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Expoliation of Hijab

May 11, 2008 

Posted by lily705 in Islam, Life, Religion, Thoughts, Uncategorized.
Government, Hajab, headcover, Iran, Islam, law, laws, message, modesty, Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), Religion, Woman, workforce


Asalaam u alikum/hi


I am speechless as I write this post. I viewed a video showing Irani police women forcing hijab on other females. As a Muslim woman, I have great love and respect for the dress code in Islam. To me, it represents Allah’s love and His protection. A woman is regarded with dignity and respect when she is dressed modestly. Hijab does not just implies outside modesty but it reflects inside modesty as well. Therefore, if you really practice Hijab, than your conduct, manner and speech will also be in line with your dress. That implies to men too, a guy should be modest in the same manner as the girl. In his speech, actions and manner.

In today’s society, Hijab have become a joke! The very essence of it, is used to exploit and oppress others. Allah oriented it for protection and respect but many use to oppress and exploit females. Let’s suppose, you succeed in oppressing a female to wear it, do you think she will be wearing Hijab for the love of Allah tallah? Do you think she will feel freedom when she puts it on. Each time, she will place it on her head, she will be doing it out of fear, and each time it resides on her head she will feel oppressed.

This is how conditioning works:

Also called operant conditioning, instrumental conditioning. a process of changing behavior by rewarding or punishing a subject each time an action is performed until the subject associates the action with pleasure or distress.


Also called classical conditioning, Pavlovian conditioning, respondent conditioning. a process in which a stimulus that was previously neutral, as the sound of a bell, comes to evoke a particular response, as salivation, by being repeatedly paired with another stimulus that normally evokes the response, as the taste of food.

Example (Taken from:
An individual receives frequent injections of drugs, which are administered in a small examination room at a clinic. The drug itself causes increased heart rate but after several trips to the clinic, simply being in a small room causes an increased heart rate.

Now applying this to what they are doing to Muslim women in the name of Islam.
Female(s) going out without head cover or going out with mild coverage (here I am talking about hair coverage), encounter oppression in terms of beating, verbal harassment and let’s NOT forget sexual harassment. Over time, the female will be less likely to go out without proper coverage.

However, her coverage has nothing to do with Islam or to feel the essence of Hijab (in terms of dignity, freedom, and respect). She is covering in order to escape the oppression per se. Hijab which is such a pure and modest symbol get linked with these negative feelings. Over time, if the female get out of such environment, she will be less likely to wear Hijab. So you see, what these people are doing in reality is creating hate and resentment for Hijab.

What is Hijab in Islam:

Some Questions that I believe will enlighten the issue:

Q: Hijab or veiling has become a very important issue throughout the world. My main question is about the way Muslim women dress today (e.g. Muslim women who wear jeans and cover their heads). Looking at the male gaze, hijab is to stop men from gazing when at the same time the jeans are saying “gaze.”
There are many issues to come forward from this topic. Is hijab a matter of choice or not? Do Muslim women get forced to wear the hijab? Why do women spend so much money on fashion? How do the non-Muslims view the Muslim women? How does the western fashion and the eastern belief come together? In other words, how did fashion influence the way Muslim women dress?

I will be looking forward to receiving your answer.

Jazakum Allahu khayran

A: Thank you for your question, which touches on an increasingly important subject.

Recently, hijab has been the subject of much controversy and debate, especially since the French government decided to ban hijab and other religious “symbols” from public schools. Everyone wants to know what’s hijab all about? Your questions bring up many important points, which I will attempt to answer here.

In the beginning you say: “Looking at the male gaze, hijab is to stop men from gazing when at the same time the jeans are saying ‘gaze.’” Yes, that is true. Some Muslim women do wear tight jeans and then cover their heads and say that they are wearing hijab. This brings us to an important point—the meaning of the word hijab. Many people think that hijab means “head-covering” or “scarf.” If you look at any media, the word hijab is often accompanied by pictures of girls covering their head.

