If I choose to wear a hijab, will you let me?

Published: September 5, 2012
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At the same time, when you see a woman wearing something you’d consider skimpy, don’t roll your judgmental eyes at her for she is also only exercising a choice. DESIGN: ERUM SHAIKH

If feminism did one thing right for women it was to provide us with an abundance of choices. Something the fair gender hadn’t really experienced before. Whether it was the choice to wear pants and throw away those constricting corsets, or the choice to go out and vote and make a difference in the world. We could drive, abort or use contraceptives.

These are the same choices that helped women like you and me get PhDs, work in male-dominated industries and hold top level positions and get equal pay. We could literally be men if we wanted to be!

But if liberties and choices for women were what feminists were fighting for then why are they the first ones to judge, reprimand and rage against the women who choose to don a hijab?

Feminists preach that women must be judged by their mental capabilities and talents and not by their sexuality and physicality. So why do they look down upon a woman who is daring to put that theory into action? In a world that demonises, demoralises and demotes women to mere sexual objects, isn’t wearing a hijab the greatest form of rebellion?

They call hijabis ‘oppressed’, but aren’t the people judging and mocking her choice the real oppressors?

In the same way, women who choose to not wear the hijab are shown the same narrow-mindedness and pettiness when they don’t wear a hijab in a Muslim country like Saudia Arabia or Iran. They are oppressed in the same way with exclusion, torture and even death for that one choice they make.

But aren’t both women only exercising their choices?

Wasn’t the point of the feminist struggle and the resulting empowerment a way to help women exercise their choices? To not be judged?

So in light of Hijab Day, which was September 4 let’s do one small thing from now on. When you see a woman passing by covered from head to toe, show her some compassion and let her exercise that choice. At the same time, when you see a woman wearing something you’d consider skimpy, don’t roll your judgmental eyes at her for she is also only exercising a choice.

Because the point of it all was to not let anyone squander away our choices.

Read more by Saba here.

Saba Khalid

Saba Khalid

A blogger for Rolling Stone magazine, a contributor to Kulturaustauch and Musikexpres, Saba is an Institute for Foreign Affairs (IFA) Cross Culture scholar for the year 2012 who also teaches creative writing to young aspiring writers. She blogs at www.thecityalive.com and can be found on instagram as @thecityalive

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Of course you may choose to wear a hijab. Just as a wife may choose to not report domestic abuse, or a woman may choose not file a complaint against her rapist. She is allowed to choose, but you cannot expect feminists to not be bothered by the restrictions she imposes upon herself, or the self-destructive decisions she makes.

    Considering that three-quarters of your interaction with other people defends simply on the changing expressions of your face (hence the term face-to-face conversation), talking to hijab-clad woman is like talking to my roommate on the other side of the bathroom door.

    Not to mention the security risk it poses in certain places.

    And finally, you must ask yourself if your choice to wear a hijab is truly coming from within you, or have you simply internalized the wishes of patriarchal society, and now honoring them as your own in order to be accepted by the people around you?Recommend

  • http://Hotmail Citizen

    Finally! A sane voice. Hijabis and non-Hijabis have the same rights and demands same respect. Good write up!Recommend

  • Gary

    It’s your life, do what you like! Why do you care what other’s think/say? Why are you looking for approval/validation?Recommend

  • Waqas

    Loneliberal something – not that I would agree with you in any case, but you are confusing between Hijab and Niqab…Recommend

  • Ozymandias

    @Loneliberal PK:
    Amazing that you would relate wearing a hijab to rape and domestic abuse. How about changing your nick to loneobscurantistpk?Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/1091/imaan-sheikh/ Imaan Sheikh

    Live and let live! I just find it ironic for feminists to actually be against a choice women make. I have friends whose families don’t stress on wearing hijab Some even disallow them to sport hijab, but they do it out of personal choice, sometimes even going against their own parents.
    Great write-up, Saba.Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Waqas,

    You’re right.

    But it is a slipper slope to a niqab or a burqa. It essentially follows the same principle of generating such a stigma against women who do not wear these garments, that they would be coerced into wearing these in order to feel safe, or more socially accepted.Recommend

  • Dee

    Really good write-up. Exactly my thoughts!Recommend

  • http://think-islam.blogspot.com PostMan

    @Loneliberal PK: You and the religious zealots have found a common ground I am afraid. Both assume that women are one stupid lot who cannot think on their own. If she is wearing hijab, she has to be instructed by men that it is good for her – she is a complete idiot otherwise. The conservatives, on the other hand, think that hijab is best for her.
    All the ‘facts’ about wearing or not wearing the hijab have been exhaustively written about.. now let the women decide by themselves what they want. Can we?Recommend

  • neo

    When a woman wears a hijab by choice, she is conforming to patriarchial and oppressive customs of middle ages,which gets strengthened in the eyes of mullahs. Hence she is queering the pitch for those women who may chose not to wear hijab.Recommend

  • Hina Habib

    good one Saba well written …………yes its all about freedom of choice a person should be free to choose .Recommend

  • Gary

    @Loneliberal PK: Think i understand your concern. It’s still one thing to make your case with someone of the consequences their choice/s might have on society (perceived/real), and an another to judge/be disrespectful… Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    PostMan,

    You tell a woman that hijab is her choice. And then proceed to generate an environment where failure to comply with this dress code is openly condemned as ‘immodesty’ (to use a milder term), and compliance is heavily rewarded as a virtue (the “World Hijab Day”).

