The Debate Regarding The Hijab Theology Religion Essay

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Literature on this subject is abundant as research has been conducted globally on the subject of the hijab as to the grounds why adult females should and should non have on the hijab. The research conducted was made possible through the usage of studies, interviews, questionnaires and observations. Katherine Bullock in peculiar, a Canadian community militant, writer and lector did extended research on the subject of the hijab and published her findings in the signifier of a book called Rethinking Muslim Women and the Veil which challenges “ Historical and Modern Stereotypes ” .A She has besides published articles on Muslim adult females and the media, and Islam and political theory.

Purposes of the research

The aims of the survey are to analyze if the dominant negative Western perceptual experience affects the grounds why the Muslim community is divided on the topic of hijab.

This research addresses the concern for a duologue that could inform westernised societies about the personal grounds why some female Moslem pupils wear hijab and why others do non. I want my research to be meaningful, relevant to local communities and to open my head and that of others by being taught through research and personal interviews about the topic.

Scope and restrictions

This survey was conducted in a really short period of clip with a really little sample group as the pool of participants was limited to the Muslim pupils at TSiBA Education. The information set is meaningful, but non representative of the huge scope of Muslims in different contexts. It will nevertheless demo a diverseness of positions within a common divinity and religion. A more ample sample within the mark group would hold provided a larger and more conclusive sum of information. This can hold a prejudice that favours the educated and the young person of Cape Town. Another restriction of my survey, was that all of the participants belonged to one cultural group being from the race regarded in South Africa as Coloured. This was due to the fact TSiBA Education is a comparatively little university whose Muslim female population is a fraction of the entire pupils of which there were no Muslim adult females from a different race or civilization. The research conducted could hold benefitted from a more diverse pool of appliers.

Plan of development

This research study was compiled in the undermentioned mode. First I provide my literature reappraisal which I put together for the intent of researching what has antecedently been written on the subject so that you and I may larn from it and be cognizant of it as we go about this research. Second I made a study signifier of 3 pages long that contained relevant inquiries which I derived from the procedure of roll uping the literature reappraisal. Third, At random I selected 10 Muslim adult females analyzing at TSiBA to be my participants and followed through by carry oning my study about each one of them. Last, I analyzed the informations obtained from the studies and do this information available to you while besides comparing my research findings to the findings derived from my literature reappraisal.


Literature reappraisal

The first piece of work I did was carry oning research on the subject of the hijab in order to roll up a literature reappraisal. My literature reappraisal took a important sum of clip in relation to how long the existent research demanded. Information was abundant sing the subject of hijab, modernisation, the dominant Western perceptual experience and the media ‘s function in the portraiture of Muslim adult females that I found it peculiarly disputing to sift out of import points from the all information available. My literature reappraisal saw two Sessionss of redacting with my Communicationss lector who helped me concept and organized the of import information once I identified it.


The mark group for the research was ab initio 20 South African Muslim adult females between the ages of 18 and 40. This age group was the mark of this survey because they were the current coevals of TSiBA pupils and were sing modern South Africa in a clip when it seemed there was an of all time increasing inflow of Western civilization after Apartheid. The age group is besides likely to include married adult females who might be inclined to believe otherwise about the hijab as their matrimony might hold changed the manner each looks at the hijab. The participants of my research were all female as I had hoped, but unluckily all of them belonged to one cultural group being from the race regarded in South Africa as Coloured. There were 2 married adult females, and 8 single adult females. 5 of them wore hijab and 5 of them were adult females who choose non to.

Method of informations aggregation

One method of obtaining informations was employed. The research draws on qualitative informations from comprehensive studies conducted on 10 Moslem pupils sing hijab. The study was constructed in a mode that it took pupils about 5 proceedingss to finish.

After many different bill of exchanges of the study I went to the Tertiary School in Business Administration ( TSiBA ) Education to administer the concluding version. My study included the sentiments of both immature adult females who wear the hijab and those that do non. I did non inquire for names in any subdivision of the study to guarantee the namelessness of all my human topics. In the terminal I collected 10 studies in entire which was a smaller sample group than I had ab initio hoped. After garnering the studies, I analyzed the consequences manually.



