Hijab vs. Habit September 25, 2010

Hijab vs. Habit

The cartoon (I can’t find the source) makes an excellent point:

As one blogger puts it:

There’s different views on the Islamic dress for women. Some say it’s very much an oppressive set of clothing that is forced upon women. Now yes, there are cases like that, but you can point to any organized religion and see the very same thing. Shocking, I know, but even in the Christian faith there are examples of oppression. There are also a large number of women within the Islamic faith who willingly wear the hijab, niqab or burka as a proclamation of their faith. Just like Roman Catholic Nuns do. And even within the ranks of the Roman Catholic Church, not all nuns wear the fully covering habit that is often thought of when a nun is discussed.

That may be the big difference. If a nun chooses not to wear a habit, the consequences are virtually non-existent. If a Muslim woman chooses not to wear a cover of some sort, there are many men who share her faith who will look down upon her (or worse). Not all of them, but enough to keep pressure on Islamic women to cover themselves at all costs.

Granted the “banning controversy” focuses on burkas and niqabs (and usually not the hijab seen in the cartoon), I think there’s certainly a different perception of the two.

Are there other similarities or differences?

(via The Daily (sort of) Adventures of Tim and Zodi)


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  • Dan

    Fewer and fewer Nuns wear the habit nowadays, it’s seen as archaic and no longer relevant in today’s society (at least that’s what Nuns I know tell me) but wearing the habit announced to the World that the Nun was religious by profession, totally immersed in the afterlife and married to Jesus. The habit is/was only ever worn by nuns, not Catholic laity although until quite recently it was a requirement for ladies to wear a lacy veil on top of their heads whilst actually inside a Church. You could know hundreds of Catholic women, see Catholic women every day in the street and not have a clue what their religion was. The hijab, on the other hand, is worn by all Muslim women, all of the time when outside the home. It says, ‘I am a Muslim, respect me’. Well I have no respect for anyone who needs to constantly advertise their religion in western democracies. I think a lot of people, when they see the hijab, think “Why? Do they want to make this Country like the Middle East? Isn’t that where they emigrated from in the first place? Why do they need to jam their religion down everyone’s throats?” I think it’s divisive. I think it’s a symbol of Islamification and Muslim victory over the secular west. I also feel wearing turbans by Sikhs and other obvious religious attire is inappropriate in the west but it’s only Islam that has the stated agenda of a world wide caliphate and that is to be avoided at all cost.

  • C

    I would only say that you can’t become a nun as a child, you must choose it for yourself. This is not the case with the school aged girls in the Muslim faith or for the most part school aged children of any religious faith, which is one of the main problems with religion.

  • Ali

    So basically, Dan, what you’re saying is once someone from a different country, for the sake of argument let’s say one in the Middle East moves to the West, they should stfu & assimilate? How very American. Part of what makes the “West” so great IS the fact that several different cultures can coexist side by side. I don’t take offense to a Muslim wearing something representative of their religion any more than I take offense to a Christian wearing a cross. I don’t believe in any of it, but if I expect people to accept my lack of belief, I figure I should extend the same courtesy to them and accept their belief. As to this line “I think it’s a symbol of Islamification and Muslim victory over the secular west” maybe you’ve been watching too many ‘take over the world’ movies (i.e. War of the Worlds?) Here’s a hint: no one’s trying to take over the world, people generally would just like to coexist in peace. Surely here in the “West” where freedom is supposedly paramount, we can give them that.

  • Jim

    Though it is conceivable that in modern, liberal societies a woman might choose to wear such religious clothing without any coercion and purely as an exercise of her freedom of choice, this in no way invalidates the criticism of proscribed religious dress codes. I am more than a little skeptical of anyone praising Muslim women who freely don the hijab as “liberated” or “feminist.” To claim such a thing would be to ignore the root of these practices in the institutional misogyny which is such a toxic part of Christian and Muslim religious dogma. It seems then that ensuring individual freedom of choice is only half the battle. What a believer really needs in order to break free of compulsory religious stupidity is a bit of critical thinking. How many women will continue to wear hijabs or habits once they realize that the laws demanding their use were not the commandment of any god, but instead the invention of superstitious and backward men motivated by fear and hatred of women and the sexual act?

  • Heidi

    If Pope Ratzi suddenly decreed that all Catholic women and girls needed to wear those outfits everywhere they went, I think you’d see a rapid change in perception. And a huge decline in church attendance.

