Stop Telling Muslim Women How to Dress

A lot of people need to calm down about this subject. Whether it’s among non-Muslims, Muslims, or fascist Islamophobes in Europe and North America, there seems to be a growing obsession with Muslim women and the way they dress.

A few weeks ago, I attended an event as part of “Islamic Awareness Week” hosted by a local university where a panel of three Muslim women shared their personal experiences and views on Islam and modesty. Two of the women wore hijaab (headscarf) and one didn’t, which apparently, I’m sorry to say, seemed enough to draw controversy.

In the Q&A discussion, a young Muslim man said something that made me take pause and then realize how utterly offensive and repulsive his comment was. He argued that the Qur’an is “not spiritual,” but rather “practical,” especially in regards to hijaab because, according to him, “the hijaab is supposed to cover a woman’s neck and I admit, when I see a woman’s neck, I get attracted.” I smiled and looked at one of the panelists, a friend of mine, who also smiled at the absurdity of his comment. I followed up by tossing the panel a question that was set up for my friend to spike the young man’s comment: “I am sick and tired of men telling Muslim women how to dress,” she said boldly. She included both the Muslim men who impose hijaab/niqaab/burqa on Muslim women and the Islamophobes who are hell-bent on banning these styles of dress.

I am familiar with the young man’s views on hijaab and modesty. I used to say similar things myself. I would see Muslim women wearing tight shirts, jeans, and no hijaab, and I would judge them in my thoughts: “Look at how she’s dressed and she calls herself ‘Muslim’?” Then I would gripe to my Muslim friends, both female and male, about how “westernized” Muslim women are becoming. I remember coming across Muslim women wearing hijaab and tight jeans and thinking how hypocritical she must be. And the reason why my Muslim friends and I were so upset about this was because such manner of dress drew lustful and sexual gazes from men. In other words, I believed that, for the most part, Muslim women were responsible for the “uncontrollable” sexual urges of men.

It was always a Muslim woman’s fault. If some ignorant non-Muslim playfully tugged her hijaab in the computer lab, it was her fault because she gave him the liberty to be that free with her. If a man was checking her out, it was her fault because she didn’t choose to wear a long shirt. Unfortunately, I find this sexist mentality to be very prevalent in Sunni orthodoxies, especially among Muslim men. The disturbing thing, in my opinion, is how I thought that everything I believed about Muslim women, how they should dress, and how they should behave was not sexist, but actually liberating because it taught Muslim women how to be “real,” “respectable” women.

Over the years, I learned that it wasn’t about liberating women. It was about controlling them and molding them the way *I* wanted them to be. The way a lot Muslim *men* want them to be: obedient, passive, soft-spoken, sensitive, reserved, etc. In my mind, it was improper and sacrilegious for Muslim women to even flirt with a man, to even make a mentioning of sex, to even have male friends. Why? Because with this sexist, over-controlling, and uber-conservative mindset, it is always about sex.

ALWAYS. ABOUT. SEX.

Why can’t Muslim women be friends with men? Because there is a chance of sex. Why can’t Muslim women laugh or smile at a man? Because one of them might be thinking about sex. Why can’t Muslim women and Muslim men shake hands? Because they might get so turned on that they’ll rip each other’s clothes off and start having sex. Oh my God, if I hear a woman give the azaan (call to prayer), I’ll start thinking about sex because a woman’s voice is attractive and alluring. Oh no, we can’t take the partition out of the Mosques, the women and men won’t be able to keep their hands off each other. As if there’s a high risk of a giant orgy or something. That sounds practical.

And it’s not that sex is a bad thing — it’s not — but when it’s used in this hyper-sexual context to control the way women think, behave, and dress, it becomes something very dirty. Extremely dirty (see the paragraph above). Over time, this made me very uncomfortable because on one hand, Muslims would stress so much on “modesty” and not seeing each other as sex objects, but ironically, that is exactly what we were doing: sexually objectifying each other. The young Muslim man at the event who said he gets attracted by a woman’s neck is talking about her as a sex object, as if her body is so tempting that he cannot resist it, hence she must cover up. It also made me wonder if he had any idea how disgusting and sexual his comment was, considering that the majority of women (Muslim and non-Muslim) in the room had their necks visible? What is he saying, that he is thinking about each and every one of them sexually? And that if his mind is flooded with sexual thoughts, it is their fault?

This needs to stop. Muslim men need to stop examining Muslim women like lab specimens and instead, turn inward and look at themselves. It’s like blaming a rape victim and saying “she was just asking for it” because of the way she was dressed. Too often, I’ve heard Muslim men tell me, “Oh brother, look at the way Muslim women dress these days. They have no dignity, they don’t care about the Sunnah or Islam.” Too often, I’ve heard Muslim men point out a Muslim woman and say, “Look at how she’s wearing tight jeans” or a “t-shirt” or “not even wearing hijaab.”

My response is: So? Let them dress however they want. Look at you, I say sometimes to certain Muslim men, you’re wearing a muscle shirt, you don’t think you’re showing off your skin or that women can’t get attracted? How can you look into a person’s soul and judge them based on what they are wearing? The Qur’an talks so much about humility, yet so many of us are quick to make judgments about a person’s faith, as if we have some authority to do so. I have known Muslim women who don’t wear hijaab and are more religious/spiritual than I am. I have known Muslim women who wear hijaab, but hardly know anything about the Prophet’s life (peace be upon him). This doesn’t mean one is better than the other. The way a Muslim woman dresses should not be seen as reflective of her faith.

As a Muslim man, I tend to stay away from this topic of how Muslim women dress only because I see so many other Muslim men arrogantly giving lectures, writing books, and dictating in Mosques about how Muslim women *should* dress. Where are the lectures, books, and sermons that tell men to keep themselves in check? Why is there this sexist double-standard and attitude that Muslim women cannot be attracted to Muslim men either? Where are the imams and religious leaders who say, “If you’re getting turned on by a woman’s neck, that is your problem because *you* are seeing her as a sex object?” The truth is that Muslim men can have sexual thoughts about Muslim women regardless if they’re wearing hijaab or not, and anyone who says otherwise is lying. If a man feels distracted by sexual thoughts, it is not because of the way Muslim women are dressed, it is because his mind has wandered off in that direction. He should not blame a Muslim woman for his issues, he should turn inward and deal with it himself.

There is nothing wrong with desire and attraction. We are naturally attracted to each other as human beings. It is the way God made us and Islam does not teach celibacy, but rather to fulfill our desires in responsible ways. I am not saying we should see each other as sex objects, I am saying we should be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that yes, you may see someone in the Mosque or at an MSA event that you are attracted to, but that doesn’t mean your thoughts are “evil” and “impure.” How can we talk so much about marriage in Muslim communities without also talking about attraction, physical and non-physical? There is such a thing as Love and marriage where people find their partners beautiful and attractive, and don’t view/treat one another as sex objects.

We need to stop obsessing over the way Muslim women dress because it continues to lead to many problems that exists in our communities today: awkward and often hypersexualized gender interactions/relations, stigmatization of non-hijaab Muslim women, sexism and misogyny, and even problems in relationships/marriage, among many other things. If we really care about God’s Love and Compassion, then why make others in our community — people we are supposed to consider our spiritual sisters and brothers — feel like “bad” or “deviant” Muslims just because they don’t dress the way *we* want them to?

Why not express our compassion by accepting each other for who they are, treat everyone equally and refrain from making judgments? Isn’t that what humility is about?

117 thoughts on “Stop Telling Muslim Women How to Dress

  1. Another great post! It seems many forget that modest dress is prescribed by Islam for both men and women; and, that modesty depends on where you are. In the public hammam in Morocco it is modest for the women to keep their underpants on. At a wedding it is modest to wear a full length dress whether traditional or modern with full length sleeves and a collar to the neck. On the beach a one-piece bathing suit is modest.

    I had a major unpleasantness this weekend with friends about the proposed ban of the niqab in Quebec. Both of my friends are adult immigrants to Canada and both thought niqabis should not be allowed in the country, and if they started wearing the niqab here should be deported. Neither could see, even after I explained, what a political ploy the whole ban is, with different political parties vying for certain Quebec votes whether at the provincial or federal level.

    I wrote a post on the initial debate that was sparked when an Egyptian pharmacist immigrated to Quebec was kicked out of government sponsored language classes because of her niqab, and the human rights complaint that she filed.

    The Niqab: Quebec’s/Canada’s “Two Solitudes” and “medieval kingdoms like Saudi Arabia”

    I am currently preparing a follow-up post, to include my unpleasant discussion, and the rationale that these 2 highly educated, well-travelled people advanced for their views and with a degree of hostility toward Muslim women who wear the niqab that surprised me, even though I was aware that neither was comfortable with it. Both took pains to say they have no problem with the head scarf only with the face veil. Their reasons had nothing to do with security which wasn’t mentioned once.

    We live in a multi-cultural city and I too had to get accustomed to the tight, fitted pant suit, with the head scarf, juxtaposed with the fully black cloak, headscarf, and face veil. Is it any of my business how Muslim women choose to dress? And what evolution a woman may have in her choices to cover to what degree and how? I think not, except in countries where there are legalities about covering and I am asked for my advice.

    Otherwise it seems that these are clothing choices Muslim women make and which it is theirs to decide. It is ultimately extremely denigrating to both men and women to assume that sexual attraction, desire, or appreciation of someone’s appearance will result in inappropriate actions. Most of us control ourselves better than that, and all day long.

    The fellow who said he found a bare neck attractive was denigrating himself in implying he couldn’t appreciate the difference between attraction and lust, or desire and action.

    Oh, and yes, we do check men out–Muslim or not! :)

    Thanks for another great post!

    • an american woman says:

      is it ok for non-muslims to wear the burqua? I am a western woman and recently had to wear one for personal reasons, for only a day, but wondered if it was offensive to do so. Also, I experienced an unexpected reaction to the dress– instead of feeling oppressed, I felt completely liberated — not for sexual reasons– but because of the freedom of being completely anonymous with no possible judgment on outward appearances, expressions, or body language…. free from age, race, or other discrimination. Has anyone else had this experience with the dress? I wished I could have the option to wear this whenever I chose and also felt it was an excellent tool for public debates, etc. anywhere judgment could influence opinion. Of course, it was worn by choice, not demand, which made a difference.

