Ahlan Wa Sahlan

Ahlan Wa Sahlan

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

To Hijab or To Not Hijab

This is such a sensitive issue that I'm sure I'll get a flutter of angry comments regarding it, but I would like to preface it by stating that I am NOT God (in case anyone was confused) and I can NOT judge nor will I willingly judge anyone. There are pious women who do not cover, and completely black-hearted women who do. I have met both. If I offend you, this was not my intention. And if I offend you deeply, you might want to explore why the subject is so sensitive to you. I welcome any and all comments or discussions that this might bring up because I will attempt to outline my opinion while keeping both sides represented.


I am a hijabi. Does this make me a saint? Certainly not. Does this make me better than you? No, I would never be so vain as to ever consider it. I have my inconsistencies and my own sins and the fact that I cover my body and my hair does not automatically make me the best Muslim out of a group.

But every Muslimah who does not cover is submitted to a silent discrimination from the Ummah. It is assumed that they lack deen (faith) and are not good people. This is often ungrounded and unfair.

Or there are times when they actually suffer discrimination against the scarf from their families or their culture. I met one such sister whose husband refuses to allow her to cover although it pains her to not submit to what she considers the will of God. Or another Turkish sister I knew whose mother threatened to turn her out of their house if she took the hijab.

While I believe that every sister has her personal reasons for covering or not for covering, I can say that I, for one, don't agree with not wearing it.

Why?

Because its mandated by God. Simply.

Now, there are definite obstacles that many of us face. Like the sister whose husband doesn't allow it; I would absolutely not tell her to leave her husband in order to wear hijab. Why cover one bad by instigating another? Or the sister from Turkey who would have no place to live, and on her own with two small boys it would be a miserable life, what should she do?

Surely hijab is obligatory yes, but only God can judge their situations, and some are terrible situations, and then make the final call.

But the other sisters who are not in situations like these, I truly cannot understand what their motivation for unveiling is. What is in this world that can drive them to ignore something written in the Quran?

I am not saying that they are less pious for it, I'm just striving to understand why they make that decision.

And I have to be honest that, with the exception of a few convert friends- who deal with family issues that keep them from wearing the hijab- and a few sisters I know who are in similar situations to the two I mentioned above, most of the women that I know who do not veil do not pray as well or adhere to many other pillars of Islam.

While in Egypt, where wearing the hijab is as cultural as it is religious, I found many women who covered but did, said, and believed things that made my hair curl. I was sexually hit on by a woman who confessed that she ached to remove it but couldn't because her family wouldn't allow it.

But here in the US I have found that it is a different story. Many of those women, who are forced into hijab by society back home, take it off here and leave a religion they didn't believe to begin with behind in the process. While myself, and many other women, fight OUR society in this country to be able to wear it.

I have faced obstacle after obstacle. I have been shunned for it. I have lived penniless because of it. But, except for a miserable five week period, I could not bear the thought of removing it.

I'm not saying it makes me a saint, but I am using myself as an example. I have dealt with family shunning me, I have been without a job, I have been harassed, I have faced discrimination, but most of all I have taken pride in following my religion and, for me, wearing hijab was the easiest commandment to fulfill, second only to the commandment to believe that there is no God but God.

I am not saying that it is ok to judge someone's piety by the hijab because obviously this is both faulty logic and obviously not our place to do so. But I can honestly stand up and wonder what exactly is the reason that some chose not to.

Please, enlighten me. I am not here to judge, but to understand.

If you do not wear the hijab, why?

Because to me it seems like both the hardest and yet still the simplest decision to make.

I want to know, and I want to understand.

72 comments:

Mona said...

I can only say why I did't want to wear it, before I did, which was at about 19. I thought it wasn't cool. I thought it would be SO hard and I was scared of people's reactions. Afterwards I felt like I joined a cool exclusive club and wished I'd donned it earlier...I'd see a sister from afar and we'd share a knowing smile. It was eye opening.

That was in the US though. Here it should be easier because it's normal and accepted. I know most girls here wear it, but there are some who don't. Mostly the upper crust high class families. I guess they'd be out of place in their little world, but it still wouldn't be odd as in a hijabi in America.

gulnari said...

Salam Alaykum Molly

Well.. since you asked ;)

I wore it for the first couple of years since my conversion. I took it off because I felt enormous and overwhelming psychological pressure from every direction (including muslims) and I just couldn't deal with it. I couldn't tolerate the asinine and fake identities that were being projected onto me. I was starting to become extremely defensive, paranoid, nervous, and my peace of mind was gone. I had to step back and admit that this was something I was simply "not ready" for. Who knows, maybe someday I'll wear it again, maybe not. My decision has nothing to do with interpretation and everything to do with *my own* mental health. I do miss it sometimes, especially when I see other Muslim women in public.

Parijan said...

I'm happy to answer this question...I don't wear it because here in the US, in the society that I grew up with, I stand out. I get looks, I get more attention when wearing it. Because, lets face it, it is different. And for me the whole idea of wearing it in the first place is to be modest, to not draw attention to ourselves. When I travel overseas I find it much more relaxed to be able to wear it. Here, where I am living I stick out like a sore thumb and so I chose to be modest in my dress and not draw attention to myself. My muslim fiancee totally agrees with this decision. There are tons of women who wear it and also wear more makeup and perfume and jewlery then a woman has the right too. If I am standing next to them, in my modest khaki pants and turtleneck sweater who is drawing more attention to herself?

Solace said...

Salaam

I am a revert of about 6 years, I have been wearing the hijaab for over 5 years, Alhamdullilah. For me it was a process... from converting to feeling ready from a religious and personal viewpoint to face whatever comments, stares, etc that come when one dons the hijab. By wearing it despite all of these negative things, you are making a statement and it was important for me that people knew that I had embraced Islam fully and was practising what I preached It is different for everyone though.

I do have "born" muslim friends who choose not to wear it because

1) it makes them stand out

2) they are sometimes discriminated against

3) it will prevent them from doing many things which are actually unIslamic, but which they feel they can do if they are not wearing hijaab. Yes, one can make many negative comments about this, but it is reality in our community.

Anonymous said...

Assalaamu alaikum.

My humble apologies sisters, but truly? I feel that all these excuses fall short of ALL the reasons why we SHOULD wear hijab.

Yes, it's tough, but like most of us, we just suck it up. Because the benefits far, far outweigh someone looking at you cross-wise a couple times. Plus, you just get used to it, and then, the stares actually reduce as people get used to a)you in hijab and b)seeing the many, many muslims that are spreading the world over.

I've actually talked to Christian women who say they "wish they could" wear hijab! They long for that modesty, that privacy, that dignity! Subhan'Allah!

Molly said...

I just want to make a little note here. I meant for this blog to be a place to express your opinions regarding it, and to discuss between both sides. I'm not interjecting here because I've already expressed my opinion in the blog itself.

However I am glad that the sisters who don't wear it have spoken up and I am also glad to hear those who do wear it speak up.


please feel free to speak your mind as the commenter above did.

Feel free to defend either side.

It was kind of my point for posting.

Thanks.

UmmAbdurRahman said...

i actually wish I could get back the time when I didn't wear hijab. I was so concerned about what others think. I spent so much time worried about them that I didn't do what I wanted to do. When I did put on the hijab I did get some of the anticipated reactions but they mostly got over it and I wish I'd done it earlier.

I think it's sad that our religiousness is judged by a piece of fabric. Many will be considered a whore without it. There are many things that are commanded, but we spend much less if any time talking about them. why is that?

littlemissmuslim said...

