Muslim Women Choose To Wear The Hijab Theology Religion Essay Example
Muslim Women Choose To Wear The Hijab Theology Religion Essay Example

Muslim Women Choose To Wear The Hijab Theology Religion Essay Example

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  • Pages: 10 (2702 words)
  • Published: September 21, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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Extensive research has been conducted on the topic of the hijab, examining reasons for and against adult females wearing it. Various methods such as surveys, interviews, questionnaires, and observations have been used in data collection. Katherine Bullock, a Canadian community activist, writer, and lecturer, has conducted significant research on the hijab. In her book "Rethinking Muslim Women and the Veil," she challenges historical and modern stereotypes. Bullock also writes articles on Muslim women in the media and Islam's relationship with political theory. This research aims to investigate how negative Western perception impacts division within the Muslim community concerning the hijab. The goal is to facilitate dialogue that educates Western societies about individual choices regarding wearing or not wearing the hijab among Muslim female students. The researcher hopes to gain meaningful insights from this s


tudy by conducting research and personal interviews relevant to local communities. It should be noted that this study only includes Muslim students at TSiBA Education; therefore, although valuable data is collected, it does not represent Muslims in various contexts. Despite differing beliefs within a shared faith, this text explores diverse perspectives on the subject matter.The research targets a specific audience - 20 South African Muslim women aged between 18 and 40. This age group is important because they are current TSiBA students who are directly influenced by Western culture in modern South Africa. It should be noted that some of these women's perspectives on the hijab may have changed due to marriage. The study will employ two data collection methods: open-ended email questionnaires sent to the 20 Muslim students, and interviews and observations when further information is needed. Qualitative data for this

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research comes from questionnaires and interviews with 20 Muslim female students from various age groups within the TSiBA community. The final version of the questionnaire was distributed at TSiBA Education after multiple revisions, including opinions from both those who wear and do not wear the hijab among young women. Anonymity was maintained throughout the study by not requesting names in any section of the research. A total of 20 surveys were collected and manually analyzed after being gathered.In recent years, the debate surrounding the wearing of religious attires in public, specifically coverings worn by Muslim women, has intensified. This practice has sparked controversy between supporters and opponents ( The expectation from French and Western society was for the hijab to disappear with Westernization and secularization. However, there is currently a significant resurgence of the hijab among younger generations in Muslim countries. This revival is seen as an expression of Islamic resurgence (Khaula Nakata, A View Through Hijab, 1994, pg 2). The hijab can be observed worldwide, particularly in areas with a high concentration of practicing Muslims. It has become a contentious symbol that represents the clash between Islamic "extremism" and terrorism in the twenty-first century. In nations like Saudi Arabia Afghanistan Iran,the burka is obligatory as it covers the entire body. Additionally, interviews lasting approximately 30 minutes each were conducted and recorded using a recording device as an additional method of data collection.



Keywords: Islam, Muslim, hijab, head covering, female pupils,T SIBA Education grounds,dominant negative Western perceptionDespite the pretext of secularism, several Western societies have banned both the burka and hijab, leading to hostile reactions against Muslim culture. The portrayal of Muslim women

in Western media aligns with Said's theory of Orientalism, which perceives them as backward and foreign. These depictions often show Muslim women wearing traditional Islamic attire like the hijab and focus primarily on matters related to head coverings. In the West, there is a prevailing negative perception that associates the hijab with women's subjugation and bondage. Women's rights activists view it as a symbol of gender oppression, while Fadel Amara describes the burka as a prison devoid of religious significance but representing a political agenda for gender inequality (source: King, ''Islam, Women and Terrorism,'' 299).Feminists argue that visibility and public presence are significant for Western women as they represent their struggle for economic independence, sexual agency, and political participation. In Western society, achieving celebrity status is viewed as a sign of cultural legitimacy; however, the hijab challenges the concept of liberated visibility and self-expression free from the male gaze (source: Some Western countries now advocate for banning the hijab in schools as part of the fight for freedom of expression, similar to discarding the corset in the past. Nonetheless, this viewpoint fails to acknowledge that public visibility holds different meanings for different women. France's 2004 implementation of the 'law on the headscarf' exemplifies how conflicting opinions within diverse communities can be difficult to reconcile, particularly when one community, such as France's Muslim population, is a minority. This law prohibits female students from openly wearing religious symbols like the hijab in public schools. Supporters argue that this ban aims to combat gender subjugation and promote equality in education for women. Many feminists and lawmakers endorse this perspective by asserting that veiling represents an oppressive force