    Also I can’t remember the last time I saw an actual nun (i.e. not in a movie) wearing the full outfit. When I was a teenager, I worked retail, and the nuns regularly came in from the local convent buying supplies (tax free, of course). They only ever wore the headpiece. It was the same way at the Catholic charity center where my daughter volunteered for a few summers. It was run by nuns and secular women, and the nuns only wore the headpiece.

  • Sally

    I think this is a silly comparison. As Dan put it, nuns are also entering a professional relationship.

    Also we have a nunnery in my town and very few of the American nuns wear the “outfit” while quite a few of the foreign nuns wear it.

    I think this comic is a little irrelevant.

  • Claudia

    I think there’s a notable difference between the two, and much of it has to do with choice. A nun chooses a life dedicated to her religion and wears the habit as a uniform to indicate her lifestyle. There is exactly zero societal pressure for her to become a nun or even to stay a nun. Odious as it is, the Catholic church does not pressure women and girls into nunneries and Catholics do not impose punishments on women and girls who don’t become nuns.

    Contrast that with some sectors of Islam, where wearing the hijab/niqab/burqua is obligatory for all women and girls, and punshiments for disobedience can range from ostracism to death. In addition, the covering up of nuns in no way implies their inferiority (though the fact a nun can never have authority over a priest most certainly does), wheras the practice of covering up Muslim women is symbolic of their very real submission to male authority. I can remember being pissed to the high heavens in Istambul, seeing a guy in shorts, sleevless t-shirt and flip-flops, being followed around by his wife, covered head to two in shapeless black cloth with only her eyes (barely) visible, under a punishing summer sun.

    Still, making Islamic dress illegal makes me uneasy. Certainly face covering in airports/schoools/banks etc. shouldn’t be allowed, but the street? As offensive as the burqua is (a discreet hijab with normal street clothes, a common sight in Istambul, strikes me as utterly harmless) I don’t feel totally at ease with banning it.

  • Ron in Houston

    Do they want to make this Country like the Middle East? Isn’t that where they emigrated from in the first place? Why do they need to jam their religion down everyone’s throats?” I think it’s divisive.

    The same could be said about speaking Spanish and having taquerias.

    Can’t they learn to speak English? What are they trying to turn this into Mexico? I think it’s divisive.

    Leave people be. I often question that sanity of a woman wearing a Burka in Houston where the heat index is 110 F. However, she should be able to wear that if she wishes.

  • Secular Stu

    I’ve gotten pretty sick of these kind of ridiculous oversimplifications.

    Special Forces get waterboarded in training, but then if an Afghan is waterboarded why is he “tortured”?

    Millions are incarcerated in our nation’s prisons, yet when I handcuff the babysitter in the basement, all of a sudden I’m the jerk.

  • Hermes

    As Claudia noted, one is a uniform and the other is a social stricture imposed regardless of profession. The nun, also, may switch to another set of clothes.

  • I agree with the main stream of thought so far: not all Roman Catholic women are forced to wear a habit. Not even all nuns are; its more of a strong recommendation at this point. Laity don’t at all, and people would find it weird if they did. A hijab on the other hand is expected, and enforced harshly, on every woman in the religion. Aside from being similar in appearance they’re completely different in their symbolism.

  • sailor

    I don’t think many people are upset by either of these forms of dress. It is the burkas and niqabs which get people upset. I can see some reason for banning these except on special occasions.
    True some people mask themselves willingly. I put those people at the same level as I would African Americans who willingly wore chains, while their brothers were in slavery. Happily I doubt that happened, voluntary wearing of oppressive garb shouldn’t either, at least while some a forced to wear it.

  • Catinthewall

    Has a nun ever been whipped for not wearing one? QED.

  • Narvi

    Oh, oh, I know! Because no one throws acid in a nun’s face if she’s out of her habit!

  • So nuns are not a good example of oppressive clothing but what about Hutterites? They are common around here, Cdn prairies, and farm/live in colonies. All the women wear long skirts with the same pattern and cover their head while the men wear black suits and hat. Skirt patterns vary with colony. Would you deny their choice in clothing because you feel it is inappropriate/oppressive? Would you take away their land because you don’t like their lifestyle?

    I agree with Ron in Houston about live and let live. If you can’t then you should be supporting movements within the culture not try to impose change by virtue of being the majority.

  • Steve

    The reason Muslim women are supposed to cover themselves is because they are seen as tempting for men. And in typical patriarchal fashion, it’s their fault. Not the men are ordered to control themselves, but the women are told to be less tempting and attractive.

    I don’t know where nuns’ clothing comes from, but I doubt it’s anything like that. And even if it were, it’s clearly no longer the case. Their garb is purely traditional and ceremonial.