The argument sing the erosion of spiritual attires in public, specifically coverings worn by Muslim adult females has increased over the past few old ages ensuing in a batch of contention among those who agree with the pattern and those who do non ( ) . Hijab is seen all over the universe, particularly in topographic points with a high concentration of practising Muslims. The hijab has resulted in terrible media differences and now denotes the difference of civilizations. The Gallic, along with the West expected that the hijab would go through off into history as Westernization and secularisation took root. However, in the Muslim universe, particularly among the younger coevals, a great moving ridge of returning to hijab was distributing through assorted states. This current revival is an look of Islamic resurgence ( Nakata, 1994 ) .

The Topic of Hijab External to South Africa

The positions of women’s rightists

The Western media and women’s rightists frequently portray theA hijabA as a symbol of subjugation and bondage of adult females ( ) . A theory of Orientalism has been in being since 1978 which argues that the Muslim population is deemed rearward, barbarian existences who are castawaies in Western society ( Said, 1978 ) . Many women’s rightists, both Western and Islamic argue that the hijab is a symbol of gender subjugation and that the Islamic gauze of adult females is an oppressive pattern. Fadel Amara, an Islamic women’s rightist and Muslim female member of Gallic authorities describes the burka as a prison and a straitjacket which is non spiritual but is the symbol of a oppressive political undertaking for sexual inequality ( King, 299. ) .

Feminists argue that public presence and visibleness is of import to Western adult females. This overlaps sexism and racism every bit good as there are two statements made by women’s rightists who are divided on the subject of the hijab.

a ) The statement of subjugation

One statement is for hijab to be banned in public as they encourage the torment of adult females who are unveiled and because public presence and visibleness represents their battle for economic independency, sexual bureau and political engagement. In the Western civilization, famous persons are regarded as taste-makers specifying what is acceptable. The hijab is hence besides seen as a job because it poses challenge to the position of unconventional visibleness and freedom of self-expression. ( ) . Although it is true that many adult females do take to have on the hijab, it is non the instance for all adult females. In many Middle Eastern and North African states adult females are forced, persecuted and abused for disobedience with the hijab. This was demonstrated in Pakistan where an extremist killed a adult females ‘s militant and authorities curate because she refused to have on the hijab. King provinces, “ From Afghanistan to Algeria to Sudan, Pakistan and Iran- adult females are consistently brutalized and caught in a deathly crossfire between the layman and fundamentalist forces. ”

Some Islamic women’s rightists argue that although the statement in the Quran about adult females covering themselves was non meant to suppress adult females, the reading of those poetries by Islamic societies does in fact oppress adult females. Although it can be argued that the hijab is a symbol of the subjugation that occurs against adult females in Islam, many Islamic adult females do n’t hold. It is true that under some Islamist regulation, specifically in some North African states, Afghanistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia adult females are oppressed and forced to have on the hijab, but in an international context, this is the exclusion to the regulation sing adult females ‘s patterns of have oning the head covering.

Salma Yaqoob, a Muslim adult female who chooses to have on the hijab explains the head covering is non merely an suppressing force in Islamic states that require the head covering, but besides in Western states that ban the head covering. Yaqoob adamantly contends that by conflicting Torahs that restricts adult females ‘s pick on whether or non to have on the head covering, they are besides being oppressed. “ I am opposed to the Saudi and Persian authoritiess ‘ infliction of the head covering and that of the Taliban antecedently. But this is besides why I oppose the prohibition on have oning the hijab. In both instances the adult female herself is no longer free to do a pick. In both instances her self-respect is violated. ” . Yaqoob explains that more adult females are presently banned from have oning the hijab, than are required to have on it.

