Monday, December 21, 2015

To Wear Head Coverings in Solidarity or Not

As Muslim women, we actually ask you not to wear the ‘hijab’ in the name of interfaith solidarity

By Asra Q. Nomani and Hala Arafa, December 21, in The Washington Post

From the article:

Last week, three female religious leaders – a Jewish rabbi, an Episcopal vicar and a Unitarian reverend – and a male imam, or Muslim prayer leader, walked into the sacred space in front of the ornately-tiled minbar, or pulpit, at the Khadeeja Islamic Center in West Valley City, Utah. The women were smiling widely, their hair covered with swaths of bright scarves, to support “Wear a Hijab” day.
The Salt Lake Tribune published a photo of fresh-faced teenage girls, who were not Muslim, in the audience at the mosque, their hair covered with long scarves. KSL TV later reported: “The hijab — or headscarf — is a symbol of modesty and dignity. When Muslim women wear headscarves, they are readily identified as followers of Islam.”
For us, as mainstream Muslim women, born in Egypt and India, the spectacle at the mosque was a painful reminder of the well-financed effort by conservative Muslims to dominate modern Muslim societies. This modern-day movement spreads an ideology of political Islam, called “Islamism,” enlisting well-intentioned interfaith do-gooders and the media into promoting the idea that “hijab” is a virtual “sixth pillar” of Islam, after the traditional “five pillars” of the shahada (or proclamation of faith), prayer, fasting, charity and pilgrimage.
We reject this interpretation that the “hijab” is merely a symbol of modesty and dignity adopted by faithful female followers of Islam.
This modern-day movement, codified by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Taliban Afghanistan and the Islamic State, has erroneously made the Arabic word hijab synonymous with “headscarf.” This conflation of hijab with the secular word headscarf is misleading. “Hijab” literally means  “curtain” in Arabic. It also means “hiding,” ”obstructing” and “isolating” someone or something. It is never used in the Koran to mean headscarf.
. . . 
In the name of “interfaith,” these well-intentioned Americans are getting duped by the agenda of Muslims who argue that a woman’s honor lies in her “chastity” and unwittingly pushing a platform to put a hijab on every woman.
Please do this instead: Do not wear a headscarf in “solidarity” with the ideology that most silences us, equating our bodies with “honor.” Stand with us instead with moral courage against the ideology of Islamism that demands we cover our hair.
Referred to in the article:
In Iran women have to cover their hair in public according to the dress rule enforced after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. My Stealthy Freedom is an online social movement where Iranian women share photos of themselves without wearing the hijab. -----------------------------
Much more information, definition, and history can be found in reading the entire article, linked in the subtitle above.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Business of Headcoverings

From "If You Don't Stand By Muslim Women Now Then Don't Profit Off Us Later"
An article in the December 10, 2015, Forbes magazine, by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh

"While we’re dishing out MuslimGirl’s neatly streamlined numbers in pretty Powerpoint slides at shiny conference tables, quantifying in dollar signs why Muslim women’s voices are valuable, all I can really think about is how our site had to resort to publishing a crisis safety manual for Muslim women last week. All that hateful rhetoric in the media — Paris, Bernardino, now Trump — isn’t made in a void.

"The thing is, you can’t be cool with society demanding us to apologize for ISIS while also trying to compliment us on our headscarves.

"The social complacency that MuslimGirl intends to combat has real life or death consequences for Muslim women in Western societies. Our society is currently thriving off of scapegoating Islam: Muslim women quickly become the most vulnerable targets, and, yet, the fashion industry and corporations are simultaneously eager to profit off of them."

Click to read the whole article in Forbes.

"For many Muslim women, the headscarf is a symbol of resistance: against Islamophobia, against the imposition of societal expectations, against the violent erasure of our bodies. Countless women’s websites and news blogs this year have cashed in on almost patronizing modest fashion headlines, reducing Muslim women to their apparently shocking ability to dress well, rock a scarf, and look acceptable to the Western gaze. Meanwhile, a 6th grade Muslim girl was beaten up by a group of boys and called “ISIS!” in her middle school. How many women’s blogs flaunting modest fashion headlines have covered her story? Much to your delight, we can flawlessly rock a scarf with American fashion trends — but we’re still going to risk getting killed when we step out of the house."

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

No Fear

Posted by Yasminn Mogaged, December 7, 2015 on Facebook

It was time to break my silence...

On my way home last week, I drove by a pretty bad car accident. It got me thinking about the things we fear in life and the role fear inevitably plays in our lives. With the heart wrenching events of last Wednesday, fear of backlash has begun to consume the Muslim discourse. Many sisters are nervous about the hijab and some leaders have called for laying low.

But in reflecting, I feel there is something wrong with our approach. Statistically, the risk of getting into a car accident is far greater than the risk of an Islamophobic attack. But we don't stop driving. We don't stop going where we need to go. And most certainly, we don't shift all our conversations to the dangers of getting behind the wheel. In other words, we don't feed into the paralyzing fear of hyper focus on a problem.

Yes we're aware of the risks of getting behind the wheel. So we take our precautions; we buckle our seatbelt, say our duaa, and put our trust in God. And then we continue to live our lives. We continue to drive. We stay awake--but not afraid. And there's a difference. Fear only takes over when we allow a problem to consume us. Focusing all our reading, all our thoughts, all our conversations on something only makes it grow disproportionately and deceptively in our minds.  If all I talked about, read about, thought about was car accidents, I'd probably become too terrified to drive.

The question now is: what are those precautions we need to take for protection? Well, I apologize in advance, but I must stand up and unequivocally say I do *not* believe those precautions are wearing baseball hats and bandanas to hide our hijab.

I feel it is irresponsible for our leaders and public figures to spread fear, when what we really need is empowerment. What we really need is strength and hope and trust. And faith. When it gets dark, the believers don't hide. They shine. That's what light does. Light doesn't hide from the dark. It breaks through it.

Brothers and sisters, the darker it gets, the more we need the Light. The more the world need the light. The more we need to empower oursleves to be sources of that light. And the darker it gets, the brighter that light will shine.

You see every single moment we make a choice. We choose how we're going to live. We can either live motivated by fear--by what we hope *won't* happen in life. Or, we can live motivated by hope. By faith. By what we believe can and should happen. And then work for that. Remember, what you focus on grows. You get back what you put into the world.

Yes, there are horrible, tragic things happening in the world. Absolutely true. But, dear God, there are also beautiful, inspiring things happening too. The problem is, if you never turn off the news, you'll begin to believe the world is only dark. You see, good news doesn't sell. Only blood and guns do. Only 'radical Muslim terrorist' do. My dear brothers and sisters, refuse to buy into it. Refuse to allow the darkness to hijack the discussion.

Focus on what you can do to grow the light.

And to all my fellow sisters, who have to feel a little more scared today to put on their hijab, I say this: Remember why you wore it. And for who. Then ask yourself: Do you think the One for whom you wore it, the One who also happens to have sole ownership and power over the heavens and the earth and every Islamaphobe on it, won't take care of you?
But your baseball cap will?

My sisters, don't be afraid. Buckle your seat belt, yes. But keep driving. And keep your eye on the road; not on the belt. Keep looking up. The seat belt won't save you, and neither will your cap.

But Allah will.

Tell the world you won't hide, because your hijab isn't just a cloth. It's a symbol. It represents love. The love of God. And the love of God brings about everything good.

Sisters, by God, you are beacons of light walking around.
Hold it strong.