    So the truth is that you’re merely giving her an illusion of a choice, while knowing that she would be forced into choosing hijab in order to be accepted by the society.

    You wouldn’t find liberal ‘zealots’ like myself ever holding a “World Mini-Skirts Day”, because we do not believe in such coercion. We believe in true choice, and not just social blackmailing.Recommend

  • http://www.myfrequentranting.wordpress.com Farwa

    Loved it. Very good point. To all the ‘liberals’, you don’t know the intention of a hijabi woman so you shouldn’t be judging. Women in western, liberal societies wear hijab too. It’s not about ‘conforming’ to anything, it’s about their choice. Recommend

  • FU

    Wear what ever you want in your own countries, don’t try to make a fuss when you go to Europe and North America. When they make a law, you shouldn’t wear it, follow the rule or take the next flight back home. Most muslims are looking like hypocrites in Europe and America who simply whine and complain about silly issues. Some imam in Norway said a woman who don’t wear hijab or niqab is like a walking meat. Can any non muslim go and say this in Saudi Arabia that women who wear this are covering their faces in bin bags. Every country has a tolerance level, muslims in Europe are pushing that to the limit. It has already given rise to people like Geert Wilders and other organizations like EDL in UK. Recommend

  • Confused

    Wear if you want to nobody really cares.Recommend

  • Janan Khan

    @Loneliberal PK:
    If you are happy that your sister and other family members practice no hijab then its okay for you. Don’t influence others by giving stupid arguments for not wearing hijab. Recommend

  • http://think-islam.blogspot.com PostMan

    @Loneliberal PK: ‘You tell a woman that hijab is her choice. And then proceed to generate an environment’

    No I am not. I am not suggesting this at all. Don’t assume things bro :) I am not your enemy.Recommend

  • SoAndSo

    If one thinks that a hijab-wearing woman is oppressed, that is not oppression; it is a form of…. sympathy (or should I say pity) due to the impression one gets that it is more likely that a woman is wearing hijab because she is forced to do so. How dare you label that as oppression? I mean these ‘oppressors’ aren’t the ones holding rallies, passing fatwas or laws against the women who in fact wear hijab.

    I think you need to revise your definition of the word oppression.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/430/faraz-talat/ Faraz Talat

    I support a woman’s right to wear a hijab, but I cannot extend the same support to “hijab day”.

    Real choice is when a woman dons a garment not just to protect herself from harassment, or the society’s judgmental attitude, but strictly because of her personal religious conviction. Otherwise, such choice is as hollow as that offered by a robber who puts a gun to one’s head and says, “Your money or your life?”

    A community which actively fosters an environment that speaks, “Hijab or social rejection?” is not allowing a choice at all. Essentially, any kind of campaign that tells women what to wear, is reprehensible to say the least.Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    PostMan,

    By “you”, I was simply referring to the society, or at least certain segments of it. To those who misconstrue a woman’s refusal to wear a hijab as permission for harassment, and paint her as an immoral person (as the Hijab Day campaign did).

    I thought it was implied that I wasn’t referring to you personally. I’m certain you don’t fall into the category I’ve alluded to.Recommend

  • Musab

    Finally some sense from ET…Recommend

  • Hasan

    @Janan Khan : I assume that they are individuals who have their own lives to lead. They are not appendages to our manhood. Recommend

  • Ali

    Feminism! what about Islam?Recommend

  • Lala Gee

    @Loneliberal PK:

    Not more than 50 or 60 years ago, the western women also used to wear head cover and long skirts and chastity was a virtue. With the new found liberalism, half covered body is in vogue and normal thing. Chastity has become something of the past and considered abnormal. Illicit relationships of the two married persons and the resulting child does not surprise anyone. Well, if you think this is liberalism, liberty, and modernity, then I guess we are better of without it. As it is said that charity begins at home, you should start practicing your beliefs from your own home and then preach. We wouldn’t object.Recommend

  • Turbo Lover

    Hijab or no Hijab, your clothes don’t make you a saint or a prostitute. This, any sane mind would know.Recommend

  • Mooz

    @Loneliberal PK:

    So the truth is that you’re merely
    giving her an illusion of a choice,
    while knowing that she would be forced
    into choosing hijab in order to be
    accepted by the society.

    Question : When a woman in the west chooses to wear a Hijab, knowing that she would be accepted in the society if she chooses NOT to wear it AND yet does so based on her own judgement, what then? Is she still living in an illusion?

    “talking to hijab-clad woman is like
    talking to my roommate on the other
    side of the bathroom door. Not to
    mention the security risk it poses in
    certain places.”

    Please understand the difference between a Hijab and a Niqab. Wearing the Hijab is the same as wearing a hat, or a bandanna. Just because its called a hijab, all of a sudden you can’t seem to be able to talk to the other person? I agree with you on the Niqab part but the topic of discussion here is the Hijab. Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    @Lala Gee:
    Wah Wah GeeRecommend

  • http://salmanzq.blogspot.com salman

    It’s all good as long as you know that it isn’t really part of the Quran and God’s instructions. Cheating women into thinking they need to do it to get into heaven is the worst form of treachery. Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Mooz,

    “When a woman in the west chooses to wear a Hijab, knowing that she would be accepted in the society if she chooses NOT to wear it…”

    ..then she has every right to wear that garment, considering that she’s not been forced by her family.

    If you’re alluding to the French ban of headscarves in universities and government offices, then know that is part of a general ban against religious symbolism, that is, it affects all religious groups. Also, this rule is not practiced in West alone. There are similar laws in place in Tunisia and Turkey, both Muslim-majority countries.

    As for the matter of hijab and niqab, I should’ve been clearer. I was referring to hijab in its literal sense, as a “curtain” or “separation” that women are expected to maintain. In an environment where women are widely shamed for not covering themselves up adequately (which is a subjective term), then hijab often becomes a natural antecedent to niqab.Recommend

  • Vikram

    But aren’t both women only exercising their choices?

    Is hijab a religious thing?
    Is hijab required in Islam?
    What is proper hijab? Is it a burqa as required by Saudi Arabia, a country that follows Quran and Sunnah as its constitution?

    If Hijab is required in Islam, then it can’t be a choice.

    I thought in most Muslim countries Muslim men treat hijabs and non-Hijabis the same, both have equal chances of being pinched, harassed sexually.

    I don’t think Muslim men object to bikini clad women as long as they are not Muslim women.

    Rich arab kings fly over White bikini clad women for entertainment / private partiesRecommend

  • http://Birmingham elementary

    Picture that the writer has chosen for the article says it all !!!. The way these Burqa clad women are staring at that girl is so disgusting ,uncivilized and portrays the mindset very accurately. I seriously think restrictions such as Hijab /Niqab lead to some degree of retardation in mental growth.Recommend

  • Hala

    who are these “feminists” who are not “letting” you wear a hijab. have they told you that you will burn in hell if you don’t wear one or that if you aren’t dressed in a certain way, you deserve to be raped? please stop making false equivalencies. yes on a personal level you can make any choice you like. but is no one allowed to critique that choice? it is a fact that hijab is used as a tool for controlling women, no this is not the only way it is used, yes some women must don it for their own personal reasons and that is fine. i don’t care what someone wears. but i care when someone uses an article of clothing to shame someone elseRecommend

  • malik

    I was looking for a suitable expression to explain about this idea…where women feel they have the freedom to choose to wear hijab or not….yes, I got it, the expression is….. Classical ConditioningRecommend

  • Ali S

    @Loneliberal PK:

    With liberals that think like you, it’s no wonder that conservative is the way to go in this country. Any political ideology is drilled into you (whether by academics or society), so whether it’s liberalism or conservatism, hijabi or non-hijabi, who are you to say who should choose what or if they’re right to choose so.Recommend

  • curious

    If I choose to wear a hijab, will you let me?

    And, if I chose not to wear one would you let me?

    Without being threatened with Acid attacks or Hell Fire and Eternal Damnation.

    http://paktribune.com/news/Acid-attacks-on-women-By-Nasreen-250831.html

    http://raquelevita.wordpress.com/2008/08/01/pakistani-taliban-wear-hijab-or-be-disfigured/Recommend

  • 3rdRockFromTheSun

    Sure, wear whatever you want hijab / niqab / burqa – but then be prepared for the consequences (if you live among progressive socities). Be prepared for a refusal of a “job” in the conventional sense. Facial expressions are a very important part of a human to human interaction – and is essential for practically all jobs – not just with customers but with co-workers too. Also, be prepared to be asked to go home, if you’ve been in that job “hijab”less for sometime, and suddenly come to work one dayhaving discovered religion, with the coverings. There was a blog in this publication sometime back about this by a writer staying in Canada – and how she was “shocked” at pepole’s reactions when she went to work one day all covered up.

    Then there is the issue of security. I remember the time when photo ID cards were being introduced in India, and the conservative Muslim community and their “supporters” went ballistic – as they could no longer continue voter fraud (women in burqas voting as someone else since they didn’t have to show their face, just a “ration card” to prove their address matched the polling list)!

    So yes, you may choose to wear whatever you wan to wear.Recommend

  • http://Birmingham elementary

    @Lala Gee:I have seen your comments on political issues and I tend to agree with them I thought you were staunchly against all forms of oppression ,therefore your comment came as a surprise to me.
    Hijab/Niqab forms a part of that larger patriarchal mindset which thinks woman should not be allowed freedom of thought and expression.Woman are thought to be less rational and mature who need to be supervised/dominated by men; this then becomes a self fulfilling prophecy when all sorts of restrictions are placed on her dress ,education,social interaction etc , which seriousy impedes and restricts their mental growth and world view.
    Liberalism does not advocate western culture or code of dress,personally I find eastern dress much prettier and more graceful, what we are striving for is freedom from oppression and coercion. Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    I agree with Hala.