B ) The statement of release

It can be argued that instead than suppressing, the hijab is emancipating. The 2nd statement made by women’s rightists supports the statement of fundamentalist Islamic leaders who argue that Muslim adult females have the right to take to have on or non to have on a hijab as it is portion of a Muslim adult female ‘s responsibility to have on a hijab. These women’s rightists demand that the Gallic prohibition be withdrawn because they believe the oppressing force behind the head covering is when authorization figures, both Islamic and Western, take away a adult female ‘s right to take. They defend the head covering as a grade of bureau, cultural rank, and rebelliousness. Tayyab Bashart, a feminist bookman and Muslim who teaches in France explains her beliefs “ A adult female in hijab, who is a functioning member of society, symbolizes an sceptered, independent adult female, instead than person who lacks self-government and is a marionette of society ” ( Basharat, 2006 ) . The head covering itself is merely a piece of fabric. Human existences interpret the hijab harmonizing to societal and spiritual buildings. Through the Western treatment and forbiddance of the hijab in public schools, the Muslim school misss of France lose their freedom to show their spiritualty. The coveted consequence of the 2004 jurisprudence is to contend gender subjugation and inequality in the public school system, but as a residuary consequence, it really diminishes adult females ‘s freedoms instead than heightening them. The ‘law on the headscarf ‘ supports the suppressing Western discourses about veiled adult females and efforts to Occidentalize Gallic Muslim schoolgirls.

Western Governments

In Islamic states like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iran, the full covering, more normally known as the burka, has been made compulsory upon female citizens. In contrast to this, the involuntariness to understand the faith and civilization of Muslims has resulted in traditional vesture such as the burka and the hijab being banned with the hope of Westernised societies accomplishing secularism in Islamic states. Katherine Bullock radiances light on the differences in judgement over hijab by holding identified subjects from her research on adult females and the faith of Islam. She divides these subjects into the descriptions of those who are for and those who are against the hijab. Harmonizing to Bullock, critics of the head covering rely on secular broad premises about society and human nature and hence the head covering is supposed to be and described as a symbol of subjugation because it:

Screens up ( fells ) , in the sense of smothering, muliebrity

Is seemingly linked to the essentialized male and female difference ( which is taken to intend that by nature, male is superior, female is inferior ) ;

Is linked to a peculiar position of adult female ‘s topographic point ( subjugated in the place ) ;

Is linked to an oppressive ( patriarchal ) impression of morality and female pureness ( because of Islam ‘s

Emphasis on celibacy, matrimony, and disapprobation of pre- and extra-marital sexual dealingss ) ;

Can be imposed ; and

Is linked to a bundle of subjugations adult females in Islam face, such as privacy, polygamy, easy male divorce, unequal heritage rights.

Western states has developed this position and disregarded other positions of what public visibleness may be to different adult females with differing beliefs. ( ) . An illustration of this is that France has decided upon the forbiddance of the hijab to be worn in schools. France ‘s 2004 jurisprudence, popularly refered to as the ‘law on the headscarf ‘ , reveals the trouble of esteeming conflicting thoughts between diverse communities, particularly when one community, in this instance the Muslims of France, is a minority. Harmonizing to this jurisprudence, female pupils are banned from have oning the hijab every bit good as all other openly spiritual symbols in public schools. France prohibitions adult females from have oning the hijab in public schools because many women’s rightists and lawgivers argue that veiling adult females serves as an suppressing force, a force that silences adult females. Alia Al- Saji provinces in her article “ The Racialization of Muslim Veils: A Philosophic Analysis ” many women’s rightists see the headscarf “ As a symbol of Islamic gender subjugation that aˆ¦should be banned from public schools, a infinite where gender equality is presumed ( or desired ) . ” Supporters of the jurisprudence believe it fights gender subjugation and gives equality to adult females in the school system.

Media attitudes in describing Islam and hijab

While the media can non be the lone party held accountable or blamed for social attitudes towards smaller civilizations and faiths, theses media moguls make “ the lens through which world is perceived ” ( Bullock & A ; Jafri, 2000 ) . Western media sees itself as a democratic human dynamo and therefore is often answerable for legalizing and administering racism and prejudice against spiritual communities such as Muslims ( Bullock & A ; Jafri, 2000 ) . The media in Westernised socities portrays Muslims as “ slippery, sleazy, sexual and untrusty ” , as uniformly violent, as oppressors of adult females, and as members of a planetary confederacy ( Bullock & A ; Jafri, 2000 ) .