that silences women within Islam and should therefore not be allowed in public schools where gender equality is presumed or desired.Alia Al-Saji agrees with these ideas in her article "The Racialization of Muslim Veils: A Philosophic Analysis." Katherine Bullock's research on women and Islam explores different viewpoints on the hijab, with some people supporting it while others oppose it. Critics argue that the hijab represents subjugation, concealing femininity and implying male superiority. They associate it with women being confined to their homes and see it as part of an oppressive patriarchal moral code that emphasizes celibacy, marriage, and disapproval of pre- and extra-marital relations. Critics also claim that the hijab can be imposed on women and is linked to various oppressive experiences faced by Muslim women, including privacy concerns, polygamy, easy male divorce, and unequal inheritance rights. When discussing how the media presents Islam and the hijab, it is important to note that while the media does not solely shape national identity or influence societal views on minority cultures or religions, its role in shaping perception cannot be ignored. Western media often receives criticism for perpetuating racism and prejudice against religious communities like Muslims despite considering itself a democratic institution. Muslims are portrayed negatively in the media as deceitful, immoral individuals who cannot be trusted with Islamic dress serving as a visual symbol for dangerous extremism.The portrayal of Muslim women in Europe has traditionally been negative, depicting them as both oppressed and threatening. This has had negative consequences, particularly in France where the wearing of hijabs has caused intense debate and division within society. However, there has been a recent shift in media representation, with

Muslim women now being seen as heroic figures rather than symbols of extremism. Despite this change, there are still reports of discrimination and restrictions faced by Muslim women in France. Examples include instances such as a Muslim meter reader being suspended for wearing a hijab under her hat, a fashion show featuring veiled women being banned, hijab-wearing mothers being excluded from volunteering at schools, denial of service to a student wearing a hijab at a university cafeteria, and refusal by a civil service wedding witness to sign documentation due to her hijab preventing official identification. Ezekiel argues that this discussion combines sexism and racism. Within the feminist debate on the hijab in France, some advocate for banning head coverings altogether because they believe it encourages mistreatment of unveiled women. On the other hand, feminists who support a Muslim woman's choice to wear or not wear a hijab have aligned themselves with fundamentalist Islamic leaders.Advocates argue that the ban on Muslim women wearing the hijab should be lifted, as it is their duty to wear one. However, the media often focuses on Muslim women's clothing as a symbol of oppression, overshadowing other topics they would rather discuss. Responsible news outlets tend to portray Muslim women in a reactionary manner when discussing the hijab, depicting them as exotic foreigners or oppressed individuals instead of ordinary neighbors who pose no threat. It is important to acknowledge that while many women choose to wear the hijab willingly, not all do so voluntarily. In certain countries in the Middle East and North Africa, coercion and mistreatment are faced by women who refuse to wear it. A recent example occurred in

Pakistan when an extremist killed a women's rights activist and government minister for refusing to wear the hijab. Various countries such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Sudan, Pakistan, and Iran consistently witness violence and mistreatment towards women caught between secular and fundamentalist forces (Hirshmann,"Western Feminism, Eastern Veiling,and a Question of Free Agency"; King). Some advocates argue that the Quran's statement about adult women covering themselves was not intended for their oppression.Although some Islamic societies do oppress women, it is important to note that not all Muslim women agree with this interpretation. While certain regimes enforce the wearing of the hijab and restrict women's choices, this is not a practice followed globally. Women should have the liberty to decide whether or not they want to wear it (11). Salma Yaqoob, a Muslim woman who voluntarily wears the hijab, argues against laws that either mandate or ban its usage in both Islamic and Western countries. Yaqoob firmly believes that both situations result in a loss of freedom for women and violate their dignity (Yaqoob). She points out that there are currently more adult females who are prohibited from wearing the hijab than those who are required to wear it. This restriction can be seen as an act of liberation since denying women their right to choose is considered oppressive by authorities. The significance of the hijab itself varies depending on societal and religious beliefs despite being just a piece of fabric (11). The ban on wearing the hijab in French public schools limits the religious freedom and expression of Muslim schoolgirls, inadvertently contributing to oppressing and suppressing women's rights. Although intended to combat gender subjugation, the 2004 law unintentionally