I dedicated a whole post to this on my blog recently :)

Hijab is more than a piece of cloth to cover your hair.Its the covering of ALL of your body,properly.Some muslimahs get hung up on just covering the hair and not covering the booty-you gotta do both!!
So with that said,is the issue here just the scarf or the WHOLE hijab?
Allah has mandated us to do many things,do we implement everything He has commanded? probably not,but we try to do as much as we can.We ALL have our weaknesses when it comes to implementing what Allah has ordered us.I dont cover my hair,for the next sister it may be that she cant get up for fajr on time,( maybe she doesnt pray at all!) or maybe she doesnt lower her gaze(Its not just for the men,you know!)maybe she plucks her eyebrows,listens to music,celebrates b-days,etc,etc.

Instead of talking about and judging a sister for her faults,why not try to help her?Reach out and touch,show some love.Sometimes thats all a sister needs.A friend to encourage with patience and kindness.Doesnt Allah say that we are brothers and sisters in faith? To speak and treat each other with kindness and compassion? Sisters do a better job of knocking each other down then trying to build sisters up!
(im not defensive or angry,just something to think about :-)

Molly said...

A lot of you have really good points on both sides. Thank you for contributing!

theangrymuslimah said...

As-Salamu Alaykum

I have posted on this topic many times.I will say for any muslimah who doesn't ...she should. I go into detail on of my posts on my blog. But I will say is is still a sensitive subject expecially for new muslimahs. I personally wear niqab...mostly all the time..Sometimes I do wear hijab. But I must say for any muslimah having difficulty surround yourself with like minded muslimahs. And remember it does get easier....MashaAllah

Anonymous said...

Seriously, all the comments crack me up - because honestly my biggest problem since converting is the lack of any friendships with the "sisters"....how much I have tried reaching out at my local mosque - seriously, I don't even know how to properly put on the headscarf so it doesn't fall off and believe me, there isn't one sister that I've come across who even gives me a friendly smile, let alone want to help a newly converted muslim. My fiancee taught me how to put it on (and I really don't think he showed me te right way, but he tried)...anyway, I read the blogs and comments and it seems to me that the majority of muslimiahs who are judging me for not wearing it are probably the same ones sticking their nose in the air when meeting a new sister at the mosque. I truly think that is the reason it's might be a sensitive subject. I respect everyone's opinion and enjoy reading the different views, but the only judgement I truly care about anymore is ALLAH. He knows my heart and how difficult it has been being "welcomed" into Islam. It can make you feel very lonely (especially when you don't have the family around and your fiancee lives overseas).

Anonymous said...

I don't because I truly dont believe that it is an obligation placed on woman in the Quran. At least not the hijab ya'll are talking about.

Not A Hijabi said...

Okay Molly, you asked and I delivered..:) Take a deep breath and lets dive in --

Here are the relevant verses of the Quran, translated to English, so that one may have an informed discussion of the issue “to hijab or not to hijab” ; a decision one should ultimately determine using the ultimate source and authority, the Quran.

“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 therof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, or their brothers' sons or their sisters' sons, or their women or the servants 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 you Believers, turn you all together towards Allah, that you may attain Bliss.” (Quran 24:31).

“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (Quran 33:59)

****

I am not ignoring something that was written in the Quran. Where is it mandated by Allah?

You mention, “Most of the women that I know who do not veil do not pray as well or adhere to many other pillars of Islam.”

My response: At first my response was going to be, well I don’t know personally of woman who wear hijab who do a lot of unrighteous things as I make a concerted effort to distance myself from unsavoury characters but there is certainly MANY woman who wear hijab who often have unrighteous intentions and/or behaviours. I guarantee you too will find many religious persons who find all sort of ways to justify the most evil of acts. I know so because I have met MANY muslims who are pious – praying well and adhering to the pillars of Islam --until they start uttering un-Islamic ‘interpretations’ of Quran and Sunnah, usually so that they may justify immoral behaviours or to underpin cultural attitudes or traditions. And to be honest, I am often generous with my response with such muslims because, I recognize that we are all imperfect. And I am not set out to inform every muslim of whatever egregious error(s) they have committed. I, on the other hand, have noticed that I am constantly updated by many hijabi’s of whatever mistake I have recently committed, although I give credit to the one giving me advice – it is usually provided to me in an informed, sensitive, and polite manner.

A veil is not a certificate of authenticy. As of late, however, the wearing the headscarf is now THE SYMBOL for the righteous muslim woman. And it seems to be the ONLY symbol.

Many muslim woman make a point of broadcasting to others on their blogs of their hijab wearing status: YES! I KNOW YOU CAN”T SEE ME BUT I AM MOST CERTAINLY FOLLOWING THE COMMANDMENT OF ALLAH!
Okay, I get it. It’s a tough world out there. Its your choice, your right, your life. Please do reach out to muslimah who are similar to yourselves in appearance and in beliefs. It is important to build connections and support each other in your struggles within western society. I do support you. But hijab is not the fifth pillar of islam. I recall a hijabi who remarks on her website that she would forget who she was if she did not wear hijab. Her statement illustrates how deeply her hijab is ingrained with her faith in Allah. I understand on one level, but am a bit troubling as well -- she would lose her identity, her faith if she did not cover her hair?

This is the actual word-for-word translation of the Qur’anic text (Surah 24:31) courtesy of Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed:

wal yazribna - and should draw
bi-khumurihinna - with their head covering
alaa juyuubihinna - across their bosoms

The literal person I am, I take it to mean that one should cover one’s breasts. The other Quranic and Sunnah references essentially require one to be modest.

I have seen actual texts and websites written by sheiks or similarly qualified persons and I am always quite astonished to see the exact words of the Quran modified to support whatever their own personal subjective and speculative beliefs . No parenthesis, no footnotes, just the so-called ‘translation’ of what was originally written (Arabic). Now what is produced is the new and improved translation of the relevant verses that are carefully re-written for their English-only readers.

Not only that, but now I am informed that not wearing Hijab is of the same gravity as fornication:
In one website, a sheik advises the believers: “There are many kinds of major sins such as lying, zinaa, riba (usury/interest), stealing, not wearing hijaab at all, and so on.”
I guess now I can understand where that undercurrent of discrimination and disdain by some hijabbis to the non-hijabbi’s stems from.

So, um, again, where is it decreed by Allah that the hair must be covered?

Not a Hijabi said...

An example of what I was taling about in my previous comment:

What I read in the Quran: ...draw their veil over their bosoms..."

Instead some sheikh will write instead: ...draw their veil over their heads and faces..."

So now the sheikh is a translator from Arabic to English.

Will everyone please recognize that one cannot just appoint themselves as a qualified translator?

Forsoothsayer said...

not a hijabi - i'm not a muslim but since the technical definition of "khimar" is "head covering" the assumption is that a woman IS wearing a head covering and is supposed to draw it over her chest. some people have interpreted it to refer to women who DO cover their heads to cover their bosoms as well. two cents.

Anonymous said...

I think reasons such as you get looks in the street, nasty comments etc are not enough to disobey Allaah. Are we actually putting on the hijaab to please the people or to please Allaah ta'aalaa? There is a hadeeth that says (some missing):

“Whoever seeks the pleasure of Allaah through the anger of the people, Allaah will be pleased with him and He will cause the people to be pleased with Him. Whoever seeks the pleasure of the people through the anger of Allaah, Allaah causes the people to become displeased with Him.”

So, we do what Allaah orders us for His sake alone, we should not allow the thoughts and actions to make us disobey our Lord.

Molly said...

Just a quick note, I promised not to debate, although you did ask the question at the end... but a point about the verse you quoted (and thanks to S for pointing out the meaning of khimar):
it must also be noted that at the time of the Prophet pbuh the Jews and the Christians covered their hair, but they threw their scarves back behind their shoulders and exposed their necks. The command of Allah was to draw this around to cover the bosom and neck as well.

