The Hijab is the outer cloak worn by a Muslim woman to cover her hair. The general perception of the hijab throughout the western world is that the hijab symbolizes a woman who is oppressed and without a voice and needs liberation. This is one perception and is often misguided and based on misconceptions that hide and distort the truth behind the hijab. The preconceived notion that all Muslim women who wear the hijab are oppressed is highly problematic. First, it ignores the large number of Muslim women who wear the hijab on their own terms and second it uses a piece of a garment as an indicator to figure out which women are oppressed and which are not. The Hijab is at a basic level an outward expression of a Muslim woman’s inner belief. The hijab may in reality be a symbol of liberation for Muslim women as it is their personal choice to wear it. The view of the Hijab being a tool of oppression among western civilizations has been challenged by Muslim women of all ages and backgrounds through adopting the Hijab and defending their right to wear the Hijab.Often in the face of criticism by many political figures in attempting to ban the wearing of headscarfs at school for example, as seen recently in France. Many women argued that far from being a tool of oppression they saw the hijab as a tool of liberation. Too often, the image of a covered woman is used to represent what much of the western world views as oppressive. Her very existence is described in terms that convey ignorance and unhappiness.Words like “beaten down,” “repressed” and “oppressed” are used by the Western media in an attempt to convince the readers that women in Islam have no rights and are relegated to second class citizens. Descriptive and intrinsically oppressive terms such as “shrouded” and “shackled” are used to portray an image of women who have no autonomy and who are the slaves or possessions of their husbands and fathers. It is claimed that over 1400 years ago, Islam raised the status of women from a position of oppression to one of liberation and equality.In an era when women were considered possessions, Islam is said to have restored women to a position of dignity. The general perception of Islam and its views of women is presently not a positive one, especially through recent media attention with terms like “Islamophobia”. Any form of openly displayed Islam must be “fundamental” or “extremist”. Wearing a Hijab is therefore seen as an open expression of an extreme religious belief. Opposition to the hijab has often been reactive rather than responding to the real issues and making rules that in themselves can be oppressive for the very women they are designed to liberate.
Why Wearing Hijab is Important to Muslim Women?
Muslim women wear the hijab because in the Qur’an it says “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. ” There is however, no clear rules on a uniform that must be worn as a Muslim woman. What is “modest clothing? ” For Muslim women, “modest clothing” may mean a multitude of different things. For some, it will mean a burqa. For others, modesty means loose clothing and a head-cover. For others, loose clothing that does not reveal cleavage, arms and legs is modest.The burqa satisfies these requirements from the Qur’an which is why it is worn. People innately have different perceptions, different ideas and ways. Diverse levels of intellect, foresight, education and environment are all among the factors which make Muslims interestingly different. To put it simply; it’s the way in which Muslims have been created as was stated in the Qur’an and this results in the many issues we see surrounding Muslims. The differences between religions and beliefs should lead us to learn and experience, to reach out in understanding and use our wisdom to remain open minded. The fact that a woman may want to cover herself should not lead to political and social injustice. Surprisingly, choosing to wear the Hijab is not something done on a whim, imagine a change that will affect your every interaction with society, it will lead you to be stereotyped and quite often looked down upon. Contrary to common beliefs, Muslim women claim covering themselves with the Hijab is in fact a symbol of freedom, rather than one of oppression. Providing them with clear guidelines to love and honour their God.