curtails female freedoms instead of empowering them.This text reflects the alignment of Western narratives with depictions of veiled women as oppressed, further attempting to westernize French Muslim schoolgirls. Islamic women have varying perspectives on wearing the hijab, with some viewing it as a symbol of empowerment, cultural identity, and defiance against societal norms. Feminist scholar Tayyab Bashart argues that wearing the hijab does not indicate oppression or control but rather empowerment and independence. Prohibitions on the hijab perpetuate challenging stereotypes faced by Muslim women who feel misunderstood by Western society according to Hirschmann. The ongoing debate about the hijab revolves around its requirement within Islamic tradition. Muslim scholars extensively discuss this issue, which can be understood by acknowledging the authority of the Quran as believed by Muslims. The Quran is considered God's word delivered through Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), and Islam encompasses submission to Allah and obedience to His word. The question of whether wearing the hijab is mandated in the Quran sparks differing opinions among scholars. Amr Khaled, a prominent speaker, has influenced young Muslims, especially females, regarding the topic of the hijab. He believes that it is indeed mandated in the Quran and cites a verse instructing women to cover their bodies for virtue and protection against harassment. Many Muslims perceive that the hijab symbolizes modesty and morality in Islam while acting as a shield against lustful gazes from men.
The hijab, as stated in the Qur'an, acts as a covering to maintain a woman's modesty and piety. Its significance goes beyond religion as it also plays a role in upholding honor, piety, and modesty within families according to the teachings of

the Qur'an. Therefore, wearing the hijab is considered fulfilling Allah's command through Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Amr Khaled, an influential Islamic scholar and speaker, has greatly influenced how young Muslims perceive the hijab, especially in Jordan. In his lecture titled "Al-Hijab," Khaled argues that wearing the hijab not only encourages men to view women based on their intelligence and moral values rather than objectifying them but also symbolizes Islam's focus on inner beauty over external appearance while providing protection against unwanted desires. Tarik Kulenovic's theory supports the idea that the hijab serves as a symbol of resistance and identity for Muslim women living in Western societies who oppose foreign societal values imposed upon them. This includes politics, religious beliefs, and rejection of secular lifestyles. Consequently, wearing the hijab in today's society can be seen as maintaining a spiritual lifestyle while adapting to contemporary demands. One empowering aspect for women is that it signifies their expectation of equal treatment based on intelligence, personality, and relevance instead of solely their appearance.Katherine Bullock challenges Western assumptions by presenting research that suggests reasons why some women choose to wear the hijab. These reasons include: 1) it does not limit femininity; 2) it promotes "different-but-equal" thinking without essentializing male-female differences; 3) it is not oppressive towards women who choose traditional roles at home; and 4) the moral perspective of wearing the hijab is only oppressive for those who believe sex outside of marriage is wrong. Additionally, wearing the hijab is a part of Islamic law but should be implemented wisely and in a women-friendly manner, as it represents an individual's right to express themselves within their cultural beliefs. It is important

to consider the issue of wearing the hijab in Islam separately from other women's rights issues. The Quran instructs women to cover their bodies with a cloak but does not specifically mention covering hair or provide details on how women should cover themselves. Some argue that this means wearing the hijab is not mandatory since it isn't explicitly mentioned in the Quran. Dr.Reza Aslan suggests that pre-Islamic Arab society influenced the practice of wearing the hijab, associating it with upper-class women from Syria and Iran. According to this viewpoint, the hijab applies only to Prophet Muhammad's wives and daughters rather than all Muslim women.While it is expected for all believers, including women, to be modest in front of unfamiliar men by guarding their private parts and draping a screen over their chests, the Quran does not specifically mention the requirement for women to cover their hair. This leads proponents like Leila Ahmed and Reza Aslan to argue that wearing the hijab is not obligatory for Muslim women. However, critics believe that head coverings are oppressive symbols that symbolize concealing femininity, male superiority, and the inferiority of women within their homes. They also argue that head coverings enforce restrictive beliefs about morality and female purity within Islam and can be imposed on women as a form of oppression.

Nevertheless, there are many Muslim women who strongly disagree with this perception and have a deep spiritual connection to wearing the hijab. For them, it is deeply rooted in personal values and religious tradition. The hijab is seen as an expression of spirituality that brings their sacred private space into the public sphere. It is not just seen as

clothing or a symbol of oppression but rather as a tool of spirituality.

In her book "The Veil: Modesty, Privacy and Resistance," Fadwa El Guindi argues that veiling practices revolve around concepts such as sacred privacy, holiness, and integrating worldly and sacred elements of life. These practices position women as protectors of family sanctuaries and bearers of the realm of the sacred within this worldThis study aims to investigate the reasons for division within the Muslim community regarding the hijab at TSiBA Education. The research explores whether the prevailing negative perception that it is oppressive has influenced its declining popularity. Two hypotheses are presented in response to this question - firstly, different interpretations of the Qur'an regarding female hair covering contribute to the divide among Muslims on hijab patterns. The text suggests that negative perceptions from Western society play a significant role in causing fear among certain Muslim women regarding the hijab. This fear can lead them to completely stop wearing it, as they believe it might subject them to further subjugation portrayed by Western media. However, despite continuous pressure from Western influences, some Muslim women still opt for wearing the hijab due to spiritual reasons.

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