22 June 2008

Hijab - Muslim Point Of View

Hijab: A Lesson To Be Learned

I probably do not fit into the preconceived notion of a "rebel." I have no visible tattoos and minimal piercings. I do not possess a leather jacket. In fact, when most people look at me, their first thought usually is something along the lines of "oppressed female."

The brave individuals who have mustered the courage to ask me about the way I dress usually have questions like: "Do your parents make you wear that?" or "Don't you find that really unfair?"

A while back, a couple of girls in Montreal were kicked out of school for dressing like I do. It seems strange that a little piece of cloth would make for such controversy. Perhaps the fear is that I am harbouring an Uzi underneath it. You never can tell with those Muslim fundamentalists.

Of course, the issue at hand is more than a mere piece of cloth. I am a Muslim woman who, like millions of other Muslim women across the globe, chooses to wear the hijab. There are many different ways to wear it, but in essence, what we do is cover our entire bodies except for our hands and faces. If you're the kind of person who has watched a lot of popular movies, you'd probably think of harem girls and belly-dancers, women who are kept in seclusion except for the private pleasure of their male masters. In the true Islamic faith, nothing could be further from the truth. And the concept of the hijab, contrary to popular opinion, is actually one of the most fundamental aspects of female empowerment. When I cover myself, I make it virtually impossible for people to judge me according to the way I look. I cannot be categorized because of my attractiveness or lack thereof. Compare this to life in today's society: We are constantly sizing one another up on the basis of our clothing, jewelry, hair and makeup. What kind of depth can there be in a world like this?

Yes, I have a body, a physical manifestation upon this Earth. But it is the vessel of an intelligent mind and a strong spirit. It is not for the beholder to leer at or to use in advertisements to sell everything from beer to cars. Because of the superficiality of the world in which we live, external appearances are so stressed that the value of the individual counts for almost nothing. It is a myth that women in today's society are liberated. What kind of freedom can there be when a woman cannot walk down the street without every aspect of her physical self being "checked out"? When I wear the hijab I feel safe from all of this. I can rest assured that no one is looking at me and making assumptions about my character from the length of my skirt. There is a barrier between me and those who would exploit me. I am first and foremost a human being, equal to any man, and not vulnerable because of my sexuality. One of the saddest truths of our time is the question of the beauty myth and female self-image. Reading popular teenage magazines, you can instantly find out what kind of body image is "in" or "out." And if you have the "wrong" body type, well, then, you're just going to have to change it, aren't you? After all, there is no way that you can be overweight and still be beautiful.

Look at any advertisement. Is a woman being used to sell the product? How old is she? How attractive is she? What is she wearing? More often than not, that woman will be no older than her early 20s, taller, slimmer and more attractive than average, dressed in skimpy clothing. Why do we allow ourselves to be manipulated like this? Whether the '90s woman wishes to believe it or not, she is being forced into a mold. She is being coerced into selling herself, into compromising herself. This is why we have 13-year-old girls sticking their fingers down their throats and overweight adolescents hanging themselves. When people ask me if I feel oppressed, I can honestly say no. I made this decision out of my own free will. I like the fact that I am taking control of the way other people perceive me. I enjoy the fact that I don't give anyone anything to look at and that I have released myself from the bondage of the swinging pendulum of the fashion industry and other institutions that exploit females. My body is my own business. Nobody can tell me how I should look or whether or not I am beautiful. I know that there is more to me than that. I am also able to say no comfortably when people ask me if I feel as though my sexuality is being repressed. I have taken control of my sexuality.

I am thankful I will never have to suffer the fate of trying to lose/gain weight or trying to find the exact lipstick shade that will go with my skin colour. I have made choices about what my priorities are and these are not among them.

So next time you see me, don't look at me sympathetically. I am not under duress or a male-worshipping female captive from those barbarous Arabic deserts. I've been liberated.

By: Sultana Yusuf Ali - Toronto Star Young People's Press

33 comments - Click link below to add yours:

Anonymous said... 13/2/09 7:58 am  

salam!
i agree with ur thoughts.wel its a lesson for muslim grls.those who know everything but they dont want to do this.may allah bless her.

