So many people speak over Muslim women who cover:
- Male scholars
- Medical doctors
- Muslim women who don’t cover
- Singers (seriously?)
I cannot even begin to exhaust the list of everyone who thinks that their opinion about hijab/niqab/abaya/burqa/etc is more important than the women who actually wear it.
Then I find this little “gem” of an article titled “Tell me I’m wrong about the hijab” (and by gem I mean complete and absolute bakwaas):
The issue about the hijab, burka and now burkini is not simply about its presence on the beach or in public institutions and spaces including schools, or about the presence of Islam in public spaces in Europe or about freedom of choice there. The issue is about the hijab, burka and burkini becoming the symbol of Islam and all that there is about Islam. A garment now defines Islam. A cloth, has become Islam. The issue is that modesty and virtue have been reduced to the abundance or lack of abundance of a garment. And that indeed is a shame.
It isn’t that the space for hijabs and niqabs is threated to be reduced. It is Islam that is being reduced. Reduced to a piece of cloth. And who is responsible for this?
Those responsible for doing so are Muslim women who wear it. Indeed it is about misogyny and patriarchy. Those who promote it are women. And they are predominantly articulating themselves to the West. They are reducing themselves, reducing the air around them, the light, the conversation, and they are reducing the faith that they profess to belong to by this reductionist action.
Really? We’ve just established that getting a Muslim woman who wears hijab to actually have her voice heard is an extremely rare thing and yet we’re responsible for the insane amount of focus on hijab? And then when the Muslim woman who wears hijab actually does manage to get her reasons across, people like Naqvi come along and say she’s lying or brainwashed.
It gets worse:
Is the hijab, burka, niqab, abaya and now the burkini a symbol of Islam and of religion?
Or is it a prop for communicating modesty and religiosity. The women that I know who wear hijabs wear them because they think it’s conveys religion and modesty. All of them are new to wearing the hijab. Most of them have something to hide or to not deal with intellectually. They are hiding, their sense of ugliness, they are hiding aging, they think it’s a way to instantly communicate that they are not only Muslim but also good Muslims, it allows them an easy pass through their neighborhood streets that are controlled by thugs and bullies, they are transmitting a demand or a plea to be treated better or differently than everyone else, they are hiding past bad behavior and keeping that tendency under check. It hides the shame of old clothes and not being able to keep up with the Jones. It helps women emerge from deeply patriarchal and authoritarian relationships and families. Whatever. It hides. There are a myriad of reasons for wearing the hijab. And all of them are deeply lazy and narcissistic. [Emphasis added]
OK let’s stop and evaluate this. Most women who wear hijab “have something to hide” or something we’re not dealing with “intellectually”. We are hiding, according to Naqvi:
- a “sense of ugliness”
- something we’re not dealing with “intellectually”
- “bad behavior”
- “the shame of old clothes and not being able to keep up with the Jones” [sic]
This is the same ridiculous tripe that Western beauty standards keeps trying to force feed us: We wear hijab because we’re not beautiful, or to hide the fact that yes, we aren’t 24 anymore, because the only value a woman has is in her youthful looks, right?
We wear hijab to hide the shame of old clothes and our low social status. Can you really believe someone in the 21st century is railing against niqab/hijab/abaya because it removes signs of social status? But upon further inspection, it turns out that Naqvi actually works for The World Bank so yes, I can completely understand why she sees class as all important and poor people attempting to hide their class as detestable.
And we wear it to hide “bad behavior”. Ah, yes, the old Orientalist view of the veil, that all women who cover are intrinsically sexual and seductive and they cover/are forced to cover to repress their sexuality. Of course, the other side of this Orientalist garbage about the veil is that if you think this, you are a sexually repressed Victorian wanna-be. Again, this is 2016. There are ample opportunities for women to embrace their sexuality in this modern world. The thought of a woman wearing a veil to keep her sex life private shouldn’t be offensive at all. It should just be seen as an alternative, and who are you to judge, Naqvi?
I wish that were all, but it isn’t:
The niqab deceives. It deceives foremost its wearer. The hijab and the niqab do not relay modesty or humility, they relay the opposite. It is a deeply narcissistic act that screams look at me! Look how different I am. Look how virtuous [sic]! I don’t need to do anything else to prove how good and moral I am. It allows a woman to hide her own idol, herself, inside her cover.
For once, Naqvi is right. The hijab and niqab do not relay modesty. They relay identity. And that’s how it is supposed to be (see Surah Al Ahzab, Ayah 59 – “that they will be known“). The understanding of hijab and niqab as garments of modesty is not correct. They are actions of identity first and foremost. Modesty is of course part of the equation but it is not the sum. The argument that niqab and hijab are garments strictly of modesty is a Mullah’s argument. Why does Naqvi sound like a Mullah, shaming women for seeing themselves as sexual, then claiming that covering is primarily about modesty?
