2003 August 27 Wednesday
Muslim Hijab Worn To Protect Females As Property

Razib of the Gene Expression blog has written an important article that examines the real reason why Muslim women wear the hijab and the buka to veil themselves.

“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, or their brothers' sons or their sisters' sons….” (Quran 24:31).”

This is closer to the spirit of how wearing hijab has been justified by Muslims in my experience. Raised within the Islamic community, I have been privy to many opinions and statements not manufactured for mainstream consumption, and American Muslims do not generally express views informed by the rights of women. Rather, rationalizations of their customs are rooted in non-Western premises. American Muslim women may assert in public that the hijab liberates them, but the practice comes from societies where women are viewed as property by male relatives.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 August 27 09:09 AM  Religion Secular Ideologies


Comments
Mufti Mahmoud Ali said at January 15, 2004 5:23 PM:


Hijab and modesty are two different things. If you ask a prostitute to wear Hijab, will it restore her chastity ?
The fact of the matter is that our Mullah is not ready to accept the reality that those who talk loud of Hijab consider woman as a property to be used by men as they like. Have you not seen the hadith (invented by the Mullas) that a woman who does not fulfill all the desires of her husband satisfactorily will not be allowed to enter heaven.
What the conservative Muslims do not understand is that men and women are the two opposite poles which equally attract each other and God has made them so in order to promote and maintain productivity. Men and women both have sex appeal and a handsome man with naked hairy legs and bare chest trigers sexual desire as much as a woman does. Then why do they insist to single out women and do not propose similar standards for men. This is a false assumption of morality and modesty.
Mufti Mahmoud Ali

Heather said at June 4, 2004 10:34 AM:

This comment is for Mufti Mahmoud Ali: You as a muslim, believing in the Quran and what it says, how can you post a comment like that and basically say that the hijab is the opression of women?? With that said this is for him and everyone else: If you are not a muslim, do not assume things about my religion. There are some cases where the parents of a young girl may force her to wear hijab because she doesnt understand the importance of it. But 9 times out of 10 if you see a woman wearing hijab it is because she made the decision to wear it not because her husband wants to control her and display her as his property. I don't think a Christian or a Jew would like it if i assumed things about their religion, so why assume things about Islam, a religion you obviously know nothing about?

Jahida said at April 27, 2005 8:43 AM:

Before any one can make any comments on the muslim hijab..have you asked your self do I have enough information about this topic to be commenting on it???
If not close this page and go do some researching..If you do have, then keep reading on...
The muslim hijab is not forced on anyone...Every person has a choice wheather to choose right or wheather to choose wrong...
If you choose not to wear the hijab no one will ask you why nor will they force you to put it on...It is entirely up to the person themselves...I know many people think that Muslim women who wear the hijab (clothing) are opressed yes it is true...we are opressed at times but do you know the reason to why this is??? because it is you people who make us feel this way with all yor comments...and ideas about US women..Islam does not ask only the women to cover but also the men...Islam asks women to wear long lose clothng and for men to wear short clothing (referring to their pants)... but nowa days it is the opposite..men wear lose and long clothing and ladies wear short and tight clothing...What has this world become???
So next time you decide on commenting on any RELIGION...think twice because your fooling yourself...

Rasheal Gabrasadig said at May 12, 2005 10:37 AM:

i am a Christian and i personally don't see anything wrong with the hijab the same way i don't see anything wrong with a nun wearing a veil to cover her hair or a sikh man wearing a turban. Before you think i don't know anything on the topic i would just like to explain that i was born in Sudan a muslim country and i speak Arabic. My parents both from a young age (when living in Sudan) had to study verses in the Quaran, learn sections by heart and take exams on it. They have taught me some things and we have a Quaran at home. So i would just like to say i have first hand experience of what its like living in a muslim country and how women are treated. Up till recently i thought Islam treated women and men equally. But then it was brought to my attention that the Quran and other muslim books permit beating of women and women must fulfill men's desires whenever they want surely this is a clear indication of inequality. here is the proof:
"And those (wives) you fear may be rebellious admonish; banish them to their couches, and beat them." (Qur'an 4:34, Arberry)
Some translations of the Qur'an have tried to suggest that the word of "beat" means to hit softly. However the same Arabic word is used in 8:12 which reads:

"When thy Lord inspired the angels, (saying:) I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger." (Qur'an 8:12, Pickthall)

Here are some hadiths about wife beating.