  • Mr. Crazy Pants

    You can only become a nun once an adult and you have to be accepted into the order. From what I’ve read, they prefer that women become educated before they become a nun as well. That means any more that you probably don’t have hardly any nuns younger than 24. They also cannot bring any debt to the order, so student loans have to be paid off first.

    So, essentially, you have at least a mid-20’s or older woman, who is educated and debt free and can do anything she wants in life by that point, and then she chooses to don the habit.

    Maybe there are families who still pressure their daughters to become nuns, but that isn’t part of the mainstream western culture.

  • Erp

    Dan,

    Actually not all Muslim women wear the head covering. However, those that don’t aren’t noticed unless they say, such as the other day when I heard one non-head covered female co-worker explained to another (a non-Muslim) about Ramadan and how she observes it.

    Also the only nun I know does wear the habit (Dominican); however, she is working in a college ministry where it is important to be recognized as a member (and I think she is fairly liberal). The Vatican btw is investigating the American sisters and asking questions about dress among other things so perhaps the American nuns will be forced back into habit or out of their orders or the more liberal groups dissolved. That is definitely a fear of some.

  • It’s true that most orders of nuns are losing their habit of habits. (OK, bad pun.)

    That said, even if they were not, there is still a difference: In places where Muslim women wear burkas or niqabs, they have no choice in the matter, and must wear them by virtue of having been born women. Nuns, on the other hand, became nuns voluntarily, and went into that vocation knowing that it would require them to wear a habit.

    It really is all about choice. And the fact that choice is implicit in a nun wearing a habit — if she wears one — that makes all the difference in the world.

  • Grimalkin

    If we look at societies in which women wear the “uniform of their faith,” we can’t compare the nuns of today with the hijab’d women of today. We have to compare current covered Muslim women with nuns in, say, the Middle Ages.

    In Medieval Europe, wearing a nun’s habit was rarely a choice. You were sent to a convent, you did not generally go there of your own accord. It was an oppressive system (arguably not quite as oppressive as marriage was, but that’s fairly open for debate).

    The same choice exists today for Muslim women living in Muslim countries. The only choice they are given is between covering up or exposing herself to the loss of social protection.

    The fact that some women choose to cover up or join convents even though they live in countries where the choice is actually free does not, in any way, legitimate the practices. The hijab’d woman who claims to be such a feminist because she is dressing in a way that honours HER faith is standing on the backs of all the women still living in the Middle East whose only choice between covering up or getting raped.

    The hijab (and niqab, burka, etc.) is a symbol of ownership. It says “a man owns me and will protect me, so you aren’t allowed to hurt me.” The fact that certain women have managed to twist themselves so completely around that they see this as a positive (“a man loves me and is my protector because I am worth more than rubies!”) doesn’t make it anything more than what it really is – a slave collar. “Hands off, I already belong to someone.”

    In the nun’s case, that someone is God. Same principle.

  • muggle

    Okay, no. Notice it’s comparing it to the hijab, which, in my book is okay as it leaves the face exposed as does the nun’s habit. Now, let’s see them compare the habit to the tent and try to claim there’s no difference.

    Of course, I support France’s ban for reasons of security, not because it oppresses females. Yes, it does but, frankly, so does teetering around in high heels and being expected to paint your face before daring to go out in public. I get assumed a “dyke” because I don’t buy in and haven’t worn skirts, make-up or heels in decades.

    I’m cool with that because I can think of worse things, specifically giving into the bullshit that as a woman I have to spend a fortune and a half hour every morning painting a mask on my face. And my freaking day fixing my face and hair (I don’t perm, hairspray, gel, etc. either) and worrying about my skirt while I teeter around on heels in the wind or runs in my hose or broken finger nails. I’d rather be called a “dyke” 50 times a day than spend my life perfecting my look instead of my brain.

    Kind of ridiculous of France who is the world capital of promoting women as objects to ban on so-called feminist grounds.

  • Mr Z

    Looking at it pro/con style:
    source:
    Both are worn for religious reasons, neither are required nor worn without religion – fancy dress parties excepted.

    choice:
    The nun’s religion is a choice with no repercussions for not choosing to be a nun. Both have been and are used to control women’s behaviors. The Muslim women seldom get a choice. Have you noticed any Christian mega-churches in Islamic countries? There’s a reason for that.

    purpose:
    Both outfits ‘preserve modesty’ by hiding the individual from sight of others. Sexual repression and misogyny prevail.

    benefits:
    The nun has recognition and status generally. The outfit brings positive perceptions. If a nun does not wear the outfit, there is no negative results. The Muslim women get no positive perceptions for wearing the outfits but they DO get negative reactions and danger from not wearing them. The benefit for Muslim women comes in not angering males and endangering her life.