So what does hijab mean? The word hijab in Arabic means “barrier” or “screen.” In the verse regarding women’s hijab, which is referred to as khimar or “cover,” in the Qur’an, Allah says what means:

*{And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons…}* (An-Nur 24:31)

For more on the meaning of the word hijab, see:

Hijab… a Must, Not a Choice

Therefore, from the verse, it becomes evident that the purpose of hijab is to cover. Although from one point of view the girls in jeans and a head-covering may be “covered,” the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once mentioned that there are women who are kasiyat `ariyat, meaning they are both “covered and naked at the same time.” This refers to those who wear clothes that are too tight or short or transparent and therefore reveal their bodies, thereby completely missing the point of hijab.

In Islam, modesty is so important that there are several hadiths in which the Prophet highlights modesty as one of the main aspects of faith. However, modesty is a trait that is encouraged in both men and women, each manifesting this modesty in different ways. Both men and women are requested to act with modesty by averting their gazes and lowering their voices. They are also both requested to dress modestly, but each with their own limitations. What is interesting is that although men are allowed to bare their chests down to their navels, because modesty is so important, it is very rare to find a Muslim man walking around without his shirt on.

So are those girls in jeans and a head-cover really wearing hijab as it was meant to be? No, unfortunately, they are not. They seem to understand the word hijab in its most superficial sense.

You ask “Is hijab a matter of choice or not?” Well, the answer is yes and no. No, the hijab is not a matter of choice because it is a command by Allah that Muslim women should dress modestly from their heads to their toes, covering their entire body except for their hands and faces. (Although you will find Muslims who believe that this command includes the hands and face, the majority of scholars believe that the hands and face do not have to be covered.) So in a way, Allah has not left it up to us to decide whether hijab is an obligation or not. He has set down the commandment very clearly.

At the same time, in another way, hijab is really a matter of choice, just as believing in Allah is a matter of choice for all humans, and praying to Him is a matter of choice. Allah will not force anyone to believe in Him or pray to Him, and likewise, Allah will not force anyone to wear hijab. He tells us that He has commanded the believing women to cover themselves modestly from head to toe, but then leaves the choice of whether we will obey Him or not up to us.

You also ask about whether girls are forced to wear the hijab or not. Again the answer is yes and no. You will find some girls whose parents have more or less “forced” them to wear hijab, although this number, from my personal experience (there are no statistics on this) is quite small and decreasing daily.

Most women wear the hijab out of choice. Yes, there are countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran which have “dress codes” and therefore are forcing women to dress in a certain way, but this is a political matter rather than a religious one. When the Prophet Muhammad related verse 31 of Surat An-Nur, which commanded the believing women to cover themselves, the women of Madinah immediately went home to make appropriate covers for themselves out of their clothes. No one forced them to, and the Prophet certainly did not force them to—they did so out of their own free will.

Your next question, to tell you the truth, brought a smile to my face. You ask why women spend so much money on fashion. Believe me, men have been asking this very same question for centuries and it is probably one of humankind’s unanswered mysteries. Joking aside, when you look at today’s world and all forms of media—be they TV, movies, magazines, the Internet, newspapers, radio—they all send people in general and women in specific a message that highlights the external and ignores the internal. Women are constantly bombarded with images of ultra-slim, sophisticated and expensively dressed models that are supposed to represent the happy, successful, content, and indeed, ideal, woman. Girls are brought up in a culture where how they look and what they wear is more important than how they think or the excellence of their character. They grow up believing that in order to be accepted in society and loved by people, they have to wear “fashionable”—and therefore, expensive—clothes that represent fashions that change with the seasons.

One of the many beauties of Islam is that it frees us from this materialistic thinking. We are assured by the Prophet Muhammad that Allah does not look at our bodies and faces, but looks at our hearts. We are continually told to take care of our manners and to build our relationship with Allah as the most important relationship in our lives—indeed the only relationship that really matters. We are told to purify our hearts from an over-dependence on earthly desires and undesirable traits such as envy, impatience, hate, and covetousness. 

Yes, we are all asked to dress modestly and appropriately in clean clothes. And yes, Islam is a religion of beauty, as the Prophet Muhammad tells us in a hadith that Allah is Beautiful and loves that which is beautiful. However, outward beauty takes an inferior position to inner beauty. It is beauty of the soul and heart and mind that is valued more than external beauty. Allah asks us to take care of our bodies and to keep them healthy and clean, but He also tells us that this is not to be at the expense of that which is more important—our souls and hearts and minds.

