Unhijabed #2: Giving Modesty a Name

5-beautiful-eyes-www.cute-pictures.blogspot.com_In recent decades the community I come from has shifted its focus in several aspects. I am being conservative by only referring to my community, when truthfully these shifts have been in lieu with the evolving global environment. We cannot argue that there has been a serious lack of values and an overwhelming sense of superficiality dominating many aspects of life. As a reaction to this development, religious communities, which are supposedly the dispensers and enforces of such values, become all the more coercive and uncompromising in enforcing their respective laws. These laws are seen as barriers between them and the corruption of the outside world. There was suddenly so much emphasis on building a unique, Islamic image that would give its followers a sense of security. Of course, after much branding and marketing, this successfully gave birth to an ‘Islamic’ pseudo-culture, much based on long-accepted traditions and superficial understanding.

Little did these enforcers know that they have become exactly like their worldly nemeses. They are just as superficial, arrogant, hypocritical but most importantly, judgmental of the people around them, and each other. But of course, all that is merely my opinion.

So now everything ‘Islamic’ has a theme, so to speak. Suddenly, a certain way of speaking is more Islamic than any other mode of talk, for instance. Akhi, Ukhti, you must speak with correctly transliterated Arabic words even though you haven’t a clue about Arabic grammar because it is the language of the Al-Qur’aan and of Jannah. Also, it makes you look a lot smarter than you really are.  Suddenly, the Arab way of dress is deemed more ‘Islamic’, because any other clothing is deemed an imitation of the infidels – thus I surmise from here that anything non-Arab is virtually cursed to Hell. But let’s not forget that the Arab culture was once Paganist, and even now still belong to several other ancient faiths.

Now, still on the topic of dress, it would be unwise to say that only women who dress a certain way are ‘religiously approved’ (for lack of a better term). But sadly it has long been so, and from experience, it is believed a woman can be chaste and well-mannered, but all that will go to waste if she didn’t wear the Hijab. Again, the chauvinistic misconception of socially acceptable Muslims (as mentioned in the earlier article) is at play. I’d hardly think God would be so petty to throw her to hell just for that, you know.

That said, I think the headscarf has been overly glorified for the wrong reasons. Not only are the various scholarly opinions related about this unknown at large, the judicial instruments and developments herewith are totally ignored. For some reason or other context has lost its relevance almost entirely in the formation of customs, which is pure insanity. There isn’t a problem with donning it, of course. The problem is the way we see the individuals who don’t.

I’ve had numerous Muslim friends (converts or otherwise) who did not grow up accustomed to wearing it and to my knowledge now suffer under the judgmental eyes of the local Muslim community. This undertaking was to prove a point.  I know I don’t need society’s approval to be modest. I don’t need to be part of a shallow community that validates me by what I wear.

And these are my rants.

[ Part 1: Being ‘Irreligious’ ]

[ Part 3: Background Check ]


26 thoughts on “Unhijabed #2: Giving Modesty a Name

  1. I congratulate you on your courage, honesty, articulation, and frankness. I also sincerely encourage you to continue. More people need to speak up about these matters. I have much more to say, but I will leave it for another venue and day. Don’t lose hope, and keep searching for and expressing your truest self.

  2. Salam. I admire your ability to express your thoughts eloquently. I admit that there are some hijabis who might have worn the headscarf for the wrong reasons (may Allah forgive us) and that the way society view those who do not wear the hijab is really poor. Modesty does not only lie in the way we dress but more importantly how we conduct and carry ourselves. It is good that you’re trying to prove this point.

    May the muslim community here, at least, and also ourselves, always refrain from judging /both/ those who wear it and also those who do not wear it whenever we see them – their intention is not of our concern. And may we be more concerned with other important matters such as our flactuating faith. 🙂

    Let us hope that among the hijabis there are still those who struggle to fix their niyah. I’d like to think that they would at least get an A for effort, haha.

    1. Hello MH,

      Thank you for your gracious feedback. You have echoed my thoughts very accurately. This is exactly what I am trying to get at with this series.

      Lots of love, peace and light to you my dear.

  3. I sent a comment.. I don’t see it up on the site.. Did it go through? I will gladly send it again. =)

    (Btw.. The way you speak to others, is pretty rude. Perhaps learn some courtesy? It is well known amongst scholars that it is from arrogance to correct a person’s grammar unless you are in a language class. Especially, correcting the grammar of someone not fluent in the language. It’s very rude. Even to teacher Mariam.. You called her by her name. What happened to adab? And you use phrases in your replies like, “pray tell” that to the native speaker is used in arrogance and is veryrude, especially towards an elder.)

