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Why do you wear that? (Hijab)

Monday, May 26, 2008

True story: when I was younger, I was astounded to learn there were Muslims in other countries. To clarify, in case I seem especially dense, I was like 8 or something. It's not that I thought that Scotland was the only countries that Muslims existed in - I just never imagined them living anywhere else (unless you count Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, since I'd been there and seen em). The first time I heard someone saying 'Asalaamu Alaikum' with an American or French or German accent, I cracked up - it just seemed so weird.

Not exactly linked, but: I recently learned something else I never knew, simply because of never thinking of it.
There are non-Muslims who wear hijab. That blows my mind. There are non-Muslim women out there who routinely wear hijab, out of choice? It's not that I thought it was impossible, but I just never thought of the possibility!

I guess I shouldn't really be surprised though... Muslim women are always going on about their reasons for wearing hijab, and a lot of those reasons would appeal to non-Muslim women as well, especially if they're sick of being objectified and judged purely on appearance straight off the bat. Thing is, the reasons the girl gives in the video are similar to what I'd tell girls at school when they'd ask why I wore hijab -I'd mostly tell them about the benefits I'd found, not the actual reason, other than when I'd start off with 'well, it's part of my religion..'.

I thought all Muslim women had the same core reason I did, that hijab is part of ibadah - you wear it to please Allah. I suppose I should have learnt already that I shouldn't assume things, since I'm almost uniformly wrong.

Shortly after starting university, I had a hijabi Muslim girl ask me when I started wearing hijab, and why. I told her I started when I started high school, since it seemed like a good milestone. 'But, do you know why you wear hijab?', she asked. Uhh... because Islamically, you're meant to? But she kept asking 'do you know why?'. Well, modesty and so on.. and to cover your adornment... but mostly to please Allah... She let me keep talking till I trailed off, then let me know I was wrong. She told me that Islamically, women should not be seen, and that niqab was the gold standard [I don't debate this - I've learnt that debating hijab criteria is not a good path to go down, with anyone].

'The reason we wear hijab, is because it's a small sin to show your face, but it would be a big sin not to cover your hair at all'. She then proceeded to tell me all the punishments that would be brought upon the women who don't wear hijab. And how a woman in a Pakistani village, who used to dress immodestly and wear makeup and everything, was heard crying in her grave, and when the villagers eventually dug her up, she dashed into her house and locked herself in. When the villagers tried to talk to her, she refused to see them because she was too ashamed. Eventually, she let someone in, and she was completely disfigured - she had been scalped, because she used to show off her hair. Her lips had been ripped off, because she wore lipstick. Her nails were torn out because she wore nail polish. [And so on, you get the point]. Apparently, she had been raised from the dead as a message for all Muslim women - if you don't hijab up, this is what'll happen. All this was narrated to her on a recording of a Maulvi giving a lecture on hijab. 'When I heard that, I just started wearing hijab that minute', my friend told me. Well, the story, however factual, had resulted in something good in the end. Who am I to argue?

I got to thinking.. is it right to do something purely to avoid punishment? And is it any of my business?


iMuslim said...

"is it right to do something purely to avoid punishment?"

I believe "yes", as long as the punishment is genuine. Allah az-wajal frequently warns wrongdoers in the Qur'an about the fate that awaits them in the Hell Fire, if they continue on the wrong path. He does this to discourage their evil actions. In the same way, He uses the descriptions of Jannah as an incentive to believe and do good deeds.

In the case that you described, I am sceptical as to whether what happened actually happened. I think I have read narrations of incidents where sahaba heard voices from graves, and of seeing dreams of people who had already passed on. However, for the woman to jump out of her grave back into her house and start talking to people... that's a little excessive, IMO. Allah knows best.

However the punishment of the grave is true, may we be protected from it, and it can apply to any kind of disobedience, which would include not observing hijab. If the sister fears the punishment of the grave, that would be a valid reason for observing the hijab. Again, Allah knows best.
26/5/08 10:38 PM

iMuslim said...

Oh, and wrt this question:

"And is it any of my business?"

It is if someone else makes it your business, in way the hijabi sis did. :)

26/5/08 10:50 PM Muneeb said...

I don't know but usually when I go out and talk about Islamic commandments with people, the last thing I touch is the punishments. I believe that's a big turn off.

It's more down to creating a level of excitement about each commandment through telling them what they will get by FOLLOWING the order rather than NOT following it. So I suppose the trick is to show off 10 virtues and 1 punishment. And it fairly works.

So even if someone had to come up with a factual story, it should've been about a hijabi who jumped outta her grave and was more beautiful than all the Hollywood actresses combined :D
26/5/08 11:36 PM 

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