Tag Archives: hijab

Hijab Or Women Rights In Kuwait?

The issue of wearing or not wearing the hijab or niqab continues to excite the interest of those both within and without Muslim nations. There are two unveiled MPs in the National Assembly of Kuwait and they are being pressured to wear a hijab when attending sessions of the lelgislature. MP Aseel Al-Awadhi told a seminar group “the issue before us today is not about the hijab–rather it challenges the way we live.” The women are reacting to an edict from the Fatwa Department which said the wearing of a hijab is compulsory for all women including those who are members of the National Assembly.

Female MPs charge that Islamist extreme groups are attempting to alter the laws and culture of Kuwait by imposing the requirement that all women wear the hijab. MP Rola Dashti said the edict was “nothing but an attack on the principles of the modern Kuwaiti way of living” and, although others had a right to express their views, “they cannot enforce restrictions.”

Sounds like a storm in a hijab to me.

Headscarf Wars Rage In Denmark

Nations of the world are experiencing serious economic problems, people are losing their homes due to inability to pay mortgages, but to some in this world, the key issue is what is worn on top of the head. The Danish Police Department has decided to take a firm stance in defense of the inalienable right of police personnel to go around with bare heads. Chief Constable Lene Frank told the press: “As the uniform regulations are right now, it is not permitted to wear headscarves uniform.” She insisted no police person had challenged the headscarf issue, and if one did, their request would be examined. The Danish parliament actually discussed this issue and came down with the solution one could wear a headscarf but not the full length hijab when addressing the assembly.

I guess this issue is very important to some people. They remind me of those in the 1960s who were violently upset when young men wore their hair long. It is much ado about nothing.

Iran’s Latest Fight For Freedom–Dress Right Or Else!

The government of Iran makes it a point to stand tall against all forces in the world which they deem to pose a threat to their national independence. Iran refuses to budge on any compromise concerning their nuclear program, and, in the latest example of defying the world, the government of President Ahmadinejad has decided to toughen its laws concerning proper dress. The number of police assigned to enforce dress codes has been doubled as part of a national campaign to crack down on “immoral behavior.” During early stages of the Islamic revolution which threw out the Shah, there was an emphasis on dress codes, but in recent years there has been evidence of some flexibility in the way women dress. The Kargozaran newspaper quoted a high police official as saying, “the crackdown on non-Islamic hijab(Muslim veil) will continue until the society is clean of any immoralities.”

There are reports about 128 women trying to leave the country were detained at the airport because of “bad hijab.” The crackdown may reflect the government’s uneasiness at being the object of threats from the Western world due to the nuclear issue. There are reports men are now being detained for wearing spiky haircuts which are deemed “Western.”

Yes Or No Headscarf– A Defense From America

Two American Muslim seniors at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. presented an eloquent defense of why Muslim women should wear a headscarf. Hafsa Kanjwai and Khadijeh Zarafshar, defend wearing of the headscarf on several grounds. They charge the West has distorted reasons why Muslim women wear one and connect the Hijab to some sort of male oppression of women. “In modern times, the veil has become an emotionally charged symbol of the struggle between tradition and modernity, betwen Islam and the West. It has arguably served as a partial political justification for certain policies spearheaded by the United States to ‘liberate Muslim women’ in Afghanistan or Iraq. We, as Ameican Muslim women, simply by living our dual identity, demand a re-evaluation of this externally imposed dichotomy. As Americans, it is not our place to speak on behalf of women of other nations.”

They argue there is not such thing as “Muslim women” since that expression attempts to create an image of a monolithic entity. They argue reasons for wearing the Hijab arise from varied reasons. “Many assume that a covered woman is a repressed woman, forced by some male authority figure to dress a certain way. In reality it is this profoundly prejudiced projection of ignorance onto our beliefs that is constraining, insulting, and, in a twisted, hypocritical gesture of concern, serves only to undermine our autonomy and intelligence.” They point out wearing a Hijab is not a pillar of the Muslim religion but is connected to the value of modesty.

The two seniors believe Muslim women who wear the headscarf do so from a “sincere conviction– women believe it is obligatory to the teachings of Islam and reference the Quranic verse in which women are instructed ‘not to display their charms(in public) beyond what may be apparent thereof, let them draw their head-coverings over their bosoms.” The headcovering is an attempt to set oneself apart from societal demands for blatant public sexuality and demands for being physically attractive.

Those who refuse to wear one believe it is merely a cultural tradition having no connection to religion and it does not reflect “their personallevel of spirituality or religious practice. There is a somewhat prevalent perception that women who wear the headscrarf must abide by a certain standard of behavior, this view often times deters women from covering their hair.” They note some have concluded wearing a Hijab attracts more attention which thus goes against the original reason for wearing one.

“At the end of the day, why a woman wears the headscarf is her personal decision. It is important that those looking at the headscarf from outside the tradition keep an open mind– open enough to let the true reason and motivations of Muslim women in. To do anything less is a profound injustice.”

We believe these two Muslim women have presented a powerful case both for wearing or not wearing a headscarf. However, we suggest they have ignored why there is such a passionate debate in Turkey over the issue. For example, thirty years ago, few Egyptian females in college wore a hijab, but today it is rampant on college campuses. Religious figures exerted pressure to force the change. Turkish women, who do not wear a hijab fear the same thing will occur in their universities if the ban against wearing them is ended. Ms. Kanjwai and Ms. Zarafshar present a powerful case for being objective, but they ignore, in the reality of many Muslim nations, women lack the right NOT to wear a headscarf. In presenting the issues as one of West vs the Muslim world, they ignore it is also secular minded Muslims who are being persecuted for attempting to refuse wearing a head covering that is not consistent with their Muslim beliefs.

Why One Wears A Hijab And Why One Does Not

Two Canadian Muslim girls told a reporter for the Toronto Star why one will wear the hijab and why the other prefers not to. Asmaa Abou Zeidan, age sixteen, is very careful about her dress and will not wear clothes that her mother believes are inappropriate for a Muslim. “She thinks everything I own is too tight. That is not the way a Muslim girl is supposed to dress. You’re supposed to be modest,” she says. Her parents, however, accord her considerable freedom and she is allowed to associate with anyone she desires. She has decided to wear the hijab of her own accord. “I like the way people treated m e when I wore it. I get more respect.” However, sometimes at night she goes down to the swimming pool in her apartment building, and when no one is around, plunges into the water and enjoys the feeling as water soaks into her bare head.

Zahraa El-Zalbak hangs around with a diverse group of girls at school, and often is asked why she does not wear the hijab. She doesn’t believe wearing or not wearing the hijab is a reflection of being or not being religious. She doesn’t believe a scarf has anything to do with one’s spirituality. “It’s not that I won’t wear one. I’m just not ready for it yet. I will wear it one day. Just not right now. For me, I want to be spiritually ready to do it and not regret it later.

These are two girls facing the same issues any immigrant group encounters living in a new land. Which values or traditions or customs are to be retained, which to be discarded, and at which point in life does one make or not make changes? These are common concerns for the traveler found in a new land.