Molly said...

oh and I absolutely agree with you not a hijabi about those who translate the Quran to suit their needs. It drives me batty and there was a wonderful class offered at my mosque- that I attended from time to time- that went over selected verses (often the debated ones) and tried to find a consensus among all of the people there as to what they thought was the best translation.
The class aside, I don't think meaning should be added to the translation unless you're writing a tafseer.

littlemissmuslim said...

Is the big debate here just covering the hair or is it wearing hijab(covering the whole body AND the hair)properly? it seems like its all about covering the hair only.

Molly said...

Little Miss Muslim- I guess it could be known as a debate that begs the question. I wrote it with the assumption that the covering of the body also takes place.

And I agree with your blogpost that a woman whose booty jiggles and jaggles under her tight jersey skirt could not ultimately be considered to be wearing the hijab.

Or teeny-bops in tight jeans and a scarf.

Or a lot of the girls in egypt who cracked me up by wearing flesh-colored ma3sem (those spandex long sleeved shirts meant to be worn under looser shirts) under tight dresses (mini-skirts methinks) over tight jeans and a scarf wrapped into a bun on the back of their head. And they called it hijab.

So this debate specifically is about the covering of the hair, while another debate about the etiquette of true hijab could definitely be undertaken its probably a bit more in-depth than the overall discussion.

Not a hijabi said...

forsoothsayer and molly

The technical definition of khimr is a head covering.

Here is a commentary on the relevant verse by scholar Muhammad Asad, "The noun khimar (of which Khumur is the plural) denotes the head-covering customarily used by Arabian women before and after the advent of Islam.

According to most of the classical commentators, it was worn in pre-Islamic times more or less as an ornament and was let down loosely over the wearer's back; and since, in accordance with the fashion prevalent at the time, the upper part of a woman's tunic had a wide opening in the front, her breasts were left bare. Hence the injunction to cover the bosom by means of a khimar (a term familiar to the contemporaries of the Prophet) does not necessarily relate to the use of a khimar as such but is, rather, meant to make it clear that a woman's breasts are not included in the concept of "what may decently be apparent" of her body and should not, therefore, be displayed."

and round and round the merry go round we go...

btw, that sounds like a cool class at the masjid, i wish a course was offered at my masjid. maybe i will mention it.

Not a Hijabi said...

Basically the khimr is a cultural thing. The covering the breasts and being modest is a religios thing.

Not a Hijabi said...

There are no words in the Quran (in Arabic) that can be clearly translated that mandate covering hair, eyes, face, or neck. It is not up for a scholar to reinterpret or speculate regarding what Allah implied. Allah didn’t run out of words. Allah didn’t forget. Allah didn’t wait for a scholar to inform the rest of us of what He intended.

It is faulty logic on part of the scholar (or anybody else) to assume that the head covering is Islamically mandated.

Here is an example of faulty logic and reasoning:

A man enters his office. His boss has put up a sign that is titled “Office Dress Code”. There are a few rules, but the most eye-catching is: “Men, be sure to keep your shorts at or below your knees”. The man leaves the office understanding that he is only to wear shorts (at the right length) at the office from now on. (So, he never comes to the office wearing pants again.)

Same idea.

Allah requires that the woman cover up her cleavage with her khimer (head cover but it could also be any other type of garment). I, for one, cover up my cleavage with turtlenecks, high collared shirts, coats, and the like. I do not necessarily wrap my head cover around my chest – if my chest is covered up that should be enough and that is what is Allah wants, according to this verse.

Bottom Line: Allah did not order woman to cover their heads or their hair.

Praise be to Allah. Allah knows best. May Allah forgive me if I am mistaken.

Anonymous said...

Not a hajabi....thank you for saying everything I wanted to :)

Molly said...

So what is a head-cover if it doesn't cover the head???

Not a Hijabi said...

Molly, the point is that the khimer was then utilized as a head cover at the time of the prophet. But Allah did not demand that woman cover their heads. Allah commanded woman cover their breasts. He did not say "Cover your heads. Cover your breasts." The head cover was at the time a common cultural practice, hence the reason it is mentioned in the verse.

Also some argue that the traditional meaning of khimir is 'cover'. Not 'head cover', a term they would characterize as translation innovation. (I however personally would not make that accusation. Also I have not seen sufficient tafseer to make the argument that the word used in the verse only referred to some covering of some sort).

Thank you anonymous for your support. It means a lot.

Anonymous said...

I guess y'all decided to ignore the sahih HADITH on the matter. Not wise, ladies. See the below, and remember - who are you more afraid of pleasing - Allah, or other people?
***

Hadith - Bukhari 1:148

The wives of the Prophet used to go to Al-Manasi, a vast open place (near Baqia at Medina) to answer the call of nature at night. 'Umar used to say to the Prophet "Let your wives be veiled," but Allah's Apostle did not do so. One night Sauda bint Zam'a the wife of the Prophet went out at 'Isha' time and she was a tall lady. 'Umar addressed her and said, "I have recognized you, O Sauda." He said so, as he desired eagerly that the verses of Al-Hijab (the observing of veils by the Muslim women) may be revealed. So Allah revealed the verses of "Al-Hijab" (A complete body cover excluding the eyes).


The Noble Qur'an - Al-Ahzab 33:59

O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils)* all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

*the arabic word here is Jalabeeb (plural of Jalbaab), which is the loose outer garment that covers all a woman's body. It says here to use the Jalabeeb to cover all, and scholars say this means to use it to cover her head (agree upon by all scholars) and her face (agreed by many scholars, not all) and one or both eyes, in order for it to be known that she is a free woman and so not to be exposed to any harm.



Hadith - Bukhari 6:282

'Aisha used to say: "When (the Verse): 'They should draw their veils over their necks and bosoms,' was revealed, (the ladies) cut their waist sheets at the edges and covered their faces with the cut pieces."


Hadith - Abu Dawud, Narrated Umm Salamah, Ummul Mu'minin

When the verse "That they should cast their outer garments over their persons" was revealed, the women of Ansar came out as if they had crows over their heads by wearing outer garments.


The lower half of the hijab is a garment that does not show the woman's figure. Jeans and certain obvious garments do not meet this requirement.

Hadith - Abu Dawud, Narrated Dihyah ibn Khalifah al-Kalbi
The Apostle of Allah was brought some pieces of fine Egyptian linen and he gave me one and said: Divide it into two; cut one of the pieces into a shirt and give the other to your wife for veil. Then when he turned away, he said: And order your wife to wear a garment below it and not show her figure.

***

Umm Yehiya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Not a Hijabi said...

This is absolutely, for me personally, not a question of pleasing other people. I could care less. I am not employed so I do not seek approval from a boss. My friends and acquaintances are overwhelmingly muslim (who wear hijab). I am under no pressure from my husband or other relative to remove the head covering.

Furthermore I am not a scholar. If I am mistaken regarding the headscarf, I too would like to be informed.

The majority of scholars maintain a headscarf and outer garment is all that is required for fulfilling hijab. I take issue with the way you inserted your commentary regarding what is meant by Hijab in the Hadith-Bukhari 1:148 section that you outlined above. When you insert commentary in parentheses, you are really own adding your own personal translation or interpretation. It might not actually be the case. So be careful when you do that. You really should not maintain that hijab is “a complete body cover excluding the eyes” unless you are qualified to argue as such. By the way, not all scholars believe that proper hijab includes the headscarf.

Nit a Hijabi said...

The reason why some sheiks do not quote the Quran in proving nikab is simply because they can’t find any specific words to support their position.

Hadith is not Quran.

Women in the company of the Prophet (pbuh) (i.e. his wives) were given specific instructions on how they were to dress and otherwise conceal themselves.

In Quran 24:30, MEN are directed to "lower their gaze"! If face veils for women were MANDATORY why would this direction even be necessary?