You also ask how people outside Islam view women who wear hijab. Again, I cannot give you just one answer, because there is always a multiplicity of reactions. Some people believe that we are “oppressed.” Some actually envy us for our freedom from the constraints of the fashion world. Some are angry and feel hostile. There are also some people who respect and would indeed argue for our choice to follow our religion. In addition, there are people who admire us to the point of seeing the wearing of hijab as a strong feminist statement in that the woman who wears it is essentially saying, “I am wearing this hijab because I want you to look at me for who I am, and not look at my hair or body because I do not permit you to do so.”

So how do Western fashion and Eastern belief come together? The first problem with this question is that you polarize Islam as something Eastern, which it is not. Islam is neither Eastern nor Western; rather it is divine and universal. It is not a localized phenomenon, but rather, it is beyond space.

Just because the final prophet of Islam happened to be Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) who was Arab, that does not mean that Islam belongs to the Arabs. The Prophet himself told us that there is no difference between an Arab and a non-Arab except by the piety of his heart. Likewise, there is no difference between man and woman, between races, between nations, except by the piety of hearts. Those who are more pious are better in the eyes of Allah.

The more valid question is how fashion has influenced the way Muslim women dress. Looking at women wearing hijab in different countries, you will see that the form that the hijab takes is more influenced by culture than anything. You will find women who wear it very long and women who wear it shorter. You will find women who layer different scarves together to achieve a certain look.

What Muslim women do now is try to fit in as many different styles and combinations within set parameters and guidelines through color, fabrics, and style of wearing the hijab. You will even find that during some seasons certain colors will be in fashion while in other seasons different colors will be more “in.”

Something that may interest you in this matter is the story of a non-Muslim Dutch designer who has dedicated a lot of her time to produce “fashion-friendly” hijabs. You can read about her in A Dutch Designer’s Cause for the Hijab. There are other examples of this kind of endeavor, more obvious in predominantly Muslim countries, where women either try out different styles of hijab on an individual level, or where hijab fashion shows are held for women only.

I hope this answers your question, Hinna. Please don’t hesitate to write back with more questions.

Keep in touch!