    1. Are you keeping tabs on my blog just to see if your comments were approved? That’s very flattering, but no thanks. Comments are moderated here and i peacefully disagree with everything you had to say. I would recommend grammar classes for you too, friend.

  4. a really insightful post! I’m a little confused at some people’s comments on this page. A blog is a personal webpage meant to share personal feelings and opinions, which is what you are doing here.

  5. hi,
    you wrote: “Not only are the various scholarly opinions related about this unknown at large, the judicial instruments and developments herewith are totally ignored. For some reason or other context has lost its relevance almost entirely in the formation of customs, which is pure insanity.”

    Do you know what are these scholarly opinions and who said them and in what context? I personally have been told, ever since I converted, that hijab is compulsory. It would be great if I knew who said it and why, and also those who said it is not compulsory in our day and time and their reasons for it.

    You seem like you have read a lot about the rulings on Hijab. Mind sharing?

    1. Hello, Jenn.

      The ‘Urf of the Prophet’s time dictates that the covering was a symbol of a free woman, so as to differentiate them from slaves, as per the Sabab An-Nuzul of Surah Al-Ahzaab, verse 33. Female slaves, Muslim or otherwise, were not allowed to don the jilbab as how the free women wore it. A similar practice occurs in the more recent history of the earlier Malay Muslim societies, where commoners were prohibited from covering their heads within royal palaces. This, of course, was carried over from Arab culture. In fact, the Ustaazaat of this region did not wear head coverings with such rigidity until the 1950’s. I understand from this historical evidence that the issue of a woman’s ‘aurah outside prayers was hardly a topic of discussion in the sharia until recently.

      Thank you for your question.

  6. Was wondering, what do ur parents think about your thoughts? Do you dicuss with them?

    People will always judge, even when one wears hijab. but, why care about what they say? They wont be the ones who will give u the final judgement in the end. Its Allah and its His command to wear hijab. For Allah knows best.

    Keep calm and hijab on babe!

  7. Very interesting and insightful post! I do agree with you on several points, especially on how the Singaporean Malay-Muslim community seem to put those who wear head coverings on a pedestal, when in truth, they are just as prone to mistakes and sins just like others are.

    The hijab shouldn’t be an indicator of how religious someone is, and neither should we judge a person based on whether they wear it or not, because ultimately only Allah can judge a person. We have no right to, as mere equal human beings.

    However, I feel the need to bring up an ayat from the Qur’an, Surah An-Nur, Verse 31:

    And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts), and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way), and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (ie, their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or to their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers, or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their women, or the female slaves whom their right hand possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of feminine sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.

    From this ayat, we can conclude that the covering of a woman is a direct order from God, and all direct orders from Allah are considered wajib. Now, from what I can gather from the Unhijabed series, you have stopped wearing it to prove a point to the public that a hijab should not be an indicator of how ‘religious’ someone is.

    ‘This undertaking was to prove a point. I know I don’t need society’s approval to be modest. I don’t need to be part of a shallow community that validates me by what I wear.’

    I applaud you on your bravery to defy stereotypes and teach others that they should not judge based on outward appearances.

    However, are you not, in the process, disobeying the word of God? Is pleasing Allah not a priority over simply trying to prove a point to a society?

    Of course, this is all simply my opinion, but I’d love to hear your thoughts regarding this ayat, and several other ayats that indicate a Muslim woman should cover up. 🙂 You seem very intelligent on these matters.

      1. Oh! Sorry for not clarifying earlier, the translation is lifted directly from a Tafsir by Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali (who used to be a Professor of Islamic faith and teachings in the Islamic University of Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah), as well as his colleague, Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, the former director of the aforementioned university’s hospital.

        The Tafsir I used has been endorsed by the late King Fahd ibn Abd al-Aziz Al-Saud. Don’t worry, I didn’t take it from some obscure site on the Internet, lol. 🙂

      2. Ah, forgive me for not clarifying even further, but Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din was a Sufi. Apologies!

  8. Stop it guys, give her a break.

    A wahabbi always trust their minds and thoughts on these matters.

    Leave her alone. She’s just speaking up.

    It’s a battle you’ll never win if you try fighting.

    1. I am not sure who you are addressing as the comment thread on this post died some 3 years ago. Who are the Wahhabis you refer to? I fail to follow, I’m sorry.

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