Quran 24:31 only tells women to cover "their BOSOMS." Nothing whatever is said about the HEAD - let alone the FACE!

The hadith you mention regarding nikab for muslim woman in general is contradicted by other hadith.

For example, it is narrated by Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin (Abu Dawood, Book 32, Number 4092),

“Asma, daughter of AbuBakr, entered upon the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) turned his attention from her. He said: O Asma', WHEN A WOMAN REACHES THE AGE OF MENSTRUATION, IT DOES NOT SUIT HER THAT SHE DISPLAYS HER PARTS OF BODY EXCEPT THIS AND THIS, AND HE POINTED TO HER FACE AND HANDS.”

Not a hijabi said...

btw, the distinction between how the woman in the company of the prophet (i.e. his wives) were to conceal themselves (screens, face covers, etc.) is different than what was expected from muslim woman in general. (and I explain in my previous comment).

Molly said...

I can opine that I myself do not consider niqab fardh, but thats also a very heavily debated subject.

In this I don't believe there is sufficient evidence to prove its fardh.

But, not a hijabi, you just quoted a hadeeth that proves that your head should be covered.

"EXCEPT THIS AND THIS, AND HE POINTED TO HER FACE AND HANDS."

Molly said...

My next discussion post is going to be on male "hijab and clothing requirements" because they do have them and usually not much is said about it.

or debated.

or actually followed.

I hate that kind of crap.

Definately my next crusade.

Not a Hijabi said...

yeah, I knew you would point that out!
nonetheless it is hadith and hadith is not Quran
that is not to say one should discount the validity of hadith
who knows, perhaps the prophet (pbuh) was pointing to her head as well as her face. How can one confirm that what was pointed to did not include the hair? If I am to literally conclude this hadith as evidence that only the face and hands are to be uncovered, then I guess one could conclude as well that it is also obligatory to cover the feet. And I know some muslims believe that to be the case.
So do you always cover your feet (i.e. never be outside in sandals or barefeet).

Not a Hijabi said...

btw, reminds me of the term "toe cleavage" !

Not a Hijabi said...

Are there any Quranic verses that prhobit the feet from showing? I know a long outer garment is required but what about the feet itself?

Do you see where I am coming from when I assert that Haidth is not Quran?

Molly said...

lol toe cleavage. Actually for the most part I always do cover my feet as well.

Wouldn't you honestly want to be more safe than sorry? I mean, its not like this is the test run. What you do now directly affects the rest of your afterlife.

all of your evidence is circumstancial. If the head-covering was only a cultural thing and you take God's words as literal, wouldn't God have said "Just cover your chest with your shirt" or "Remove the head cover and bring it over your chest so as to be distinguished from the unbelievers" ?

Instead God used the word "Khimar" which at that time meant the head-covering. God is the All-Knowing and All-Seeing, couldn't there have been a new word if the covering of the head didn't matter? Or some sort of word sent down to the Prophet pbuh that told him to instruct the believing women.

And if the wives of the Prophet pbuh were instructed to cover TO THE POINT OF ONLY ONE EYE and we as women are told to pattern ourselves upon them (not an argument for wearing niqab mind you) why would it be ok for us to then walk around without our heads covered?

If God meant it literally, why use what was then a head-covering as the word?

Except to mean that we must cover our heads.

Molly said...

For myself, the covering of the feet is also a debatable topic.

I cover my feet for the most part but not always because its cold in mn. but I love me some flip flops.

As for the hadeeth, I've heard it quoted a lot but I have also heard from places that its a weak hadeeth. That was also from men who stated that niqab was fardh *blech*. I honestly don't know about feet.

I usually cover mine.

Not a Hijabi said...

Does this mean now that socks or shoes must not be form fitting?

Not a Hijabi said...

I would find it difficult to walk around with Ronald McDonald type shoes (or clown type shoes) myself.

Not a Hijabi said...

btw, one reason why this issue of male hijab is not discussed, debated or followed is because men generally are simple. Not simple-minded, just that they have a 'keep it simple' type frame of mind. Woman however love to engage themselves completely and analyze something to death.

Not a Hijabi said...

Also, you commented, "If God meant it literally, why use what was then a head-covering as the word?"

I take it to mean that Allah is making a point of mentioning the head cover in the first place.

As you allude, why did Allah not just say "Cover up your necks, breasts, chests?"

I still maintain that you are over-emphasizing the role of the head cover used in this verse.

I understand your point, but I reiterate that one should not speculate. It is an assumption that Allah orders use to wear the head cover. I mentioned this in my earlier comment about faulty reasoning.

As I said, I'm not a scholar. I don't presume to know what Allah intended. Allah knows best.

Not a Hijabi said...

Also, as you mentioned, muslim woman should pattern ourselves upon the the behaviour and manners of the wives of the prophet (pbuh). But wouldn't that mean you are, to some degree, "rejecting" some Islamic ideals by working as you do and in the environment you are in? Do you have a mahram with you when you go to work or shopping?

Not a Hijabi said...

Sorry, I have had this on my mind all day, and I do not want to irritate you or your audience further, but I will leave you with the opinions of a some scholars who argue that the headscarf is not mandated by Allah:

"...Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, an Islamic scholar well-known for historical contextualization of Muhammad's revelation(p.93), argues that Qur'an mentions khumūr only as a 7th century Arabian dress, but there is no command to wear it in specific. In his interpretation of verse , he argues that "they may be known, and thus they will not be given trouble" and the context of the verse shows that the directive to wear jalābib was for a specific situation. He also believes that the special restrictions for wives of Muhammad are not applicable to all women at all times. He considers "head-covering" for women a cherished part of Muslim social custom and tradition but not compulsory.

Muhammad Oli, an Islamic scholar emphasizing logical reasoning and historical context as well as present-day scientific observations, points out that he considers women prolonging their head-scafs shortly after the relevation as disobedient, as Allah has not specifically told them to do so. In his view, they have been trying to give the term khimar a different meaning due to the change in cloth's size and the availability of other phrases existing for that outcome, thus hindering effective communication..."

(quoted from http://thelegacy.wikispaces.com/Hijab)

There is a lot of other commentary from other scholars about this subject. But I have, I think, devoted enough time to the topic! I'm passionate about the topic, it really amazes me many muslim believe that "to reject the headscarf is to reject Islam". I do not reject Islamic ideals. Thanks for letting me contribute though.

Molly said...

While I would think that my following the literal meaning of the Quran would not be considered as much speculation as your deciding that its "cultural" and should be understood as such...

I also think we would be beating a dead horse.

Thank you very much for explaining your thoughts. I DO respect how much research you have done into the issue. :)

Fantasia said...

I have to agree with everything said by Not a Hijabi, and I would just want to add something concerning the only actual proof which scholars depend on in making hijab is fardh.
actually this hadith is judged by islamic scholars to be daif (weak), which means that it came down to us through one and only source. when do scholars judge that a hadith like that is weak? when it contradicts with historical facts or with mere logic. and mere logic says that Asmaa, daughter of Abu Bakr, can never wear thin revealing clothes in front of males from outside her family! not to mention the prophet himself!
even if the hadith was right, then there are many questions that we should ask ourselves:
1- was Asmaa wearing a head cover when the prophet saw her or not? i mean it was the custom at the time that all women and girls covered their hair. how can we be sure that her hair was not already covered as part of this prevailing fashion?
2- why didn't the prophet say the parts that should be covered and state them clearly for other women to know? i mean at the time hadith spread through an oral tradition, it was not written down until hundreds of years after.
3- now, imagine a man delivering this hadith to a group of people and miming! is this how a fardh is supposed to be delivered in islam? how can we be sure that the prophet (pbuh) pointed to the face and not the head? and even if he did, did the person who transmitted the hadith actually see the prophet pointing so that he can imitate him?

