Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
Seeking Advancement of Knowledge through Spiritual and Intellectual Growth
Articles 1 - 1000 |
Articles 1001-2000 |
Articles 2001 - 3000 |
Articles 3001 - 4000 |
Articles 4001 - 5000 |
Articles 5001 - 6000
January 22, 2008 03:51 PM
When Ibtissum Mustaq's family moved to Canada, her
Muslim parents thought they had to conform to be Canadian.
"Me, I don't question being Canadian, I am just trying to figure out
the rest of my identity," Mustaq said. "I can be a Muslim and a
Canadian at the same time."
What she's referring to is her decision at 15 to become a practicing Muslim,
including wearing the religious head scarf or hijab, and her mother's
disapproval of her decision for fear it would hinder her in Canadian society.
Abdul Hai Patel, Muslim chaplain at the University of Toronto and for York
Regional Police, and director of interfaith relations, Canadian Council of
Imams, said many Muslim parents fear their children won't be accepted, or face
discrimination, if they wear the hijab.
He said while there was a time when wearing a hijab was less accepted, it
should not hinder women from wearing it in their daily lives as well as at
their place of employment.
"Wearing (a) hijab does not preclude one from participating in any
activities and a lot of employers now are hiring people, the banks being the
first back in the '80s," Patel said. "Today, we see more people in
front-line jobs wearing hijabs; it's more common today than before."
Asma Rahman, a 17-year-old Scarborough high school student, said there are
many girls who wear the hijab in her school and she feels accepted by her
"I have never faced any humiliation or bullying because I wear the
hijab and abhaya (a traditional long dress)," Rahman said. "It
doesn't restrict me from doing anything, I'm very active in everything in
school, I'm a prefect, the editor of school newspaper and yearbook."
Mustaq said she, too, has never had problems wearing the hijab and said she
got all the jobs she's ever had on her own merit, not because of the way she
Patel said it's commonly believed that women who wear some form of covering
are forced and oppressed, but besides it being a religious garment, for many,
it is a cultural norm.
"The Muslim community is not homogeneous, there are people from
different cultures, nationalities and ethnicities," he said. "In some
countries it's very common not to wear it, or some wear it or some don't,
others still may feel out of place if they don't wear it."
Mustaq said never once has her wearing the head covering equaled oppression.
"It was complete opposite of oppression, it was liberation," she
said. "I was definitely judged by the skills I brought to the table."
Patel also said when people come to Canada they make a choice; some wear the
hijab because they are accustomed to it, and other decide to begin wearing it
as a religious requirement and to protect their values in a new society.
Both Mustaq and Rahman wear the hijab for both those reasons; however, they
disagree about what not wearing one means.
Mustaq said while she wears the hijab, she wouldn't call a fellow Muslim
"improper" if they don't. She said while some think you have to pray,
fast and wear the hijab to be a proper Muslim, she thinks prayer is more
"It's not about being better ... the hijab is an issue among Muslims.
Some say you have to wear it, others say you don't ... but prayer isn't debated
and I, even all these years, have trouble praying five times a day," she
"But I am able to wear hijab, it was something I could do on a regular
basis, the prayer I'm still working on and I think prayer is more important
Rahman thinks if you don't wear one than you're not a complete Muslim.
"The hijab is obligatory, so if you're talking about being a proper
Muslim and following Islam then you must wear the hijab," Rahman said.
"With prayer you have to follow other things, too; you can't just take one
Patel said that is one of the internal issues of the faith because everyone
has their individual beliefs on the correct way to be a Muslim.
"If one practices some of it (the tenets) that person is responsible
for their choice in the eyes of God, it's not for other people to judge."
In regards to it being "all or nothing" as Rahman believes, Patel
said "people have a right to practice religion as much as they want and
each person is responsible for how much he or she does."
Please report any
broken links to
Copyright © 1988-2012 irfi.org. All Rights Reserved.