    The right-wing has an unfounded fear that the liberals and feminists are somehow out to prevent “their” women from wearing hijabs and burkas. As if liberals go city to city, holding anti-hijab rallies. Or send teams door-to-door, telling women to burn their head coverings.

    Even the slightest suggestion that the society shouldn’t be allowed to dictate a woman how she should or shouldn’t drape herself, is taken as a western conspiracy to promote nudity and attacked as such.Recommend

  • HUM

    @Loneliberal PK:
    Dude you talk sense. Good comments.Recommend

  • Zalam Singh

    @NonLiberalPk Dude, you are more concerned about your right to see her cleavage than the so-called “Self imposed restriction”Recommend

  • mr. righty rightist

    Somebody is suffering from Stockholm syndrome.Recommend

  • Midhat

    @Loneliberal PK:
    When you start imposing your values and opinions on women, you are merely insulting their intelligence and taking thier choie away from them. You dont want Hijab, dont do it, but DoNOT mock my liberity. In today’s modern world would you also think women are also being expolited to show off their body to conform into modernity standards? Would you call that oppression too..?

    They bottom line is as long as its a women’s choice you cant dictate me into not wearing hijab. I am an educated, independent working woman. I have wore hijab and not! I have friends who cover up and also who dont! Dont judge my judgement and intelligence, or simply change your nick to Leftist fundalmentist!Recommend

  • Vikram

    @elementary:The way these Burqa clad women are staring at that girl is so disgusting.

    Looks like they have never seen a pretty girl before. I wonder what is going thru their mindsRecommend

  • Rabia

    @author: This links up well with your last blog. The liberals and fundamentalists are at it again. And have missed the point. Let women be! Don’t decide if they should cover up OR parade nakedRecommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Midhat,

    I’m not sure which LoneLiberal you’re addressing, but I said absolutely nothing about “imposing my values and opinions on women”.

    Your right to wear a hijab is not under debate. I was scrutinizing the society’s attitude that feels the need to dictate women what they should or should not be wearing. A society which tells you, “You can choose not to wear a hijab, but then be ready to be constantly humiliated and be called immodest!”Recommend

  • Midhat

    @elementary:

    Hijab/Niqab forms a part of that larger patriarchal mindset which thinks woman should not be allowed freedom of thought and expression

    When a bikini clad girl is merely reduced into shaking her body in a 50 cent video and being told what a man would want to do to her body, that is a disturbing form of patriarchal mindset too. This reduces a woman to a commodity, an eye candy!!

    Everyone is free to interpret the way they see things, but its better to look and consider other reasons. Women in hijab have been great business women ( Hazrat Khatija (RA)), One of the biggest Scholors in Islamic History( Hazrat Ayesha (RA). one of the best battle field combatant fighting along side with men( Hazrat Umme Ammarah RA) and so on.. It is indeed the patriarchal mindset and not the women’s choice to wear Hijab that limits her!Recommend

  • Lala Gee

    @elementary:

    “@Lala Gee:I have seen your comments on political issues and I tend to agree with them I thought you were staunchly against all forms of oppression ,therefore your comment came as a surprise to me.”

    If you read my comment again perhaps you would notice that my emphasis was rather on the changes in mindset and values that occurred in the west as a result of ideological shift. If losing the good values like chastity, modesty, and decency is what liberalism means, then, in my view, conservatism is better for us and is close to Islamic values. I never favored the oppression of women but at the same time I expect them to dress in a non-vulgar modest style rather than exposing their body parts in a provocative manner. After all, the dress style is that makes you look different from a tart.Recommend

  • Midhat

    @Loneliberal PK:
    You become a part of that same society when You relate hijab to rape and domestic abuse and term it as a self destructive decision. This is where I feel my intelligence is being questioned and it becomes offensive.
    Peace!!Recommend

  • http://MyLandPakistan.com Rai M Azlan

    a wel written and a sane piece that sledom seen here on ET. it indeed is matter of choice that we are confusing with our own intrepetations. we somehow think as if we are expert on the lives of the other more then the person him/herself. i totally agree with the point of giving respect. and for that we need a higher level of tolerance towards all kind of prespectives, and that is were eduacation and information about the multiple prespectives come in. and we ironically fail on that the state of education in our part of the world (Pakistan) is clear to us all and those few who are educated are tightly tagged to the ideas and prespectives of their own class and hardly ready to listent to what other party has to say.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/430/faraz-talat/ Faraz Talat

    Midhat,

    Pakistani conservatives have a habit of reducing the debate on women’s clothing (which shouldn’t exist in the first place) to a false dichotomy: Either you wear hijab or you dance semi-nude in a 50 cent video.