    If you think that there is no real danger, try telling it to a few cartoonists who dared ignore Islamic tradition and rules. Muslim women no more have a choice than Salmon Rushdie can walk around signing autographs in the mall.

    Some have mentioned other religion’s wardrobes, and they too match these criteria. Whether it is good or bad depends on benefits and costs associated.

    I have trouble seeing any ROI for Muslim women.

  • Joufy

    I agree with this. Many religions have modesty or covering the body as a part of their faith and tradition.

    Amish people don’t have buttons or zippers. Women cover their heads and wear modest dresses. The same goes for Luddites, and Mennonites but no one says these women are oppressed.

    What about some tribal cultures that extend women’s necks or use separators to elongate ears or the lower lip. This isn’t seen as violent and oppressive.

  • Jake

    I can’t remember the name of the deviantART page this is on, but I do remember it’s written by a male Muslim (go figure, right?).

  • jose

    “France who is the world capital of promoting women as objects”

    Excuse me?

  • Tamara

    As most are saying above, this is a faulty comparison, at best. I had an “aha” moment at first an

  • Tamara

    As most are saying above, this is a faulty comparison, at best. I had an “aha” moment at first and then I realized that all of my devout Catholic in-laws have never been forced to wear something covering their bodies.

  • NFQ

    Any religion that teaches that women should hide their (god-given?) bodies in order to be respectful is oppressing women.

    Obviously, one key difference here is that not all Christian women are nuns, or are even expected to be nuns. True, not all Muslim women around the world are forced to cover up, but in Muslim societies it is definitely the norm and expectation.

  • Meanie

    I think a more apt comparison would be between Muslim women and Amish or Mennonite women. In certain areas of the United States it is quite easy to determine that a woman is of the Mennonite or Amish religion because of their style of dress (and, if Amish, mode of transportation). The argument could also be made that the long dress and caps of the Amish and Mennonite women are overly restrictive. I am against the oppression of women, but I’m not sure what side of the fence I come down on when it comes to religious expression through style of clothing. I don’t think any blanket statements can be made because some women may very well choose this, while others may very well be forced.

  • Frank

    People are always looking in real day examples. Ask yourself: if someone would be wearing a scarf, like a cowboy, or dressed like a ninja, would it make sense?
    Then, if you ask, they answer: because I believe I am more (spiritual/pure/powerful) this way.
    Does it still make sense?
    How we are dressed addresses what we are: police officers are authority, lab coats means scientists. It’s as much a purpose as a statement.
    I prefer to fight the root cause rather that the symptoms.
    It will not bother me that someone wears a hijab to protect from the sun/heat/desert (like let’s say a baseball cap). But to protect from the perverse effect of a magical being, or from under-humans, no.

  • All Muslim women are supposed to wear the hijab. Only Christan clergywomen are supposed to wear the habit.

  • Ron in Houston

    Assuming that everyone who wears Burka/Hajib/Niqabs are being forced to = fallacious.

    Eh, I’m just sayin…

  • Eshto

    STRAW. MAN. Nobody has a problem with the garment depicted in that cartoon. It’s the full body Darth Vader costume that completely obliterates a woman’s public identity that we find offensive. And as others have said, the patriarchal associations and the fact that her culture pressures her to wear it.

  • dumbfounded1991

    Really people? Stop linking all of Islam with Taliban and Al-Queda. Yes, there absolutely are cases of abuse in terms of modesty for some Muslim ladies, and that makes me sick, but there are cases of abuse for pretty much everything else in the world too. Ask Muslim women and they will say they’re doing it because they want to and because it honors their god. Granted, I don’t believe in their god, or… any god, but how a person dresses should not get people so up in arms.

    So what if a lady wants to completely cover herself up. So??? Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean they should be forced to change. It’s their religion and their culture, not ours. Not to mention that underneath those garments they’re still dressed the same way as everyone else. They just don’t show in unless with close family or a room full of women. I’m not saying I agree with it, but that doesn’t mean I think they’re “oppressed” either.

    I think people are just saying they are because they don’t like different, because different = bad and therefore because they are different they are either crazy or abused. How about actually having a conversation with the Muslim women themselves to see how they feel about it, instead of just looking from afar and assuming you know her better than she knows herself.

