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Shafath (Student, Saudi Arabia) July 2006

Hi assalamu alaikum.....

Your site is really superb...
That full coat (usually black in colour) that muslim women wear.... what do u think about that "hijab"....r u following that..?

Shafath, Student, Saudi Arabia

Wa’alekum Assalam. Thank you for complimenting the site. I am glad you asked me this question as it is a very relevant one in our time of inner confusion about our future and identity as Muslims. Most would shy away from this controversial issue in public, but I feel I have a duty to be brave.

I personally do not wear any head or face covering. I believe in an individual's freedom to express personality, and I believe it is every woman's choice to do so as well. I respect a woman's choice to cover her hair and face if she so freely chooses.

The hijab has come about from various interpretations of religious texts and moral theory, but it also has evolved because of a patriarchal society's designation of a woman's role in a community, and her inherent nature. Her clothing is a reflection of her piety and modesty, her emotional strength, her public affirmation of being a woman dedicated to her faith in Allah, and it is ascribed for her protection. On the flipside, the hijab has also been historically construed as a way to reduce a woman’s character as a temptress, so that the opposite sex will not be as charmed by her. Thus, it makes a worldly statement about a woman’s instinctive sexual nature. So as you can see, no matter what interpretation you subscribe to, “the truth” is ultimately packaged to serve one’s own agendas and desires, shaped by our experiences and predispositions.

What I truly believe is, anything done out of a pure intention of ethics is to be supported. I am against any institution that promotes dehumanization of any kind. For e.g. I do not support hijab when it is used as a tool to restrict women from contributing to the economy of their country, or to instill fear that could cripple their self-belief. On the other hand, a historical event like the Iranian Revolution had women covering up to show their defiance of the system, which was a very powerful message. I personally believe that every woman must be allowed the freedom of choosing the hijab if she feels it is the best decision for her as a Muslim woman. If the hijab increases her sense of identity and purpose for her life, it is the absolute right thing to do. If a woman is made to wear the hijab out of fear and low self-worth, she needs to be coached into believing she has a choice on grounds of being a human being. I am friends with a lot of women who are strong and independent who freely choose to assert their identity by wearing the hijab, and they earn my greatest admiration and respect. The head cloth itself has no meaning, except what is assigned to it by the woman who wears it. In other words I judge the hijab in the context of how, when, and why it is worn by any woman. Whether a woman chooses to adopt it or not, the message she wants to send with that choice should be clear to her own self rather than for the entire world to talk about.

I do not wear hijab because I freely choose not to. I don’t believe wearing it would necessarily increase my own intrinsic value as a woman.

Hope this answers your question!


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