  2. Mohsen! says:

    lol.. tho this dude had some weird fetch … the question is… isn’t the neck part of the woman’s awra? regardless of how he worded it.. maybe he is just too young and hormonal .. maybe he is just frustrated…but at the end of the day.. he didn’t really tell women how to dress… Allah did… no? or am i missing the point?!

    I agree that no one should ever judge a woman by the way she dress… who knows…maybe shes wearing jeans …but she prays at night… or maybe out of ignorance of the orders of Allah she wore those jeans… so yea.. i understand the no judging mentality.. but what i dont understand why lash out at the brothers (and sisters for that matter) who call out for their sisters to wear the hijab?!

    Maybe you had issues a while ago when you used to judge people.. but please dont project that on everybody who “nicely and politely” tried to convince his sisters to wear the hijab…. (notice i said nicely and politely.. and not force it down their throat or make them feel like sluts for not wearing it… )

    And yes… believe it or not.. its all about the sex! Just look around you… how many sex scandals are talking place? Just two days ago or so i read a flier that was hung in my building at school saying… 1 out of every 5 female students will be sexually harassed before she graduate!

    If you dont think sex has a major element on how a man looks at a woman.. then either this person lost his man hormones… or he is just lying! This is how we were created … and no … i wont even prove this using Islamic references so i wont be attacked as another Muslim horny guy… rather go read any book that talks about relationships from the relationship aisle in barns and nobels and you will see how men get affected by women Vs. how women get affected by men!

    Finally… your article is a reaction to some jerks how dont know how to deal with our fragile sisters… and yea i agree.. they exist.. but please man.. pleaase… don’t ever ask us again to not advise our sisters to that which Allah ordered them to do…!

    beace! (egyptian style)

    • Reema B. says:

      Salam alaikum Mohsen,

      With all due respect brother, although I appreciate and respect how you are standing up for what you value and for what you think is right and are trying to, in your own perception at least, to be as respectful as possible, I am honestly bothered about you equating sexual harassment with sexual desire.

      I am personally working with such issues which is why I am very bothered. If we are to call it desire it is more a desire for power and control and humiliating the target rather than the actual sexual factors. In fact, its not only women who get sexually harassed or raped, even men can get raped and sexually harassed (and yes by STRAIGHT women, STRAIGHT men, and LGBTQI populations).

      Male survivors of rape, sexual assault, or even sexual harassment are not as likely as female survivors to speak to anyone about their incident especially since it may involve questioning their masculinity and sexual orientation and also because men tend to be socialized to not be as emotionally expressive. In addition, there are not as many services for male survivors as there are for female survivors; making it harder for male survivors to seek help. Even few female survivors actually report or speak of their trauma (sometimes not until ten or twenty years…or even old age) so imagine how much fewer it is for male survivors to report? Thus all these complicated factors help explain why there seems to be more women getting raped and sexually harassed than men.

      Another thing that may sound quite disturbing: the elderly, the disabled (physically, mentally, and emotionally), LGBTQI populations, and children (even toddlers) all have a higher vulnerability of getting raped or sexually assaulted. People born with developmental disabilities have around a 90% or more probability of getting raped or at least sexually harassed at least once in their life time. It has been found that women wearing hijab are not necessarily less likely to be sexually harassed or even raped than non-hijaabi women.

      Do you not see a pattern here? All those with higher likelihood of being raped or sexually harassed are either rejected by their own societies, have a lower position in society, or are physically or mentally weak to defend themselves or speak up for themselves. In places where a particular race or people is hated, you’d find such people commonly being victims of sexual harassment or even rape.

      When children are raped, perpetrators tend to silence them with threats or by other fear tactics. In addition, men who tend to rape women have a distorted view about women and their social cues (they may take the most innocent act as something sexual and will thus use it against them) and also have an anger toward them; I repeat: anger and not necessarily sexual attraction. A perfect example of this is when women get harassed in workplaces that are considered to be “men’s jobs” and the men thus feel they need to exert their superiority and their claim that: “this is a man’s zone”.

      Let’s compare this drunk driving; if we want to reduce the likelihood of casualties, we can do either one of two things: not allow any person to ever get out of their homes because of the dangerous drivers, or we could reduce the likelihood of people driving while drunk. Of course, the second choice is a more reasonable one. The same logic applies with rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment; in order to address it, we cannot go blaming the victims, we need to address the disease in the perpetrators themselves and to spread public awareness to be able to provide more support for survivors.

      At times, a person may rape or sexually harass another without actually being aware of it and that may even add up to the statistics, but that is a whole larger topic and it depends on how the people involved view it, whether or not there was consent, and how the legal system defines rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment and that differs by country and even by state.

      I hope that this makes you more aware and considerate about how you speak about a topic as complicated and serious as sexual harassment, assault, or even rape. And as a good Muslim who is willing to stand up for what’s right, I am sure that you will also help spread more awareness about the complexity of such an issue rather than resorting to what the Qur’an calls “dhun” (speculation) that does not complete the “haqq” (truth) :-)

      In the end, Allah knows best

      • Reema B. says:

        But then again, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take any precautions to protect ourselves from any kind of attack (whether physical or sexual), but precautions alone aren’t foolproof (as pointed out in my comparison about drunk drivers) and we all have the right to feel safe in our own bodies and to feel that our boundaries are respected.

      • Mohsen! says:

        First of all… jazaki Allahu khayran for the information… definitely an eye opener!

        Second… its either I misspoke or you misunderstood… I never equated (or at least intended to equate) sexual harassment to sexual desire… That is simply because one is done offensively and the other is a natural occurrence in all humans!

        Thirdly, I agree wholeheartedly with your concluding paragraph along with a few other points that you wrote… jazaki Allahu khayran and thank you for the reminder.

        Fourthly :), i am not sure where rape and child molestation came into this discussion! All what I was trying to refer to is that men and women are different in the way they look at the other gender! Men physiologically and psychologically are attracted to women in a sexual manner… that does not by any mean justifying rape or molestation.. we seek refuge in Allah from that (thats a whole different discussion of psychology that i am not trained in nor knowledgeable about)… but facts are facts!

        Finally, only the mentally blind would deny the affect on sex and objectifying women on our society (here in america and even through out the world – including the so called muslim world) … and since this is a reality of the world around us, then it only make sense that we protect ourselves (i am talking about guys here) by lowering our gaze and avoiding that which might cause us to fall in to more severe an evil act.

        That includes lots of things starting from physical contact with women (i.e hugging etc) which might seem to be so innocent but **in some cases** its not, all the way to watching porn and masturbating in the privacy of your own room…

        As for my sisters… let it be known that if you are going to blindly follow the so called progressives and feminists … then you are no better than those who blindly follow a cult or any ideology… be it Islam, be it fundamental christians or jew… or whatever really! So just reason with reality and put your priorities straight… and i ask Allah to guide you all and I

        Finally… I would like to say to the author of this article… even the title of your article in it self shows radicalization and stepping over other people’s freedom. I, and others, are free to make say that we wish to say so long that we live in a free country… and its your right to listen or not.. but it is not your right to dictate on other what we should or shouldn’t say!

        I find this title offensive!

        Anyway, thanks again for having this intellectual teaser with some of the commenters!

        Beace again yo :)

        Mohsen

    • Sobia says:

      “…but at the end of the day.. he didn’t really tell women how to dress… Allah did… no? or am i missing the point?!”

      Not exactly. God told us to dress modestly but He did not define what modesty means. Modesty is defined by the culture we live in. By the way, modesty applies to your mind too, and thinking your way of being Muslim is better than others is not modest.

      ” or maybe out of ignorance of the orders of Allah she wore those jeans”

      On the one hand you’re saying we shouldn’t judge but then you’re judging. At least try to remain consistent dude. And once again, you don’t know that God doesn’t allow jeans.

      ” “nicely and politely” tried to convince his sisters to wear the hijab”

      Self-righteous preaching is neither nice nor polite. Keep your opinions to yourself. And that IS what they are – opinions. People will interpret Islam differently and the modest Muslim would respect that, not try to shove their interpretations onto others as if they knew better than others. That’s not modest.

      ” how men get affected by women Vs. how women get affected by men!”

      Um…as a social psychologist I can tell you that it’s all socialized. Evolutionary psychologists will try to convince us that it’s evolutionary, but there is enough evidence out there to disprove that. We are socialized to behave in these ways. There is nothing biological about it.

      ” with our fragile sisters”

      WHAT THE FUCK?? Fragile my ASS!

      • Mohsen! says:

        Hi Sobia :)

        First things first… i will ignore that comment about your ass… since i dont find that very polite from your side! You dont have to be tough to proof a point!

        As for the quotation that you picked… yes its so easy for you to scrutinize my comments… and feed in whatever you want to believe about me… i dont mind that… but what i do mind is you attacking me simply for having a certain mindset and for my own opinions… i thought you stood for freedom of expression and freedom of choosing what to believe in?.. guess not ha?

        O well… just so i can reply quickly to your comments…

        1- Allah did define what is hijab clearly using His book and the sunnah of His prophet. 1400 years of scholarship agreed to that .. so i m sticking to it… if you dont want to… o well.. you are free to pick and choose what you want… so do i

        2- As for me judging… I stand away from judging people as the freaking east is away from the west… not that i care that you believe that…

        Jeans are not allowed if they are tide or describe that which it covers. That is clear from an Fiqhi point of view which i am 110% sure that you would disagree with me on… so i wont even go in details …

        Lastly about this point… i wasnt pinpoint a girl out ms smart pants… i was using an example…. maan you just hate me for m opinions dont you? lol.. o well :)

        3- Now that you bring social psychology in…. I will be more than welling to read any references (be it scientific journals or books or anything that is legit) to educate myself more…

        thanks in advance for that..

