Thursday, September 22, 2005

On the Hijab ...



The French authorities may have banned schoolgirls from wearing the Hijab on the pretext that this was tantamount to advertisement of religion - which is not permitted in French schools. But if Mary, mother of Jesus (peace be upon him) could wear a hijab, then why not our sisters and mothers?

Note: I have censored the depiction of the face of Mary, may God be pleased with her, according to the beautiful method of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), who immediately covered a portrait of the blessed lady with his hand when he noticed it inside the Ka'aba at the occasion of the Conquest of Makkah.

8 comments:

George Carty said...

I can't understand why the hijab provokes such a strong emotional reaction! It does with me too - seeing a hijab-wearing Muslimah moves me almost to the point of tears (not because I pity her, but because I think she looks so beautiful), and also provokes an intense 'protective' instinct in me.

Any thoughts?

(I suspect that perhaps I feel "femininity-starved" because so many women in the West dress similarly to men, under the influence of "feminist" - really androgynist - ideology.)

Renaissance Scientist said...

I will refer you to the following brilliant article, titled "Women and Hijaab":

http://www.minhajsisters.com/home/articles/index.minhaj?dir=&id=10

One will realize that the hijab provokes such a strong emotional reaction because "the order for women to cover is a direct commandment of Allah (swt) and cannot be denied and rejected. Women must cover because Allah Almighty has deemed it to be so."

George Carty said...

Thanks a lot for your response, but your point that "the order for women to cover is a direct commandment of Allah" (according to Islam) does not explain why it provokes such a reaction in a non-Muslim such as myself...

Renaissance Scientist said...

To understand why the hijab provokes such a strong reaction in non-Muslims, especially Western non-Muslims, one must consider the history of Europe. It may be noted, as I have noted in my original posting, that Mary, mother of Jesus (peace be upon him), preferred to wear the hijab, as can be attested by the fact that virtually all portraits of the blessed lady have depicted her with the hijab. At some point in history, Christian women got rid of the hijab, even though portraits of Mary (may God be pleased with her) continued to depict her with the hijab. The hijab, which was originally meant for all women, became confined only to a select group of women called the nuns. It was the historic battle between the Church and Science during the European Renaissance that finally helped to make the hijab so unpopular in Europe.

Everyone knows about how the Church was a great impediment to the progress of Science. The reason for this unfortunate conflict was the injection of Greek philosophy into the Bible centuries before the Renaissance even started. A significant portion of this Greek philosophy was unscientific and simply nonsense, but the upholders of the Church, unaware of this historic reality, sought to uphold the Bible as sacrosanct and thus vehemently opposed anything that was opposed to their set beliefs and patterns of thinking. In the battle between the Church and Science, the latter emerged victorious. While this victory paved the way for scientific progress and technological advancement in Europe, it also ensured the separation of the Church from the State. The Church, having thus lost its influential power, became an object of attack by the upholders of Science. Atheism became increasingly popular and morality levels plunged. Religion became "unscientific", faith became "blind", and secularism became the new religion of the European. Practices associated with religion became unpopular and frowned upon. One of these practices is the hijab, which, because of its association with nuns, became a symbol of oppression reminiscent of the oppression of the Church to advancement and progress. Thus, the woman who wears the hijab came to be considered as backward, conservative, or fundamentalist.

A very different story is found when one considers the history of Islam. It is important to note that while Christianity did away with the hijab, Islam did not. At the same time, while Christianity found itself at odds with Science, Islam found itself to be the impetus for Science. While Christianity lost its alliance with the State, Islam presented a framework for the establishment of the State. Thus emerges the modern Muslim woman, smart, confident, educated, and professional, with her all-too-conspicuous hijab. The European non-Muslim fails to come to terms with this combination of qualities because history seems to tell him, "There is something terribly wrong with that combination". Hence the strong emotional reaction.

George Carty said...

Wow, what a great post! It's a real pity that's a mere blog comment, it should really be a page in its own right! Now for some comments I'd like to make on it:

The hijab, which was originally meant for all women, became confined only to a select group of women called the nuns.

It's not just the dress of nuns which resembles that of Muslim women. Nuns call each other "sister" and monks call each other "brother" - just as Muslims do...