Umar reported the Prophet as saying, "A man will not be asked about why he beat his wife." (Mishkat Al-Masabih, p. 693: Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah)

Also in terms of mental capacity a women is less than a man in the Quaran:
Call in two male witnesses from among you, but if two men cannot be found, then one man and two women whom you judge fit to act as witnesses. (Qur'an 2:282 Dawood)

Why is it that the testimony of a woman is only worth half that of a man? Muhammad explains in the following hadith.

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: The Prophet (p.) said, "Isn't the witness of a women equal to half that of a man?" The women said "yes". He said "This is because of the deficiency of the women's mind." (Bukhari, vol. 3, hadith 826, p. 502)

I used to look at how women are treated in Islamic countries and think these people are not proper muslims, how can they do this? Now i understand that the Quaran justifies many of these actions. Many of the principles concerned with Islam i have to say i agree with regarding respect for the elderly etc but in terms of its view on male and female equality i do not agree with.

Dayone said at July 19, 2005 1:15 PM:

With regards to the passages in the Quaran pointed out by the previous poster we must keep in mind that the Quaran has many rules for both men and women and for a man to do these things to a "rebellous" woman we must assume that this man also adheres to all other rules laid out in the Quaran. In other words, any man who would do such a thing and not be questioned must be a true and righteous man according to all other rules of the Quaran. Any woman rebelling against this man is truly rebelling against righteousness according to the true meaning of the passage and even then it is listed as a last resort after admonition and the refusal of sharing a bed. Resorting to force as a last resort agaist those who rebell agaist righteousness is not reserved to only woman as men will go to war with men in the name of righteousness. This only means that women are not exempt but if the man is not truely righteous he has no grounds on which to do this. Yes many Muslim men improperly interpret and use this scripture the same as Christian men and women improperly interpret and use many of theirs. It is the nature of man to take what god gives and mess it up.
The hijab began with a positive righteous intent and has been misrepresented in some areas.

Anima said at July 19, 2005 8:13 PM:

A woman does not drape symbols of her oppression and utter debasement over her body willingly even though you Heather and others may believe that she does. Who would do that? If we woke up tomorrow and suddenly there was a law that said all muslim men must wear a hijab do you think they would do so willingly? No, of course not and they would also be utterly outraged and humiliated and rightfully so! It is possible to make human beings do anything - anything at all - all you have to do is socialize them to believe those things are right and that is what they will do! The human mind is not as strong in most people as you may think because most people are deeply afraid to think for themselves...it involves leaving what they believe is a safe world - a safe life - a life however in which one is both oppressed and an oppresseor is a tragic lost existence.
If you do not think molding the minds of people is easy I ask you, would you eat a plate of bugs and grubs? Plenty of people would because they were raised to do so. Would you eat bats or rats? Many do and have no problem with it.
All patriarchal religions oppress women. Any one may disagree as mush as they care to but then when they are through the same thing will be true...it will have not done anything for you.
Heather, you have a right - all women have a right to complete autonomy, until they have that nothing much more is going to change for them...wearing your hijab is the antithesis of autonomy and dignity i am sad to tell you.
People ask sarcastically where is feminism. Well, patriarchal religions killed the goddessess (all religions have goddesses - look into history all of you please) and the only way those patriarchal religions will survive is if women in a sense, say dead.
Women are the sacrafice, not Jesus. Women die at the hands of sinful evil men in the name of god every day around the world.
Patriarchal religion must ither
1) die or,
2) allow a goddesses to be exalted to equal status and worship her to
it would restore balance and harmony through out the world. If that does not happen wars will never stop - wars are purely of the male death principle - and in fact will increase, which is exactly what they are doing right now.
Humanity has been in gender chaos too long and cannot endure this much longer.

Anima said at July 19, 2005 8:13 PM:

A woman does not drape symbols of her oppression and utter debasement over her body willingly even though you Heather and others may believe that she does. Who would do that? If we woke up tomorrow and suddenly there was a law that said all muslim men must wear a hijab do you think they would do so willingly? No, of course not and they would also be utterly outraged and humiliated and rightfully so! It is possible to make human beings do anything - anything at all - all you have to do is socialize them to believe those things are right and that is what they will do! The human mind is not as strong in most people as you may think because most people are deeply afraid to think for themselves...it involves leaving what they believe is a safe world - a safe life - a life however in which one is both oppressed and an oppresseor is a tragic lost existence.
If you do not think molding the minds of people is easy I ask you, would you eat a plate of bugs and grubs? Plenty of people would because they were raised to do so. Would you eat bats or rats? Many do and have no problem with it.
All patriarchal religions oppress women. Any one may disagree as mush as they care to but then when they are through the same thing will be true...it will have not done anything for you.
Heather, you have a right - all women have a right to complete autonomy, until they have that nothing much more is going to change for them...wearing your hijab is the antithesis of autonomy and dignity i am sad to tell you.
People ask sarcastically where is feminism. Well, patriarchal religions killed the goddessess (all religions have goddesses - look into history all of you please) and the only way those patriarchal religions will survive is if women in a sense, say dead.
Women are the sacrafice, not Jesus. Women die at the hands of sinful evil men in the name of god every day around the world.
Patriarchal religion must ither
1) die or,
2) allow a goddesses to be exalted to equal status and worship her to
it would restore balance and harmony through out the world. If that does not happen wars will never stop - wars are purely of the male death principle - and in fact will increase, which is exactly what they are doing right now.
Humanity has been in gender chaos too long and cannot endure this much longer.

Dayone said at July 20, 2005 12:13 PM:

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts"
Out of all the Muslim women in my family only one wears a hijab. The rest don't care to wear it so they don't although they do dress "modestly" as we should all raise our daughters to do regardless of culture race or religion. The one Aunt of mine who does wear the hijab is very fashionable with hers as she matches many colors, prints and fabrics the way any non-muslim woman would do with her wardrobe.
All the Quaran states is that women should dress modestly. That's it. In fact sura 24:30, the verse directly before the verse quoted intially by Randall Parker states that men should do the same thing. The style in which many muslim wome choose do so is tradition not mandaded by the Quaran.

Anima said at July 21, 2005 8:06 PM:


Perhaps this article will better explain what I was attempting to say.
As for the comment "Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts."
I did state fact and it is actually very sad that you cannot see that.
Restrictive "traditions" even those based on "religion" that are designed to oppress only women are crimes...they absolutely are human rights violations and there is no - not any - justification for them.

Women are human beings and we are entitle to be treated as such - all
"special" laws just for women must be abolished immediately. Women will eventually get fed up and we will rise up in unison around the world to collectively shake all men who abuse and degrade us to their senses.

Crime against women is increasing against women - all crimes including honor crimes. It is up to you to stand up and say enough is enough, you have a right to demand dignity you have a right to be as highly regarded as men. If you do not all of you stand up with other women and the millions if not billions of men around the world who value love and respect women, those men who loathe us are going to increase their violence against us even more.

It is also true that patriarchal religion cannot survive if it cannot keep women down...why do you think that all patriarchal religions deal hatefuly with women? You cannot read any holy text (all of which are written by men) and come away without admiting that truth.

Patriarchal religions despise women and that's why they undermine women every day and every step of the way - to keep societies opinion of us low. Religion has so effectively demonized all females that sadly many women do not like them selves or other women.

And one last thing abut the head scarf...I noticed that when ever I see muslim women in public in the scarf that they never look straight one but look down or away...never once have I seen one look in my face and I can feel when I pass these women their humiliation...their shame and it upsets me so very much.

I am not afraid of those women nor do I dislike them, I wish I could help them. I wish that I could make women who are not convinced yet that if they do not make a stand once and for all that men will destroy as many of us as they can through oppression
Please think very carefully about this.

http://www.middleastwomen.org/html/hejab.htm

Anima said at July 21, 2005 8:06 PM:


Perhaps this article will better explain what I was attempting to say.
As for the comment "Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts."
I did state fact and it is actually very sad that you cannot see that.
Restrictive "traditions" even those based on "religion" that are designed to oppress only women are crimes...they absolutely are human rights violations and there is no - not any - justification for them.

Women are human beings and we are entitle to be treated as such - all
"special" laws just for women must be abolished immediately. Women will eventually get fed up and we will rise up in unison around the world to collectively shake all men who abuse and degrade us to their senses.

Crime against women is increasing against women - all crimes including honor crimes. It is up to you to stand up and say enough is enough, you have a right to demand dignity you have a right to be as highly regarded as men. If you do not all of you stand up with other women and the millions if not billions of men around the world who value love and respect women, those men who loathe us are going to increase their violence against us even more.

It is also true that patriarchal religion cannot survive if it cannot keep women down...why do you think that all patriarchal religions deal hatefuly with women? You cannot read any holy text (all of which are written by men) and come away without admiting that truth.

