The veiled rage of the Non Hijabis: where is the social justice?
Ever so often the issue of Hijab pops up. Men, feminists, scholars and even politicians swim back and forth on this ocean of political correctness: Multiculturalism protects this piece of clothing; this is a Quranic injunction to cover! But the Hijab these days is also a fashionable statement. It’s no longer the black unattractive piece J LO would never think of donning, unless in Afghanistan. By the way Saudi Arabia has rightly used the face covering as an identity pass for Saudis only. Non-Saudis including Muslims wear headscarves. Well, well! This punctuates my point that in Western society where the grind of every day culture demands a more assertive personality the Hijab is fine; not the burqa. The Quran alludes to this identity factor: “…that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not be molested…” 33:59
The permissive Muslim countries have not been able to protect women from being battered and oppressed, so where has this Arab-styled-dress for females contributed to less harassment? Most girls are cursorily programmed to answer ‘Hijab liberates’ them. But having a number of Western converts wear the Hijab voluntarily is no different than the crowd of hippies wanting to explore eastern lifestyles and vowing to its absolute panacea for Western decadence. By the way don’t you know of Hijab girls doing all the ‘wrong stuff” too. What about the Eastern red light areas? The clientele there wear shalwar and kamis, my dear! It’s a deeper Faith and God consciousness that really we should identify with. Something anyone could have and not just burqa-clad, self-righteous, non-talking-to-strangers, attention-drawers of ones sexuality. “…But the raiment of righteousness- that is the best…” 7:26
My contention is we have veiled the beautiful system Islam offers humans, wherever they are, that they are secured and respected. A woman is a Khalifa of God and not the seducer of Adam. Some how we read the text of Quran more than the spirit. Hijab was revealed way after the Muslims had enriched their souls with the clothing of Taqwa. Why should someone give them stares? Why should she be debarred from the Masjid? Why can’t she serve her community in a culturally sensitive way, just as her day job provides? There are far more verses in the Quran about Zakah and helping the poor or about the atrocities the wife of Pharoah bore than on Hijab. This bandwagon has to stop and the issues of self- esteem, democracy, employment, marriage, family vales, domestic violence and end to superstitions has to start rolling. Don’t get me wrong. Hijab is absolutely a command of Allah and I’m not belittling it. But the perspective is what beats me. Imagine a Muslim man in Ottawa has the gall to come to this free and respectful country and then say in court the Quran allows him to annihilate his wife if she disobeys. Definitely the Judge is right in bringing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms into play and send him packing. It’s the same concept the former Attorney General had when she promoted family tribunal laws based on faith. Any one who steps out of the spirit of Islam and interprets verses to their whims and cultural fancies will be checked, which are coincidentally sanctioned by both Sharia and the Constitution. Preservation of Life is the most precious ideal in Islam according to the Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddima.
I met Zarqa Nawaz, author of Little Mosque on the Prairie. She confidently shared with me the fact that she chose to do this film, as she didn’t want the world to run away that all Imams are sexist pigs! You will be quick to say Astaghfurullah. But haven’t we seen it and heard it? Half of the mosque still can’t accommodate women and those that do still don’t treat them as equals. Many a times it’s the employers of these poor lip-zipped Imams that spiral this ignorance. One very traditional mosque’s Imam told me he has had a battle, despite monetary contributions to fix the room the ladies crammed into during janazas.
Hazrat Aisha was not the only the spokesperson of the Prophet. He, on whom be peace, interacted with women and saved them from the ills of misogynist men of the day. We know Lady Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, later taught for 48 years after his demise and participated politically and theologically. Show me the organisation that has an Aisha legacy. And yet we waste time joking of events that caters for families that sit together or Muslima leading prayers! Nip it in the bud and as Mufti Saeed Palanpuri once said in Toronto, treat the women with fairness and justice otherwise you will not bear the repercussions.
I want to see more activeness in the social justice issues, that which Islam originally played an upper role and in so doing the institutions of women’s rights were able to have a reasonable and faithful grip on society. Will the media pundits steer the cameras on these real Biblical and Quranic main recipes? Help the sick. Raise money for the domestically abused. Share your Zakah with the unfortunate. Help girls get marry who are victims of cultural hibernation. Create socially acceptable entertainment. Showcase the deeper concerns for women who are underemployed and uneducated. The Quran doesn’t want women to be a stockpile of dullness within the corners of some modern harem. It seeks to liberate them where they can now do business, inherit wealth, contract their marriage and solicit their divorce and better yet lead in positions of qualifications. Bilqis was a leader and while the Quran is disgusted with her self-worship, it admires her change of Faith without grumping about her powers. Many of the wives of the Prophet were known as Saviours of the poor- “UmmulMasakeen.”
From the heart that beats with sympathy will the frock of piety appeal to societies’ judges. It’s not an automatic uniform for respect. You wear it or not, your respect comes from your doing and more so your character. How about the fact when I saw this girl at No Frills with a headscarf and said Salam she replied I’m not Muslim. It’s a Jamaican dress style! Therefore don’t make it Islam’s exclusive school badge. I lament the many sisters that I have lost because people judged them for their lack of a typical khimar, although their contribution monetarily to the mosque is astounding and their qualifications to make this place a better world is not lesser than Mother Theresa’s. Will you be truly multicultural and like the way the Prophet treated the pious and lesser alike, sincerely embrace all into your veils of perfect love and chadors of seamless harmony.
Allah commends Blessed Virgin Mary when she took the concept of Hijab personally: 19:17 She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent her our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects.