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Who speaks for Muslim women

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                                                                                Islamia
     Islamia/The Brunei Times                                                                                                                                                      Isnin, 26 Syawal 1429




Allah says..                                                                                       Who speaks for
                                                                                                   Muslim women?
    “Is it not a guidance for them, how many
    generations We have destroyed before them
    in whose dwellings they do walk about?
    Verily, therein indeed are signs.                                           Nujud Ja’afar                                                                           from God is called by a feminine
    Would they not then listen?”                                                BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN                                                                     name, “sakinah,” in the Quran, and
                                                                                                                                                                        I understand why some Muslim


                                                                                    O
    (translation of Al-Quran surah As-Sajadah: 26)                                            ne of the most off-putting                                                women like to wear their prayer
                                                                                              images broadcast by                                                       clothes for more than prayer, to take
                                                                                              those who accuse Islam                                                    that sakinah into the world with
                                                                                                                                                                        them. I, too, wear a (smaller) version
Messenger of Allah said..                                                       of being a mysoginic, oppressive
                                                                                religion is that of elderly, bearded                                                    of the veil when I go out. What a loss
                                                                                men sermonising about how women                                                         it would be for me not to have in
    “There are two blessings                                                    should cover their feminine beauty                                                      my life this alternating structure, of
                                                                                                                                                                        covering outdoors and uncovering
    which many people lose: (They are) Health                                   lest it leads men astray.
                                                                                                                                                                        indoors. I take pleasure in preparing a
                                                                                      Indeed, many articles and books
    and free time for doing good.”                                              have been written, often by male                                                        clean, folded set for a houseguest, the
                                                                                scholars about women’s religious                                                        way home-decor mavens lay elegant
    (narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas, reported in Sahih Al-Bukhari)                      duty to veil. This fact has often been                                                  plump towels around a bathroom to
                                                                                criticised by many and led some                                                         give it a relaxing feel.”
                                                                                women to question: who speaks for                                                           “As beautiful as veils are, they are
                                                                                them?                                                                                   not the best part of being a Muslim
                                                                                      Islam has a long history of female                                                woman -- and many Muslim women
Salam                                                                           scholarship but it will now take a                                                      in Islamic countries don’t veil. The
                                                                                great effort by both men and women                                                      central blessing of Islam to women is
                                                                                                                                                                        that it affirms their spiritual equality
                      Bruneian Hijab                                            to revive the whole tradition of
                                                                                knowledge in Muslim societies. When                                                     with men, a principle stated over
                                                                                it comes to some religious duties for                                                   and over in the Quran, on a plane
                                                                                women such as veiling, however,                                                         believers hold to be untouched by
                                                                                there have recently been attempts                                                       the social or legalistic “women in
                                                                                by many Muslim women to now                                                             Islam” concerns raised by other parts
                                                                                speak up and speak for themselves.                                                      of the Scripture, in verses parsed
                           BT File Photo




                                                                                Thousands of web pages and many                                                         endlessly by patriarchal interpreters
                                                                                magazine and newspaper articles,                                                        as well as Muslim feminists and used
                                                                                for instance, have been published                                                       by Islamophobes to “prove” Islam’s



