1- Why do we claim that hijab is a human fault committed against women?
3- A group of Muslim women awaiting prayers:
4- Buddhist women:
5- Hindu women:
6- Sikh women:
7- Jain women:
8- Parsi Zoroastrian women:
So.. What are those pictures trying to tell us? Can you read them? Apparently, women who follow non-Abrahamic religions also cover their heads, as you see. What does this invite us to conclude? I, personally, believe that this dress code is purely traditional, passed down from one generation to the other.. Just like men in the Gulf who cover their heads with aggal.. or other Muslim men who wear turbans, or 3emma, like men of Azhar.. or those who wear chitral, like Afghani men. Can we call this hijab? Can we force men to wear it, knowing that Prophet Muhammed used to cover his head? I don't think so.
Moreover, it is normal to see a male sheikh who doesn't wear a 3emma nowadays.. although this was completely out of question in the past. Does this make the sheikh who doesn't wear the traditional 3emma guilty in any way? Can we judge him to be less moral or less religious than other sheikhs who do wear it? It is a traditional way of dressing, people. All kinds of clothes are passed down through imitation.. That's what we now call "fashion".
Islam, like all other religions, never told people what to wear. It is a matter of what people decide to wear at a certain time. We are only demanded, men and women, to dress modestly while praying.. like all other religions. A man can not pray in his shorts, although there is no clear or direct verse in Quran to prohibit that. But, logically, measuring on other demands in Quran, we can easily reach this rule. It is the same with females.. who were only instructed to wear moderate, conservative clothes, that won't cause "NORMAL men" (and i insist here on NORMAL) to be seduced.. or invite morally corrupt or sick men to abuse them, or harass them sexually. What was said is clear: Cover those parts that are private.. Don't wear sheer fabrics.. Don't wear tight clothes.. And try to keep away from too much accessories.
These are the demands of God. That's how women were asked to dress according to the Quran, which God declared to be complete and whole. He could have easily told women "Cover your hair" or "Cover your breasts" or "Cover your legs".. But He didn't, because He created this world and He knows that people's habits change from time to time, and from place to place. He didn't care to put a piece of cloth on women's heads. He only instructed them on how to protect themselves and how to avoid sinning by means of (intended) seduction. Accordingly, the choice of outfit was totally left to humans. They decide according to their culture, traditions and times what is considered to be appropriate and what is not. How can God order a Muslim woman who lives in equatorial Africa (in Kenya or Congo or Ughanda) to wear hijab or niqab? She will be committing suicide if she did! Besides, with global warming - which we know is a fact - the Earth's temperature is expected to rise.. which will make poor countries, which don't have proper homes, not to mention air-conditions, a living hell. Don't you think God knows about that? How can He then demand women there to wear the thick black niqab of Saudi Arabia? We all know that women are flogged (in one of the hottest countries during summer) if they don't abide by this dress code. What would please God in that? Do you think their rich women, who are married to the princes of oil, would find any difficulty in wearing this outfit? Those who have air conditioned luxury cars, with chauffeurs.. Those who live in villas with central air conditioning.. Those who wear original brands underneath their black abayas! Would they suffer in any way?
There is the Isdal/Chador of Iran:
There is the Talibani Burqa of Afghanistan:
There is the Khimar:
There is the Egyptian head scarf which covers/uncovers the neck:
Each woman of those thinks she is wearing the right hijab. Each woman of those thinks her hijab is better than the rest. Each woman of those believes that her dress is religious. None of them is right, and none of them is wrong. Nobody can objectively tell who is better than who. Nobody can prove any claim of superiority of one of those styles.
It is enough to show your face down a Saudi street to receive lashes on your back. So, do you think they believe that women who cover their hair and show their faces will enter heaven? Can an Egyptian girl who is convinced with her hijab wear it there? Can she convince them that she is not upsetting God? Can she get the women there to believe that she may be rewarded as well as them in afterlife?
In short.. There is no such thing as Islamic hijab.. There is only traditional/cultural hijab.. The hijab approved by the community where a female lives.. Just like any other set of traditions that she must follow in order to win the respect of her community. In some African tribes, it is normal for women to walk topless in public, while it is shameful to reveal their legs. We may find it strange, we may disapprove of it, but we should respect their culture.. because that is what they believe to be right, and thus is of high value to them.
Many people are surprised that I am not against hijab although I don't believe that it is a must, or that God would put it into consideration while judging my soul. The reason is that I respect the beliefs of others so much.. as long as that's what they are truly convinced with. Moderate secular thinkers are not extremists.. And that is what I meant to say through this discussion of my personal opinion of hijab as a dress code. Moderate secularists agree that a woman is free to wear hijab when it becomes her choice. They respect others' beliefs, even if they disagree with them. They don't pass judgements or condemn others. They don't seek to force women to take their hijab/niqab off their heads/faces.. but they wish them to take it off their minds. Talking about the origins of hijab, or how it found its way back to Egypt, is not an attempt to shake the belief of others. WE DON'T DO THAT. We are the ones being accused all the time of having weak faith. We are the ones who are insulted for questioning human explanations of religion. We are the ones being attacked because we don't wear hijab. Thus, our aim is to let others see things from our side, in the hope that they would be more understanding and tolerant.. not to tell them "you are wrong". The person who aims to force others to adopt his/her ideas is not a secularist. All we want is coexistence. We don't want to be accused of athiesm or lack of ethics. We don't want female secularists to be disrespected or considered to be women of easy virtue. Don't you think it is fair enough?
I said it many times, and I will say it again. Variety is the law of life. Difference will always exist. We have to accept one another without trying to wipe away differences. God could have easily created us all the same. Thus, our ability to tolerate difference is a virtue, and will be rewarded by God. Moderates, whether agreeing or disagreeing with hijab, should always have a quite dialogue based on logic. Disagreement is not equivalent to hostility. We shouldn't be putting any person who disagrees with us in the place of our enemy. We would be losing many good friends if we do so, as well as creating false stereotypes. When we seek to compare views, we should make a balanced comparison. We shouldn't show all those who differ with us as the opposite extreme.
Moderate people, should compare their views to those of other moderate people. You wouldn't like others to say that all those who wear hijab are terrorists, would you? You wouldn't like them to say that those who agree with hijab want to force everybody else to wear it. So, it won't be fair when you use the same way of thinking with others. Always look for similarities instead of difference. What unites us as humans is much much more than any differences between us.
Daughter of Sheikh Hassan Al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, unveiled and wearing make-up