    • Mohsen,

      It’s interesting how you interpret my post as “lashing out” on Muslim brothers, but don’t seem too bothered by the obsession our Mosques and communities have about the way Muslim women dress. I am not talking about “some jerks,” I’m talking about a large problem that exists in our community. It *is* the mainstream. As I have argued in my post, it is very common to hear Muslim men blame women for sexual thoughts. Instead of taking personal responsibility and analyzing themselves, they point fingers and place the blame on women.

      You ask me why I would have a problem with Muslim men telling Muslim women to wear hijaab. My question to is: why does it bother you so much that many Muslim women don’t choose to wear the hijaab? That’s none of your business. People who “nicely” and “politely” tell women to wear hijaab is rude and condescending. It’s still saying that Muslim women must dress a certain way in order to feel accepted by other Muslims, particularly men.

      There is no single Islam; there are multiple interpretations about the faith and everyone expresses their devotion for God in different ways. There are many Muslims who believe hijaab is not compulsory, so what are you going to do? Waste your time and try to convince them that your interpretation is “correct” and that they’re “bad Muslims” if they don’t agree?

      You wrote: “but please man.. pleaase… don’t ever ask us again to not advise our sisters to that which Allah ordered them to do.”

      Umm, it sounds like you’re trying to control how women dress. And if it’s “all about the sex” in your mind, then that is YOUR problem. Don’t blame Muslim women for sexual thoughts you may have. That’s what self-discipline is.

      And yes, please stop advising Muslim women what to wear and please stop judging people. You cannot look into another person’s heart — only God can.

      • Mohsen! says:

        The famous JehanZeb… we finally meet…

        I am sure you would find me a very interesting person if we met in real life… (lol.. not that your blog is imaginary or anything like that lol)

        So … back to your comment..

        but don’t seem too bothered by the obsession our Mosques and communities have about the way Muslim women dress

        mhmm… you dont know me enough to say that… i do voice my opinion loud and clear in my locality about such obsessions.. but then again you might not believe that… so whatever!

        As I have argued in my post, it is very common to hear Muslim men blame women for sexual thoughts. Instead of taking personal responsibility and analyzing themselves, they point fingers and place the blame on women.

        Dude… you really think that this is only in “mainstream” islam? Why dont you go down to any bar near your house.. a night club perhaps… or even a hotel lobby .. and randomly select 10 guys … please ask them what they think when they look at a good looking, full grown (if you know what i mean), and a sexy dressed woman? … please report back soon (take pictures… of the guys of course.. i lower my gaze LOL)

        But yes…. definitely agree on the self responsibility and accountability… i have said that like 10 times already on this blog .. not sure if it synced in yet or not!

        You ask me why I would have a problem with Muslim men telling Muslim women to wear hijaab. My question to is: why does it bother you so much that many Muslim women don’t choose to wear the hijaab? That’s none of your business.

        It doesnt bother me … at least not like… “OMG .. what is wrong with the world… i hate this place and every one in it… ” … totally not how i feel when i see a non-hijabi muslm sista… rather… i just wish her the best and it is my belief that the best is in obeying Allah… by wearing the hijab…. but then we will differ on what Allah ordered us in the quran so lets not go there!

        People who “nicely” and “politely” tell women to wear hijaab is rude and condescending. It’s still saying that Muslim women must dress a certain way in order to feel accepted by other Muslims, particularly men.

        Dude…. i wasnt aware that “nicely and politely” translates to “rude and condescending” … damn.. what a transformation… lol

        There is no single Islam; there are multiple interpretations about the faith and everyone expresses their devotion for God in different ways. There are many Muslims who believe hijaab is not compulsory, so what are you going to do? Waste your time and try to convince them that your interpretation is “correct” and that they’re “bad Muslims” if they don’t agree?

        Why you say its wasting of time?! Why dont you think of me as a person who gives a damn.. a person who cares… even if I am misguided (according to your calculations) .. instead of hating on me and pushing me away.. why dont you ***accept*** me for who I am … isnt that what you are calling for after all?! Dont you see the hypocrisy (i am not calling you a hypocrite dude.. i m just saying that this act of preaching something and denying others from preaching the same thing sounds more like hypocrisy to me)

        You wrote: “but please man.. pleaase… don’t ever ask us again to not advise our sisters to that which Allah ordered them to do.”
        Umm, it sounds like you’re trying to control how women dress.

        WOOOOAAAH…. please read my lips… DONT EVER ASK ME TO NOT ***A-D-V-I-S-E*** OUR SISTERS …..

        And if it’s “all about the sex” in your mind, then that is YOUR problem. Don’t blame Muslim women for sexual thoughts you may have. That’s what self-discipline is.

        Bro… i am just quoting what i read and understood from secular books that apparently you didnt read… so dont attack my persona if you have nothing better to say… please..

        gracias

        M

    • I’m not Muslim, I’m one of those weirdo kaffir who go around reading Muslim blogs, but I gotta interject on this one.

      Men do not respect women who dress modestly. They don’t even care about looks. Catholic nuns in full habit, hijabis in Egypt, old women, and little baby girls have all been harassed and raped by men, regardless of what they were wearing or how they acted. The excuse that it was how the woman dressed or behaved wears very, very thin when you consider these other cases. If it were really about the woman then only pretty young women who went around naked in public would ever be harmed. You and I both know that is emphatically not the case.

      I think hijab is a useful signal that introduces plausible deniability on the woman’s side in an interaction like this because she can say, “I wasn’t signaling this guy AT ALL that I wanted that kind of attention from him.” Really, if Islam is true (and I’m open to the idea) and God really did tell women to veil, that’s the best reason I can think of that He would ask for such a thing. He’s trying to protect Muslim women to the fullest extent He can without interfering in their free will.

      But the protection is not physical. The protection is not in the sense of stopping a man from doing something bad and sinful to a woman. (I don’t mean that sex is bad and sinful, but unwanted and unasked for sex definitely is.) The protection is actually moral in nature. If I hypothetically became a Muslimah and observed proper hijab and some guy did something to me it would traumatize me, but being able to say I did nothing to lead him on would go a long way toward helping me heal.

      And then of course there’s the angle that when something is seriously tempting you to wrongdoing, it’s easier not to have it in sight at all. Anyone who’s ever tried to follow a diet that prohibits certain classes of foods (you should know all about this!) understands what I’m talking about.

      But again, as MR pointed out, it works both ways. Men are also commanded to dress modestly. And women ARE attracted to men’s bodies. If it’s decent for a woman to cover her legs, a man should do so as well. I don’t get the Muslim guys around here who go out to the playground with their kids and hijabi wives and they themselves are rockin’ out in a tshirt and jean shorts. Not tight-fitting, at least… but wow.

      My two cents, I’m probably wrong someplace but that’s how I see it, your mileage may vary.

  3. mirele says:

    To me, it’s like this slippery slope–and we know where the slope goes. First you stand in judgment of a woman because she doesn’t wear hijab, then she wears hijab but her clothes reveal her shape, then her clothes are too brightly colored even if they don’t reveal her shape, then she’s in all black but you can see her face. It finally gets to the point where a Saudi religious figure feels confident enough to issue a fatwa saying women should only display one eye in her niqab. And then there are the people who would absolutely segregate the sexes, which, as we know, deprives women of lots of opportunities.

    What bugs me is (and this is not just true of some flavors of Islam, I see it also among some Christians) that women are expected to guard the chastity of men. If a man’s offended because a woman shows her neck, well, it’s the woman’s duty to cover her neck, hair, body, face, etc. etc.

    Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Why should women be responsible for a man’s reaction? Don’t men have the strength to look the other way, think of an ayat or basically control themselves? It’s like a guy saying, “I can’t restrain my lust because I see your elbows.” Nobody actually says that out loud–or maybe they don’t to me, but then again I’m almost 50 years old and I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t suffer fools gladly. And in that vein, let me conclude with, “Get over it already!”

    • Mohsen! says:

      I agree with you about the personal responsibility.. and that is why men were *ordered* to lower their gazes… this gives the impression that there will be women out there who will be dressed in a manner that is revealing!

      As for those who wear the hijab (niqab, burqah, or whatever else they wear)…. if they wear it to guard the chastity of men… then they are in it for the wrong reason!

      The sole and only reason for a woman to wear the hijab is to follow the way of life that she claims that she belongs to!

      As you probably already know, Muslim means the one who submits… and we as muslims submit to Allah… and hence the quran is the spoken word of Allah .. and since Allah ordered women in so many ayaat in quran to wear the hijab (surat annur verse 32 and others) then they should follow it!

      Now… if you want to justify why should we wear the hijab… then thats a whole different ball game and its up to people to logic-ify it if they wish!

      At the end of the day… we all know whats wrong and what is right… i wont be asked about your actions and you wont be asked about mine… its only because we love our sisters for the sake of Allah that we say what we say…

      …and at the end of the day, you have the full – 110% – right to pick which ever path you want to take (and I will still love you for the sake of Allah as my sister)
      :)

      • Sobia says:

        “since Allah ordered women in so many ayaat in quran to wear the hijab (surat annur verse 32 and others) then they should follow it!”

        Nope, He did not. There is not place in the Qur’an where women are ordered to cover their heads. Not a single spot. We are just told to dress modestly and we can decide what modest means based on our culture. He did not tell us what modest means in the Qur’an. As far as I remember there is no fashion section of the Qur’an.

      • Mohsin,

        “The sole and only reason for a woman to wear the hijab is to follow the way of life that she claims that she belongs to!”

        So, you’re pretty much saying that Muslim women who don’t wear hijaab do not follow Islam. How is this not judgmental? And, again, why are you so concerned about the way Muslim women dress? How can you tell how religious a person is based on how she is dressed?

      • Mohsen,

        You wrote: “let it be known that if you are going to blindly follow the so called progressives and feminists … then you are no better than those who blindly follow a cult or any ideology… be it Islam, be it fundamental christians or jew… or whatever really! So just reason with reality and put your priorities straight… and i ask Allah to guide you all and I.”

