July 25, 2008
PART 2So then, why would Muslim women choose to wear the hijab if it is understood to be so oppressive by so many people? What does the hijab represent, what does it mean, and what are the responsibilities that a Muslim woman has in wearing the hijab? Have Islam and the hijab, a simple piece of cloth, liberated or oppressed women? And could there possibly be any benefits in wearing the hijab in today’s modern consumer loving society?
Well we spoke to
some young Muslim girls who shared their views on the hijab, their experiences
and how they feel in the Australian society. But to get the answers to the most
important questions asked by so many, all we have to do is look at the basic
Islamic sources: the Quran, Holy Book and the Sunnah, traditions of the Prophet
Muhammad (peace be upon him).
The hijab is a
piece of cloth or material that covers a woman’s head, hair and chest area. A
woman with the hijab on must cover her whole body excluding her face and hands.
Aisha, the wife
of the Muhammad, reported that Asmaa, the daughter of Abu Bakr, came to the
Messenger of Allah while wearing thin clothing. He approached her and said: ‘O
Asmaa! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything
should remain exposed except this and this. He pointed to the face and hands.”
The word HIJAB
means to veil, cover, screen, protect, seclude and obscure. But most
importantly, it means ‘barrier’. It can be a barrier that protects and screens
off a woman’s body and beauty from men and the public.
Why do Muslim
women have to wear the hijab?
“O people, tell
your wives and daughters and the believing women to draw their outer garments
around them (when they go out or are among men). That is better in order that
they may be known to be Muslims and not annoyed…” (Quran 33:59)
Muslim women wear
the hijab for modesty, for respect and to fulfill their way of life: Islam. The
hijab allows women to be judged on their intellect rather than their
appearance. The hijab helps Muslim women to make a statement about their
identity, feel dignified, modest and confident. The hijab also limits the way
men treat women as ‘sex objects’ and allows them to be treated as ‘equals’.
of wearing the hijab is to cover ones beauty, the hijab covers ones hair, neck
and bosom (chest area). The whole body is to be covered except for the face and
hands, clothing should be loose, not to show ones body shape; clothes must be
thick, not see through; and they should not attract a man’s attention. A Muslim
woman’s dress should not imitate that of a man it should be modest: not too
fancy, not to ragged, just right.
The hijab has
liberated women not oppressed them. It gives women their rights and freedom in
society to be treated like a human being not a sex object or a man’s slave. In
the past, before Islam and the hijab were introduced to women, women had no
rights; they were owned by men for sexual enjoyment and seen as a factory that
produces offspring and a devil in human form. When Islam came, women felt
liberated and were treated with dignity and respect. Through Islam, women were
given equal rights as men and were no longer obliged to the injustices and
torture laid on them by the Pre-Islamic world.
Why is the hijab
so important in today’s society?
In today’s world
women are being encouraged to show off their bodies and be proud of their
femininity. And yet we know that the majority of designers behind the most
dominant fashion names are men. So, women are still being controlled by men and
are not apparently equal in today’s society.
dressed half- naked is seen as ‘girl power’. Is it really, or is it sexism? The
‘West’ argues that women should wear what they please; so then why do they find
it so hard to understand why Muslim women choose to wear the hijab?
The absurd things
people say to girls that wear the hijab…
• “Do you go to
sleep with it on?”
• “Do you take a
shower with it on?”
• “Does that mean
that you are bald underneath?”
• “Are you
engaged now?” one girl was asked when she put it on in year 7
• “Can your Dad
or your brother see your hair?”
• “Do you know
Osama Bin Laden?”
• “Are you a
These are just
some of the remarks young Muslim women get from people. Such negative ideas and
ignorance on the hijab only alienates Muslim women in the wider society and
destroys the willingness to accept and respect each other.
It is important
for every person to understand the reasons Muslim women choose to wear the
hijab and how they feel in the Australian society.
By the way, the
answers to the above questions would most probably be: no, no, no, no, yes, no,
By Fatma Youssef and Amna Elghoul
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