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The Hijab and America

Updated on December 9, 2017

The Hijab and Muslim women

The hijab is in the news. What is the hijab? Is it a universal dress applicable to all women and men? Well, hijab is a head cover and is a distinctive part of the attire of a Muslim woman. It is not applicable to men and nowhere in the Koran is there any mention of the Hijab, Niqab or burkha. Yet Muslim women are asked to wear it as a mark that they are Muslims. Why it should be applicable to Muslim women and not to men is another thorny question. The roots lie in the ethos of the religion as interpreted by men. Women were never consulted.

The win of Donald Trump has led to a spate of attacks on Muslim women wearing the burkha and hijab. One woman in New York had her burkha ripped open and the man uttered profane words. Many such cases have been reported from all over the USA.

The question we have to answer is why these attacks are happening. Is it necessary for Muslim women to flaunt their identity by wearing a hijab. Why the hijab should only be applicable to women in a society that believes in gender equality.

America and Freedom

America has just about 1% Muslims out of a population of almost 325 million. Now this 1% cannot destabilize a nation, that's for sure. So even if some women are wearing a hijab, though a mark of subjugation, it is not a threat to the American way of life. The hijab, alas is a standout in a society where many women are scantily dressed . It attracts attention and the burkha or Niqab more so. To many Americans, it appears as a black shroud.

Many Muslims have appealed to the American president-elect Donald against the attacks on them in America. They point to the first amendment in support. Yes, they are right but in popular perception, Islam in America is associated with terrorism and that is the bane of the problem.

This is not only in America but in many nations from Russia to China and Europe this religion is unfortunately associated with violence. China even went so far as to ban the ritual fasting during Ramadan.

America has been struck by terror by Islamist's in a big way that started with 9/11 and that has changed the perception of Islam. The religion is associated with violence and it is now imprinted in the mind of the right wing, that feels that Donald is their man.

The Rubaiyat of Khayyam does not talk of hijab
The Rubaiyat of Khayyam does not talk of hijab

The World

The world has reacted to this in its own way. France and some countries the burkha and many in Europe including Germany and Poland have banned or are on way to ban the full face veil. Angela Merkel in an address to her party convention has said that the hijab and face cover has no place in German society. Turkey discourages it and Kamel Mustapha had outlawed it. Turkey is a Muslim nation. Egypt is also considering full face ban.

This does not mean that America should follow suit but there is a doubt in the average American's mind and would it not be a good idea if it was not made mandatory as a symbol of Islam, which it is not.

Uncomfortable question

When all is said and done, one can say that a fundamental right is denied in case a woman is not allowed to wear what she wants. Yet, the fact that needs an answer is as to why only Muslim women must wear it and not the men? Is there a compulsion to wear it? Do the scriptures say so? Who will answer these questions? The Muslims have to answer to them


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    • emge profile image

      Madan 16 months ago from Abu Dhabi

      Thank you Readmikenow for an incisive comment

    • Readmikenow profile image

      Readmikenow 16 months ago

      Fascinating article. I once worked for a Muslim man. He was extremely nice. At Christmas time he wished me "Merry Christmas" and even bought me a Christmas present but asked I not buy one for him, so I didn't. The frustrations he had with his other who viewed the practice of Islam different from himself sounded very familiar to frustrations Christians have with other Christians. Catholics approach things very different than Baptists, who approach things very different from Pentecostals and everyone has an opinion about Mormons and it goes on. We agreed at the end of the day we all work, do our part for our religion, our family and our life. It's something repeated in cultures and religions all over the world. I once saw a man from Saudi Arabia get into a very serious argument with my Muslim boss about Islam. I do know that the Hijab is a serious issue in some Muslim countries. I also know there are a number of issues between Muslims, just like other religions. I enjoyed reading this.