    Don’t use one extreme to justify the other extreme. That because using women as eye-candy is wrong, we must bog them down with excessive sartorial restrictions. As if these are the only two choices, and nothing lies in between.Recommend

  • http://Birmingham elementary

    @Midhat:
    Scenario you described is also unfortunate and exploitative.
    All we are saying is that men do not have any right to dictate women and make their life choices that includes dress code , woman should be completely free to decide for herself ,No pressure whatsoever ,is that too musch to ask?Recommend

  • http://tribune.com p r sharma

    If some one makes a deliberate choice to wear hijab yes it is OK , But really and honestly do author thinks that majority of the women in Pakistan wear hijab by choice or under traditional compulsion. The fact is that they do not have any other choice but to wear it on outing.
    Religious preaching, continuous sermons of mother and elderly relatives to follow Islamic ideology and general appreciation for those hijab wearing girls while condemning those who have deserted it , The whole socio atmosphere is in its favor which leaves little room for a thinking against it.
    This is not hijab wearing by choice.Recommend

  • Critical

    If you wear hijab on your own will,Who am I to question you,as long as the dress complies with the dress code of the organization she works in

    But the real question is how many girls really do that???

    One of the girls in my project suddenly started wearing hijab…When questioned,she said that the people in her street(in india,muslims tend to group themselves in a particular area) started complaining her parents that she was dressing immorally and the last nail came when the local mullah of the mosque came home and warned their parents of dire consequences…

    First of all,the girl always wear churidar with duppata and never have seen her in jeans,skirts..How come that dress is inappropriate for others?? Whats the big deal in showing her hair anyway?? Do muslim men have a fetish for hair???

    Secondly,the girl’s parents had no objection in her dress,nor did her brothers and sisters…But those around her street were the ones who were objecting it and gave her bad names….

    How come a girl become a *beep* when she doesnt wear hijab?? How come people can talk abt someone character just by looking at her dressing style?? Would you be ok if someone calls your daughter or sister in that name ???
    Does that mean that a woman of “that profession” become pious if she wears hijab??

    Lastly,why the mullahs have become local godfathers using soft threats of violence to subjugate the people?? Why are they given so much power by the normal people???Recommend

  • gp65

    “They call hijabis ‘oppressed’, but aren’t the people judging and mocking her choice the real oppressors?


    I live and work in the US and there are plenty of hijabis in my workplace. No one mocks them (that kind of behavior can get you sacked) and if people do judge them in their minds (I know I don’t but cannot speak for others), most people have the good sense and basic etiquettenot to say something openly about it.

    The FRance example that everyone talks about and gets confused big time had 2 elements to it:
    1) In the state schools, no religious symbols can be displayed. That means no hijab but it also means no cross or .This issue thus had nothing to do with feminism and everything to do with keeping educational institutes secular. Incidentally, that restriction also exiists in Turkey but people do not want to talk about it.
    2) No veils/niqaab allowed in public. This is a security issue. Nothing to do with feminism. But since the article here is about hijaab, then there is no restiriction on hijaab in ordinary French life.

    So enough with the pity party. Non-Muslims and even Muslims who choose not to be as overtly religious in their appearance have a hard time in Muslim countries. The reverse is just imagination.

    @Loneliberal PK
    “Considering that three-quarters of your interaction with other people defends simply on the changing expressions of your face (hence the term face-to-face conversation), talking to hijab-clad woman is like talking to my roommate on the other side of the bathroom door”

    I think you are confusing the hijaab and niqaab. Yes a lot of people would be comfortable dealing with someone in niqaab but I have not seen the type of reaction you have described in any interaction withhijabis.Recommend

  • gp65

    @Imaan Sheikh: “Live and let live! I just find it ironic for feminists to actually be against a choice women make”
    Please quote any feminist on record that has criticized women for wearing hijaab. Please don’t just make stuff up.Recommend

  • ayesha_khan

    @Janan Khan: “@Loneliberal PK:
    If you are happy that your sister and other family members practice no hijab then its okay for you. Don’t influence others by giving stupid arguments for not wearing hijab.”

    You are implying that a man gets to choose how his sister and other family members dress. How does that stack up in light of the ‘freedom of choice that you are advocating? I am sure Loneliberal PK has no interest in making such choices for the women in his family, who are probably perfectly capable of making such decisions themselves.Recommend

  • gp65

    @Lala Gee: “With the new found liberalism, half covered body is in vogue and normal thing.”

    Where is this stereotype that anyone who does not choose hijaab chooses to roam around half naked come from? Other than the beach, I have never seen half covered bodies – unless you describe anyone in skirts or shorts as half naked.Recommend

  • ayesha_khan

    @elementary: “Picture that the writer has chosen for the article says it all !!!. The way these Burqa clad women are staring at that girl is so disgusting ,uncivilized and portrays the mindset very accurately. I seriously think restrictions such as Hijab /Niqab lead to some degree of retardation in mental growth.”

    Thank you for saying this. IT seems that it is these abaya clad women who are judgingt thegirl in the dress not the other way around. So author would you consider those niqab clad ladies as oppressors then?Recommend

  • gp65

    @elementary: Thank you for being the voice of sanity.Recommend

  • Liberal ~

    “In a world that demonises, demoralises and demotes women to mere sexual objects, isn’t wearing a hijab the greatest form of rebellion?”