4- if hair covering is such an important issue in Islam, why wasn't it stated directly in Quran like many other things which are considered to be of less importance? i don't think that God has intended to keep us guessing about how a fardh is supposed to be carried out.

Other than this single, weak hadith, there is absolutely no proof (anywhere) that muslim women's heads should be covered. if you believe that Asmaa bent Abu Bakr could wear thin and revealing clothes in front of men, then you can also believe that camels can fly.

Molly said...

Fantasia- How does logic state that she couldn't? This is your cultural understanding of what women can or cannot do based on what you have been taught. Arabs were coming out of a period of extreme jahiliya where a woman who ate the heart of one of the sahaba became a muslim herself later. What proof do you have that she didn't?

1. Even if covering the head was a cultural fashion, would not the Prophet pbuh have instructed the new Muslims to leave it if only to stand out from the pagans? As we were instructed to cover our chests.

2. Why should the Prophet say it when the Quran clearly states it? Khimar= headcover. And also, why didn't the Prophet instruct her to remove the headcovering then?

3. This is an absurd question, most of the hadith are replications of judgements passed by the Prophet. You are saying that you and the others now know more about the judgements of the Prophet pbuh than those who lived closer to his time? What else are hadith except miming and repeating what the Prophet pbuh said!? Are you going to refute ALL hadith now? How about the Sunnah? The Sunnah is repeating a replicating what the Prophet pbuh did! Now that doesn't count either because its not strong enough? SubhanAllah.

4. It IS stated directly in the Quran for the believers to see if they have the EYES to see. It instracts women to take their HEADCOVER (khimar) and bring it around over their chest.

I respected not a hijabi because she actually took the time to research it. You are only parroting things said to you without understanding them, come back with more proof and not idiocies please.

Consider This said...

I gotta say I agree with notahijabi and fantasia. Following the Quran literally and understanding its values strike me as two different things.

It was revealed at a certain time in history, with its own cultural traditions, which could never be deemed "'universal" whatever the Salafis may say otherwise.

It should be up to every woman to decide what modest dress requires outside of explicit commandments. The commandment in this verse about covering the bosom is fairly clear. By contrast, the fact that Arab women, whether Jewish or Chritian, wore a headdress (as was traditional) cannot be taken automatically as a command to wear one.

At the end of the day, I prefer the definition (Quranic btw) that that women "should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear therof" which seems to be an argument precisely for a certain degree of cultural relativism when it comes to dress, given what is deemed modest in one country or at one point of history, may not be so in another.

And so the discussion goes on...

Fantasia said...

Molly, I thought you said that you're open to different views. and I really don't understand why you reject mine. Look, if you're comfortable wearing your hijab and you believe it is the right thing to do, then fine.. doesn't make a difference whether it is a fardh or not in this case.

i truly believe this is what we should be discussing. you were so surprised that some muslim women chose not to wear hijab, although you your admit that it has nothing to do with being morally good. OK.. now, let me ask you the other way round. why do some muslim women insist on imposing the idea that hijab is fardh if they feel so happy and satisfied wearing their hijab? i mean, proving that it is a fardh becomes irrelevant here. what if you discovered that hijab is not mandated by God? will you take it off then?
if your answer is NO, then fine. it's totally your choice.as long as this is what you want and this is what makes you feel comfortable, then you don't need to negate the other views which argue that hijab is a totally cultural outfit.

Now, what Arabs were you referring to when you talked about extreme Jahiliya? We are talking about the daughter of Abu Bakr, who was the fourth person to convert to Islam! Asmaa herself was the 18th person to accept Islam. Come on! Does this sound like a woman who would not abide by a modest dress code?

And to answer your questions:
1- Pagan women in Mecca did cover their hair and that is a well-known fact. And yes, muslim women stood out by covering their chests.
Tell you a surprise? The prophet's wife Khadija never covered her chest during her life, because those verses were delivered after her death. Now, what do you think?

2- because the purpose was not to make her remove the head covering, dear. covering the hair or not covering it won't make any difference. what's important here is to cover those parts which would cause men to get sexually aroused. now, correct me if i am wrong, but i don't think anyone has seen a man get aroused by looking at a woman's hair unless he has got some hair fetish. cover your hair or not cover it, what's important is to cover your body.
women at the time wore head scarves to protect them from the sun.. just like men used to wear turbans. is a man's turban considered to be a hijab or something? up till today, men in the gulf still cover their hair. so are they hijabis?

3- hey, Molly. there is a great difference between describing what the prophet used to say and do in clear meaningful words and using sign language! come on. are all hadith delivered by sign language? are muslims supposed to be deaf or something?
Islam's miracle is the Quran. And the quran is all about words and the expression of clear values. there is no mediation in Islam. there is no priesthood. it is a religion that is build on logical conviction and that is the reason behind its greatness. why did God choose words to be his only medium in delivering Islam? I mean why didn't he make Muhammad fly in front of all people? that would have been enough to make all those nonbelievers instantly convert to Islam.
you can't say that the word "khimar" and playing a guessing game is the only way through which God was able to order muslim women to wear hijab. that sounds too ridiculous really.

4- if it is stated directly as you say, then what is all this talk here about? i mean, we should be wasting our time, right?
You yourself said it.. all that God wanted was to say, "Hey women, take that piece of cloth you waste on covering your hair and cover your naked chests." It is as if He was urging women to think about which parts of their bodies that are truly worthy of covering.

Again I say, it is fine if you like covering you hair. Just don't force the idea that women who don't are committing a sin. For God's sake, you should rather be talking to women who don't cover their chests!

Molly said...

How is Khimar a guessing game? Please prove to me that its a GUESSING game.

Khimar means headcover.

If Khadija raa did not bring it around to cover her chest because it wasn't revealed then of course there is no problem, I'm not sure what your point was. And that fact would even prove to me that obviously covering the head was something important. If the order was to BRING YOUR KHIMAR AROUND TO COVER YOUR CHEST then to me it OBVIOUSLY means that we should STILL WEAR KHIMAR!

Surah 45 aya 17-18

And We granted them Clear Signs in affairs (of Religion): it was only after knowledge had been granted to them that they fell into schisms, through insolent envy among themselves. Verily thy Lord will judge between them on the Day of Judgment as to those matters in which they set up differences.
Then We put thee on the (right) Way of Religion: so follow thou that (Way), and follow not the desires of those who know not.

Not a Hijabi said...

When there is a diagreement regarding the meaning of a word in the Quran and the logic of the sura in which the khimr is referred to, its best to leave the debate to the scholars. Such scholars should also be well-versed (i.e. highly educated) when it comes to translating from arabic to english so as to avoid innovating new meanings associated with arabic words.

Some scholars believe the covering of the hair to be mandated; other scholars believe it not to be the case.

I mentioned some scholars who disagree the hijab is fard. Here are a few more:

Shaykh Zaki Badawi (head of the Muslim Council in England and the Chairman of the Council of the Mosques and Imams) argues, "The hijab veil (which covers all of a Muslim woman's hair) is also not obligatory."

Also, Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D.
President of Islamic Research Foundation International hair is not islamically mandated when one applies reasoning and logic, not to mention cultural and historical context to the sura.

Finally, one more 'cut and paste' (sorry ladies! I've no time to paraphrase!)

"In Islam ruh al-madaniyya (Islam: The Spirit of Civilization) Shaykh Mustafa Ghalayini reminds his readers that veiling pre-dated Islam and that Muslims learned from other peoples with whom they mixed. He adds that hijab as it is known today is prohibited by the Islamic shari'a. Any one who looks at hijab as it is worn by some women would find that it makes them more desirable than if they went out without hijab."

