As a Muslim woman, I felt the need to respond back to the article, written by Lamya Kaddor, entitled “Why I as a Muslim Woman Don’t Wear a Headscarf”. It was recently posted by Projek Dialog on the 10th of June 2014. Although the article was dated back in 2011, I wonder why Projek Dialog brought up the article again recently.
“Thanks to the achievements of a free and democratic state, and thanks to the prevalent understanding of relations between the sexes, you no longer necessarily need a head covering in order to live morally. The headscarf has become obsolete.”
– Lamya Kaddor
I was puzzled as why a fellow Muslim sister could ever think that part of the Quran is obsolete. Be it 200 years back or 200 years in the future, the Quran is the words of Allah and it will always be the guidance for every Muslim, at any time and at any place. Allah stated in the Quran, surah al-Baqarah, verse 85:
“Then, you are those [same ones who are] killing one another and evicting a party of your people from their homes, cooperating against them in sin and aggression. And if they come to you as captives, you ransom them, although their eviction was forbidden to you. So do you believe in part of the Scripture and disbelieve in part? Then what is the recompense for those who do that among you except disgrace in worldly life; and on the Day of Resurrection they will be sent back to the severest of punishment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.”
Allah reprimanded the children of Israel for their partial obedience to His orders as stated in surah al-Baqarah, verse 85. Refusing to obey any part of the Quran is a disgrace in the worldly life and will be punished with the most grievous chastisement. By admitting that a part is no longer true, it is as if you are exercising partial belief. A partial belief is believing in part of the Quran and denouncing another part of it. If you reject any part of the Quran then you are rejecting the whole Holy Book. The command ordained by Allah is divine. Either in His Book or through His Messengger, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), there is no place for someone to say that it is no longer valid.
Why I Wear a Headscarf
Yes, the Quran demands women to cover themselves except the face and the hands until the wrist. There were no elderly men who oppressed any woman to wear the hijab and to cover their aurah. The words in the Quran are the words from Allah and how could a self-proclaimed scholar deny that? It is stated in the Quran, Surah an-Nur, verse 31:
“And say to the faithful women to lower their gazes, and to guard their private parts, and not to display their adornment except what is apparent of it, and to extend their headcoverings (khimars) to cover their bosoms, and not to display their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their womenfolk, or what their right hands rule (slaves), or the followers from the men (old) who do not feel sexual desire, or the small children to whom the nakedness of women is not apparent, and not to strike their feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide of their adornments. And turn in repentance to Allah together, O you the faithful, in order that you are successful”
When the Prohet Muhammad (peace be upon him) first received this verse, he then told the companions, to memorize them and let their wives and daugthers know. When the women of the believers heard the companions walking down the street while reciting the verse, they immediately tore the curtains of their home and cloaked themselves even before their husbands told them to do so. That was a true act of:
“We hear and we obey”
And that was what made them the women of the believers. Yet how can anyone ever say that head covering instruction in the Quran is outdated? Women wear hijab because they have the control over themselves. They have the options to expose it certain groups of men, for example her father and her sons, and her husband. The reason they cover themselve in accordance of the Quran because that is what Allah says and that is what will please Allah. It is also really perplexing how a “scholar” only refers to the verses of the Quran and not the Sunnah of the prophets. She indicated that the form of covering is only stated once in the Quran, which is in the surah An-Nur, verse 31. But as a Muslim, we know that we have both the Quran and the Sunnah as our guidance. We should not disregard the hadith as our references and there are a lot of hadiths that can confirm the obligation for Muslim women to cover themselves.
According to Abu Dawud, it was reported by Aisha (r), “Asma’ the daughter of Abu Bakar (r) came to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) while wearing thin clothing. He approached her and said: ‘O Asma’!When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this. He pointed to the face and the hands.”
Apart from surah an-Nur, in the surah al-Ahzab, verse 59, also mentioned about the Muslim women’s aurah.
“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.”
And covering our hair is part of covering our aurah. As stated above, the reasons for covering our aurah is to identify us as being a Muslim and not to be abused. Hijab is an act of truthfulness. We want people to recognize us as being Muslim women. We want everyone to know that we are Muslim and that we are very proud of it. And this piece of cloth says a lot too. The hijab tells the people that the women you are seeing wearing the hijab, are women filled with courage, strength and integrity. These women will not lie nor deceive. They will be the best of everything that they can be. They will be the best mothers, the best sisters, the best employers and employees. The hijab tells people that you can trust them. But that piece of clothing is also a warning. It tells people that the woman understands her words, her value and she is not a toy to be played with. It tells people that you need to take her seriously.
Misogyny as what I understand is the hatred towards women but Islam is nothing close to that and you cannot assume our Islamic scholars are misogynist because they are following the teaching of the Quran and Sunnah. Just because you feel that the head covering is an opression (which is not!), you then argue that our Islamic scholars are misogynist? Islam is a religion that appreciates women. I remember an advice that Muhammad Ali once gave to her daughters that touches my heart deeply. Muhammad Ali, an American former professional boxer said to her daughters:
“Everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get. Where do you find diamonds?Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do find gold? Way down in the mine, covered with layers and layers of rock. You have got to work hard to get to them.
Your body is sacred. You are far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.”
Diamonds, pearls, and golds are the gems of the world and they are hidden deep down in the ocean and earth.Why do you think that we have to cover our whole body except the face and the hand? Because we are treasures!Muslim women are treasures of Islam.
The law of Islam is favoring women. Besides Lamya’s debate on the hijab, there are others who disagree on the treatment of Muslim men and women. In Will agreement for instance, people argue why do men receive double the amount of inheritance than women? Well, that is simply because men have to pay the dowry, take care of the family and feed the family. The women are allowed to keep the money to themselves while men can’t. Why there was no argument on why men have to pray the 5 times daily since puberty until they are dead? Even if men are in war, even if they have fatal disease, they must pray. They cannot miss even a single prayer. Women, on the other hand, are given an average of 7 off days per month where they are not required to pray.
Besides that, the Quran does not only put the emphasis on chaste behaviour for women. In surah An-Nur, verse 30, Allah also stated that the believing men need to lower their gaze and guard their private parts. You do not see the believing men wearing shorts and being topless when the sun is scorching. No. They too need to cover their aurah properly, and they too need to dress modestly. The clothings of the believing men shall not be transparent and see through, they shall not be tight fitting that it shows the figure, not to be glamorous that it attracts the opposite sex, shall not resembles the clothings of the opposite sex, and shall not resemble the clothings of the non-believers.
It saddens me to have a fellow Muslim sister to think that there is a part of the Quran which is out-dated. The Quran illuminates the heart and bring forth potential in humans, be it men or women. It enlightens you internally and illuminates your externally. The hijab or the head covering shall never be obsolete. Never.
Wan Aisyah Wan Iskandar,
JK Beliawanis PEMBINA