For illustration, in 1998 a displacement was noted sing the European media ‘s word picture of adult females who wear the hijab. Veiled adult females were no longer portrayed as alien but alternatively as a menace to society ( Macmaster & A ; Lewis, 1998, ) . This highlights the contrasting representations of Muslim adult females as at the same time being oppressed and endangering.

In 2005 Begum argues that these images of Islamic frock were progressively used in the media as ocular stenography for unreliable extremism, and that Muslims populating in Europe were enduring from the effects of these associations ( Begum, 2005 ) . The addition of these media portraitures and political deliberation has segregated the Muslim community and had a farther riotous consequence on society and feminism at big. ( Begum, 2005 )

Since so, the media in France reported on a adult females who was suspended for have oning a hijab under her chapeau while working as a metre reader, a manner show of veiled adult females that was banned, the hinderance of hijab-wearing female parents from volunteering in schools, the refusal of cafeteria service to a pupil have oning a hijab and the forbiddance of a informant to a civil service marrying from subscribing the certification based on the statement that hijab prevented her from proper designation.

Many writers on this subject difference that because of the media ‘s cultural captivation with Muslim adult females ‘s frock as symbols of subjugation, Muslim adult females frequently have to fall back to concentrating on that aspect of their individuality every bit good, even if they would instead discourse something else. These writers province that even instances of responsible news media have a leaning to devaluate Muslim adult females. This is because Muslim adult females are chiefly depicted as ‘exotic ‘ , victimised, or endangering castawaies instead than your ordinary peaceable following door neighbors. ( )

It is apparent that the hijab remains a hot subject in Western states and that the well-being and individualities of Muslim adult females in Westernised societies are related to the erosion of the headscarf as a effect.

The Topic of The Hijab Within the Muslim Community

The sentiments of Muslim adult females vary in their determination about whether or non to have on the hijab. The hijab, harmonizing to many Muslims, has multiple utilizations and significances. The hijab ‘s symbolism is one of modestness and morality. Harmonizing to Islam, the hijab maps as a shield for a adult female against the lubricious regard of work forces. The hijab besides serves as a screen to continue the modestness and piousness of the adult female, as that is her chief function as stated in the Qur’an.

The most basic argument over the hijab is over the demand of the hijab. This is an issue that is debated by many Muslim bookmans. First in order to understand why there is an issue it is of import to understand the power of the Quran. The Quran is the word of God brought to humanity by his last courier the Prophet Muhammad ( Peace Be Upon Him ) . Islam is the faith of entire entry to Allah ( God the Father ) and obeisance to Allah. As the Quran is God ‘s word so it besides means entire entry and obeisance to Quran. The first issue with the demand of the hijab comes from whether the hijab is in the Quran or non. There are two sides to this statement ; there are those who say that the hijab is a demand because it is in the Quran and those who say that it is non because it is non portion of the Quran

Reasons why Muslim Women wear the hijab

The Torahs of the Qur’an

Amr Khaled ‘s, a popular Islamic bookman, layperson, and extremely influential Muslim talker, represents the school of idea that considers the hijab to be straight in the Quran and therefore a demand for Muslim adult females. He quotes these Qur’anic poetries that make the hijab obligatory to Muslim adult females. “ O Prophet! Tell your married womans and your girls and the adult females of the trusters to pull their cloaks ( head coverings ) all over their organic structures. That will be better, that they should be known ( as free respectable adult females ) so as non to be annoyed. And – ALLAH – is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful ( Surah 33: poetry 59 ) ” . In this verse adult females are told to cover their organic structures so that they should be known as modest adult females and are non harassed. Harmonizing to Amr Khalad ‘s talk “ Al-Hijab, ” the hijab besides serves the intent of coercing work forces to non sexually objectify adult females but to see her as a vas of intelligence and high moral values. Khalad says that the hijab reinforces the fact that Islam has placed the beauty of a female on a higher value in the eyes of work forces by supplying protection of her beauty from uncontrolled lecherousnesss and desires, and alternatively telling work forces to esteem greater the interior beauty of her psyche. Therefore, the existent value of adult females is associated with the grade of her modestness and her conformity by it ( Khaled “ Al-Hijab ” ) . Yaqoob states her personal grounds why she wears the head covering, “ For me, the erosion of the hijab denotes that as a adult female I expect to be treated as an equal in footings of my mind and personality and my visual aspect is relevant merely to the grade that I want it to be, when I want it to be. ” . This is the traditional Islamic rational for the hijab and why it is of import in Islam ( Khalad “ AlHijab ” ) .