       S
                                                                                by women who wish to tell their                                                         sexism. This is how most believing
               ome Muslim women in some predominantly-Muslim                                                                                                            Muslim women experience God: as
                                                                                perspective on the subject.
               societies take the privilege of hijab so much for granted and                                                                                            the Friend who is beyond gender,
                                                                                      Among them is a Japanese
               treat it as nothing more than a casual outfit to be worn or                                                                                              not as the Father, not as the Son, not
                                                                                woman convert to Islam identified
    discarded at whims.                                                                                                                                                 inhabiting a male form, or any form.”
                                                                                only as Khaula who wrote about her
         Brunei Darussalam, an Islamic state that encourages and                                                                                                            “It’s easy to forget that Muslims
                                                                                feelings when she put on her hijab.
    motivates its Muslims to live as Islamically as possible, witnesses                                                                                                 are not inherently more sexist than
                                                                                “In hijab I felt myself different. I felt
    such phenomenon as well. There are women who go to work or to                                                                                                       folks in other religions. Muslim
                                                                                myself purified and protected. I felt
    functions wearing tudong in the morning just to take it off in the                                                                                                  societies may lag behind on some
                                                                                the company of Allah. As a foreigner,
    afternoon for some serious shopping at the Mall. Some women see                                                                                                     issues that women in certain
                                                                                I felt sometimes uneasy in a public
    tudong as merely a small part of an ensemble of garments that make                                                                                                  economically advanced, non-Muslim
                                                                                place, stared by men. With hijab, I
    up our national dress – to be worn during official celebrations and                                                     Brunei’s Muslim girls, a part of Muslimah
                                                                                                                                                                        societies have resolved after much
                                                                                was not seen. I found that the hijab        worldwide who need to speak up for
    easily discarded afterward.                                                                                                                                         effort, but on other issues, Muslim
                                                                                sheltered me from such impolite             themselves. Picture: BT File Photo
         But hijab, which includes the head-covering, is a religious                                                                                                    women’s options run about the same
                                                                                stares. I was also very happy and
    obligation. They can observe it as part of their submission to Allah the                                                                                            as those of women all over the world.
                                                                                proud in hijab which is not only the        the Aidil Fitri festivities marking the
    Exalted, or they can abandon it out of their own volition and at their                                                                                              And in some areas of life, Muslim
                                                                                sign of my obedience to Allah but           end of the month of Ramadhan.”
    own risk. but hijab is not a casual thing. Hijab is an important part                                                                                               women are better equipped by their
                                                                                also the manifestation of my faith...            “It irks me that I even have to
    in the whole of the Islamic law that governs Muslims’ lives. It is both                                                                                             faith tradition for autonomy and
                                                                                The hijab has also the advantage of         say this: Being a Muslim woman is
    an obligation, and a privilege because of all the virtues and benefits                                                                                              dignity.”
                                                                                reminding the people around me              a joyful thing. My first neighbour
    attached to the attire. Those who take hijab casually should perhaps                                                                                                    “In modern times, Muslim women
                                                                                that God exists and reminding me            in Arkansas borrowed my Quran
    experience the life of fellow Muslim women who have to fight hard in                                                                                                have been heads of state five times in
                                                                                of being with God. It tells me: ‘be         and returned it, saying, “I’m glad
    order to be able to enjoy the privilege. Countless Muslimah in in some                                                                                              Muslim-majority countries, elected
                                                                                careful. You should conduct yourself        I’m not a Muslim woman.” Excuse
    West societies have learned that it took a ban and a worldwide uproar                                                                                               democratically by popular vote (in
                                                                                as a Muslim.’ As a policeman becomes        me, but a woman with Saint Paul in
    for them to appreciate the value of their hijab.                                                                                                                    Bangladesh twice and also in Turkey,
                                                                                more conscious of his profession in         her religious heritage has no place
         One Western Muslim woman went to France and learned                                                                                                            Indonesia and Pakistan). And I’m not
                                                                                his uniform, I had a stronger feeling       feeling superior to a Muslim woman,
    from Muslimah who lived the hijab ban and gained insights into                                                                                                      saying that a woman president is
                                                                                of being Muslim with hijab.”                as far as woman-affirming principles
    “the psychological torment” of the hijab ban there. “What is the                                                                                                    necessarily a women’s president, but
                                                                                      Another example is Mohja Kahf         are concerned. Maybe no worse, if
    difference...between forcing the hijab on (as the West constantly                                                                                                   how many times has a woman been
                                                                                who wrote in the Washington Post            I listen to Christian feminists, but
    whines about) and forcing the hijab off the (women)? Where is the                                                                                                   president of the United States?”
                                                                                early October 2008 an interesting           certainly no better.”
    freedom of personal choice?”                                                                                                                                            “Yet even all that gorgeous history
                                                                                article titled “Spare Me the Sermon              “Blessings abound for me as
         The societies that tell women in revealing clothing that “it’s her                                                                                             pales when I open my closet door for
                                                                                On Muslim Women.”“Crimson chiffon,          a Muslim woman: The freshness
    body and she can do what she pleases” suddenly become scornful of                                                                                                   the evening’s pick: teal georgette,
                                                                                silver lamé or green silk: Which scarf      of ablution is mine, and the daily
    women who agree that their bodies are indeed their own business                                                                                                     pink-and-beige plaid, creamy fringed
                                                                                to wear today?,” she wrote. “My veil        meditation zone of five prayers
    and they have the right to show only their faces and the hands while                                                                                                wool or ice-blue organza? God, why
                                                                                collection is 64 scarves and growing.       that involve graceful, yoga-like
    covering the rest under their hijab.                                                                                                                                would anyone assume I would want
                                                                                The scarves hang four or five to a row      movements, performed in prayer
                                                     Islamia/The Brunei Times
                                                                                on a rack in my closet, and elation         attire. Prayer scarves are a chapter        to give up such beauty? I love being
                                                                                fills me when I open the door to this       in themselves, cool and comforting          a Muslim woman. And I’m always
                  Say, there is no god but Allah.                               beautiful array. Last week, I chose a       as bedsheets. These create a tent           looking for my next great polka-dot
                                                                                particularly nice scarf to slip on for      of tranquility. The serene spirit sent      scarf.”
                      You will be successful.                                                                                                                                             From various sources

				
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