Patriarchal religions despise women and that's why they undermine women every day and every step of the way - to keep societies opinion of us low. Religion has so effectively demonized all females that sadly many women do not like them selves or other women.

And one last thing abut the head scarf...I noticed that when ever I see muslim women in public in the scarf that they never look straight one but look down or away...never once have I seen one look in my face and I can feel when I pass these women their humiliation...their shame and it upsets me so very much.

I am not afraid of those women nor do I dislike them, I wish I could help them. I wish that I could make women who are not convinced yet that if they do not make a stand once and for all that men will destroy as many of us as they can through oppression
Please think very carefully about this.

http://www.middleastwomen.org/html/hejab.htm

Dayone said at August 5, 2005 10:07 PM:

The fact is, the "religion" does not hate women. Some crazy men do who use select verses to try and justify their actions. They are taking what is said out of context and do not represent the true meaning of what is said.
The arab world, where the majority of the media coverage of muslims take place and most people think most muslims live only make up %12 of all muslims. %12.
It would be nice if one could just make up Gods and Godesses at their liesure but it just doesn't work that way, but hey who am I to limit you. Create your own religion, your own Godess and run with it.
Men do not get to simply run around with no accounability for their actions. Men have responsibilities, rules, and laws they they must keep too. But so do women...
As far as the women in the scarfes... Some women may not want to wear it, true. Most women who don't want to don't have to but I will say that there may be some women in specific contries or cities who are forced to. But your mistake is thinking that the "religion" calls for it. It does not. Your problem is with chavanistic men who misquote mistake or misunderstand the intended purpose.
Lastly, the last thing the majority of the men in this world want to do is destroy the women. Destroy the women? Do you really think men want a world with no women? If men and women were the same the human race would be unisex. There would be no point in having two sexes. Men and women have different gifts, different talents, different responsibilities, different duties, with some overlapping. Lets work together but not lose sight of our differences and roles. Of course there will always be exeptions to every rule so no need to throw out any "what if a woman does this..." or "so a man can't do that..." examples because the fact is there is some grey area. At a company everyone has a specific job to do but every now and then someone might be called upon to do someone elses job depending on the situation.
Anyway, you seem to have a dislike for men, could that be biasing your understanding a bit?

anima said at August 7, 2005 8:06 PM:

Religion is man made and has nothing to do with God and that must be understood first. There is no point in writing back and telling me the "holy" book that supposedly speaks for whichever God you have chosen to believe in is the one and only truth. Religion and its correspondent texts are of the Lie. There is simply no reason to believe God is a thief a rapist a deceiver a homicidal maniac and mass slaughter of the scale of a Hitler and that he is frequently afflicted with jealous rage which is a very base and undesirable ego based human trait.

I was going to list Goddesses in ancient history but I have decided instead to let you look it up - you might end up learning something valuable. If you wish to believe that ancient history does not reveal stories of Goddesses as well as Gods and that I simply fabricated that out of thin air, okay. You are free to believe what you chose but I must say that rejecting Truth which is Light invites darkness and is not advised.

And I do not believe I stated all men hate women, you said that. I said religion - man made religion - hated women and that too is a true statement. In order for Christianity (the first patriarchal religion) to become as strong as it did it had to completely destroy and demonized the female principle...that's why its called a patriarchal religion, and it is the father son and holy ghost not the mother isn’t it? And fundamentalist Muslims do actually literally destroy women’s lives and even kill them in the name if Allah and to save their precious "honor" do they not. Tell me, do you call the love? I would tend to classify someone inflicting grievous injuries and cruelties a hater and fundamentalist of all breeds are haters of women. But no, the typical God believing person does not necessarily hate.

You wonder if I hate men and might be blinded by a bias. I am not interest in your ten cent psycho jargon nor am I interested in defending truth which stands on its own quite nicely. Step out of the darkness and you too can enjoy it.

Gender – do not know where that came from but I’m quite sure that in Reverse speak you were saying women are designed for having babies and keeping a house in order. Go ahead, don’t be afraid, no one knows you or me so you can confirm that my translation is correct and there will be no shame for you.