    In short: Let people dress how they want. If you’re that threatened by a woman in a burqa next to you in a shopping market that says more about you than her.

    SMH

  • Nuns remind me of the Penguin from the Blues Brothers. I’ve never actually seen a nun in her costume in real life. I have seen women in the hijab though and even worked with a few.

    IMO banning then is just about the stupidest thing that could be done if we, as a society, want women to fit into our western ideas of dress. It says that we don’t accept their culture and don’t think that it should be allowed to integrate with ours. It tells them to conform to our views or we’ll make you. IMO we should let them wear whatever the hell they like and stop making such a ridiculous fuss about it. That way we aren’t forcing a new generation of women to choose between their parent’s culture and ours. That will only cause conflict. We would simply be merging our joint cultures as one if we let the whole thing alone.

  • I don’t think it’s so much the Hijab that people worry about it’s the Burqa – the full face covering one. Whilst I do fully understand that the women who wear it should – indeed must – be free to be able to wear one, they must also be completely free to choose not to wear one. That is where things fall down.
    Besides, when was the last time you saw a Muslim male covering himself head to foot? The Koran isn’t gender specific about the need to be modest as far as I know.

  • Ben Finney

    > Granted the “banning controversy” focuses on burkas and niqabs (and usually not the hijab seen in the cartoon)

    That’s a huge difference, in my view. The hijab is, as the cartoon points out, just clothing that leaves the face free. The face is a massive part of how we identify people and express our identity.

    To put it another way: I don’t object to the hijab for the same reason I don’t object to the nun’s habit. They leave the person easily recognisable as a person and open to social interaction.

    Cover the face, though, and that’s significantly taken away. It’s at that point where it becomes reasonable, in my view, to talk about oppression and social barriers.

  • cat

    Okay, people, in what world is the clothing of western women not policed by men and Christians? Women who dress ‘immodestly’ are called sluts, whores, bitches, fined by courts, arrested as prostitutes, demoted and fired from jobs (how dare she wear that short skirt/low cut top in public). Women who dress ‘too modestly’ are called prudes or dykes. Women who refuse to wear skirts are villainized and may loss of employment (both in hiring and promotions as well). The clothing of rape victims is scrutinized to decide if she was ‘asking for it’. I don’t know anyone raised as a girl who hasn’t ever carefully picked their clothes to avoid harassment (or wore what they wanted and experienced harassment). I wore a tanktop to school on a very hot day when I was twelve and was told to ‘cover it up’ that I looked ‘trashy’ and that I was ‘distracting the boys’ (by teachers). Policing of the dress of women is a huge problem in the west. Try having large breasts and growing up in the US, you’ll learn about forced modesty pretty damned quick. Instead of making this about a panic about the cultural dress of minorities, why don’t we actually deal with the issues of body policing and slut shaming. Or maybe it’s too hard to actually care about women when they aren’t an effective instrument for your concern trolling.

  • Ben

    Amish people don’t have buttons or zippers. Women cover their heads and wear modest dresses. The same goes for Luddites, and Mennonites but no one says these women are oppressed.

    Who doesn’t say that? The difference here is that those beliefs are repressing ALL of their followers: the men are almost as repressed as the women, and they’re all forced into that repression by virtue of birth.

    The difference between their dress codes and the dress code of most of Islam is that Islamic men aren’t forced into anything by penalty of ostracism, rape, or death while the women are. Amish, Luddites, and Mennonites just have that first one.

  • Alice

    I think you’re all missing the point of this comic, which is: AAAAAAW Look at the adorable chibi nun and muslim woman! It’s so cute! It’s so cute! I want to hug them!

  • Aj

    It depends on the indoctrination and coercion applied by a community. Government applying coercion in the opposite direction doesn’t solve the oppression problem, it just changes the source. In contemporary Western society as far as I’m aware there’s no coercion to become a nun. What are the costs of not becoming a nun? Are females strongly indoctrinated into believing they must become nuns? It’s a ridiculous comparison, hijabs aren’t even the things that are banned in France. Western women sometimes choose to wear headscarves (or other head coverings), shawls, and long dresses.

    I approve of Quebec’s policy, covering your face is fine on the street or on private property, but it’s not a right when interacting with public servants or in security sensitive areas.

    I don’t think it’s right to blame males for this oppression. Females can be just as ready and capable at enforcing cultural and religious rules as males can.

  • Deepak Shetty

    If christian women were being actively / socially coerced into becoming nuns , then perhaps the comparison might hold.

  • Hang on a second! When was there any problem with a Hijab?

