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Hijab and Liberty

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At the beginning of the fifth year of the 21st century we – Muslims & non-Muslims – are still arguing about the veil (or hijab in Arabic). Some people see it as a chain around women’s necks preventing them from achieving their role in the society. 

I however think that the issue of women’s rights is an international one regardless of the religion that prevails in the society. The problems that face women in general are directly related to three main points:

  1. The education women receive;
  2. The level of understanding the society has to the role of women;
  3. The level of awareness that women have about their role in the society.

When those three points are fulfilled,only then women can get their rights in a perfect way in any society regardless of religion. Islam, for example, gives women the maximum freedom, because it considers them an integral part in the society. The woman is the mother, the sister, the wife, the daughter, the co-worker. She works in hand with man to improve the society. Islam puts some limitations however; she must cover most of her body and her hair with a veil, it's a rule and a law which we can't deny according to this verse from the Holy Qur’an that says:

“O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, that so they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (The Holy Qur’an, the chapter of Alahzab: verse 59) 

This rule was established to help in reaching the sate of modesty and decency.

It’s noteworthy that this state modesty is for both males and females according to the following verses: 

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is Aware of what they do.” (The Holy Qur’an , the chapter of Annour: verse 30, Pickthall’s translation)

“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands fathers, or their sons or their husbands' sons, or their brothers or their brothers' sons or sisters sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigour, or children who know naught of women's nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed.” (The Holy Qur’an , the chapter of Annour: verse 31, Pickthall’s translation)

This modesty is important to make the society work in balance as this provides security for both men and women. When women wear moderate and suitable clothes, men can deal with them as their counterparts. In addition to the veil or the headscarf, the clothes woman wear must fulfillthe following conditions:

  1. They should not describe the details of the body;
  2. They should not show any part of the body except the face and the hands.

There's nothing called a “typical Islamic catalogue” for clothes that all women must follow; it is rather an open issues according to the traditions of each society and time. The idea that hijab means that women are oppressed and have no rights is 101% wrong, because Women have rights and they are even commanded to contribute with men in developing the society to the better. If Islam thinks that women have no value or that they are something to be kept away from the public life because they are a source of shame, Islam would have put a rule to forbid women from doing anything or leaving home. On the contrary, Islam gives the Muslim woman the freedom to do anything as long as she's wearing clothes that match the two conditions of the hijab.

In the light of what I explained earlier, I really wonder why do some people have the idea that Muslim women who wear the hijab are conservative, while those who chose to dress differently and not very demurely are liberals? To me, the idea of conservatism vs. liberalism in Islam is much related to the mentality of the woman and not what she wears, which means:

  • I call a woman conservative when her mind is blocked from understating and acting in the right way in life, whether she’s veiled or not;
  • I call woman a liberal when her mind is opened for understanding and acting in the right way in life, whether she’s veiled or not.

Please note that I'm not attacking the Muslim woman who did not wear the hijab, but rather I’m telling the truth and whole the truth and nothing but the truth.

Allah almighty is the only one who has the right to judge according to the work and will.

Hicham Maged -

Hicham Maged [Hishaam Maajid] has a bachelor's degree in architecture and urban planning and design.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 May 2007 15:58  

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