mal’s Weblog

{September 4, 2012}   World Hijab Day… _|_

Warning/Disclaimer: those who may take offense to use of explicit terminology and a bit of venting by way of using swear words (if any), are advised not to venture further, or keep their reaction to these things to themselves.

So now religious extremists have started suckling on the idea of making hijab compulsory for the women in the (oh so) Islamic Republic of Pakistan. According to those in favor of the new World Hijab Day (in Pakistan only, btw?), hijab is the only protection against inviting stares, gazes, oggling, and other forms of eve-teasing women. Also, according to these oh-so-saintly guardians of Islam, by making hijab compulsory in this country, all evil emanating due to the existence of female boobs and ass and skin and whatever your sick mind can fantasize about, to which the attention is apparently attracted by way of uncovered hair or face, will forever be eradicated.

[Sidenote: The female body structure was also Allah’s creation. Every body part has a function, and yes I can go so biology on you.]

Sorry suckers, but I shall openly disagree with this premise. For several reasons.

Please explain to me what is to be achieved by ‘celebrating’ hijab on a single day throughout the non-Islamic calendar? Or are these proponents of the “World Hijab Day” trying to disguise their way of restricting it to a single day?

While I do agree that the Quran orders Muslims (men included) to “guard their modesty and lower their gaze”, I do not care to agree that covering my hair and/or face will do the job of making me a modest person.

I have been a witness and victim of open gossip and backbiting by women (all age brackets, 7 year old little girls included!) who don sweating black drapes in the name of modesty. I have witnessed several women claiming piety by way of donning the abaya and the head scarf (hijab in short), and then carrying on gossiping about hot hunks (from male models to class fellows belonging to all categories including nerds with glasses). I have also witnessed several hijab/burqa clad aunties not caring to maintain modest laughter in the presence of na-mehrams. And what is there to say of the ‘modern/fashionable hijab’, where women painstakingly cover every inch of their hair but leave the necks, ears and a hint of cleavage open? I also fail to understand how donning the head scarf, yet continuing to wear otherwise figure and skin revealing clothes, and/or caking your facial features with defining makeup, conveys a practice of modesty. I remember a teacher in my school converting into a hijabi, only to realize that her abayas were trimmed to show off her curves, the make up remained intact, and her gossip about potential boyfriends remained unchecked by the abaya. And I fail to understand the hypocracy when off come their head & face covers and abayas in the presence of their brothers-in-law, for instance.

How does simply covering one’s hair/head, then, translate into modesty?

Furthermore, for those hijabis who actually don such body covers in their true spirit and form, what explains their being teased and followed and oggled at by the same men who advocate modest appearance? Are these somehow giving off specific invisible sexual signals to “innocent” Muslim men from behind their capes?

I do not for one second believe that a mere piece of cloth will solve the problems in our society related to morality, piety, and respect. Ever heard of the Urdu phrase that you need two hands to clap? Well, similarly works the idea of a modest society.

Let me elaborate: often it so happens that I cover my head while travelling by public transport, and take off the head scarf once in more comfortable company (company that respects me for who i am, and accepts my choices without question or without taking any sort of advantage of those choices). I see NO change in the way I am oggled at on the street despite being more modestly dressed on the road. In fact, at times when I am dressed more conservatively, I have actually been checked out in by rikshaw drivers in their rear view mirrors and even followed and harrassed on the road, during Ramzan. Would any of the hijab-lovers care to explain why their magic cloak failed to work on me or in other such similar cases?

Hint: focus at least equally on the up-bringing of the men of this society, where everything is directed on the female to such an extent that woman, whether half naked or half covered, is always objectified, especially by preachers such as self-righteous, misguided half-mullahs and other such mullah-like beings.

Don’t agree with me? Perhaps the following might help:

Advocates of hijab are often heard saying things like “Being a woman/female, you must cover your beauty”, “In order to avert lustful gazes of men you must protect your beauty by covering yourself up so as not to attract the same”, and “Your not covering up means you are flaunting your curves and other aspects of physical beauty for the benefit of lustful ogglers”. By this logic then, fat, short, dark and physically & facially deformed/unattractive Muslim women can easily be exempt from practicing hijab, no?

People, i don’t know about your eyes, but you seriously need to open your hearts and minds – your minds to Allah’s intended messages, and your hearts to His creatures and their choices (choices being Allah’s test for His creatures). If Allah wanted to make something compulsory on us so bad, He would not have needed to test us via the concept of choice; He would not have made us different from farishtas and robots.

You want modesty? Stop lying (even our Holy Prophet, may peace be upon him, is said to have guided a man seeking to get rid of all his evil habits, by telling him simply and only to stop lying). Stop cheating. Stop backbiting. Stop envying others for everything and anything that they seem to have more than you. Genuinely respect His human beings for who they are, not what they wear or what they choose not to wear. Stop focusing on outer appearances – merely covering one’s head or wearing a coat does not necessarily and on its own make a Muslim woman pious or respectful, just like merely having a beard & wearing shalwars over the ankles does not necessarily and on its own make a Muslim man pious and respectful.

Focus instead on goodness – goodness of intentions. And leave the judging of actions to Him Whose job it is.

If you must absolutely feel the need to make other Muslims perfect/better Muslims, first ensure that no one can find any imperfection or room for improvement in the way you practice the teachings of Islam. Then ensure you know how to teach – try to convince others to the right path, try to emulate the prophet’s gentle way of preaching, rather than choosing the path of extremist freaks.

On this note, a happy World Hijab Day to hijabis who deserve to celebrate it because they know how to be modest, without needing to depend on or go against the way they dress.

PS. I am expecting the readers of this blog to be educated and mature. Therefore, I will not be entertaining anyone who, say, comments or takes away the message from this post that I am in any way implying that acts of immodesty, (such as obvious display of skin and other body parts openly or by means of figure hugging clothes), may not be condemned via action, word or thought.

what say you?

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