(Reminds me of recent postings by muslims reverts/converts who note that harassment increases when they donn hijab -- interestingly enough the abuse comes from muslim men. Sidenote: did you know that sexual harassment often happens in the marketplaces of Afganistan, even if the woman is dressed head to toe in a burka).

Really, I think many muslims who look down on non-hijabi's -- well it really is a case of oppressors (by virtue of their social or economic status) who use religion to make it psychologically easier to opress others. Why is another topic in itself. And one I would love to discuss.

Not a Hijabi said...

I am chronically sleep deprived. I meant:

"WHICH is another topic in itself. And one I would love to discuss."

Not a Hijabi said...

btw, the cut and paste was from an article written by Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed. Excuse the slight to cite. I know I'm terrible.

Fantasia said...

Yup. thank you so much Not a Hijabi for documenting your views, as it seems that logical thinking doesn't have as many fans as one had thought.

Molly, you didn't answer my question. What difference does it make whether hijab is fardh or not? won't you still be wearing it? it is obvious that you were keen on keeping your hijab on because you like it. and nobody here is telling you to take it off. KEEP WEARING IT, even if you yourself are not sure whether it was mandated by God or not, it is enough that you truly believe that this is the right way to dress.

I'm tired of reinventing the wheel here. but I shall answer you one more time, and hope this time I am clear enough.

How is Khimar a guessing game?

a) because in arabic it does not have a single fixed meaning. it can mean a piece of cloth, or it can be the cloth used by women in the past to cover their heads.

b) because when you read the verse in which it was mentioned in Quran you should concentrate on the aim of the verse, rather than what a khimar was originally used for. the verse is all about not gazing and dressing modestly without any exaggeration. what has the hair got to do with this?

c)because a man's turban was also called "khimar" and in a hadith by Umm Salamah she that the prophet (pbuh) used to wipe on khimar (turban) and his khoff (shoes) while washing up before praying when it was too difficult for him to take them off.

d) because the prophet himself used the verb from khimar (khamir) in a hadith to instruct people to cover their water pots for health reasons.

e) khimar can simply mean "a cover", not necessarily a headcover.

f) because the hair was never mentioned as something that a woman should cover. if covering the hair was so important, then why didn't God say, "Keep your hair covered and also cover your chests"?

g) because if you read the aya as a whole (sura 24 aya 30) you will notice that when it comes to outfits God didn't specify certain items, as fashion is changeable and this order is meant to suit women in all times. for example, there is a mention of accessories, but no specific description of which accessories are considered okay to be shown to everybody and which should not. this is because it depends on the society in which a woman lives. in old times, accessories were huge and made sounds while women walked. this drew the attention of men to them. that's why God has ordered women not to tap their feet hard on the floor while walking. back then, women used to wear a big piece of accessory around their feet ankles (khul khal) which made noise while they were walking. and it was known that women who liked to show off were always keen to hit their feet hard while walking so as to attract others' attention.
so in the same aya you will find God ordering women to quit this habit, although he didn't mention the name of the khul khal, which is changeable. what if women wore shoes that made noise, like the high heels of nowadays?

i hope the message is clear. wearing the hijab was not part of the orders delivered. it was a given, because it was the fashion at the time and all women wore it: pagan, muslim, christian, jewish, all the same. what islam introduced was a modest dress code that covered the woman's body, especially the legs and the chest, as well as sticking to minimal accessories, which was against the fashion at the time.

Muslimeen For Islam said...

I have answered so many questions about hijab and I agree with the comment about hijab being not just a way of dress but also a way of acting and there are certain etiquettes (my blog on hijab etiquette: http://muslimeenforislam.blogspot.com/2008/02/hijab-etiquette.html)

And again yes, there are women with hijab that do things that are wrong and don't pray or are not "good muslimahs" and there are women who do not wear hijab that are pious and good. But, we still can't bargain with the Qur'an and say that it isn't clear and mandatory in Surah Nur that hijab is fard (mandatory). Niqab...jilbab... those are argueable but hijab?? And "truth stands out from falsehood"... how much more clear can we be than the surah's of the Qur'an??

Yes we all go through our struggles. That's why it's called jihad. This IS a jihad for a woman. Personally, my reasons for not wearing hijab before were because I was scared, I was picked on and bullied, I was not fitting in, I wanted to feel what I thought was "feminine" - you know, the make up and hair do's and all that. I realized later that all that was stupid and I was feminine by being modest too and that hijab was Allah's way of being sooooo generous with me in giving me an easy ticket to better myself and clear away some sins of mine, since, when someone does something to you that is unjust and you remain patient, it takes from your saya'aat (your sins) and goes to hasanaat ("good points")... so I realized that wow, all that bullying and I'm getting a ticket to heaven insha'Allah. Alhamdulilah! And I'm still complaining? And hey, any taunting or society bashing or even family bashing, no matter how hard, remember this:

Allah does not burden a soul except what it can bear. For it is what it has earned, and upon it is what it has made due. "Our Lord and Sustainer, do not condemn us if we forget or do wrong. Our Lord and Sustainer, do not put a burden on us like the burden You put on those who were before us. Our Lord and Sustainer, do not put a burden on us that we cannot endure. And blot out (our sins) and forgive us, and be gentle to us. You are our Protector. So help us against the rejectors." (Surah al-Baqarat ayah 286)

The above quote and ayah are taken from this site, which you should check out as well: http://www.muhajabah.com/hjbscared.htm#final

it has many tips on beginners to hijab, why you should wear hijab and how it is mandatory in Islam, and other tips.

another thing molly, honestly, Allah says a woman is to obey her husband and family in everything except something that is against what Allah wills. So basically, I would go so far as to think if that woman who's husband is telling her NO says whatever I'm still going to and he divorces her, she will have MAJOR reward for it. She didn't just say no out of nothing, she said NO for Allah.

Muslimeen For Islam said...

and another thing, kudos for posting this topic :)

Not a Hijabi said...

Re: Muslimeen for Islam

I admire your efforts to guide muslims in hijab ettiquette. I checked out your website as well and liked it a lot.

I absolutely agree that we can't bargain with the Qur'an.

But there are many scholars who admantly believe that wearing the headscarf is not fard. (Notice I use the word "headscarf" as opposed to hijab).

I don't think I am bargaining with Allah. That would be laughable. And foolish. And arrogant.

The only real thing I can (again!)contribute to this discussion is that there is disagreement on this issue of the headscarf. I can also add that there are extremely knowledgable scholars who maintain that hijab is not mandatory.

It may be clear to you that the headscarf is mandatory, and that is fine. That's your interpretation.

You might be surprised that I could understand why one would be discriminate against a non-hijabi and consider the non-hijabi as being less pious/religious than a hijabi -- because to the judger, it is obvious that the non-hijabi is repudiating the commandment of Allah. I myself would likely be judgemental towards a muslim who drinks alchohol or eats pork. I certainly wouldn't want to marry that person!

How do you resolve an issue like this with one side maintaining (with evidence from scholars) that the headscarf is obligatory versus the other side insisting (with evidence from scholars) that the headscarf is certainly not mandated?

** Could you (Molly, Muslimeen for Islam, and anybody else) accept that a sincere muslim who follows Islam knowledgably and with good intentions can alone determine the right path on this question?**

\

Molly said...

Not a hijabi- As I said, I respect the amount of research you have done on it. I think you're wrong, but I REALLY REALLY respect that you have sincerely thought it through.

That being said I also made it a point to not question the piety of someone who does not wear hijab. I absolutely CAN accept that someone who doesn't wear hijab can be pious. I've seen it before in a handful of women.

My next question though, do you believe you can pray without hijab?

Not a Hijabi said...

Regarding the requirement about the headcover and other elements of hijab while praying :

Personally I completely cover from head to toe when I pray.Certainly, a headcover is required for prayer to be accepted by women.