    Personally, I think they are daft fashion statement, but I don’t think they are oppressive to women’s rights. The purpose of a burqa or niqab is so that an Islamic man can ensure that others do not look at his property/sex toy. A hijab is just a statement of identity.

    Somebody here is trying to force a class error by suggesting that all those aggressive secularists are against all forms of cultural identity. However, secular values respect people’s right to look stupid – but not the “right” of others to oppress.

  • Saikat Biswas

    You just cannot cover your face in public and expect the rest of us to not be concerned. Cover up all you want but not showing your face during public interactions is a hazard, plain and simple. Just picture yourself a woman in burqa (not a hijab) in the cartoon above and see for yourself how ridiculous and smug her question really is. You refuse to show your face to me because you have been brainwashed to believe that men (every single one of them) are unable to control their incontinent lust merely by looking at women. This is precisely the kind of mindset right-minded people should find abhorrent.

  • *brain melts from the cute chibi-nun and chibi-muslim-woman*

    I don’t care what people wear, so long as the face is visible — I need to be able to see you speaking, my brain can’t filter out non-important stimuli, so focusing on your lips helps me because I lip-read, and by giving me something to focus on. Other than that, wear whatever you’re comfortable in, I don’t care.

  • HitodamaKyrie

    If the art is anything to go by, that artist is Fullwhitemoon/Nayzak. Apprently his actual name is “Nayzak Al-Hilali”

    http://fullwhitemoon.deviantart.com/
    http://nayzak.deviantart.com/

    Just an FYI.

  • False Prophet

    @Aj:

    I approve of Quebec’s policy, covering your face is fine on the street or on private property, but it’s not a right when interacting with public servants or in security sensitive areas.

    I think I tend to agree. I also think most government offices have women on staff who could examine a Muslim woman’s face in a walled-off area and accommodate their modesty requirements without too much fuss. I admit I don’t see it as an issue in my part of Canada, where most Muslims are African or South Asian and don’t cover their faces.

    While I have no more respect for Islam than any other religion, I think singling out one group for special restrictions is a slippery slope. The Jewish Lubavitcher women in the neighbourhood where I used to work always covered their heads (or wore wigs) and wore long sleeves and floor length skirts as well, but no one tried to restrict their dress. And their fundamentalism isn’t that far removed from fundamentalist Islam, it’s just more tolerable because it’s not usually directed at Gentiles.

    @Slugsie

    Besides, when was the last time you saw a Muslim male covering himself head to foot? The Koran isn’t gender specific about the need to be modest as far as I know.

    The Koran isn’t specific; it basically says “all Muslims should dress modestly.” It’s the hadith where all these rules and regulations are specified. Since the hadith disagree with each other quite a bit, different sects of Muslims interpret them differently, thus many Muslim women worldwide don’t have a problem baring faces, heads, arms or even legs, while others do. These tend to be culturally-rooted: it’s mostly Mediterranean and Central Asian cultures that propagate this. Near East Christian and Jewish communities have enforced similar dress restrictions for thousands of years–read through Paul’s Letters some time, you’ll find them there.

  • lilmoe

    Allow me to sigh before i write this.

    Ok now, here I go. I’m tired of this subject as most Muslim men/women are. But since there’s a bunch of non-Muslim replies I think I’m obligated to contribute a rather long post to keep things balanced (opinion-wise). Might be boring for some and educational for others.

    I had my higher education in the US, and once a good lady (professor in college) said: it’s wrong to try to convince others with what you find convincing, try to understand them better and convince them with their own way of reasoning. On another occasion, another professor said: there’s a big difference between the “ideal” and the “real”. Now those are a couple of phrases I learned from Americans, one being from a rather liberal individual and another from Christian conservative.

    When people start to ask questions of the “unknown” it is irresponsible to make assumptions about an entire culture/religion based on limited occurrences of “a man (or a group) spills acid water on the face of his wife for not covering her face”. It is nothing but childish, immature and irresponsible to ask a question and answer it yourself with in a biased matter. More like assuming that American women kill their children for seeing several cases on TV, or assuming that all American children at schools carry guns and do drugs. It’s easy to blame society/religion for one’s wrongdoings, and our part of the world is no different. When a man strikes his wife out of rage or forces her to do things, it’s easier for him to blame it on religion, which in my opinion is evil. If you have a question about religion, go ask the experts of that religion, your Muslim neighbor or colleague isn’t necessarily the best source, and most probably isn’t. Search for answers; don’t try to interpret things on your own behalf. We are humans, and humans are anything but identical in both appearances and perspectives nor to say perfect.