Leila said at April 9, 2006 8:54 PM:

Anima, who do you think you are speaking for Muslim women when obviously you are not one... many Muslim women choose to wear hijab including myself and by that I mean no one forced me, not my husband, not my parents no one! Nobody in my family wears hijab, and it is a hard descision for me to make knowing that I will be the only one... but I am making that descision because I think it is right, and I am trying to learn as much about it as I can in order to make that descision on my own, that means learning both sides of the argument. However, saying that hijab opresses women is absolutely false... how can you say that when in western culture (and I am assuming that you live in a western culture) women are made to feel as if they are nothing more than a piece of meat? I live in America and I cannot turn on the television, open a magazine or even go outside my home without seeing women almost naked... men do not dress this way! Men cover themselves, hardly ever revealing even above their knees whereas it is common for women to reveal almost all of their bodies! Is this not opression of women in your oppinion? Women are made to feel as if they are nothing more than their looks... hair products, make up, clothes... men do not even care about these things for themselves whereas women are practically obsessed by it. Men openly stare and make remarks about womens' bodies, and women are okay with this? And this is freedoom? No, it is slavery, slavery to men...a woman spending hours each day to look beautiful for men passing by and they do not even know her. In Islam a woman's beauty is saved for her husband, someone who has promissed his life to her and is the only one deserving to see this beauty. Please do not make baseless remarks about Islam when you obviously are misguided and do not understand the importance of female modesty... it is to protect women, not hurt us. It is to protect us from men who feel as if they can fantasize about our bodies for their sexual enjoyment, harass us and even harm us. When a man sees a woman wearing hijab he knows that this woman has a sense of modesty and will not aproach her. This way she can maintain her respect and dignity... not be degraded like an object of sexual desire, to which this man has no right. I hope that will help to clear up your misunderstandings about the hijab and Islam. And Allah (swt) knows best.

Prof.Dr.Makella said at November 19, 2006 3:14 PM:

The Hijab is a kind of means to protect the female Privacy from the Devilish eyes of the Imodent male looker.Besides, Hijab gives the female the most Respect from all who see her whatever, whoever, and wherever they are. Areal and reasonable and jealous male will Never ever let his female goes out semi-naked or nude, that she is an ad picture for all who look at her. There are the most envious humans among humans, but people dumbly Don't know that. Any real, respectable,hourable, and jealous male will Never ever let his female walk in the street like a doll or a game for every looker. The Monkey is more jealous about his female than Humans, unfortunately: You know how?- If the male Monkey sees his wife with another monkey he will kill her, because he is a really jealou creature, while the majority of humans are Bare of Jealousy. The most Unjealous creature on earth is the Pig!!! Do you know that? If the Pig sees some another pig with his wife he Doesn't Care, so if people want to Curse an Unjealous person, they call him a Pig!!!
How about Nudity in the Public Street??? Do you think this is Freedom or Civilization??? - No, this is More Debasement than Animalism. Because if animal can wear something they will never look bare or somrthing like that. But that is why some human are More less Debased than the Least Debased animals on earth.
So we may say: Blessed be those who veil their Privacy from the envious and devilish lookers.Ameen Pro.Dr.Makella

Revivalist said at December 8, 2007 10:44 PM:

Narrated AbuSa'id al-Khudri: Allah's Messenger (peace_be_upon_him) said: The most wicked among the people in the eye of Allah on the Day of Judgement is the man who goes to his wife and she comes to him, and then he divulges her secret. (Muslim Book 8, Number 3369)

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "A matron should not be given in marriage except after consulting her; and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission." The people asked, "O Allah's Apostle! How can we know her permission?" He said, "Her silence (indicates her permission)." (Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 67)


The believing men and women, are associates and helpers of each other. They (collaborate) to promote all that is beneficial and discourage all that is evil; to establish prayers and give alms, and to obey Allah and his Messenger. Those are the people whom Allah would grant mercy. Indeed Allah is Mighty and Wise. (Al-Taubah 9:71)

Narrated Khansa bint Khidam Al-Ansariya that her father gave her in marriage when she was a matron and she disliked that marriage. So she went to Allah's Apostle and he declared that marriage invalid. (Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 69)

Narrated AbuHurayrah: Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said: a believing man should not hate a believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another. (Muslim Book 8, Number 3469)

Islam = Liberation.

Peace, your bro.

Anonymous said at March 21, 2010 2:25 AM:

@ Mufti M. Ali, THANK YOU for your very wise comment!!!
You said it all, my friend! That's the truth that to MANY, isn't convenient!!!
Let the men wear hijab as well, so we women don't have to feel attraction to them. Cover yourselves from head to toe, including hair, I'd like to see that!!!
I'd like to see how that "modesty" would last!!!


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