I think some muslim women wear only a duppata (headcover that does not necessarily cover all the hair) when praying.

It curious that you asked me...my opinion is almost meaningless as I am not a scholar in this area.

Often what we are taught is what we believe to be the truth. What one believes is a non-issue unless our attitudes or actions are challenged by someone else (or by ourselves upon reflection).

Call me cyncial, but I have a sneaky feeling that you are only asking me my thoughts on wearing the headscarf during prayer to determine how knowledgable or pious I really am. Or, a more likely scenario, whether I am what also "obstinate" about other issues related to Islam.

I simply cover up from head to toe when praying because I have been taught that is the proper way to do so and I am not the type of person to challenge everything related to Islam. I do not seek to challenge or critisize Islam. I can not do that.

I was not brought up to wear the headscarf in a secular sense (i.e. to wear it when in public all the time) -- although certainly the pressure was there as I became more religious, and my curiousity and desire to make the right choices in my life persuaded me to seek the answer regarding that issue.

Not a Hijabi said...

grr. seriously I am sleep deprived...

I meant, ..."whether I am also "obstinate" about other issues related to Islam."

Molly said...

goodness no, you are quite cynical, I was definately not asking that to check your piety. It was the last thing on my mind.

I asked it because I am curious why you would think its obligatory for prayer and not obligatory for every day?

What makes your wear it for prayer if you consider it a cultural thing that Allah did not mandate?

Not a Hijabi said...

It is obligatory to cover one's head during prayer (not sure that the hair must absolutely be covered). I haven't really done the research on that particular question. I would seriously be sleep deprived if I spent time researching and comparing sources of tafseer.

It is also prohibited to perform Qur'anic interpretation using solely one's own opinion.

As far as I understand prayers are not answered if one's head is not covered (for women).

I don't mind listening to other's peoples opnions, but I am more convinced by the fact that all scholars concede that women must cover their heads (and satisfy other elements of hijab) for salat. (At least, I haven't come across any who say otherwise).

Molly said...

I guess I never leave my house except in clothing that is according to the requirements for salat. If you are away from home and its time for maghrib and you don't have anything to cover your head with, what do you do?

Not a Hijabi said...

I usually carry a headscarf in my car and/or in my purse.
If on the occasion I do not have anything to cover my hair, I will ask my friend (if I am at her home) or pick up a complimentary headscarf to borrow at the masjid (if I am at the masjid) or I will wait until I get home to pray.

Turtles Pace said...

Asalaam Alaikum sis!

My name is Maryam. I am born American, raised Catholic and converted (rather loosely) to Islam. I have lived in Bahrain, traveled to Saudia, Pakistan, Turkey twice, UAE, Mexico (gotta love south of the border!), Holland and France. So, I have been to my share of Islamic countries. I want to go back and will. I am a non-hijab wearing Muslim and do not cover because I will continue to be an individual. I do not feel like covering makes me better in front of God (in a Masjid yes). Anything that makes me adjust my life to where I lose myself and who I am as a person is not for me. Bottom line. I will say that I am a modest individual. I wear no shorts (in Florida thats hard) or bathing suits. I wear long sleeves. I don't wear lots of make up.
So, if I am not a Muslim because I don't cover my hair, so be it.
Allah Hafiz,

PS: I am a cultural anthropology student with a focus on the Middle East. I will, when I enter a muslim country aside from Turkey don hijab.

Turtles Pace said...

not a hijabi-can you email me sometime? Thanks. turtlespace08@gmail.com

I want ask why we women have to be RESPONSIBLE for the sexuality of men? No offense, but we take responsibility enough....

Molly said...

turtle, if you don't wear a hijab in order to keep your individuality, why would you put one on when you go to a muslim country.

In fact it appears to me that you attempt to NOT stand out in non-muslim countries by not wearing it, and to NOT stand out in muslim countries by putting it on. This would seem the opposite of being an individual.

And why would you "loosely" convert to Islam? If you believe in it you would accept it wholeheartedly.

Thats NOT to say that you have to wear hijab to accept Islam wholeheartedly. Which is what not a hijabi was arguing and which I agree with her. One should not base another's piety on the headscarf.

However, why did you feel the need to say you "loosely" converted to Islam?

Not a Hijabi said...

Personally I would understand why someone who did not wear hijab would wear hijab in a muslim country -- if not for religious reasons then for cultural reasons (intence social pressure to conform; different treatement as a non-hijabi; sexual harassment).

About 6 years ago I stayed briefly in a predominately muslim country, and dressed very conservatively with the exception of the headscarf; however from my balcony I would observe rampant verbal harassment of women whether they were wearing the headscarf or not. This past Eid an incident happened close by the American University of Cairo where many muslim women were accosted (their clothes ripped, torn) by hordes of men. I noticed too, that on Molly's blogroll "Forsoothsayer" (who is a Christian (Coptic) and a citizen of Egypt) had written candidly on her website about the street harassement. In many muslim countries difference is not tolerated very well.

Molly said...

A note on Forsooth, before she gets a chance to verbally smack you down, she's not a copt, she's a protestant Christian.

And thats exactly what my point of asking turtle was, she says she doesn't wear it to keep her individuality, so why put it on for any reason?

And women were harassed in Egypt even wearing the hijab, in some cases their hijabs were pulled off. It has nothing to do with wearing or not wearing it. Unfortunately.

Also reading her comment again even closer, I notice that she refers to not wanting to be considered not Muslim because she doesn't cover.

THE POINT of my post was to say that. Maybe she should read it again.

Not a Hijabi said...

Whoops I erred about forsoothsayer
(Apologies To Forsoothsayer). I am well aware of Forsoothsayers wrath and do not care to be chopped up into little pieces on this forum.

I originally did not read turtles comment about maintaining her individuality that way; I had a different take on it.

"...I do not cover because I will continue to be an individual..."

I kinda surmised that turtle doesn't typically wear hijab because she doesn't really believe in it (maybe she thinks its not mandated by Allah; maybe she doesn't care; I guess she would have to answer that one). If she did not believe it was a requirement in Islam I guess she would feel less inclined to wear one just to please others or to conform.

Anyways, I agree my point was a bit muddled. I realize there are good and bad muslims everywhere, it may not make a difference to a bad character to accost a woman irregardless of her hijab. But obviously there is a lot of pressure for women who ordinarily do not wear hijab (for whatever reason) in these countries to cover-up just to integrate better or to reduce occurances of street harrassment. But I think you already know this.

Still, I see your point, Molly. Also the 'loosely converted' part was a bit puzzling.

Muslimeen For Islam said...

ALRIGHT bear with me...this will be long. I have abandoned this great discussion for awhile as I have been busy in personal and Muslimeen for Islam affairs.

I respect all opinions truly. But I also believe in references. To varify my discussion and where I get my information, I must clarify I am not a scholar. I am moderator of a site and organization called Muslimeen for Islam, but I am affiliated with Al-Azhar Dawaah Institute and have ties with Dr. Ahmed Hishaam Ayman, fatwa scholar, who reviews the organization and provides the definitions/interpretations of the information from the Qur'an and Hadith.

I also receive my information directly from islamonline.net (which has many accredited fatwa scholars on it, such as Yusuf Estes, Hamzah Yusuf, Yusuf Al-Kardawi, Mohammad Gabreel), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and Muslim American Society (MAS). And all efforts are guided by Allah and Allah alone.

NOTE: I do not want to sound attacking or daring. I wholeheartedly believe that once talk about ALLAH or ISLAM becomes defensive it becomes ridiculous and unorganized and therefore stupid.