Q. What are the requirements for Muslim women’s dress?

A: Rules regarding Muslim women’s (and men’s) attire are derived from
the Quran, Islam’s revealed text, and the traditions (hadith) of the
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In the Quran, God states: “Say to
the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their
modesty…And say to the believing women that they should lower their
gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty
and adornments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they
should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty
except to their husbands, their fathers…(a list of exceptions)”
[Chapter 24, verses 30-31] Also, “O Prophet! Tell thy wives and
daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer
garments over their persons…that they should be known and not
molested.” [Chapter 33, verse 59]
In one tradition, the Prophet Muhammad is quoted as saying: “…If the
woman reaches the age of puberty, no part of her body should be seen but
this — and he pointed to his face and hands.”
From these and other references, the vast majority of Muslim scholars
and jurists, past and present, have determined the minimum requirements
for Muslim women’s dress: 1) Clothing must cover the entire body, with
the exception of the face and the hands. 2) The attire should not be
form fitting, sheer or so eye-catching as to attract undue attention or
reveal the shape of the body.
There are similar, yet less obvious requirements for a Muslim male’s
attire. 1) A Muslim man must always be covered from the navel to the
knees. 2) A Muslim man should similarly not wear tight, sheer,
revealing, or eye-catching clothing. In addition, a Muslim man is
prohibited from wearing silk clothing (except for medical reasons) or
gold jewelry. A Muslim woman may wear silk or gold.
(References: “The Muslim Woman’s Dress,” Dr. Jamal Badawi, Ta-Ha
Publishers; “Hijab in Islam,” Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, Al-Risala Books;
“The Islamic Ruling Regarding Women’s Dress,” Abu Bilal Mustafa
Al-Kanadi, Abul-Qasim Publishing; “Islamic Dress,” Muslim Women of
Minnesota; “Your Hijab and U.S. Law,” North American Council for Muslim
Q. Is Islamic dress appropriate for modern times?
A: Islamic dress is modern and practical. Muslim women wearing Islamic
dress work and study without any problems or constraints.
Q. Does Islamic dress imply that women are submissive or inferior to men?
A: Islamic dress is one of many rights granted to Islamic women. Modest
clothing is worn in obedience to God and has nothing to do with
submissiveness to men. Muslim men and women have similar rights and
obligations and both submit to God.
Q. But aren’t there Muslim women who do not wear Islamic Dress, or hijab?
A: Some Muslim women choose not to wear hijab. Some may want to wear it
but believe they cannot get a job wearing a head scarf. Others may not
be aware of the requirement or are under the mistaken impression that
wearing hijab is an indication of inferior status.
Q. Why is Islamic dress becoming an issue for personnel managers and
A: The Muslim community in American is growing rapidly. Growth factors
include conversions to Islam, immigration from Muslim countries and high
birth rates for Muslim families. As the community grows, more Muslim
women will enter the work force. In many cases, these women wish both to
work and to maintain their religious convictions. It should be possible
to fulfill both goals.
Q. What issues do Muslim women face in the workplace?
A: Muslim women report that the issue of attire comes up most often in
the initial interview for a job. Some interviewers will ask if the
prospective employee plans to wear the scarf to work. Others may
inappropriately inquire about religious practices or beliefs. Sometimes
the prospective employee, feeling pressure to earn a living, will take
off the scarf for the interview and then put it on when hired for the
job. Modest dress should not be equated with incompetence.
Other issues include unwanted touching or pulling on scarves by other
employees, verbal harassment or subtle ostracism and denial of
promotion. Many Muslims also object to being pressured to attend
celebrations of other religious traditions or to attend
employer-sponsored celebrations at which alcohol is served.
Q. What can an employer reasonably require of a woman wearing hijab?
A: An employer can ask that an employee’s attire not pose a danger to
that employee or to others. For example, a Muslim woman who wears her
head scarf so that loose ends are exposed should not be operating a
drill press or similar machinery. That employee could be asked to
arrange her hijab so that the loose ends are tucked in. An employer can
ask that the hijab be neat and clean and in a color that does not clash
with a company uniform.
Q. What are the legal precedents on this issue?
A: Many cases have demonstrated an employee’s legal right to reasonable
accommodation in matters of faith. Examples: 1) The failure of other
Muslim employees to wear headscarves is legally irrelevant. The employee
need only show sincerely-held religious beliefs. (E.E.O.C. v. Reads,
Inc., 1991) 2) There are no health or safety concerns at issue. (Cf.
E.E.O.C. Dec. No. 82-1, 1982, also E.E.O.C. Dec. No. 81-20, 1981) 3)
Companies cannot give effect to private biases. In other words, just
because an employer believes customers will be prejudiced against a
woman in a scarf, that does not mean the employee can be fired. (Palmer
v. Sidoti, 1984, also Cf. Sprogis v. United Air Lines, Inc., 1971) 4) An
employer must demonstrate “undue hardship” caused by the wearing of
religious attire. (TWA v. Hardison, 1977) Hardships recognized by the
courts include cost to the employer or effect on co-workers. 5) Dress
codes can have disproportionate impact on certain faiths. (E.E.O.C. Dec.
No. 71-2620, 1971, also E.E.O.C. Dec. No. 71-779, 1970)
© 1998 CAIR. All Rights Reserved


Why must Muslim women wear hijab?
Do some Muslims think that it is not mandatory, while others think that it is?

Please show me the passages in the Qur’an relating to women covering their hair.


Women’s life

Name of Counselor

Amani Aboul Fadl Farag


Hello Carmen, I think I should start by answering the last part of your question about the passages in Qur’an that direct the Muslim women to wear hijab as these passages will definitely answer the first part of the question: Why should women wear it?

And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not show off their beauty and ornaments except what is (ordinarily) visible thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards God, that ye may attain Bliss.

Surah 24 Verse 31

O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Surah 33 Verse 59

The first reason for wearing hijab, then, is that it is a command from God. Religious Muslims - like any other religious people belonging to any revealed religion - don’t feel comfortable in deliberately disobeying God! If some Muslims, despite of the semantic clarity of the Qur’anic verses, still think that this ruling is not mandatory, this will not alter the message.