    Now, 1400 years ago (and long before Islam), cultures who require their women to wear very similar clothing that covers all of their bodies existed. Men at those times were very dominant, and their women were considered as “property” that only the “owner” was graced to see. On the contrary, other cultures were very liberal and didn’t mind what women show/reveal to other men. Religions (in general), however, tried to keep a balance. Islam is no exception, it’s all about balance. Too much freedom and too much conservatism were always a bad idea, not only in this issue; human history always proved that. However, people tend to interpret the law to their favor or to what the “see” as “fit”. Now if you have a different opinion about what “balance” is, please share it, but don’t force your ideas on others because yours isn’t necessarily the “only” opinion that is correct out there. If you think our ideas aren’t right, fine, that’s part of freedom of choice in Islam’s and other religions’ teachings.

    We believe in God (Allah in Arabic). We believe in His guidance, and its main source being the His word (The Quran), second being His prophet’s explanation of the Quran and his more “detailed” teachings (Teachings/Way of life, Sunnah in Arabic). The Quran is rather abstract in some parts, and can be easily misinterpreted by those who didn’t master the Classical Arabic Language. Third being one’s heart, or the opinion of more religiously educated individual. If a rule is in the Quran, one shouldn’t look elsewhere, and if not, search in what’s available of the Prophet’s Sunnah, and if it’s not found their either, one can question his/her heart if a trusted man/woman (of higher religions education) isn’t available. Note that Islam gives the right for women (explicitly and in context) to give their opinion about everything, even the interpretations of religion whereas most other religions didn’t. One might argue that “now” women have the right in other religions, but that’s arguably new, they couldn’t in the past. Misinterpretations of religions occurred in every religion/law on earth. A good example is when the Catholic Church burned artists and scientists just because they came up with a “new” idea. The same thing can also be said about current Islamic regimes.

    Back to subject. God describes (in detail) in the Quran what both women and men should cover when they wear clothing, period. Any other act made by individuals or groups to be more or less conservative is invalid by context. It’s rather a pre-Islamic cultural influence than a misinterpretation of religious context (in this issue in particular). Women should cover all their bodies except their face, hands, and feet. Men are required to cover the area below their navels and above their knees. Both men and women are to be faithful to their partners, no exceptions. Islam ORDERS purity and faithfulness for both genders otherwise (if not faithful) both are punished EQUALLY, NOT IF hair, arms, or legs were revealed, but IF the act of unfaithfulness (cheating or adultery) has occurred. The verse continues to say: “God is all forgiving”. The Prophet explained the act of adultery to be actual penetration. But even if God forgives, law is law, and punishment should take place. I guess this also answers some questions. If it’s not clear enough, too bad, I don’t have time to explain things to those who don’t want to understand. It is wrong to assume that the “dress code” is only forced on women. There’s nowhere in the Quran that implies that women who don’t cover their heads are to be punished, but rather aren’t favored by God.

    Let’s make this clear. It’s wrong to assume that Muslims really care what others think of their religion. We also have our own critical views on others. If you don’t want anyone imposing their ideals on you, then start with yourself and stop imposing your ideals on others. Yes, we have radicals and those who misinterpret religion for their own known and unknown reasons (or “external” influence), but so do you. There’s a good Arabic saying that says: if your house is made out of glass, don’t throw stones on other people’s houses.

    I hope the point is clear. And sorry again for the long post, hope it didn’t offend others.

  • Lynneadrienne

    In the name of GOD, Most Gracious, Most MercifulThere is no other god beside GODHo Dress Code for Women based on QuranAnyone who thinks about it recognizes the falsehood of the old saying “Clothes make the man.” Yet for many the piety of a Muslim woman is defined by how she dresses.
    The Quran tells us that the best garment is righteousness:
     
    “O children of Adam, we have provided you with garments to cover your bodies, as well as for luxury. But the best garment is the garment of righteousness. These are some of God’s signs, that they may take heed.” (7:26)
     
    Interestingly the Quran does not require a woman to cover her hair, but rather to dress modestly and to cover her chest as we see in the following verses:
     
    “Tell the believing men that they shall subdue their eyes (and not stare at the women), and to maintain their chastity. This is purer for them. God is fully Cognizant of everything they do.And tell the believing women to subdue their eyes, and maintain their chastity. They shall not reveal any parts of their bodies, except that which is necessary. They shall cover their chests, and shall not relax this code in the presence of other than their husbands, their fathers, the fathers of their husbands, their sons, the sons of their husbands, their brothers, the sons of their brothers, the sons of their They shall not strike their feet when they walk in order to shake and reveal certain details of their bodies. All of you shall repent to God, O you believers, that you may succeed.” (24:30-31)
     
    Dressing modestly, therefore, is a trait of the believing men and women. The minimum requirements for a woman’s dress is to lengthen her garment (33:59) and to cover her chest. Tyrannical Arab traditions have given a false impression that a woman must be covered from head to toe; such is not a Quranic or Islamic dress. 
     