        “Infidelizing” Muslims who self-identify as progressives and feminist is extremely insulting, condescending, and judgmental. This is the kind of attitude that pushes people out of the community and it’s incredible how you talk about not being judgmental, but at the same time, you are.

        The people in our community who often misunderstand Muslim feminists usually make the mistake in thinking that we’re trying to “change” Islam or create our “own version” of Islam. In order for you to understand the points in this article, as well as the points of others on this thread, you need to recognize that everyone interprets the Qur’an differently. There is nothing wrong with that; it does not mean that one person is a better Muslim than another. But when you start perpetuating insulting stereotypes about a certain group of people that you disagree with, you are no longer respecting the views of others, regardless of how “nicely” and “politely” you speak to them.

      • Mohsen! says:

        JehanZeb…. hi again… its me..

        So, you’re pretty much saying that Muslim women who don’t wear hijaab do not follow Islam. How is this not judgmental? And, again, why are you so concerned about the way Muslim women dress? How can you tell how religious a person is based on how she is dressed?

        dont put words in my mouth man… and take my words for their face value….please…

        But since you asked what i meant (rhetorically speaking here) … what i m saying is… wearing the hijab is a part of our religion.. if one (male or female that is) doesnt comply .. then from our Allah told us in the quran, we know – in general – that that person is sinning … but how will Allah judge them.. is a whole different ball game that not you nor I know how it will go down!

        “Infidelizing” Muslims who self-identify as progressives and feminist is extremely insulting, condescending, and judgmental. This is the kind of attitude that pushes people out of the community and it’s incredible how you talk about not being judgmental, but at the same time, you are.

        HOLY FREAKING CRAP dude…. where and when did I “infidelized” anybody?

        All I said is to not blindly follow a certain cult or ideology… damn it man.. isnt that what you call for too??? WTH!!!

        Or it is bad that instead of saying .. dont follow those retarded islamists… i said dont follow the progressives and feminsist.. that makes me an “infidelizer”??? WOW…

        And yes… if somebody haphazardly and randomly going around doing “takfir” (ie. saying to people that they are no longer Muslims) is extremely insulting, condescending and judgmental…. and I would never do that!

        . In order for you to understand the points in this article, as well as the points of others on this thread, you need to recognize that everyone interprets the Qur’an differently

        mhmmmm… bro… i am all for being open minded and “fair and balanced” (but not like fox news) …. if you can reason with me on a certain interpretation… i would accept it.. with full respect… but if you are just using *** your own *** understanding as a method for interpreting the Quran.. then .. and only then.. i will respectfully not accept that interoperation. Hence, I wont give it any attention…. and I am sure you most probably would pay me the same favor back about how I choose to interoperate the quran.. so i think we are in understanding here!

        But when you start perpetuating insulting stereotypes about a certain group of people that you disagree with, you are no longer respecting the views of others, regardless of how “nicely” and “politely” you speak to them.

        Just to emphasize… dude… i didnt perpetuate any insulting stereotypes about progressives and feminists (well.. other than they are kinda of cult-ish which is kinda of true.. at least in my mind lol… i didnt mean to insult you or anybody with that… really!) … all i asked for in that sentence is for any girl to make up her own mind and stop listening to anybody regardless of what they claim… than includes both aisles …fair?!

  4. Khadeeja says:

    I am so glad that you wrote this piece. I live in Cape Town, South Africa where we face these problems daily. As for mohsen’s comment about it being an injunction from Allah, please read the verse in the Qur’an to do with modesty. It does not state a hijab is mandatory. Nevertheless, whatever you believe- your perspective on what is right should not be used to patronise others into ‘showing them the right way’. The universal standards of integrity, truth, equality and justice should always be encouraged- further than that it really is up to the individual and his/her personal relationship with God.

    • Mohsen! says:

      No one is denying all the universal standards that you mentioned :)

      Again tho… if you dont want to wear the hijab because you think “modesty” is all what is needed.. then its between you and your lord… i dont really have a problem with that …i disagree with it.. but i dont have any problems with you picking this path……

      i wanted to say what i believe (freedom of speech is also a universal right) and you have the option to take it or leave it…

      PS: You might want to pick up a mushaf and re-read the verses about hijab again :)

      PSS: I wish i could visit your country…..enjoy the worldcup

  5. I’ve been through all phases of hijab. At one point, I wanted to wear niqab. I’m now just a typical hijabi-skirts, jeans & knee-length dresses.
    As Chiara pointed out, modesty in dress is relative.

    I love that this post was written by a male. There are guys who find niqabis alluring too-it really doesn’t matter what a woman is wearing. As you pointed out, a guy’s mind will head in a sexual direction if he wants it to.

    I havbe friends who aren’t in hijab who are really good Muslims otherwise. And I dislike being put on a pedestal because I’m in hijab.

    Yes, we wear hijab because we are following Allah’s commands, but we should also know the reason behind it.

  6. Reema B. says:

    Salam again,

    Of course, that is why mentioned sexual harassment and rape separately, however I can see where you have misunderstood. But still, both are forms of abuse although one is more minor than the other.

    You seemed to have equated sexual harassment with sexual desire when you were saying that is indeed all about sex and as a backup to your point about how the fact that sexual harassment on women is increasing because men do look at women in such sexual manners.

    Sorry for any misunderstanding

    • Reema B. says:

      And in case, anyone’s confused this is a reply to our brother Mohsen because apparently I can’t directly click reply on his reply to me

      • Reema B. says:

        You’re welcome. And one last thing, the reason why I even brought in rape and child molestation was to show that it is indeed all about power and control and humiliation and little to do with sexual desire. Sexual harassment is a minor form of such abuses (but that depends in what context and how legal system will define it). Therefore, I felt I needed to speak about the extremes in order to actually clarify my point.

        I wasn’t intending to put you in the spotlight but I felt very strongly about this and didn’t know how I could respond to you more privately (that would’ve been more appropriate).

        Regarding my views on the article, I have already expressed them to the author and had a discussion with him and one of the commentors in another page outside this blog and I don’t see the need to make him more tired of my ideas lol :-D sorry Jehanzeb.

  7. Reema B. says:

    And yet another thing Mohsen,

    Who said that women cannot have sexual desire toward men? Who said that its only men who have sexual desires toward women? We could engage in whole other argument about this but, judging from your other commments, you seem to be quite set to think that way; and that is your choice how you decide to think but science says that both women and men are naturally inclined to have desires toward one another and not just men. However, I’d like to know why do you think this way, and if you are interested, you can email me your thoughts instead of having both of us take over Jehanzeb’s space here.

  8. Mohsen! says:

    O noooo… no no no .. thats not what i said nor meant! (dont put words in my mouth sista :) )

    I read too many books to know better than that!

    What I said is… men look at women with desire (ie. he checking her out.. looking at her legs, her behind, her breasts..etc) .. where women dont look at men that way… meaning, if i were to walk around in short shorts, i wont have women looking at my and whistling lol… or if i show my belly button, I am positive women wont find that “attractive” … etc!

    As for sexual desires… i said (and look up my comment above bleeeeease :) ) that its a “human” natural emotion!

    Human = men + women … just incase if i had to clarify that :)

    I dont like being in the defense of my views… hence i dont like being attacked… I do however like to discuss matters intellectually and educate myself :)

    • Reema B. says:

      Mohsen,

      You just clarified what I’m arguing about when you said: “What I said is… men look at women with desire (ie. he checking her out.. looking at her legs, her behind, her breasts..etc) .. where women dont look at men that way… meaning, if i were to walk around in short shorts, i wont have women looking at my and whistling lol… or if i show my belly button, I am positive women wont find that “attractive” … etc!”

      But the thing is women DO look at men in sexual ways; they are just socialized not to EXPRESS it in the same way men do that doesn’t mean that they do not look at men in such manners. If that wasn’t the case, then why did the Qur’an tell both men AND women to lower their gaze?? And no, I am not attacking YOU but I’m attacking the IDEA; big difference here ;-)

      • Tracey says:

        Great point Reema B. Catcalling has a lot to do with men being socialized to feel entitled to public space as well as making comments on women’s bodies in the public space (putting us in our place so to speak). Catcalling has as much as, if not more, to do with performing masculinity as it does commenting on women.
        And I find it so ridicolous how the idea of female desire is suppressed so much. I have seen a video called “That’s not hijab” where a man rants about women not following what he believes is correct veiling. The one thing I couldn’t really get past was that he was doing so in a short sleeved, open-collar shirt! Not like women find men’s chests and arms desirable and attarctive or anything (sarcsm).
        Women are just taught to keep expressions of our desire private, and pretend that we essentially don’t have any.

    • “What I said is… men look at women with desire (ie. he checking her out.. looking at her legs, her behind, her breasts..etc)”

      Where is your head, dude?

      Looking at women with that kind of sexual desire is something you can control. It’s not hard. It is natural to be attracted to each other, but that doesn’t mean you should view that person as a sex object. No one is putting a gun to your head and telling you to look at women in such a manner. That is something that you need to control within yourself.

  9. Mohsen! says:

    :) I like where this is going :) .. okay now that you mentioned why is it that Allah ordered men AND women to lower their gazes… lets have this discussion…

    So.. first though, lets point out some scientific facts…. first is… men do get excited by seeing certain parts of the woman’s body… where as for women, that is not the case!

    As for the part that you quoted… it is so true that there are some women who do get excited when they see a dude in a six pack ..etc but those are the exception to the rule… and in any discussion, you cant use the exception to override the rule…

    The rule and the fact that is well known is that women seek emotional satisfaction (and of course the sexual satisfaction is also needed and required… but more so of the emotional satisfaction) while men seek more of the physical satisfaction (and of course the emotional satisfaction is also needed and required… but more of the physical satisfaction)…

    Now… why did Allah order women to lower their gaze?

    That is because (and Allah knows best) that women would look at a man and “like” him … which might go further to even more and more of a deeper emotion (i.e. love him)… this in it by itself isn’t haram (ie. falling in love) but rather the consequence of this love might lead her to do things which aren’t really halal.

    You know, love can really make us (yes men and women lol) do some stupid thing!