Not a hijabi: You continue throughout your discussion to say "scholars"...May you please include documented evidence and names of the scholars you get your info from just for the sake of the conversation, since in any debate you need to have documentation. Regardless of whether I or others will believe the same way as you do, documentation will make the understanding better of your viewpoint as well as make your view sound more solid for the betterment of the discussion. I want to know what your definition of hijab is exactly and your references so I know where you are coming from rather than just speaking air without really understanding your viewpoint well.

Molly your question about "praying with hijab" is a good solid question, but one can't answer it unless the definition of "hijab" is solid. If not a hijabi believes that hijab does not include the headscarf, then in my assumption to that conclusion it might make more sense to say that in prayer we won't have to wear a headscarf, since "A woman and man are to meet Allah in prayer as they would dress in public amongst the rest of the ummah."(Yusuf Kardawi, taken from Hadith Sahih). Although, for the record, these are MY thoughts of what would make more sense and what could be concluded, not that I'm saying this is not a hijabi's definition.

I have seen this verdict made from others who, when they pray, practice duppata and cover the top of their head with a shawl but their braid or hair is coming down from the back.

NOTE that I say "hijab does not include the headscarf" not that I am saying "hijab is the headscarf"... why? Because hijab does NOT equal the headscarf. Not a hijabi is correct in that.

The main reason for the messups between scholars and the ummah about the "hijab" is that the majority of us do not know the definitions of terms we use everyday and label them as "hijab"...so I did the research and must say, even to myself, it was enlightening.

Hijab in its literal definition is "to hide"... it is not headscarf. Actually, it is not even mean any of the following, which the majority of people think it means: modesty, pious, covering, loose clothes, way of clothing, headscarf, humbleness. Nope, none of those.

How do we conclude this? When Allah ordered in the Qur'an that those who wish to converse with the wives of the Prophet (pbuh) were to converse with them from behind "hijab" - meaning a wall to HIDE them. The messup in translation came when the translation said "to veil them" rather than "to hide them" = which then was taken for, oh, to cover...therefore..."headscarf"....

The meaning of "veil" is to "hide" not to "cover"..... but because headscarf is always said as veil or cover, the interpretations went nuts. If people would stick to the real definitions...

So to answer Not a hijabi's question: "How do you resolve an issue like this with one side maintaining (with evidence from scholars) that the headscarf is obligatory versus the other side insisting (with evidence from scholars) that the headscarf is certainly not mandated?"

I would say that scholars take translations and interpret them, not definitions. When you take a translation and interpret it, you get 100 different ideas. If you take the actual, original definition, then you stick with...in the end...ONE definition. Like niqab...fard or not fard? The jilbab? Is it a robe that is fard or what is it? (keep reading, you'll know what I mean). I mean, for God's sake, we have people interpreting the "khimarrihum wa Jilbabeheem" in the ayah as meaning "covering all but the eyes or one eye" and therefore mandating the niqab as fard... excuse me, but isn't that the definition of niqab? Where does it say "niqab" in that statement?

ANYway, that said, we have to talk about the DEFINITIONS and let's discuss where headscarf, bosoom covering, modesty, and all those other terms came from and how they came to be under the umbrella title of "hijab."

Literal Arabic translations of all words in question when dealing with womens' dress:
"Khimar" = to cover ones' hair
"Jilbab" = a pocket covering (yes ladies, it is NOT a robe!)
"Hijab" = to hide
"Niqab" = cover everything aside from the eyes or one eye in order to see

In NONE of these words do we get the definition of "modesty" do we? Hmm... so what entitles hijab?! Here we go, Allah help me....

“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 therof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, or their brothers' sons or their sisters' sons, or their women or the servants 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 you Believers, turn you all together towards Allah, that you may attain Bliss.” (Surah Nur, Ayah 31)

In the ayah in place of what this translation states as "veil" it says "khimarrihum" (khimar) in the true Arabic, which, the assumption would be made then that the woman is wearing the khimar (covering her hair) and that the correct way is to not only cover her hair/head but cloak the khimar to come down accross her bosom and neck. So yes, hijab does NOT equal headscarf, but:
a) khimar is part of hijab
b) khimar means covering the hair
c) therefore, hijab includes khimar
d) therefore, hijab includes covering the hair.

Then, the ayah also says "jilbabeheem" (jilbab) in place of where it says "bosoms" in the translation. This means to cover the pocket area of the bosom and drape along the breasts.

THIS is where jilbab..khimar..all come from. In the beginning of the ayah it says to LOWER THEIR GAZE and GUARD THEIR MODESTY. That is where we get the piousty, the modesty, the humbleness.

All these went under the umbrella of what constitutes the wearing of "hijab"... you must meet these conditions in order to be wearing "hijab."

Something parijan said as well is a bit interesting because I have heard that view said many times (about the woman who is wearing hijab is the one that stands out, not the one who doesn't). Well, it is no where stated that hijab is to NOT make the woman stand out. On the contrary...it SHOULD. Here is the evidence:

Allah Almighty says: "O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that THEY MAY BE RECOGNIZED AND NOT ANNOYED. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful." (Al-Ahzab Ayah 59)

To answer Not a Hijabi's other question: "** Could you (Molly, Muslimeen for Islam, and anybody else) accept that a sincere muslim who follows Islam knowledgably and with good intentions can alone determine the right path on this question?**"

It depends. I'm not Allah. Only Allah judges. BUT what is your definition of sincere Muslim? One who does the 5 pillars (prays, fasts, charity, believes in Allah and the Messenger and the testiments of faith, and goes to Hajj), the one who doesn't drink/date or make bad relations? The one who does not kill? Or steal? The basic "goodness" of man you mean? In that case I could marry a devout Christian who gives to charity, who fasts for God, who prays to God, who doesn't get drunk or date or have relations outside of marriage, who believes in one God (yes minus the part about Muhammad (pbuh) as the Messenger)...

Don't get me wrong. I do not look less on someone who does not practice hijab. As a matter of fact, I have odd feelings toward the girl who wears a headscarf saying she is a hijabi but puts on makeup and wears tight clothes and dates and all that, or a thorough "modestly" dressed hijabi that does not pray...I would pick the girl who does NOT wear full hijab (but is still modest in her ways) as my friend over the one who is supposedly covering. I myself did not always wear the hijab but I did everything I was supposed to do. I did dawah. I prayed, fasted, gave to charity, never practiced shirk, etc etc... . And here in the United States obviously I was treated "normally" without my hijab, but in Egypt I was looked upon as "when are you going to cover? when are you going to cover?"... Thing is, people, we have to understand that "HIJAB" comes from within the woman's heart. If she is wearing it and hates herself, even if she is doing everything else wonderfully, she is doing herself an injustice through Allah. She is not accepting it. And that is worse than not wearing it.

So we can't judge the girl that doesn't wear it as "bad." But it is ridiculous to say "I'm going to wear it because of the cultural norm and take it off accordingly." For heaven's sake, do it for Allah if you are justly believing in it. Or don't do it at all.

I don't know if I'll contribute anymore, but if you would like to have any personal conversations with me or the website, or be part of our mailings, email at muslimeenforislam@yahoo.com or muslimeenforislam@gmail.com if you would like. And continue the discussion! Allah bless & Salam.

None of Your Business said...

Salams everyone, I don't normally post on blogs, but I found this one to be quite interesting in that it continues the age-old litmus-test debate that I think we need to move beyond. I'm hearing from all the participants that Allah knows best, a viewpoint that I wholly support. Why is it that we can't get beyond the hijab? Even scholars are human beings, which is why we will always have differing interpretations of the same verses. I can see both points of view--to hijab or not to hijab--but in the end, only Allah knows what is in our hearts. He is the one who is the Supreme Judge. No matter how many times we discuss this issue, it will always divide us. I'm sure there are issues in the world that hijabis and non-hijabis alike can agree on. Although I enjoyed reading this blog, I really think it's time Muslims come together and focus on those things that unite us.

Peace