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Hijabs and Burqas

Published July 20, 2008 Uncategorized
Tags: burqa, burqas, hijab, hijabs, islam, muslim women, muslims, oppression

Over the last few years, Iíve noticed more women in public and at work with a hijab. I donít like the whole concept of the hijab and I cringe every time I see one. Iíve looked into what wearing it means and there are some contraditions but generally it is worn as a show of modesty. Hereís what wikipedia says about it:

from wikipedia:

Hijab or ħijāb (حجاب, pronounced: [ħi.ˈdʒśːb]) is the Arabic term for ďcoverĒ (noun), based on the root حجب meaning ďto veil, to cover (verb), to screen, to shelterĒ.

In some Arabic-speaking countries and Western countries, the common meaning of hijab currently is of ďmodest dress for women,Ē which most Islamic legal systems define as covering everything except the face and hands in public.[1] Since the 1970s, hijab has emerged as a symbol of Islamic consciousness ďand an affirmation of Islamic identity and moralityĒ in opposition to ďWestern materialism, commercialism, and values.Ē[2]

According to Islamic scholarship, hijab is given the wider meaning of modesty, privacy, and morality.[2] The word used in the Qurían for a headscarf or veil is khimār (خمار). Still another definition is metaphysical, where al-hijab ďrefers to the veil which separates man or the world from God.Ē[3]

According to the Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, the meaning of hijab has evolved over time:

The term hijab or veil is not used in the Qurían to refer to an article of clothing for women or men, rather it refers to a spatial curtain that divides or provides privacy. The Qurían instructs the male believers (Muslims) to talk to wives of Muhammad behind a hijab. This hijab was the responsibility of the men and not the wives of Muhammad. However, in later Muslim societies this instruction, specific to the wives of Muhammad, was generalized, leading to the segregation of the Muslim men and women. The modesty in Qurían concerns both menís and womenís gaze, gait, garments, and genitalia. The clothing for women involves khumūr over the necklines and jilbab (cloaks) in public so that they may be identified and not harmed. Guidelines for covering of the entire body except for the hands, the feet, and the face, are found in texts of fiqh and hadith that are developed later.[4]

Muslims differ as to how hijab dress should be enforced, particularly over the role of religious police that are or have been enforing hijab in Iran and Afghanistan.

Muslim women who wear a hijab can justify it and rationalize it all they want, but I donít think it is a positive thing and I never will. The hijab erases women of their identity in my opinion, and it is a ridiculously outdated tradition. I find it oppressive as well, because it erases a womanís identity and I find it sexist that only women feel compelled to wear as a display of their faith and modesty. Men should wear a hijab as well it it is a display of modesty and faith.

On Friday I saw a woman wearing a burqa during a very hot summer day her in Ontario. It was the first time I saw a woman wearing a burqa here, and it was very shocking to me.

from wikipedia:

A burqa (also transliterated burkha, burka or burqua) (Persian: برقع) is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions for the purpose of cloaking the entire body. It is worn over the usual daily clothing (often a long dress or a shalwar kameez) and removed when the woman returns to the sanctuary of the household (see purdah).


Many Muslims believe that the Islamic holy book, the Qurían, and the collected traditions of the life of Muhammed, or hadith, require both men and women to dress and behave modestly in public. However, this requirement, called hijab, has been interpreted in many different ways by Islamic scholars (ulema) and Muslim communities (see Women and Islam); the burqa is not specifically mentioned in the Quran.

Iíve read ĎThe Kite Runnerí and ĎA Thousand Splendid Sunsí and Iím not convinced that women choose to wear a burqa. Maybe some do, but it just shows me that this religion has a brainwashing element to it as I just canít believe a woman would welcome wearing a garment over their clothes during a heat wave.

Iím worried that all the progress feminists have made is being slowly eradicated by the influence of women in this culture. Patriarchal systems arenít healthy and they arenít good for women.

I find myself worried about society and Iím worried about the future because of the Islamics I see around me. I donít want to go backwards, but it seems like these women are accepting backwards ideas and praising it as religious devotion. I canít understand why a woman wouldnít question a religious idea that promotes oppressive traditions and patriarchial systems. Muslim women should question oppressive traditions and they should reject them. Women should have equal opportunities no matter what religion or culture they belong to.


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2 Responses to ďHijabs and BurqasĒ

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1 Basbousa July 21, 2008 at 8:27 am

Well I chose to wear hijab when I was an adult. Itís a choice I never regret. I didnít lose any of my identity, if one has a strong personality it would shine through even a burqaÖ And there are tons of colors and nice clothes you could use as a ďhijabiĒ to look fresh
Check out my site for hijab inspiration l I am a Muslim woman who wears hijab AND Iím a feminist. And hereís more surprising news: Iím far from the only one!

Iím really surprised that you believe Iíve no identity because of my headscarf. Is it anytime someone dons something on their head? Or only when itís an expression of faith? Why does a womanís expression of faith erase her? Are nuns devoid of individuality, do you think? Anyway, this hijab as invisibility cloak is foreign to me because although I recognize that it has symbolism and carries meaning, it really is just clothing.

Also, sometimes hijab is worn for cultural reasons. So, in our society, people who follow the cultural normÖ are erased?

I think instead of viewing us from afar, you should talk to these women you are seeing. Youíll find that weíre just like anybody else. In fact, you seem to be unaware of a whole world of women, strong, vibrant womenÖ who also happen to wear a scarf or a veil.

Men *do* hijab, itís just a little different. Muslim men are required to dress and behave modestly, and many maintain beards (some say itís necessary for a man to have a beard, some say itís optional.) So Muslim men have similar requirements to us.

I donít know any women who wear burqa, but I know women who wear niqaab (face veil), and none of them are forced. They all wanted this for themselves and are quite happy with it.

How is it brainwashing that I cover up in summer? Yes, itís hot, but itís hot for everybody, even those in tank tops and shorts. Iíve experienced summer both ways (I, too, began covering as an adult) and actually, Iíd rather be all covered up in the sun. You could argue that just about anything we humans do is brainwashing then. No, itís not brainwashing. Itís opinion, itís a choice.

How very egalitarian of you to tell all women that the only good opinion, the only good choice is yours. Well, Iím a woman, too. Iím a feminist, too. And Iíve arrived at a different conclusion from yours. There is nothing negative or anti-woman about my life! We can follow different paths in our lives and still be woman-identified.


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