    Anyway… as for men… we lower our gaze because we get sexually aroused by seeing certain things from women… this sexual arousal can (and lots of times) lead us to do things that are haram… those things range from physical contact, to porn addiction and masturbation, all the way zina and adultery!
    :)

    PS: I dont mind giving you my email address… I just would rather to have this convo here since it might help others as wel inshaAllah!

    • Reema B. says:

      Firstly, from where are you basing these “rules” and “scientific facts”? They sound more like “dhunn” to me to be quite frank.

      According to my Psychobiology class, women do get excited by seeing certain parts of a man’s body even though the parts of the brain that get aroused are different than men’s brains but still sexual arousal is sexual arousal regardless (and…there exist women who masturbate and watch porn…and I won’t be surprised if there are a lot…) (interestingly also, it has been found that when Lesbians find something attractive about a woman or are aroused, the areas of the brain that are activated are the same as those of men. And vice-versa for gay men. However, it is not known whether this is genetics or the way the brain got wired and still gets rewired as they develop) and according to my brother during his Freshman year when he first arrived in the States, he saw how there are a lot of girls in his college who do watch porn (and yes both alone and with their own boyfriends) quite openly and aren’t ashamed of it.

      So what do you think explains all this? Sorry if I was too graphic by the way.

  10. Kurtosis says:

    Well said. About time Muslim men call each other out on taking responsibility for their own self-control, rather than putting it all on women.

    Bravo.

  11. Mohsen! says:

    LOL… i am in no position to “explain” anything lol…. but i tell you what i *think* of what you said… fair?!

    okay.. so yes… you and I do agree that both men and women do get sexually aroused… and that is a human thing… so nothing crazy there…

    and you and I also agree that the sexual arousal of men is different than women…. so again.. nothing crazy here…

    As for homosexuals… well.. thats a different topic all together.. and i think it requires more knowledgeable people in genetics and psychology to address that….

    As for girls who do watch porn … I feel bad for them… i really do.. they are depriving themselves from the pleasure they can have with their husbands (ie. halal boyfriends)… lol

    Though this phenomena do exist.. it is recent! And I think (and Allah knows best) that we must weigh in the factor of our environment and surrounding. I think women were sorta of pushed towards this direction…. such thing is very recent… and to prove it… and as an example … look at playboy magazine vs. playgirl magazine… look at when this came about and when this came about… I am no expert in the porn industry, but i (halal) bet you anything that they make lots more money from guys than girls!

    Listen… sister.. we have to realize and understand our surrounding environment… this will help us survive as people who still carry some decency and hayaa around….

    My definition of hayaa isnt “to have shame” or “to be shy” … rather my definition of hayaa is to be confident enough to realize what is wrong and avoid it and what is right and seek it. .. this doesn’t apply only to women.. but men equally..

    Hayaa has various levels… starting with Hayaa with people (ie realizing what is wrong and not doing it in front of people)… to Hayaa with yourself (ie realizing what is wrong and convincing yourself of not doing it) … all the way to Hayaa with Allah (ie. realizing that Allah sees you and stopping yourself as much as possible from doing that which is haram)…

    No wonder the prophet said ” Hayaa is a part of Eemaan” and Eemaan is needed equally for both men… and women!

    I hope this makes sense!

    Very very interesting conversation… jazaki Allahu khayran for triggering it

    • Reema B. says:

      I think it is interesting how you’ve pointed out to when the playboy, playgirl magazines were more publicized and for what audience. However, I think one can also argue that in the past, Americans did not see women as being capable of having those same sexual desires as men and thus they saw no point to it.

      But then again, I am not aware (at all) about when any of the magazines first started showing up as compared to when the ideas and views about women in the States began to change. And I am in no position to explain that but I can only guess here without claiming that this is factual without being sure first. It would be interesting to look it up though and I’m actually curious now.

      And yes, I definitely do agree with your views on Hayaa and appreciate you taking the time to engage in this discussion with me. And of course, hayaa is both internal and external. Although we have this common ground, there are still things I don’t agree with you, not only from my discussion with you, but also from your replies to other peoples comments. In the end we can only agree to disagree and Allah knows best.

      Salaam

      • Mohsen! says:

        Alhamdulillah.

        I appreciate your acceptance of my views…. this is the beauty of having a discussion with an open mind ….Jazaki Allahu Khayran for that!
        :)

        FYI: According to Wikipedia … Playboy was founded in 1953 and Playgirl was founded in 1973

        Peace
        M

  12. Reema B. says:

    Mohsen,

    Haha, well, I didn’t exactly say that I accept your views but rather that I agree to disagree and I am willing to keep an open mind. Anyhow, thanks for the Wikipedia info…but now I’d like to know when did the feminist movement (or at least whatever series of movements that helped change the way women and their sexuality were viewed in the States) and to compare it with the dates in which Playboy and Playgirl showed up to see if they support my argument or not. Unfortunately, I am not too knowledgeable about US history.

    Overall though, it was nice having this discussion with you

  13. Haitham says:

    Ladies and gentlemen, you are sort of getting off the issue here. We don’t drink alcohol in Islam, not because its harmful, or because it impairs your judgment… We don’t drink alcohol simply because were forbidden to drink. We may choose to justify it , and to explain it but that is not the point. We are also obliged to dress modestly, each gender having their limits which were set in Shari’ah law by the Quran and the sunnah and islamic scholars. Arguing about male and female psychology or sexuality means that if we reach a certain conclusion we can simply disregard what we as Muslims believe are divine obligations by God if these obligations don’t agree with our own opinions. Our perceptions of what is right and wrong changes with time and across cultures. Watching porn, I am sure was immoral even in the west 50 years ago… now its sort of changing. This is why we have to have a standard to which we should stick to, namely Quran and Sunnah. And there is leniency in the interpretations of shari’ah laws to accommodate these cross cultural variations, but we need a limit to stick to.
    A side note to everyone, esp. my unmarried friends.. you will never achieve complete immunity against feelings of lust no matter how women/men dress.
    The prophet PBUH Also, you should stop trying to justify hijab. You may need to explain the concept to someone who has does not understand, but nothing beyond that.
    May Allah forgive us all and grant us guidance.

    • Reema B. says:

      Haitham,

      I am no way against hijab and nor am I using our psychological explorations of gender to say anything wrong about hijab. But I do not think that such arguements about female sexuality or about the statistics of rape and sexual harassment justify forcing women to wear hijab and unfortunately, a lot of the times they are used in such a way and hence that is why I decided to talk about them. I do side more toward Jehanzeb’s viewpoints expressed in his post but I strongly respect women who wear hijab.

      I understand if you do not agree with me but these are my viewpoints, and again, we can agree to disagree and Allah knows best.

      • Reema B. says:

        and I am also sure that Jehanzeb himself respects women who wear hijab too and is not saying anything wrong against them

    • Haitham,

      Hmm, actually what needs to be explained to Muslims is that Islam is not a monolith. There are differences in the way every Muslim practices and we cannot impose one person’s interpretation on another. Unity should not about making every Muslim conform to one interpretation of Islam. It should be about accepting and respecting one another, despite the differences.

      This post is not about “Sharia Law,” it’s about telling Muslim men to keep themselves in check and stop obsessing about the way a woman dresses. It is about telling Muslim men to stop blaming their sexual urges on Muslim women. If we really care about the rights of women in our Muslim communities, then we must be honest and address the sexism that exists.

  14. UmmMaryam says:

    Salam bro Mohsen,
    Just a couple of clarifications…

    a) Telling sisters to wear hijab (i.e. enjoin good). The prophet saws told us to speak only when we think that our speech will generate good. In that same sense, we enjoin good by speaking against it if it will have good effects… otherwise we hate if with our hearts.

    Don’t you think that women don’t know that they have to wear hijab? Don’t you think they are sick and tired of hearing the same pounding over and over and over?

    Subhanallah, my sister developed a strong reaction anti-hijab because of this. She stopped going to jummah because she could not take people speaking about hijab while she had to endure seeing all these brothers with jeans that show our butts (the rear end is as much awrah for men as for women) and sometimes actually seeing butt cracks from brothers who had their pants too low!

    Modesty is enjoined for both men AND women, still… how many times do you hear a talk about men’s modesty?

    This talking OVER and OVER and OVER about hijab only makes the women who are “on the fence” and who don’t wear hijab feel even more oppressed and strongly AGAINST it. If instead of hammering the point so much we would just let them be and stress other aspects of Islam that are as important or MORE important, then maybe they would come closer to Allah swt and then choose to wear hijab with no one telling them

    b) Women get also VERY attracted to men. Do you think we don’t drool when in the summer brothers come with those sleevless t-shirts showing their toned arms??? Do you think we think about “love” then?? WRONGGGG
    Do you think we don’t “check brothers out”?? Insha’Allah most of us lower our gaze, but it is a fitnah.
    However… we behave ourselves… maybe brothers should try to learn to do the same

    c) Hijab does little or nothing regarding sexual attraction. My brothers have always confirmed this and I have witnessed it myself living in Egypt and Dubai. Men will still check you out, harrass you, and have weird thoughs and attitudes with or without hijab. A little piece of cloth on the hair does not make much difference.

    Even though I wear hijab, I for one am tired of the topic of hijab because it makes me feel HORRIBLY OBJECTIFIED and like a SEX OBJECT. It makes me feel that we women are basically nothing, shallow objects that need to be covered. There are SO many aspects of our deen that are never spoken about beause we are sooo busy speaking about hijab… it’s truly sad.

    And it’s funny because for example, salah is one of the pillars of Islam, and I see people going in and out of the musallah in 2 secons, praying in a rush, not connecting to Allah swt… however.. heck, let’s not talk about that… let’s talk about hijab!!! You know, if instead of talking about “form” so much we spoke more about “essence” and about connecting to Allah swt, then all the other things would fall into place naturally.

    And Allah swt knows best.

    • Reema B. says:

      Umm Maryam,

      As a person who was born in Dubai I’ve also seen how men can still be attracted to women regardless of whether or not they are wearing hijab. And thank you for more eloquently clarifying my points about how women definitely do feel sexual attraction even without the “love” factor in the same way as men do.