Regards;
anila hashmi

Anonymous said... 14/2/09 10:16 pm  

salam,

i totally agree with your thoughts sister. May Allah give us all the courage to act this way. Ameen.

Anonymous said... 1/3/09 9:43 pm  

Salaam

SO TRUE! I agree with you sister, Walahi Hijab is truely a librator of women. May Allah give us all the courage to wear the Hijab thus be liberated! Truely Allah has HONORED us!

Anonymous said... 18/3/09 7:07 pm  

i so agree with u. Allah has blessed us with Islam and those bad people will be punishhed

Anonymous said... 22/4/09 10:30 am  

Assalamu alaikum,

I am so proud of you!!its amazing that you madde your voice heard!!

I come from a Fairly pious family,and I started wearing the Abaya four years ago...im almost 20 now.

At that point people used to ask me or rather say to me absurd things like, your soo young you should have dressed up and enjoyed your youth and maybe after marraige or when your older you could have worn it...i always replied by saying im happy that i did so, and it was the truth...most part of my teen i used to be queit and never stood up for my self....once i started wearing it, it gave a me true sense of courage and security like no other....it was liberation at its highest.
I live in the middle east and im pretty ashamed of it in the certain aspect of properly covered women and girls......the meaning of hijab has become flexible and is now transparent, the shela only covers after the ears,sleeves of the abaya are rolled up or open abayas flap open to show the "cute" three quartes they wear...and the hair is styled it such away it covers an overly made up eye or rests on both sides of their face.....its pathetic but they own the country.....

now is actually the time to re-educate the exsisting muslims who are so ignorant and then tend to the non-muslims who are curious and eager to know as compared to our own!

all in all great job
Suraiya Farook

Anonymous said... 17/5/09 9:56 am  

salaam,im a white british convert(mashallah) iv been given the chance to entre paridise and i wont waste one single day in not giving it my all to get there (inshallah) by not acting upon allahs commands one of then being hijab,when i walk out of my home each day with my 5 kids in my long cloke i feel beautifull and glow from inside my imaan being so strong i dont care about what the none muslims say or come to think of it what other sisters say who choose not to wear their hijab(may allah have mercy upon them)just to FIT IN with this duniya.sisters please all i ask is ask yourself WHO DO YOU NEED TO PLEASE????

bas said... 21/5/09 1:18 pm  

To The White British Sister (Sorry not knowing your name). We try to please ALLAH first and last and forever. A special regard to the British Muslim Women who wear Hijab. As a male, I adore more the Muslim women with hijabs, than usual women. Cause the first is afraid from ALLAH, while the second is not. And ALLAH (SWT) has ordered that Muslim woman to wear hijab. As for men, not to look at, and thinks sexually of her. Hijab in Islam, came to protect woman from Satan.

Anonymous said... 26/8/09 5:52 am  

we really proud of our muslims people that majority of them know about islam and they wear hijab . i hope one day all muslim people come to know that wearing hijab is so important for muslim poeple . without wearing hijab there is no difference between us or a ................
so anyway i hope u all wear hijab . and dont forgive our tradition .no one lose a single thing because of wearing hijab thanks

Anonymous said... 1/9/09 7:28 pm  

ASSALAAM-O-ALAIKUM to all Muslims ... I read this today. It is really good for all Muslim Ladies arround the Globe to wear Hijab as our ALLAH SUBHANA-O-TALA tells us in QURAN to do ... It is not dificult at all if your Faith (EMAAN) is complete (Kamil) and you Trust ALLAH and use Hijab as you are doing workship of ALLAH ... May ALLAH SUBHANA-O-TALA give knowledge of ISLAM and Forgive our Sins ... AAMEEN

Anonymous said... 17/9/09 10:49 pm  

Assalamu Alaykum, I am a convert but I do not wear hijab except for prayers and for the reading of the Qu'ran. If I lived in a Islamic State or area I would probably wear it. The reason that I do not wear it is so as not to be noticed and bring attention to myself...in this case modest dress is better. Do not criticize sisters who do not wear hijab maybe they are wishing they could and after all it's your heart that counts and Allah knows your heart and your intentions.

abdahyouth said... 23/10/09 9:17 pm  

visit www.aabdahyouth.webs.com it's for teen muslimahs ages 13 and young adult women become a member its free i joined!!!! type it in your adress bar !!