A symbol of opposition

A survey about hijab in the West besides provides another theory that I believe can besides be applied in South Africa because it is a state to a great extent influenced by the West. The thought of the hijab as a symbol of opposition is explored by Tarik Kulenovic but non needfully one that is purely political. Tarik Kulenovic ‘s theory suggests that the hijab in the West is a affair of individuality, a physical symbol of a adult female ‘s Muslim individuality. This symbol besides carries a message of religionism in a modernizing society which encourages a secular life manner and scorns tradition. Kulenovic asserts that “ the modern individuality of Muslim adult females, which includes the erosion of the head covering, is chiefly the individuality of opposition to the values that persons find foreign to them and as such imposed on them ” ( Kulenovic, page 717 ) . Therefore, in modern society, the hijab can be thought of as a agency of retaining a spiritual life manner while absorbing to the demands of the modern universe. Another ground adult females choose to have on the hijab is that they find that the hijab serves as an authorising factor.

The Interpretation of the hijab by those who wear it

Katherine Bullock, through her research, provides some grounds why adult females wear the hijab. The hijab to these wearers:

1. Does non surround muliebrity ;

2. Brings to mind the ‘different-but-equal ‘ school of idea, but does non set frontward essentalized male-female difference ;

3. Is linked to a position that does non restrict adult females to the place, but neither does it see the function of stay-at-home-mother and housewife oppressive ;

4. Is linked to a position of morality that is oppressive merely if one considers the prohibition of sexual dealingss outside matrimony incorrect ;

5. Is portion of Islamic jurisprudence, though a jurisprudence that ought to be implemented in a really wise and women-friendly mode, and

6. Can and should be treated individually from other issues of adult females ‘s rights in Islam.


Some adult females have a deep spiritual and spiritual connexion to the head covering and steadfastly differ with the position of it as a mark of subjugation. Many Muslim adult females feel uncomfortable without have oning it because the hijab is deeply-rooted in their personal values and spiritual tradition. A chief ground adult females choose to have on the hijab, is as look of spiritualty. Bashart states in his book that “ Muslim adult females carry with them their sacred private infinite into the public infinite by usage of the Hijab ” . In this position of the hijab, the head covering is non merely an article of vesture ; or a symbol of subjugation it is a tool of spiritualty for adult females.

Fadwa El Guindi, writer of The Veil: Modesty, Privacy and Resistance, says “ veiling forms and veiling behaviors are… . about sacred privateness, holiness and the rhythmic interweaving of forms of worldly and sacred life, associating adult females as the defenders of household sanctuaries and the kingdom of the sacred in this universe ”