      However, I would not equate sexual harassment with sexual attraction as explained in my LONG discussion with Mohsen above. But still, I think you are right in that hijab doesn’t necessarily make a woman more immune to sexual harassment or even something as worse as rape.

      Salaam,
      Reema

    • Mohsen! says:

      Ya Umm Maryam….. I concur with you in every thing you said! I really do!

      I agree that some people go way beyond their call of duty to make sure that every one who is not wearing hijab is made to feel really crappy about themselves… and I can speak on their behalf.. but i too find it to be way too much!

      As for what you said:

      Even though I wear hijab, I for one am tired of the topic of hijab because it makes me feel HORRIBLY OBJECTIFIED and like a SEX OBJECT. It makes me feel that we women are basically nothing, shallow objects that need to be covered. There are SO many aspects of our deen that are never spoken about beause we are sooo busy speaking about hijab… it’s truly sad.

      Your own feelings is your own feelings… dont blame others for it… yes sometimes some khateebs (mostly elders or big time fobs) dont know how to explain their thoughts eloquently enough …or maybe they are just flat out ignorant …. so i can see how that would affect you .. but how you feel about your own self … is your problem… please dont blame it on others!

      again tho… i concur with you on pretty much everything you said!

      • UmmMaryam says:

        Assalamu `alaykum brother Mohsen,

        Actually… if it was just me that was feeling this way (objectified and like a sex object) then I would think it’s just me being overly sensitive.

        However, when this is a frequent topic of discussion among us sister in our MSA… then… I don’t think it’s just me being overly sensitive.

        People are complex and have MANY dimensions. So when someone acknowledges all your dimensions, you feel “personified”, you feel like the person is treating you like a human being.
        However, if people seem to talk ONLY about ONE ASPECT of your own self, then you seem reduced to a one-dimensional object, your humanity is taken away from you, and you feel like an object… a sex object in this case. And this is not just “my” issue, or “my feelings” but a mere fact of the discourse.

      • Reema B. says:

        Umm Maryam said in response to you:

        UmmMaryam :
        And this is not just “my” issue, or “my feelings” but a mere fact of the discourse.

        I agree with her and even if it were just “her” issue or “her” feelings, they are still real. The issues and feelings are real for her and are being experienced, therefore they shouldn’t be devalued as such and are symptoms of a larger problem.

  15. The article brings up good points, just learnt an interesting point.The word hijab used to be used for a curtain back in the day and the men were responsible for putting up that curtain between themselves and the wives of our Prophet(p.b.u.h.)So if we take that in a symbolical way what is it implying?
    Modesty does vary from culture to culture and I am personally very sad when I see women from cultures that used to be much more at ease about such issues suddenly becoming obsessed with following Middle Eastern dresscodes.
    Heard a funny comment,some young brothers were telling a young woman who had started wearing the veil to make sure to remain hijabi with an I and not turn into a hojabi, which again proves its not clothes that make a person.

  16. Mohsen,

    This post is not about whether or not the hijaab is mandated by the Qur’an. A few of the comments on this thread, including mine, have already stated that not everyone interprets the Qur’an the same way. Not everyone believes the hijaab is compulsory. Despite making these points, you still resort to your argument that hijaab *is* compulsory — that is what YOU believe and it’s not what every Muslim believes. Further comments from you that argue that the hijaab is compulsory will be deleted because people have already responded to you about it. Please stay on point.

    I reiterate that your tone *is* condescending because you think that your interpretation of Islam is the truth. Your attempt at trying to turn the tables on me is quite pathetic because you’re totally missing the point that I *would* respect your views on Islam if you weren’t imposing it on others.

    You will save yourself a lot of stress if you didn’t worry about how Muslim women dressed. It is sexist to think that Muslim women don’t know what’s “good for them.” You’re assuming that they’re weak and cannot think for themselves.

    Also, out of all the comments posted here, yours have been the most sexual. In your initial comment, you said it was all about sex and then you spoke about sexual gazes (and went into detail about women’s body parts). You also mentioned porn, playboy magazine, and twisted Sobia’s comment in a way to focus on her body, which I found to be incredibly rude and disrespectful. You have proved my point that the way many people in our community control women is by talking about sex in a very dirty way.

    Again, if you really care about restraining your sexual thoughts, that is something that you need to work on and control on your own. Don’t hold Muslim women responsible for it.

  17. Mohsen! says:

    JehanZeb,

    Thanks for the warning.

    Just FYI though, Alhamdulillah, I am a married man who awaits a child in the way.

    Your post makes me look like a perv who focuses on women and their bodies which I dont appreciate much but that doesnt matter. I am just a man who enjoys his freedom of speech and feels strongly about what I stand for.

    Again dude… i am not 1% stressed about what women wear or not… i was pointing out issues that for some reason the reader (at least the commentators)on this blog cant or refuse to see… so again… please refrain from the personal insult and address the issue at hand.

    More than one question was directed to you and you didnt answer them… and now you are threatening of deleting my comments (which quite frankly i find quite offensive and unAmerican of you) simply because I call for a certain understanding and you dont!

    Either way dude… I have spent more then enough time on your blog… I think its time for me to go back to work since I need to Halal-ify the money that I am earning :)

    I have no negative personal feelings against you or anybody else here for that matter.

    Enjoy the rest of your lives…

    Peace yo,
    M

    PS. The process by which one makes up his/her opinion is much more important than the opinion itself. That is because if the opinion is wrong then its only one opinion…. but if the method is wrong, then all your opinions are in danger of being wrong! (wisdom of the day from Mohsen da Egyptian)

    • Mohsen,

      You’ve misunderstood what I wrote. I did not “threaten” to delete your comments, I was saying that you need to stay on topic. You’ve brought up the hijaab argument more than once when others on this thread have said that everyone interprets the Qur’an differently. Repeating that point over and over again is just going to result in a cyclical debate that is simply a waste of time.

      I am not making you out to be a pervert, I’m actually encouraging you to reevaluate your comments and notice how sexual they are. I strongly believe that men *can* control their sexual urges, we are not that weak that we need women to help us with this “problem” of ours. The Qur’an says, numerous times, that no one will bear the sins or burden of others (17:15, 6:164, 39:7, 53:38), so why should women bear the burden for the mistakes of men?

      Previously, you asked why God ordered women and men to lower their gaze. It’s because God does not want us to see one another as objects, as was the practice in pre-Islamic Arabia when men would use and sell women like property. Of course it’s disrespectful and degrading to exclusively view a woman in a sexual manner, but so is examining them as objects that threaten a man’s “piety.”

      As for personal insults, I do not see where I have resorted to such, but what about the way you generalized about feminist Muslims — how is that not a personal insult?

  18. Fiqah says:

    Jehanzeb! Back with a bang, I see! EXCELLENT post, and I love the new theme. Hooray! :D *waves upthread* Hey there, Chiara!

  19. Sobia says:

    Jehanzeb,there is no point in arguing with Mullah Mohsen. He obviously knows way more about Islam than any one of us so we should just blindly believe everything he says. *gag*

    Ugh! This self-righteous, arrogant attitude among so many Muslims is why so many Muslims are leaving Islam.

    • Reema B. says:

      Lol, Sobia. He’s pretty set in his views which is why I closed off our argument with an “agree to disagree” but I’m at least glad he was willing to have us do so. But then again, I’m very sorry Jehanzeb if I was too graphic with my comments, but there were moments when I didn’t know how else to argue with him; you may delete them if you want but it will appear as if Mohsen’s talking to himself lol.

  20. Mohsen! says:

    Sobia…lol…. its the likes of you who cut the dialogue and line of communication between two different (maybe even opposing point of views)…. though our conversations might be rough and intense… i will admit that i learned and still learn from it…

    Reema…. i wasnt arguing for the sake of arguing with you .. and I honestly did appreciate your comments for it have opened my eyes in to a whole new different type of abuse…

    JehanZeb…. I too strongly believe that men can control their sexual desire. As you have said before, this is what self discipline is all about… so women dont really carry that burden (of men controlling themselves)… rather.. the only burden they (and every one else for that matter) carry is to follow this deen (you and I will disagree on what is and what isnt part of this religion so i wont go in to that)

    So I think we both are saying the same thing with a minor difference in the end…

    I have to go to a meeting now, but I will reply to your last paragraph once i get out of this meeting inshaAllah.

  21. Mohsen! says:

    As for personal insults, I do not see where I have resorted to such, but what about the way you generalized about feminist Muslims — how is that not a personal insult?

    I think this is a very important point to discuss. Thanks for bringing it up.

    When I criticize the Muslim feminists, I criticize the group as a whole rather than going after one person in particular. I find that to be counterproductive and just flat out rude. Meaning, you will never see me singling out Asra Nomani and start to call her names nor going after her persona. Rather, I try to understand what this group stands for and either accept it or reject it. In our case here, I choose to reject *some* of what this group stand for!

    If you knew a little bit about my history with my own local community, you will know that I am a “selective” feminist. Meaning, I am for women’s right in general and in our Muslim communities in particular.

    To give you an example, I am all for women praying in the same hall without a partition (so long that it is guided by the Sunnah of the prophet peace be upon him – please refer to an excellent post called the penalty box by Ify Okoye (google it)).

    I also am for equal right to access to knowledge for both men and women. This has to do with how our communities function starting from how they design the building of the masjid (in regards to how they position the women’s section) all the way to having more fun activities to female youth since that too can be educational (like in-door pool, camping trips,…etc)

    When it comes to women and their rights, I am all for differentiating between Muslim cultures in the so-called Muslim countries and Islam as a religion (this requires a whole post to explain).

    I can go on and on on issues that I choose to stand for when it comes to women in our communities… but I will save you the headache and tell you this about me since you really dont know me:

    I am the most liberal conservative you will ever meet. Liberal in the sense that I am, in general, a very open-minded person. And conservative in the sense that I am some what religious (I wouldn’t call that self-rightousness since I didn’t claim to be a Mulla like Sobia called me… but I can claim some religiosity as I am the best person to evaluate myself). I stand for the truth whenever I find it (at least I do my best to do so) so long that I am convinced that it is the truth. I dont get offended when people oppose me because I take this as an opportunity to learn a new point of view.