Anonymous said... 24/10/09 7:17 am  

i still dunno how i feel...
or why i wore the hijab..ever since grade 6

not one women in my family wears it, not my mom or my older sister
..i just like it..i dont know why....

Anonymous said... 23/11/09 1:10 pm  

salaam alaikum,
i too wear a hijab frm class 9...i knew its 4 my own gud...bt ws nt so confident....cz sm oder posh posing gals in my college luk down upon me as if iam a "behenji types",thx 2 u....nw i feel confident,i feel great tht iam doing a v.gud thing.may allah bless u...ameen
regards farha

Anonymous said... 1/1/10 8:45 pm  

enam , india , 02.01.2010
aslamwallkum ,
i m a muslim boy , and engg student , it makes me happy when i see the muslim girls with hijab , i this this story will inspire a large muslim gals to wear hijab ,, and insallah in future all the muslim girls will follow it ,,ameen
take care
ALLAH hafiz

Anonymous said... 4/1/10 12:02 am  

asak....
i wore a hijab like 2 times,jus 4 fun...trust me, i felt so gud,infact prettier dan when i'm wearing my most expensive clothes....i am sooo gettin' a hijab when i go 2 india, i can't wear it here in US, de most i can do is wear "FULL" clothin' which i usually do....thanxx again..i was jus thinkin' bout wearing a hijab,now i'm gonna do it. thanxxxxx a lot!
May ALLAH bless u!

Anonymous said... 12/1/10 7:09 pm  

hello sisters its the most bulshit iv ever heard. if u wana wear hijab why dont you wear niqab as well or just hide in ur house

Anonymous said... 11/4/10 6:05 pm  

Assalam-o-alaikum!main english language nahi janti...r main gusul ka sahi tareeqa janna chahti hun agar mujhey urdu mein translation mil jae to main aapki shukar guzar rahungi..mujhey yeh bhi janna hai k vigina se jo pani discharge hota hai us k liye kia ehtyat karni chahiye.....plz meri id pe jawab dain..mer id hai.... sabeehafarhan@yahoo.com............

Anonymous said... 23/4/10 6:58 pm  

I have but one question...why does the hyjab apply to just girls? I mean guys can also be treathed like object just like you girls.

It was instored by men not your god...The bible was made by a man not a god... thats the problem.

Faizal said... 12/5/10 6:27 am  

Salaam all, and mashallah to all the ladies who choose to wear hijab. I just wanted to share a story that happened to me and inshallah some of you might find it useful when talking to non-muslims about hijab...
While i was at work one day, a co-worker (a non muslim) and myself were talking about aspects of islam. The topic came upon hijab to which her immediate reaction, as is typical of non muslims, was, "I hate it how muslim countries make the women wear it, its so oppressing".
Immediately I stated that it's not oppressing and is used as a way of protecting women from judgement and gazes from the opposite sex. Her reply to this was "why should women have to wear headscarves just because men cant control their gazes?"
To this I failed in reply and simply stated "you'll never understand".
Upon reflecting on this conversation later one I thought of a better response I could have used. This response makes it easy for any person to understand the usefulness of hijab. In response I should have asked her whether she owns a house or a car (which i know she did). Upon her affirmative response, I should then have said, does your car have locks? Upon her affirmative response I should have further asked: if your car didn't have locks, would you get them installed? Upon her affirmative response i would finally ask "why would you go to such expense just because some individuals can't stop themselves from being dishonest and stealing cars?
Just as everyone takes precautions as to their belongings, so do women take precautions in protecting their innocence who choosing to wear hijab.
Finally, this example ties in nicely with a hadith a read: (paraphrasing)
A man approached the prophet (SAW) regarding his camel. He asked "I am a true believer oh prophet, do I need to tether my camel in my absence or should I allow her to roam freely until I return?" the prophet (SAW) replied, first tether the camel, then leave the rest to Allah (SWT).
Ie one should always take precautions and then leave the rest up to Allah (SWT).

Thanks for reading
Wa Salaam

Anonymous said... 27/6/10 5:26 am  

salams,

awesome! i like your way of thinking! great job! :D

Anonymous said... 11/8/10 8:18 am  

i fully endorse and appreciate these views and especially the confidence for practicitng islam and hope so for all girls.

Anonymous said... 12/8/10 12:08 pm  

Assalam-o-alaikum!

I was born into a Christian family and am in the process of converting to Islam. I agree with this article and the women who have commented on what was written. I have observed the Western society that I have been raised in and find it is 10x more oppressive than wearing hijab could ever be! I find that hijab and covering up liberates women and shows that respect themselves. I find that Western and European cultures have brainwashed women into believing that less clothes equals more freedom. As an American, I feel like I live in a society where BOTH women and men are viewed as sexual objects and exploited. We are not looked at as people with intelligent minds and inner beauty; the exterior is viewed as more important. I have always complained that I would rather be judged by my intellect and character than by my body or face.
I feel like American women are brainwashed into believing that they are free from oppression but the denigration and blatant disrespect of women in our media and society suggest otherwise. As for the person who left the comment about men not wearing hijab, there are also standards and morals that Muslim men must live by as well.

Anonymous said... 20/8/10 2:18 pm  

Salaamz

Theres alot of truth in your article, however its really sad to see that muslim woman are now competing for who has the "better-lookin" abaya/hijab. The ones that are sewn with expensive silky material and swaroski stones are worn by the wealthy families and competion occurs at gatherings and at mosque. This is unacceptable! c'mon ladies the idea of wearin hijab is being proud to be muslim, not proud to be a rich muslim!

Anonymous said... 20/8/10 9:04 pm  

I am a woman but not a Muslim. After coming
upon this site for the first time, I am truly
convinced with the explainations for wearing
a hijab. Thanks to Allah and you people who make this computer site possible.

Anonymous said... 27/8/10 4:46 pm  

Insha allah one day we can all have the courage to wear the hijaab i reallly want to and i keep praying that inshallah allah will guide me to do so.

Thanks for the inspiration!!

Anonymous said... 8/9/10 7:08 am  

Mashallah! may Allah subhaan a talah reward you for your strength of character and help us all to follow Islam correctly....ameen

Anonymous said... 29/10/10 5:33 pm  

salam to all! faizal v nice thoughts. anyway yes one should cover herself in a v proper way because it is Allah Almighty's order & its our obligation to obey it without any rubbish comments & questions!!!

Anonymous said... 20/5/11 8:32 pm  

My question is going by your arguements, why do men not wear hijab. Isnt Islam baising between men and women.

Anonymous said... 17/6/11 12:51 pm  

Mashallah! Tha article is in very good taste i myself have started wearing headscarf and am looking forward to inshallah starting wearing my hijab soon.The change i myself ahve witnessed has been astonishing the way people look at u its repect and no nonsense taken sign...inshallah we will find more such supportive article and see more mulim women folowing teh same....

Jazakallah
Allahafiz.

Anonymous said... 2/7/11 1:35 pm  

salam
Mashallah,App ka artical bohat nice hai.Allah hum sub lerkiun ko hijab ki tofic dain.Ameen zunaira cheema

Anonymous said... 20/7/11 2:16 pm  

Mashallah ..sister i m so proud of u .

Anonymous said... 25/7/11 12:16 pm  

MashaAllah sister Sultana Yusuf Ali. I'm well proud of you and hope the rest of humanity can learn a lesson! Ameen

atifa said... 2/8/11 8:10 am  

masallah . beautiful site.

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