    No, it’s not the greatest form of rebellion, lady. Don’t sweep the problem under the carpet, it has never been the solution to resolve what’s going wrong in any society. By hiding your face, you’re just telling men that treating women like sexual objects is something we, women, should be ashamed of. I don’t want to hide my face to make men see that I have a brain, that I rationalize, that I have equal rights, that I also am a citizen that must be respected for what I am, for what I do for my society. Hiding my face won’t solve the problem, it will only reaffirm that we are really living in a male dominated society! Recommend

  • Monsieur

    @LoneLiberalPk
    You seem like a great guy, the kind I would want to chill out and drink bear with. Kudos!

    @HijabApologists
    Women can wear the Hijab if they want to, just leave it at that. I don’t like the idea of Hijab and I will say so, at least on the internet. I would however not go around rallying for Hijab to be banned. The same way hijabis should not try to get it enforced.

    And if I see one more pic of a cute little 3 year old girl wearing a Hijab I’ll kill myself.Recommend

  • Huma

    ET chooses the picture not the authorRecommend

  • Parvez

    Liked your argument and the way you got it across.
    To my mind these are two extremes, the full head to toe cover on the one hand and the mini skirt on the other and both are there to make a sort of statement. Is that statement really necessary ? Most women today, even in the west prefer to dress conservatively unless of course they want to make a statement. Is that statement really necessary ? Oh! I’m sorry I’ve already said that. Recommend

  • NorthernLights

    Until women are treated as fully equal members of society, the wearing or not wearing of clothes will continue to be a point of contention. Only then will it be possible to say that all ladies – be they in bikinis, or burkinis – have made their own choice without being pressured by external influences. It is absurd that women are accorded value based on the clothes that they wear. Recommend

  • http://shahidrizvi.wordpress.com Shahid H. Rizvi

    To all those people. who think that let every person what he practicing in society rather good or bad, its his choice, let him or her do…I want to give a simple example, If you don’t stop someone to do something bad or worse, as its his or her life, none of your your business, its just like traveling in a boat, and 1 passenger making a hole in his seat with knife and if some one try to stop him, he say,its my seat, I pay for it, off course its his matter until knife reach the surface of Water. same example applies thing happening in societies Think About it….Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Midhat: “You become a part of that same society when You relate hijab to rape and domestic abuse and term it as a self destructive decision.”

    I never related them. I was simply illustrating how ludicrous it is to expect a feminist to be perfectly on-board with any and every decision that a female makes.

    Hijab may not be self-destructive, but it is restrictive. A face-veil (which every woman in the hijab-day rally was wearing), is something I would personally consider self-destructive for reasons I stated earlier.

    I wouldn’t dream of dictating you what you should be wearing and judge you for it, unlike the people in the link I provided you. But a feminist would not advocate such clothing any more than a nutritionist would prescribe cheese fries.Recommend

  • Midhat

    @Faraz Talat:
    You misunderstood. The post was not in favour of forcing women to do Hijab! its about not forcing them to take it off! Let the choice be with the women.

    @elementary:
    Well thats exactly what I m trying to say! A woman should be free to decide. But please dont assert that wearing Hijab limits her thought process and freedom of thoughts!Recommend

  • Critical

    @Midhat:
    When a bikini clad girl is merely reduced into shaking her body in a 50 cent video and being told what a man would want to do to her body, that is a disturbing form of patriarchal mindset too. This reduces a woman to a commodity, an eye candy!!

    I hope you do know about the fact that the country where Hijab originated is also the same country where belly dancing originated and is still followed there,inspite of their constitution being on the basis of Quran….

    Objectification of women has been done for thousands of years and in almost all culures around the world…You cannot blame the West alone for that….

    Besides,when few of your clerics compare girls without hijab as uncovered meat…Dont you think its equivalent to objectifying a woman to a piece of meat,something which doesnt have its own right and can be taken by anyone???Recommend

  • Midhat

    @elementary:

    I seriously think restrictions such as Hijab /Niqab lead to some degree of retardation in mental growth.

    And here I thought you were a considerate person with intelligent grounds to your debate. So you think all those Hijabi/ Niqabi women are mentally incapable and retarded!:S So goes Sanity down the drain!!Recommend

  • http://Birmingham elementary

    @Lala Gee: You said: I never favored the oppression of women but at the same time I expect them to dress in a non-vulgar modest style rather than exposing their body parts in a provocative manner.
    Your statement contains the contradiction and depicts the mindset.
    Why should women dress the way YOU or, for that matter anyone ,expect them to?
    Let women be the masters of their own life and body.Wll that make the heaven fall? Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    author,

    of course every woman has the choice to wear hijab, Niqab or go naked. As long as they are aware that none of the dress styles has anything to day with the religion of Islam!
    Hjab and niqab were part of the ancient culture and nakedness was common for the Bush people. In the western world today the hijab and Niqab have almost been eliminated and worn exclusively in closters by the nunsor in primitive societies and other than worn by nuns. nakedness is forbidden in public places and only allowed on private beaches or in protected private clubs usualy in forestery area.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Raj Kafir

    The headline should be:
    If I choose to wear a bikini, will you let me?Recommend

  • Raj Kafir

    So in light of Hijab Day, which was September 4 ……………….SUCKS big way…….cant they have a Hijab Day as per Muslim Calendar? Recommend

  • Vikram

    @Faraz Talat: Either you wear hijab or you dance semi-nude in a 50 cent video.

