Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hijab or my Job?

I just visited a discussion board on beliefnet, in which a woman who is interested in Islam is considering whether to wear the Hijab at work. Interestingly, most of the Non-Muslims encouraged her to do so, but many of the Muslims said that she shouldn't. Here are some quotes from that discussion. Full disclosure: I intend to quote fully the positions I am most in sympathy with, and only paraphrase the others. If you wish to see the full force of the arguments on both sides, you should click on the link above:

Here's something from someone who use the nome de web of Miraj:

{witness22, I apologize, but I don't get this. I'm not sure what you have been reading about Islam, but the faith is not primarily about clothing, and Allah certainly doesn't invite you to Him to give you an excuse to piss other people off. I was asked to intervene on this thread by a Muslima who is concerned about what she is reading here. Alhamdulillah , may Allah bless her for her warning, for there is much to be corrrected in what is being presented here.

First of all, hijab is never mentioned in the Quran as clothing. It is mentioned in the context of modesty and humility, none of which is conveyed by a piece of cloth, nor by condemning others who disagree with you. There are several rules in Islam of which you are to be reminded. One is that you do not back bite, gossip and use the faith to antagonize others. You have modeled all three prohibitions in your post. Allah says:

"Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious; for your Lord knows best who have strayed from His Path, and who are truly guided." [16:125]

It would not be fair to other Muslimas who are devout in their practice of faith to use a symbol that they hold dear to express ill-will to your boss and co-workers, and cause them harm. Muslims are directed by God to become examples of good and fair treatment. We are not to believe we are superior to others who hold to different faiths. Allah alone can definitively judge between us; it is His Will that we not all be the same. Allah says:

". . . To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If God had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to God; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute;" [5:48]

I regret that any of us should allow you, encourage you, to enter into Islam or to represent it with such a distorted perception of how one is to act within one's community. We are to keep our promises and to obey the law where we live; at work, your employer has the right to set policies that accomodate his business plan. If he is reticent about allowing you to wear hijab, be patient; you are not even a Muslima yet. If you decide to become a Muslima, believe that your conversion will make you a better person, not a more confrontational and alienated one. Even if you do not convert, know that Allah is the best of planners; He will always find a way for you to express your sincerity of belief to Him and to those you encounter.

One should never come to faith with a hateful heart. I will make dua that you will find a proper teacher who will show you the true tenets of the faith and allow you understand how to find the beauty in Islam so that you will not see it as a weapon to be used against others, but as a tool to draw them to Him through your example.


other Muslims said:

{If you're interested in Islam, I suggest that you start by learning the 5 pillars first and start implementing them in your life before being concerned about things like hijab. I''m not saying it's not important but after seeing so many converts leave Islam in so little I have really come to the conclusion that until someone is able to implement the 5 pillars consistently, we shouldn't be insisting in anything else.}

{Take it easy and take time to learn more about Islam. Start by practicing it privately. Once you have some knowledge of Islam and start wearing hijab after then, maybe you will be able to remove misunderstanding about Islam from good Christian people.In the noble Qur'an God said Christians are "Nearest to the Muslims" [ Ref: The noble Qur'an 5:82 ] and there is a whole chapter devoted to our spiritual mother Mary [ Chapter 19. The word "Jesus" was mentioned in the Qur'an 25 times and "Mary" was mentioned 32 time [ 19 times in the Bible].We pray to the same God of Jesus, Moses, Abraham and Muhammad [ Peace be unto them all] ."And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone."[ The holy Bible Mark 10:18 ]}

{I'm still in the don't wear it, never wore it, won't wear it, won't have my daughter wear it group!}

{I don't wear the hijab except as stated above {for going to the masjid or specific, religious things}. I like wearing short skirts, running shorts, bikinis at the pool or beach, and my hair flying free when I run in the mornings. Nobody is going to tell me I have to wear the hijab. BUT, nobody had better try to tell me I cannot either!}

{I go to the mosque and I see 98% of the brothers wearing jeans (some following the "low rise" fashion) or slacks, or khakis and their shirts tuck inside, or short t-shirts. So I have to endure the unfortunate sight of their bum and underwear while their are in rokoo` and if I'm really unfortunate I get to see their "cracks". If a woman went dressed like that... hell would break lose!!! Then all the khutbas about women's dress... how about those about men's dress???? Why don't I hear men going on and on about their modesty. After all, modesty is required for both men and women, and I can tell you that at my mosque the women do much better than men.}

The one poster who defended the the hijab most eloquently, and with the best scholarship has a nome de web of 'The Middle Way" (hereinafer MW> MW quoted the Qur’anic verse, “Say to believing women, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts, and reveal not their adornment save such as is outward; and let them drape their headcoverings over their bosoms, and not reveal their adornment . . .” (Qur’an 24:31) and said this is a specific requirement for Muslim women to cover their hair. MW followed many of the principles I have been advocating in this post: To understand what the Koran is saying you have to consider the historical context in which the words were revealed. He quoted several passages in Arabic in which the original word meant "head covering", and claimed that therefore we should interpret this as saying that the head covering should be tied around the neck and cover both the head and the breasts.

Miraj replied forcefully and with even more impressive scholarship:

{I am a native speaker of Arabic, and, as a scholar of Islam myself, I have a strong understanding not only of the theology of hijab, but the history of its development as an "obligation to God" in the minds of scholars.

Also, the word "khimar" did not mean headcovering in the Prophet's day, Sheikh Keller admits as much, stating that khimar is familar "in our day" as hijab. However, the fact remains that nowhere in the Quran does hijab refer to a means of costuming. That it does "in our day" is the result of fatwas, not sharia. Scholars connoted the word "khimar" to mean headcovering approximately 200 years after the death of the Prophet. Historically, it was not headcovering in the early ummah....Not to mention that Quran 24:31 never directs women to cover their hair. It does say use your khimar to cover your breasts, but I don't see many hijabis taking that command literally.

"Consensus", another word that is bandied about in a self-serving manner in order to stifle debate, is undefined - it is all too common for dissenting scholars to be dismissed as "illegitimate" - thus creating a consensus of convenience. A consensus of Sunni scholars, of Shia scholars; a consensus in the village, the nation, of the Arab world alone. There is a consensus for everyone who wants one. That doesn't make the fatwas Islamic.}

This discussion goes on like this for twelve pages, with a variety of positions being defended. One more dramatic piece of evidence that Islam is a religion with many faces, and in the process of growth.

1 comment:

  1. Feel free to check our hijab collection at
    The very low price hijab with good design.

    Best Regards from Indonesia