    By no means I am showing off if that is what you are thinking (since what you think of me wont give me any satisfaction or dissatisfaction since no one here really knows me)… but I pride myself in the fact that I have a well defined personality (to me at least). So please, dont paint me with same brush that you painted those who are offensive, ill mannered, and/or ignorant because I am none of that!

    All that being said, I did not mean to offend you by generalizing or stereotyping the ideology or the group that you follow… all I wanted to say is…********** don’t just blindly follow a group; study it first and then make up your mind!*********

    Finally, Imam AlShafi said something a very interesting statement, he said:
    Dont make up your mind then start searching for evidences to support your opinion, rather look for evidences (ie. the pros and cons of any issue) and then make up your mind.

    I have used this in sooo many thing in my life and it served me well… so I thought I should share!

    All in all, since I have fundamental differences with you, I choose to respectfully disagree!

    Thanks again for the mind teaser…

    Peace
    M

    • @mohsen

      ya akhee khalaas! :P

      although i totally give it up to you for standing your ground against everyone here on your own! Totally agree with you! :D

      i try not to indulge in debates about religion cause i think such sensitive topics are best left for people with ilm of both the deen and dunya!

      Allah (SWT) yibarik feek!

      • Reema B. says:

        Farooq:

        Allah ebarek fee kelna inshallah ya a5ooy!

        Agool, I love that blog post of yours called “Words of Wisdom by the Herbwoman”; so touching mashallah! Some parts of it actually reminded me of the ending of this novel I read called “All Souls” by Michael Patrick MacDonald; I highly recommend it ;) Thank you for sharing!

      • @jahanzeb

        its how i chose to end my message addressed to mohsen. i’m no one to judge you or anyone else for that matter.

        Allah yebarek feek (wa fee kullina)

        @Reema B

        Allah yikhaleek ya ikhtee!

        I so miss my long lost arabic speaking skills sometimes :P

        and i didnt write that post, ill definitely pass on your book recommendation to the author :D

  22. M says:

    ADVICE is ASKED for. NAGGING is GIVEN.
    mohsen, if you continue to be a nag, don’t expect to be the kind of person people will want to be around, or listen to, or respect.
    we were put on this earth to interact with fellow humans and our character is shaped through our dealings with each other. islam teaches us to be compassionate, kind, and to provide ease to people around us, NOT to be a source of annoyance.

  23. Sultana says:

    This post is absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for writing it–it’s like you read my mind. As Muslims, we can do so much better than this–we can live and respect one another as human beings, without getting hung up on appearances and sexuality, to appreciate one another spiritually and without judgment.

    Again, my deepest gratitude.

  24. Janaan says:

    Bismillah!

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    Shocked and appalled at most of you for not only using bad language but not agreeing to disagree. Some of you claim to not judge others yet you’re judging each other on your opinions. Judging is judging period, be it hijabi/non-hijabi etc.

    Allah says in the Qur’an in Surah An-Nisa verse 28 “Yuriidun Allahu an yukhafiifu ‘anha, wa khuliqal insaanu da’iifaa” Allah wishes to lighten (the burden) for you; and man was created weak.

    We all know the word “insaan” doesn’t mean MAN but rather MANKIND so both women AND men are created weak. I hope we agree that women have more to be desired than men but they BOTH have to dress modestly. This “modesty” however, differs for the sexes. To simplify things for the sake of keeping it short, when in doubt about how to dress or about what this modesty thing is all about, alhamdulilah for the sunnah and the dress of the mothers AND fathers of the believers. I’ve personally heard some friends say the hijab is prescribed for the mothers of the believers and not today’s women of Islam. This can be disturbing in more ways than 1 because “logically,” if that was the case, then why do we call each other sunni or even perform salaah, fast, zakat, etc.

    We are given a choice in Islam. Follow the will of Allah or don’t….choices!! Granted some cultures use the hijab to oppress women when it actually meant to free them from the oppression of unwanted behavior. Everyone will be judged on their intentions, and oppression, whether you “believe” you’re doing it “for the sake of Allah” or not is still oppression and is wrong.

    My personal opinion about this is, we put our money in the bank because we see money as a valuable asset hence protecting it by placing it in a safe place. Why don’t we, as sisters, value our bodies and decide to protect our valuable assets, our BODIES, and protect it from unwanted attention. Not because the men are weak and can’t control their desires etc, but because we are the modern day mothers of the believers????

    Let the judging for the JUDGE and let’s agree to disagree please.

    Tusbuhuna ‘alal khair,

    Wassalaamu Alaikum!

  25. Feda says:

    Salaam,
    I grew up in a Masjid where this happened quit often. As youth we were all struggling in dealing with dual identities growing up in westernized culture, yet we were able to come together at the mosque and be able to interact with people who were going through the same thing and were like us. I was very disturbed growing up by the men who would complain to our dads that we weren’t “dressed appropriately.” They would specifically target things that we wore, jeans, shirts and they even went as far as complaining about how we sat on the stairs in their view. I would always go home upset and wonder why they were looking at us at all. We were young girls and they should be lowering their gaze. For me it was sad because it drove us away as we got older and the mosque had a tainted feel to it. This is NOT OK! I agree that there is a definite problem among Muslim men in general. I mean if they can’t handle our jeans then what are they doing out in public where women are wearing short skirts and tanks? I can only imagine how they handle it. It’s comes down to issues of control and power. Why men have to control the way women dress is very unsettling to me. I also disliked the “curtains” that were often put up to segregate us from everything. We were always put last on every list. I’m glad someone addressed this issue.
    Thanks!

  26. zainab says:

    slaams

    i would just like to say that the posts on these pades were really interesting and really opened my eyes to some of the other point of views out there
    personally i agree with mohsen as i just feel everybody is just misinterpreting his words and seeing them and understanding them in the way they want to .
    the truth is that he was just viocing his opinion and he shopuld not be ganged up on and attacked cuz of that
    also alot of his ideas and opinions were very interesting and did change the way i feel about certain things
    also
    jehezab
    i can see where you are comin from with opyur views but i do nit agree with all of what ure sayin
    islam and the quraan and the sunnah all talk about modesty in a personal way as well as the way people dress. it is commanly found in many islamic books that women should cover themsleves
    the bukhari(the book that is counted as the most correcr book after the quraan) also tlks about women and the hijaab it is a cumpolsury asct for women and they should stop questioning the word of allah and just follow it as we are allahs servants and so have no right to question him

    i agree wholeheartly with haithams comment and i think you shud all just read it one more time and maybe even 2 or 3 times and then think about what he was sayin

    btw the hijaab does protect women , i dont ever remember reading or hearing about a women in the hijaab bein raped this is becouse it does reduce the amount of sexual attraction a man feels towards her so you should all consider that before going on

    also

    • Brittany says:

      Hello,
      Although I doubt you will respond to this (as it is much later than your original post), I will put this up here for anyone who believes, as you do, that the hijaab protects all women from Rape.
      I know you believe this because you said: “btw the hijaab does protect women , i dont ever remember reading or hearing about a women in the hijaab bein raped this is becouse it does reduce the amount of sexual attraction a man feels towards her so you should all consider that before going on”
      This is a news report about a woman who not only was wearing a hijaab, but was also holding her newborn baby. She was raped by 2 men. Read that and tell me about the reduced amount of sexual tension between men and women.

      I am also going to post a very important paragraph from a separate article which you can read in full here.
      “In February [2009?], a 23-year-old unmarried woman who was raped by five men after she accepted a lift, was sentenced by the District Court in Jeddah to one year in prison and 100 lashes for fornication outside marriage and trying to abort the resultant foetus. It was not clear what action was taken against her alleged rapists.”

      Please consider the facts of the above case, in regards to your statement that “hijaab does protect women…this is becouse it does reduce the amount of sexual attraction a man feels towards her”.
      FACT: A 23 year old woman wearing at least a hijaab, if not a niqab, was offered a ride in a car from one public place to another, by a group of 5 men.
      FACT: Those 5 men raped the woman. They ripped her hijaab/niqab off of her and raped her. All 5 of them.
      THEREFORE: The hijaab (or any covering for that matter) does NOTHING to deter men intent on having sex, from having that sex–consensual or not.
      FACT: Those men planned to rape that woman DESPITE THE FACT THAT SHE WAS COVERED. It is not as if her hijaab/niqab “fell off” and they were suddenly, uncontrollably forced by their bodies to rape her. It was a deliberate and concise action, very clearly predetermined.

      I sincerely hope that you do not believe that women should not be allowed outside without a chaperon. Women are not children. If a woman cannot leave her home and enter a public place without a male relative to serve as her ‘body guard’ without the fear of being harassed, raped, or murdered, well THAT MEANS THAT THERE IS SOMETHING INHERENTLY WRONG WITH THE SOCIETY THE WOMAN IS LIVING IN.
      EVERYONE SHOULD BE ABLE TO WALK OUTSIDE, ALONE, WITHOUT FEAR FOR THEIR PERSONAL SAFETY. RESTRICTING ANYONE FROM DOING SO UNDER THE GUISE OF ‘PROTECTION’ IS SIMPLY AN EXCUSE TO TREAT THAT PERSON LIKE A PIECE OF PROPERTY YOU DON’T WANT DAMAGED OR STOLEN.

      Please, zainab, read what I posted and do some research, so that you can understand that NOTHING will stop a woman from being raped if a man has made his mind up to do so, ESPECIALLY NOT A GARMENT WHICH LEAVES MUCH OF THE BODY UP TO IMAGINATION.
      Also, please understand that the two links I posted are NOT the only cases of hijaabi-women being raped. They are simply the 2 best examples out of THOUSANDS, which I picked for this argument.

