others and there is nothing wrong in that except for masking the fashion behind Islam to trading in the aayat for meager returns (Qur'an, 2:79).
I also admire you and your kind who have the guts to express themselves for what they are and feel. It is about time our women to take part in what affects their lives as Muslims and not what the males have imposed on them in the name of religion. Free will (Qur'an, 2:256) is the concession of Islam within the prescribed Code of behaviour, and that along with the requirement of takreem (Qur'an, 17:70) - dignity- forms the basis of the equality of mankind; including that of women. Take active part in the matter of Islam in a positive manner, not just as a second-class citizen and not be dictated by the other gender, for we have rights over (Qur'an, 2:228) each other! These rights extend to all walks of life, including politics.
Islam is not just an Arabic religion or of
any particular region, it is universal, for the whole of annaas (Qur'an,
3:110) i.e. human. So, we must resist any body who want to hijack
it to ‘their’ region, for ‘their’ religion or for ‘their’ vested
However I remember and cherish your advice
which is endorsed by Quran to “discuss with them in most aahsan way”
(Qur'an, 16:125). To agree to disagree amicably is the requirement of
intellectual discourse. Quran has the oft repeated exultation of afalaa
tadabbaroon (Qur'an, 47:24) - why don’t you contemplate- and even
to question it! (Qur'an, 25:73). I have not said any thing out
side the ambit of Quran. I believe that you are quite capable of looking
out for additional references in it. Please over look my weakness and
keep on correcting me.
Also see the following:-
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