Debating the Hijab

Source: The Clarion Project

By Codi Robertson

Westerners tend to regard wearing a hijab as a form of oppression, as French women’s rights minister says, but are things really as simple as that?

Last week, France’s Minister for Women’s Rights Laurence Rossignolmade a controversial comment about Muslim women who don hijabs, calling them “American negroes,” and comparing them to the American slaves who supported slavery.

Rossignol made the comment while slamming retailers like H&M, and Dolce & Gabbana for deciding to create a line of modest clothing for Muslim women, stating that these companies were “promoting the confinement of women’s bodies.”

Since many Westerners subscribe to the idea that modest dress is oppressive because it seeks to hide women’s bodies because they are viewed as shameful or even sinful, comments like these are not difficult to understand.  The West prides itself on freedom, and anything that appears to stand in the way of freedom, including prescribed ways of dressing, is going to be met with great criticism.

But is wearing a hijab a form of oppression?  Or, are things much more complicated?

First and foremost, any country that considers itself a place where freedom is valued, should extend that value to dress – in other words, people should be allowed to wear what they want in these liberal democracies, even if it means covering more. To do otherwise is hypocritical.

Furthermore, as one analyst points out, “While the minister has been concerned about French women from the Muslim faith who choose freely to follow the Islamic dress codes, it is remarkable that we don’t hear a critical stance about the exploitation of women’s body in advertising campaigns for instance. The modern advertising industry capitalizes on the woman’s body as a marketing tool.” Therefore, even choosing to show more of one’s body can be construed as a form of oppression.  It seems that it is not what a woman chooses to wear that is oppressive, but rather the circumstances surrounding her choice.

Is she being heavily influenced by others? This could be religious or not. Or, does she have a reason that comes mostly from her?  Maybe she views dressing modestly as allowing her to interact with others more as a whole human as opposed to a sexual object. Or maybe she rather be more private with her body.

Regardless, it’s more about her reason for wearing whatever she wears, assuming that it was she herself who made that decision.



Categories: Hijab, The Muslim Times

Tagged as:

8 replies

  1. I find the exploitation of women’s bodies for commercial purposes offensive. I almost said “much more offensive” than hijab, but I don’t find that offensive at all.

  2. Arab people feel so proud to uphold their tradition from one generation to the next generation.
    Saudi Arabia remains one of the most restrictive countries in the world for women.
    So Burqa, Hijab, or Veil is not the Islamic dressing code, but the Arab traditional dress who live in desert at ancient times.
    There are two reasons why women wear burqa:
    1. In order women can not be abducted or be kidnapped by enemy for sex-slave.
    2.In order women can not be harmed by storm sand.

    Islam is Religion of Logic and Scientific.
    It is not for any person to believe, except by the Leave of Allâh, and He will put the wrath on those who does not use his mind QS 10:. (100)
    And such are the Parables We set forth for mankind, but only those understand them who have Knowledge. QS 29;(43)

    It is illogical if woman has to cover her whole body if she live in not desert country like United states or Europe etc.
    Unfortunately most of women around the world have been deceiving by Saudi’s clerics who live in desert since century.


  3. the khimar is what covers the hair and neck. it is still wajib when the muslima performs hajj or umra.

    Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said;

    “When a woman reaches the age of puberty, nothing should be seen of her except the face and hands.

    Quran clearly mandates women to cover their hair and their chest. [Surah al-Ahzaab 33:59]

  4. “Regardless, it’s more about her reason for wearing whatever she wears, assuming that it was she herself who made that decision.”

    That’s a big assumption to make. It is the mark of the chattel

  5. Islam is Religion of Logic, Scientific, and Progress.
    This is Al Quran which We have revealed unto you in order that you might lead mankind out of darkness into light by their Lord’s Leave to the Path of the All Mighty, the Owner of all Praise QS.14:1. (From the era primitive life toward the prosperous or Modern life.).
    And He will put wrath on those who do not use their mind. QS 10; 100. ( Islam is logic, not Religion of “dogma” like primitive people who live in Jungle or people who lived at time of Prophet Muhammad (saw). They worship and kiss the stone, big tree or other things beside Allah. They thought that the stone can bring blessing to their life.
    And such are the Parables We set forth for mankind, but only those understand them who have Knowledge. Q. 29; 43. ( Islam is religion of science, progress and Modern, not static religion. Primitive people had less knowledge and science)
    Allah elevates those among you who believe, and those given knowledge, many steps. God is Aware of what you do. Q. 58:11( Allah urge Muslim to pursue knowledge in order he can lead people to Modern life.)
    Verily, Allah will not change the condition of People until they change by themselve Q. 13;11.( Muslim should update or reform Islamic laws according to the progress of Science and technology. From primitive way of life to Modern way of life. )

    Please believe in Allah instead of Scholars or Cleric or your idol.
    Allah will not put you in Hell. if you do not cover your hands, feet and your head hair.
    You better do good deeds instead of Hijab.

    It is not logic if you do not need to cover your head and hands if you live in United State or Europe .Because there is no heat sand will harm you. Please use your mind rightly, Do not place your faith on ulama’ or Clerics. he can deceive you//place your trust or faith on Allah alone,you will be save.


    Was salam–With love

  6. I often hear the argument that Hijab is a choice and those who wish to wear it should be allowed to do so. Particularly given the freedom in the Western countries an argument is made that this freedom should be extended to the permission to wear hijab. I just have one question for these smart people. Would they allow a Western woman to sunbathe on the beach in her bikini under Muslim Sharia? Then why don’t you just shut up and follow the rules here just as you want us to follow your rules over there!!
    One should understand that hijab is a symbolic struggle for the rights and freedom of women. If we don’t stop them here soon they will be arguing for polygamy and other restrictions which have existed in the male dominated societies in the name of religion. Would you also advocate for a guardian for every woman? Would you mandate that women can leave their homes only when permitted and accompanied by their male guardians? How about half in inheritance and no permission for being a witness in a court. Or requirement to produce four male witnesses when they are raped. Or requirement of a male guardians permission before a woman can marry. Or no right to divorce or child custody. Understand that as we want to explain away those restrictions and do not agree with them even in the name of religion, same applies to hijab. There are better explanations of hijab and we should support them. But mindless insistence on the extreme hijab should be abandoned.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.