Naqvi then accuses women who cover of shirk. (Is this a Mullah’s bayaan?) Women who cover, however, are usually not covering themselves in an act of shirk. In fact, it is modern beauty standards as dictated by the West that promote shirk of the self. Women who have bought the myth that their beauty, which they did absolutely nothing to earn but was handed to them in their DNA, is so important that it must be exaggerated and displayed and treasured over intellect, good manners, and so forth are the ones committing shirk. This is quite often an act of ignorance, meaning these women aren’t intending to commit shirk, but the end result is the same: Women are worshipping their own beauty, sacrificing time, money, and even health at the alter of beauty, and competing for male attention with said beauty.
Hijab, on the other hand, is supposed to stop women from self objectifying. Hijab removes the focus from the shell that our soul uses to navigate this world (the body) and places it where it really matters: the intellect, the soul, and the actions required to submit to Allah SWT in order that we achieve success on the Day of Qiyamah.
So [sic] a good Muslim woman wears a hijab or a niqab? Ask these women and push comes to shove they’ll say yes. They will indeed sit in judgement of other Muslim women, who don’t.
The police on the beach gave the woman a ticket and fined her for ‘not respecting good morals and secularism.” Poor putz of a policeman simply carrying out the decree of the Mayor, ends up scribbling and mixing up good morals with secularism. One [sic] a religious concept and the other supposedly not. So in doing so the police on the beach in Nice becomes [sic] the morality police—which has very little to do with secularism unless secularism in France means being naked. Not everyone being naked. Just women. Preferably only the good bits. Bare breasted women. That’s secularism?
Or did the policeman by writing ‘Not respecting of good morals’ actually inadvertently point to something very basic—a piece of garment is not the symbol of faith nor of goodness. It is in fact the symbol that you are weak of faith and goodness and must cloak yourself.
Naqvi, you just accused Muslim women who cover of judging Muslim women who don’t cover. Yet in the same paragraph you judge women who cover of having weak imaan and goodness! In fact, you have done nothing but judge women who cover for this entire piece of inane rambling.
It can be argued that a hijab, a niqab, a burka and abaya is a heightened and elevated sense of immodesty and titillation, bordering on pornography. It is a prop that constantly introduces sex and the danger of being raped into the public sphere when no such idea is even present. It suggests in a public sphere that a woman is covered because she is in danger of being molested or that if she were uncovered she would incite a molestation of her. Covered in the public sphere as these women who are wearing niqabs and burkas in Europe and the US where there is no social or cultural history for its presence these women are introducing the concept of being constantly stalked or in sexual danger or being the cause of it if they were uncovered. It is if not ridiculous, psychologically unstable. To cover herself is to suggest a constant pre-occupation [sic] with sex.
Three things here:
First, Naqvi has the same ridiculous understanding of 33:59 as the most misogynistic and extremist Mullahs do (surprise). “That they will be known and not bothered” does not mean women wearing hijab etc will not be raped. Molested in the traditional English sense of the word is similar to the meaning in Spanish – to be annoyed. The modern usage of “molested” to describe sexual assault of minors is a completely new usage, and to get an understanding of this Ayah by applying the modern meaning to the archaic word is completely unfounded.
Next, women in the West are indeed at risk of being stalked or raped or sexually assaulted. To say that hijab is “a prop that constantly introduces sex and the danger of being raped into the public sphere when no such idea is even present“, is just wrong. What message are you sending here, Naqvi? That women in the West aren’t really at risk of being raped or stalked? Are you seriously trying to pretend that the streets of Paris are some sort of egalitarian utopia where women are never assaulted based on their gender? Because that’s not true:
- French police probe rape of two English women in Nice
- The British Embassy’s webpage for rape victims in France
- Rape is reported every 40 minutes in France
Finally, here we ago again with Naqvi’s Victorian, prudish views on sex and sexuality. Women cover themselves because of “a constant pre-occupation [sic] with sex.” Let’s ignore that Naqvi confuses rape and sex constantly in this paragraph (a huge feminist no-no), and instead address her extremely repressed views on sex and sexuality. Naqvi, what do you care if some of the women who cover themselves do so because of how they view their own sexuality? It’s absolutely none of your business. Please, stop judging the sexuality (and other aspects) of women who cover and move on.
Your title begs the answer, Naqvi. You are wrong about why Muslim women cover. You are even wrong according to feminism for equating consensual sex with rape. You said at the beginning of your article that myself and other women who cover do so because we “have something to hide or to not deal with intellectually”, but now it is apparent that you are projecting. Your ruminations are not well formed and your argument has more holes than Swiss cheese, and I’m not the first person to notice how anemic your arguments are.
You begged me to tell you that you’re wrong about the hijab. That’s what I’ve just done.