We can have some Muslims who unjustly or ignorantly deny the illegality of drinking alcohol, eating pork or even committing major sins like stealing, fornicating… etc. This does not mean that such things are permitted in Islam! In Islam it is very easy to detect or judge whether a certain ruling is mandatory or not, by going back to the major sources of Islamic legislation. This we technically name as ‘shari’a’. Those sources are the Qur’an, the Holy Book of Muslims, and sunnah, which is the sayings and guiding acts of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), as stated in authentic books. So, simply this is the very same case with hijab.

Notice Clara that this ruling of hijab, is highly esteemed among Muslim women, despite the big pressure of most regimes in the Muslim majority world to forbid it. Sometimes it is forbidden by force or women are discouraged from wearing it. The issue is seen as a means of secularizing or globalizing the Muslim states! This is, in-fact, except for two or three Muslim countries, which encourage their women to observe this ruling or at least “let it go”.

The rest are on a savage war against it. Turkey is the outspoken example of such hostility, but the other regimes are not less hostile, albeit silently, towards it. Despite this fact you can find Muslim women insisting on wearing it, even if it costs them their jobs and social status …

In fact, there is wisdom behind this heavenly command of hijab and behind Muslim women’s challenge to wear it. It is that in the Islamic culture - like many other cultures - the idea of women’s respectability and virtue is related, among other things, to the propriety of their dress. In Christianity for example, nuns cannot show up without their hijab. Also, regular ladies wear it while attending masses, which is a reflection of self-admission that God wants to see them this way! Also, as far as I know, in Judaism, the most religious faction amongst Jews, namely The Hassidics, have their strict rules about covering women’s bodies. Even in secular societies, some women judges have to cover their heads, during sessions, as a way to show their dignity and self-respect. 

Remember that your own puritan American society, before being swept over in the 1950s, by this permissive value system, used to look with embarrassment to any woman going out to the street without her hat! Mini skirts only appeared recently together with the secular and atheist style of life that some people in the west - and the East as well - chose for themselves.

You can also tell that hijab is the way Islam neutralizes a woman’s stereotyped role as a mere female, by inciting the society to deal with her as a human being away from her “extra feminine powers”! No wonder then that the majority of Muslim women refuse to let their ‘mill go with all winds’ and that they insist on keeping their Islamic identity. This is regardless of the consistent unfair criticism and sometimes satire against it. They wear hijab, not only in submission to God’s order, but also because their inherent moral code is in full harmony with its philosophy.

Thank you.

Mr. Lamaan Ball, editor of Ask About Islam, adds:

The term hijab means more than just covering the hair and refers to the general code of modesty outlined in the verses quoted above. To understand what is implied in these verses, consider what it is that women do to show off their beauty. What is it they make a display of to be sexually attractive?

Though to some extent what constitutes showing off of one’s beauty depends on the cultural context we live in, there are many parts of the body that are used for showing off beauty across all cultures and these are realities of our human condition not just culture. Hair is recognized by very many of the scholars of Islam, as well as other scholars across the world, as one of them. To be sure that you are not showing off your beauty as a woman you should cover up these areas appropriately.


Now finally coming to the video:

Note: I placed the most moderate video. In others words, there are many videos where, they are actually beating women up. What bothers me the most is that these individuals, are exploiting Islam in ways and manner that are even worse than exploitation done by non-Muslims. These people have the knowledge of Islam at their fingers tips BUT instead of teaching the true meaning of Hijab, they exploit and rob it of its true essence.

From my perspective they are not any different from the west. Where the west, see Hijab as a form of oppression and discourage it. These people, force it on their people. Some people will come and say it is law there, and that it has nothing to do with Islam. WHAT I AM NOT OK WITH IS that in doing so, they are actually producing resentment and hate for Hajib in the hearts of these females. By doing so, they are driving people away from something that is pure and modest. Something that Allah tallah has given as a gift. To exploit something like that is unbelievable.

Lastly, I just want to remind that the prayer of the oppressed never goes unanswered. If you are living in a disillusion that by beating up females and forcing them to wear Hajib you are practicing Islam. Then WAKE UP! It is just like what the American are doing to Afghanistan and Iraq and telling everyone that they are liberating these people.

Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said:  

‘The prayer of the oppressed is answered, even if he is a sinner, as his sinning is only against his own soul,’[49] 

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