Reasons why Muslim Women do non have on the hijab

In the Qur’anic this poetry although it says to pull the cloak all over their organic structures, it does non specifically say the hair. In add-on, it does non stipulate in what manner, to what extent, and in what mode adult females should cover themselves. There are many modern alternate positions to this thought that the hijab is mandatory because it is in the Quran. For illustration, Dr.Reza Alsan, an internationally acclaimed author and bookman of faiths, the laminitis of and besides one of the taking bookmans in the alternate position, considers the hijab non an obligatory facet of being a Muslim adult female. Aslan claims that the hijab is shockingly non mandatory upon Muslim adult females anyplace in the Quran. Alternatively he claims that the head covering was an Arab civilization before the reaching of Islam, through contact with Syria and Iran, where the head covering was the mark of the upper category adult females. Harmonizing to Lelia Ahmed and those who fall in the 2nd school of idea like Aslan, the lone topographic points that the hijab is applied to adult females is when it is turn toing the married womans of Prophet Muhammad. Thus the head covering was merely associated with the Prophetss married womans and his girls non all adult females of Islam. This school of idea does non deny that modestness was expected of all trusters. Believing adult females are instructed to “ ‘guard their private parts… and drape a screen over their chests ” ‘ when in the presence of unusual work forces ( Surah 24:31-32 ) ” as quoted by Aslan. Here specific parts of the organic structure are named that adult females should guard and cover including the private parts and the chest but the hair is non mentioned. Therefore those in this school of idea like Leila Ahmed and Reza Alsan do non believe that the hijab is compulsory for Muslim adult females because it is non mentioned in the Quran.

Decision of Literature reappraisal

This research investigates the grounds why the Muslim community is divided on the topic of the head covering and if the dominant negative perceptual experience of hijab ( as the hijab being oppressive ) has affected, if at all, the erosion of hijab in TSiBA Education. In the effort to reply this inquiry, the research has presented two hypotheses:

( 1 ) Life in South Africa, a state with great Western influence, causes some Muslim adult females to fear have oning the hijab and to abandon it all together

( 2 ) Some Muslim adult females choose to have on the hijab for spiritualty grounds despite changeless the force per unit areas of the West

Datas obtained from the research

My informations aggregation was a consequence of 10 studies this research revealed that my two hypotheses were in understanding with a bulk of this little sample of topics. The information collected represents the sentiments and beliefs of a sum of 10 human participants which is 50 % of the sum intended mark group. Therefore, the informations collected must merely be interpreted as bad and can non be assumed applicable to all Muslim adult females or all Muslim female pupils.

What constitutes the argument Sing the Hijab and what force per unit areas are felt by Muslim adult females analyzing at TSiBA Education:

A point of position unknown to me before get downing my research was that there are Muslim adult females who did non cognize that there were differing readings about what the hijab is tangibly. In fact, from the studies it is apparent that amongst Muslims there is a construct of a right hijab and an wrong hijab. Before my research commenced, the intent of the research was non intended to place whether my mark population was cognizant that many Moslems have differing beliefs about what hijab is tangibly. 60 % of participants claimed that the “ right ” physical hijab is a caput scarf and long loose suiting vesture that conceals the form of the organic structure and everything but the face and custodies. Interesting to observe is that four of the 10 answered that all signifiers of have oning hijab including: a. merely covering your hair b. covering your face and hair c. covering your hair and have oning loose vesture are acceptable.

3 of the 5 adult females who claim to have on hijab said they wear a stylish colored hijab. I find these consequences consistent with my observations which are that tight, colorful head-scarves worn with denims and a blouse are the most popular hijab manner worn by the females on the TSiBA Campus and throughout the University-going Muslim adult females in Cape Town.

The fact that surveyed two married female parents may hold resulted in that they would be more likely to have on a more “ modest ” and more “ Islamically right ” hijab.

Hijab Decisions

The principle for why adult females do or make non have on the hijab in this survey is really interesting. 40 % of my participants said they decided to have on the hijab by pick for strictly spiritual grounds because they wanted to subject to Allah.

Reasons For Wearing the Hijab

Five of the 10 participants wore the hijab of which 3 participants said that they strongly agree that they wear the hijab for spiritual grounds while 2 participants said they agree that they wear it for spiritual grounds but that faith is non the chief ground why they wear the hijab.


From this information we can infer that 3 out of the 5 Muslim wear the hijab even though the hijab makes them experience like they do n’t suit in with their equals. 1 individual nevertheless does experience that she fits in with her equals and in her community because she wears the hijab.


The hijab makes all five participants who wear the hijab feel protected and safe in public. 3 of them strongly agreed while 2 agreed. Interesting to observe is that five of the 17 answered that all signifiers of have oning hijab including: a. merely

covering your hair b. covering your face and hair c. covering your hair and have oning loose

vesture are acceptable.

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