    I just saw a video of fully hijab woman doing it right outside in the open. Some one posted the video on the Internet and it is free. Keeping her safety in mind I can’t be more specific.Recommend

  • RK Singh

    the ladies in Hijab look very jealous of the mini skirt girl.Recommend

  • Asim

    @author wonderful piece of work. I totally agree with your thinking.Recommend

  • Sarfaraz

    I have seen that liberals here are as intolerant as the conservatives…they absolutely pour hate and vitriol on those who do not see things their way…so if a true liberal, then it is the right of the woman to wear hijab, if she wants to.Recommend

  • Shadytr33

    @elementary:
    You say that men shouldn’t dictate what women have to wear. But when a women has just decided to write an article about a thought you are so much against, your personal prejudices prevent you from thinking logically that maybe it’s her own choice to wear it and not conforming to the standards of the society.
    So the women in countries like France, UK and US wear hijab, they are conforming to the society ?
    So when someone agrees with your opinion, Then he/she has a free mind but when someone has an opinion that goes opposite to yours, you are the same as the mullah who the christian girl in the mess.
    “I seriously think restrictions such as Hijab /Niqab lead to some degree of retardation in mental growth.” – You said this in your 1st comment.Recommend

  • Shadytr33

    @Loneliberal PK:
    So wearing the hijab in western society is free will because its against the social values and when wearing the hijab in the eastern society is conforming to the male dominated rules because it goes in favor of the social rules.? What are you smoking ? So a personal choice in one region of the world is legit but the same choice in the other region of the world is questioned .? :SRecommend

  • Janan Khan

    @ayesha_khan:
    I am not assuming that. But it the double standard of men. The men want to see the other girls and women as naked but never like when the same action is done by his family members. So like the thing which you like for your family members. Mr. Righty will defiantly like you to dress-up in a manner which can attract me and can arose my sexuality but will never like his sister to be dressed like he chooses for you. Recommend

  • Intelektual

    @Loneliberal PK:
    Hijab is definatly NOT a just as a Domestic voilance or rape situation and ur manipulative choices of examples is evident of your bias !
    Choice of Hijab for a woman is a far more easier one as compared to the choices of abandoning food or having to throw up after each meal leading to eating disorders, going under the knife, and displaying herself constanly to be accepted or Just to avoid being Mocked and constantly tourtured.
    Also ever heard of women Police that do check Hijab wearing women and discover Occasional Mullahs in there too so its not much of a security threat unless u support invasion of privacy by constant monitoring of everyone all the time !
    And as far as Face to face conversations go u need to object Mobile, emails and sms’s first not to mention the social media for your argument to have any weight at all.
    Lastly how can you even ask her to reconsider her choices without any knowledge of her personal life or mindset !!Recommend

  • Anam

    Good write-up.. hijabis and non-hijabis both are respectful in any way… Ofcourse here come religion and liberlism at same time. when you saw anyone follow latest trend/ fashion you would gonna appreciate it but if someone wear hijab then your mind thought would be different… just we awl need to change mental approach towards it.Recommend

  • Intelektual

    @Loneliberal PK:
    Liberty is not all about opposing the opressors and standing on the right end of spectrum its about standing in the middle !, an unbiased stand that accomodates views and ideologies differing from yours and not Judging others for it well atleast without complete knowledge !!Recommend

  • Intelektual

    @Liberal ~:
    Ohk so whats your form of greatest rebellion ! just emotional vague critique without any practicle steps to rebellion does not cut it !
    Men are gonna look at revealing women as mere sex objects and awarness programs nor self help education is gonna change their mentality or r u overly optimistic !Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    There was a girl who grew up in one of the Muslim ghettos in Bangalore, did her schooling in a local all girl school. Wore the Burqa all her life. Her parents are nice, traditional minded Muslims who were proud of the conduct of her daughter, meaning they were happy she is following the Islamic tradition of Burqa.

    Now, she enters College. One of the best in Bangalore, also one of the most happening.

    She makes friends, who freely go about their business, even Muslim ones, who do not wear the Burqa. One day she decides against wearing them. She goes home without a Burqa.

    All hell breaks loose after that.

    Parents can’t stand the little rebel. They admonish her. They force her to wear it. They are ashamed that she is not the pious little daughter they came to be proud of.

    What was her fault? She decided against wearing a Burqa.

    She still does wear the Burqa but only when leaving the house. After she reaches college the Burqa comes off, she wants a normal life, a life where her friends, even of the opposite sex, can see her face, her beaming smile when she talks, her anger filled eyes when she argues.

    Who is at fault here?

    The truth is conservative parents are the most reluctant to change and more forceful. They can even get violent if a daughter doesn’t meet their lofty standards.