It was the historic battle between the Church and Science during the European Renaissance that finally helped to make the hijab so unpopular in Europe.

Didn't a lot of the changes not happen until the twentieth century though? The wearing of short skirts and dresses, or more often in today's world the abandonment of skirts and dresses in favour of trousers? Feminine dress itself is seen as a symbol of oppression...

Thus, the woman who wears the hijab came to be considered as backward, conservative, or fundamentalist.

Do you think many Westerners regard Eastern Europe as backward because not so long ago most women there wore headscarves similar to the Muslim hijab?

At the same time, while Christianity found itself at odds with Science, Islam found itself to be the impetus for Science. While Christianity lost its alliance with the State, Islam presented a framework for the establishment of the State.

I think the earlier history of Christianity and Islam also has a role. Christianity grew up within a pre-existing non-Christian empire, while Islam founded an empire of its own - this meant that Islam was more of a "ruling" religion than Christianity (for example, the Shari'ah has no Christian analogue).

The European non-Muslim fails to come to terms with this combination of qualities because history seems to tell him, "There is something terribly wrong with that combination".

With me, what REALLY started the alarm bells ringing in my mind was my hours of fruitless internet searching for a purely secular argument in favour of modesty in dress.

Renaissance Scientist said...

Thank you for your compliment. I too had felt that my comment had gone on rather too long and perhaps I should write it as a separate entry. Well, I have now made a separate entry where I have posted my answer to your query. (The entry is titled, "More on the Hijab: Why Does the Hijab Provoke a Strong Emotional Reaction in non-Muslims? ...")

As for your comments ...

It's not just the dress of nuns which resembles that of Muslim women. Nuns call each other "sister" and monks call each other "brother" - just as Muslims do...

The Qur'an has given due recognition to this resemblance in the following words:

Verily, you will find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers [Muslims] the Jews and those who are polytheists, and you will find the nearest in love to the believers [Muslims] those who say: "We are Christians." That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud. And when they [who call themselves Christians] listen to what has been sent down to the Messenger [Muhammad, peace be upon him], you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of the truth they have recognised. They say: "Our Lord! We believe; so write us down among the witnesses."And why should we not believe in God and in that which has come to us of the truth [Islamic Monotheism]? And we wish that our Lord will admit us [in Paradise on the Day of Resurrection] along with the righteous people [Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and his Companions]." So because of what they said, God rewarded them Gardens under which rivers flow [in Paradise], they will abide therein forever. Such is the reward of good doers. But those who disbelieved and belied Our Signs, they shall be the dwellers of the [Hell] Fire. (Quran, 5:82-86)

Didn't a lot of the changes not happen until the twentieth century though? The wearing of short skirts and dresses, or more often in today's world the abandonment of skirts and dresses in favour of trousers? Feminine dress itself is seen as a symbol of oppression...

Yes, short skirts and trousers appeared in the twentieth-century, but we were talking about the abandonment of the Hijab, and that process had taken place earlier.

Do you think many Westerners regard Eastern Europe as backward because not so long ago most women there wore headscarves similar to the Muslim hijab?

You have given a very plausible reason, but there may be other similar factors also involved.

I think the earlier history of Christianity and Islam also has a role. Christianity grew up within a pre-existing non-Christian empire, while Islam founded an empire of its own - this meant that Islam was more of a "ruling" religion than Christianity (for example, the Shari'ah has no Christian analogue).

yes, you are right there, but you have only echoed what I have said, namely that Christianity only allied itself with the State whilst Islam ordained the State. It is unfortunate that none of the 56 Muslim States in existence today follow the Sharia in toto, and that complicates matters further for the non-Muslim (and for the Muslim too).

George Carty said...

It is unfortunate that none of the 56 Muslim States in existence today follow the Sharia in toto

Is an ideal Islamic state any more possible than the ideal communist society (in real life, communism is a totalitarian nightmare), or the ideal individualist anarchy (in real life, anarchy means rule by gangs of thugs)?

After all, three out of the four Khalifah Rashidun were assassinated...

Renaissance Scientist said...

I have answered your question in a separate entry titled, "Which is More Practical: Islam, Communism, or Individualism?"