      It is not an opinion or a belief that the hijaab protects women from -anything-, especially men, if there is proof that the statement “the hijaab protects women from rape (or any form of unwanted sexual contact)” is FALSE. It stops being an opinion, and becomes a false assumption which mandates unnecessary restrictions on women. Therefore, I am not disagreeing with your opinions or your beliefs: I am DISproving your “argument”–pointing out that it is false.

      Thank you for taking the time to read this.

  27. zainab says:

    also one other thing i would like to say is that i understand that not all of you will agree with wat i am sayin but i just felt i should vioce my opinion

    • Fiqah says:

      SIGH.

      Zainab, I’m addressing this to you and anyone else who argues that the hijaab makes girls and women safer from sexual assualt. It’s a list of rape statistics by country. You might want to make a note of the countries on the list where hijab/niqab are compulsory.

      http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_rap_percap-crime-rapes-per-capita

      No person who is raped – man, woman, child – brings it on themselves. Shame on you and anyone else for making this argument.

    • Salam 3alaikum Zainab,

      Regarding rape and sexual assault, please see my replies to Mohsen above; they prove what Fiqah and Chiara are saying as well. The issue is a very serious and complicated one and shouldn’t just be thrown around like that with little to no understanding of its dynamics. Also, you must consider that very few victims of rape or sexual assault even report the crime therefore, statistics maybe even lower than we think especially in our societies where people tend to blame the victim (especially when its a woman) or may not have that much of resources for supporting them.

  28. Fiqah–I agree.

    Just to state the obvious rape is a crime of aggression not sexual attraction. That is the reason it is often in the law books as “assault”, sexual, aggravated, with/without weapon etc.

    No one man or woman wants to be aggressed, and particularly not sexually. Sexual role play is different.

  29. INAL says:

    Here, here! This is Fab! You sounded like my son when he gets worked up around the collar over hijab and women…he, I and my gang agree with you 100%!

  30. zainab says:

    salams

    yh i no i get that sexual attraction and rape has nothin to do with each other and i get that it happens to alot of people but that doesnt change the fact that the hijab is compulsory

  31. M says:

    zainab,
    if you are going to take everything in the quran as “compulsory”, then please also consider that the first word that rasulallah (pbuh) was told repeatedly was IQRA, meaning READ. reading, is what frees you from oppression and opens your mind. observing, thinking and questioning is what brings us closer to our MAKER, and more humane towards others. blindly following a few books written by a few men does not.

  32. zainab says:

    im not just following any book written by anyone i am talkin about the quran and hadith cuz thats where it states that it is compulsory if it wasnt then y wud the prophet saw have told his wives to do hijab

    im not just talkin from a few books ive read ive studied the quran and hadith, i happen to be an aalimah and i no what im tlkin about

  33. Wow. A Muslim feminist. You’ve made my week (month? year? millennium?).

    I think whether men are telling women they must wear something (in the case of Muslim fundamentalists) or they must not (in the case of Western politicians with racist agendas), either way they’re using women as pawns in their own power games. Either way women aren’t being treated as free people.

    • Thanks for your appreciation :)

      There are LOTS of Muslim feminists. Check out Altmuslimah.com and MuslimahMediaWatch.org. Two of the largest Muslim feminist sites on the web :)

  34. I will.

    “There are LOTS of Muslim feminists.” That’s so good to know. Gives me hope for the planet! Have you ever read the book *The Chalice and the Blade,* by Riane Eisler? Anyone interested in (re)establishing a culture of partnership rather than dominance needs to check it out.

  35. Katya says:

    That’s it, Jehanzeb! I hereby officially like you. :)

    What an incredibly well-written, thoughtful, thought-provoking essay. How refreshing to read the words of a practicing Muslim man who respects women.

    If the truth be told, I think you are probably more egalitarian in your beliefs than most men, no matter their race, nationality, or religion. As I mentioned in a post earlier, I’m married to an Iranian man, and he thinks as you do. I love him for it.

    • Thank you for your appreciation and all of your comments, Katya! Great to read your thoughts, thanks for sharing.

      And there are plenty of practicing Muslim men who respect women. Being Muslim and respecting women are not antithetical ;)

  36. Katya says:

    Salaam…

    Thanks for responding, Jehanzeb, and for giving me the chance to express myself on various issues on your blog. It’s great to see that you tolerate diverse opinions from your readers, and I fully agree with you that no one needs to resort to cursing or insult in order to get his point across. One shouldn’t even have to read your comments policies to realize that.

    It is becoming very difficult for me to read most news articles which have comments attached, as the responses are so often rude, insulting and demeaning to other posters. People hide behind the anonymity of their computer screens and spew all sorts of things which they would never dare say to a person’s face. I suppose I should be happy that at least things haven’t deteriorated *that* far in society…yet.

    Anyway, the point you make in your second paragraph is well-taken. Of course you are correct in theory, but I still hold that you seem to be, like my husband, something of a rarity among *men around the world.* I don’t want to bash males, but most societies throughout human history have been paternalistic and men have wielded the power.

    I suppose this arose over time because men are usually physically stronger, but that is no excuse to dominate women or put them down in any way. I consider men who innately understand that concept and who practice it in their lives to be quite “evolved,” if you will. :)

    Switching topics, I just wanted to let you and your readers know of another blog I like. Some or all of you may already know of it, but in case you don’t, it’s:

    “Abez sez.”

    The blogger is a self-described “half-Pakistani, half-white” American woman who now lives in Dubai with her husband and two small children. She is a devout Muslim, and that colors much of her writing.

    She is smart, articulate, and very funny at times. She may not be everyone’s exact cup of tea, as she is for the most part not particularly political. Her older child, a son, was not too long ago diagnosed with autism, and since that time, much of her writing has focused on that and she seems to have become something of an activist on behalf of autistic children.

    Also, just about everything she writes is quite personal, so the reader definitely is getting a glimpse into her real life.

    So…to anyone who thinks her blog might be interesting, check it out. I like it. :)

    Last but not least, thanks for that pretty design to the left of my name! I see that everyone gets his own individual one. Nice touch! :)

    Ciao!

  37. Wow I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog. This is exactly the kind of reading I have been longing for. Just wanted to let you know I have posted two of your posts regarding hijab on my own blog (with full regards to you, of course).

    Anyways, thank you for speaking your mind, and so eloquently defending liberal/feminist/progressive Muslims everywhere..

    You are a breath of fresh air.

    Salams,

    Sarah ELizabeth

  38. Amazing post, Masha’Allah.

    I have always felt annoyed by people that tell me what I should or shouldn’t wear, as if I were a child or something. If a Muslim woman doesn’t want to wear Hijab, that is her CHOICE! Islam makes that very clear that Hijab should NEVER be forced on a woman.

    And if a Muslim woman wants to show a little bit of her hair while still wearing Hijab… again that is her CHOICE. She knows that she isn’t suppose to show her hair (according to religion), and she doesn’t need people up in her business telling her that it’s wrong… because they know already.

    I have worn Hijab (fully, I don’t show any hair) since 2007 Alhamdulillah. But I still always face people who judge me based on other things. That is why I have very few Muslim friends. I don’t want to be around someone that is going to point out my every mistake. We make mistakes, that is our nature.

    But Muslims defend this by saying “We are obligated to say something. If we see something wrong that a Muslim is doing it’s our job to make them aware of it.”

    There is a fine line between correcting someone and invading that person’s personal life. Just mind your own business! Now if you see them doing something extremely wrong talk kindly to them. Ask if they are new to Islam. If they answer ‘Yes’, odds are they don’t know any better and you may correct them gently. Make sure you praise them for all their efforts. That is important.

    • Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment, Lynn! I agree, people should mind their own business and focus on themselves rather than others.

      I do have to disagree with you here though: “she knows that she isn’t suppose to show her hair (according to religion), and she doesn’t need people up in her business telling her that it’s wrong… because they know already.”

      That statement has a lot of problematic implications and it is judgmental. It says that Muslim women who don’t wear hijab are not really practicing their religion. It also generalizes that all Muslim women believe a certain way. I personally know Muslim women who don’t believe it is compulsory to wear hijab. It is one thing if you believe that is true, but I think it’s really important to understand that there are diverse opinions and interpretations about this.

      The point of this post was to move beyond dictating how women should dress and encourage inclusiveness. Without judgments being made on an individual’s faith based upon what they wear.

  39. Wow! What an amazing post!
    Thank you for reminding this world to stop telling us (women) what to wear!

    I’ll share more thoughts on this tomorrow, inshaAllah, especially in response to Mohsin’s comments. But for now, I just had to say what a delight it is to have come across your blog!

    Keep thinking, keep writing, and keep speaking up! We need you.

  40. Khalida says:

    As a Muslim woman, I cannot thank you enough for this post. You’ve said something I wonder often, but don’t actually say.

    And great blog too. :)

    Khalida

  41. justme says:

    Have spent the better part of my Saturday morning here…can’t seem to tear myself away!

    I’m unable to organize my thoughts right now in a manner fit enough to make a good response here.

    I have a question – you mentioned a time when you too were judgmental about the way women dressed – what made you change?

    I know you’re not excluding all women out of it – the topic is about Muslim women – the sad reality is that it’s not just Muslim women – women in general are always being told what to do. Let me not even start with what fundamental Hindu *men* (women too, but somehow it’s always mostly the men) have to say about how women must dress.

    I wonder how people first of all find the time and energy to dwell on such topics? Don’t you have jobs, a family and a society to contribute to? How are you able to focus so much of your lifetime on making sure that women dress and behave in certain ways. The reality is that these people are so pathetic, that such acts of power and aggressions are the ways they try to validate their pitiful existence.

    It’s really sad and one is tempted to dismiss them as pathetic objects deserving our pity. But it’s only when you actually come across such an individual in your life, you realize the harm they can cause – they cannot be casually dismissed.

    But how does one fight such individuals and more important the roots of such oppressive thinking?

  42. I actually was basically researching for suggestions for my very own blog and stumbled
    upon your article, “Stop Telling Muslim Women How to Dress
    Muslim Reverie”, will you care if I really use a number of your own ideas?
    Many thanks ,Susannah

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