    These verses make it clear that the intention is for Muslims of both genders to be modest in their dress and behavior. If a woman chooses to cover her hair it is fine. However, in Western society she may draw less attention to herself if she does not cover her hair, but just dresses and behaves modestly.
     
     Perhaps the issue has been confused by the fact that the Arabic word for the covering on the chest is the same word that has come to mean the hair-cover. In actuality it simply is the word for a cover, any cover, and does not imply a cover for the hair.
    This stress on dressing modestly rather than in any specific “Muslim uniform” is reiterated in the following verse:
     
    “O prophet, tell your wives, your daughters, and the wives of the believers that they shall lengthen their garments. Thus, they will be recognized (as righteous women) and avoid being insulted. God is Forgiver, Most Merciful.” (33:59)
     
    Again we see the intent is to be modest, to be recognized as being righteous. But does dressing modestly mean looking plain and unattractive? Not if we take the descriptions of how the dwellers of Paradise will be dressed as examples!
     
    “They have deserved gardens of Eden wherein rivers flow. They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, and will wear clothes of green silk and velvet, and will rest on comfortable furnishings. What a wonderful reward; what a wonderful abode!” (18:31)
     
    “God will admit those who believe and lead a righteous life into gardens with flowing streams. They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, and pearls, and their garments therein will be silk.” (22:23)
     
    “On them will be clothes of green velvet, satin, and silver ornaments. Their Lord will provide them with pure drinks.” (76:21)
     
    Surely if the believers dress beautifully in Paradise, it cannot be unrighteous to do so here. And indeed God tells to dress nicely when we go to the mosques:
     
    ” O children of Adam, you shall be clean and dress nicely when you go to the masjid. And eat and drink moderately; Surely, He does not love the gluttons.” (7:31)
     
    Thus, God makes it clear that we can and indeed should at times dress well. We do not need to be plain to still maintain modesty.
     
    In all of this discussion, the most important thing to remember is that: “the best garment is the garment of righteousness.” If you keep your focus on pleasing God, the garment of righteousness will never fade, or wrinkle, or become moth-eaten. It will never go out of style, nor become too small. Clearly it is the most important garment in your wardrobe!
     
    InternationaEmail: info@masjidtucson.orgall rights reserved © 2002 masjidtucson.org

  • Dp061993

    Hello,
    I am doing an assignment on this picture. are you positive that this picture is from this individual. The reason i am asking is because I went to his site and couldn’t find this picture. Will you please let me know ASAP.
    Thank you very much.

  • Guess who??

    With all respect i want to say that u are wrong and that when a relegion says a women should cover most of her body it isnt oppressing the women its actually protecting her .. since it preserves her modesty and integrety, unlike the half-naked woman that are looked upon with low value and compard to sluts. Moreover in islam woman are seen as pearls and jems that have to be preserved because unlike the guys, woman are the ones who can become rapped and so must cover there curves.Mainly covering ones body gains a women respect and anyway u get the idea i dnt have time to continue so please dnt judge other relegions with such certainity until ur pretty sure what u are talking about ..Another thing i would like to state is what Tawakul Karman said :A Nobel Peace Prize winner,known as, ‘The mother of Yemen’s revolution’ when she was asked about her Hijab by Journalists and how it is not proportionate with her level of intellect and education, she replied: “Man in early times was almost naked, and as his intellect evolved he started wearing clothes. What I am today and what I’m wearing represents the highest level of thought and civilization that man has achieved, and is not regressive. It’s the removal of clothes again that is regressive back to the ancient times”…….. Finally, although the dress code of a nun sometimes can be similar to the islamic woman’s they are worn for close but different purposes…

  • Guess who??

    By the way a women who is completely covered feels much cooler then a women wearing a sleevless shirt one reason is because the sleevless shirt doesnt suck the sweat and so that lady remains feeling hot and sticky ( which is worse cause of humidity) while the covered lady barely feels the sweat and stickyness ( presence of material that suck the sweatiness)
    ( personal experience 😉 …..)