    A liberal parent, by their very definition, are liberal to the notions of free choice. They will support their daughter even if she decides to don a Burqa.

    Due to this reason people like @Loneliberal PK, fight against this lunatic rally for the Burqa.

    There is no stepping back once you create a situation in a society where Burqa is a norm. From being just a norm, it will turn quickly into being a necessity and it will transmute into something that is forced upon you.

    In a liberal society like, say, US, or some places in India, you can wear anything you want-Even a Burqa. But, in conservative societies in Afghanistan you HAVE to wear them.

    Hope I was clear. @Loneliberal PK, is right. Liberals don’t enforce their ideology, only the Right does. Liberals don’t take up arms, only Rights does.Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Shady3r, Intelektual,

    At the risk of repeating myself, the woman’s personal choice is not under debate. What is being criticized is the society’s coercion.

    You tell a woman that she may choose either A or B. But then you go ahead and declare A to be a virtue, and associate B with a deep stigma. Such that any woman who chooses B will be called things like “immodest” or “immoral”, and even become more prone to harassment.

    In such an environment, an average woman would likely gravitate towards A, because B has become a much harder and dangerous choice to make.

    It is the attitude of the patriarchal society that is under scrutiny. We’re not judging women themselves. I implore you to go through the discussion we’ve been having beyond the first couple of comments.Recommend

  • Nousheen

    Assalam o alykum all,

    Indeed a very unbiased and open-minded view of the whole scenario and a very nice effort at bringing some sense to the actual situation.

    @LobelibrealPK. Sir considering the current demographics of Pakistan let me assure you that in alot of places its not non hijabis who are facing the oppression rather it is the hijabis who are oppressed of their right to think what is right for them and what is not. I being a graduate student faced discrimination just for being in Abaaya….although my face was never covered still the stigma of being a non-intelligent & ill-mannered student was attached with us. Okay I’m not a very intelligent student but a 3.5 wasn’t bad…..or is it? But we faced the discrimination……so much so that I assumed that in this society if you have to look smart you have to put this black costume off (although when I went in buses in abaya I was confident that any flaw of my clothing won’t get in the eyes of people here by flaw I mean if my clothes stick to my body due to extreme heat, or due to sitting in one place for long or move from their place while moving or while getting off) I still remember once in a bus while I was standing a small child was standing behind me..he was falling back so he clutched my shirt and guess what all the men were staring at which the women started hushing me to pull my shirt down….well I didn’t because I felt the child’s security more important than the few stares….this is an event of the time when I left wearing abaya…..Now let me clear I’m not religious fanatic, neither did my parents force me into wearing abaya, nor was it any fatwa, it was just this one small assumption that my clothes would remain intact while moving is buses….that was a free choice for which I had to regret by the end of my 4 years of BS and immediately switched to non-abaya mode because I didn’t want my intelligence underestimated just because I chose to wear a clothing over myself to feel comfortable……CAN YOU CHANGE THE MENTALITY OF PEOPLE TO GAZE…YOU CAN’T SO IF SOMEONE CHOOSES NOT TO BE GAZED BY EVERYONE AROUND HOW IS IT AN OPPRESSION UPON THEM? ISN’T IT JUST A MATTER OF FREE CHOICE OF GETTING COMFORTABLE IN THE GAZES BY ONE MEAN YOU THINK IS SUITABLE ENOUGH?Recommend

  • Shadytr33

    @Anoop:
    Surely you have a greater misunderstanding. There is a difference between liberals and extremist left. people like “elementary” and “loneliberalPK” are not liberal but extremist left.
    Elementary said this in his/her 1st post – “I seriously think restrictions such as Hijab /Niqab lead to some degree of retardation in mental growth.” From this you can understand the type of mentality this person has. To judge a person’s intellect based on the clothing a person wears. The extremist left go to the same lengths as the extremist right. There are many examples in US alone where the so called liberals have fired upon Sikh temples and vandalizing Muslim properties. The far left Anders breivik or whatever his name was, was a liberal/far leftist who took up guns and shot close to 90 people. Even countries like US wage wars just to bring democracy. Killing innocent people just so that people could follow their version of freedom. Excellent example is Iraq war where no weapons of mass destruction were found and now calls are being made to try Blair and Bush in The Hague.Recommend

  • Shadytr33

    @Loneliberal PK:
    When someone follows a religion. That religion has set some rules and regulations. You are told to follow them but you are not forced. Obviously following the rules will lead to some better conclusion while not following it will not. The choice is the persons. All Muslims are told to not steal and not to lie and stay away from wine and pork. But many of them continue to do so. That’s their choice and the consequences that follow are their only.
    Even so many muslims choose to be atheists or convert to another ideology. That’s their own choice. Also you are saying that all the Muslim ladies in Pakistan are forced to wear hijab. That is not the scene my friend. Majority of women here wear shalwar kameez and tend to cover their head when appropriate with a dupatta.
    Also your assumption is the same as “you can steal if you want to, thats your choice, but if you get caught, then you’ll end up in prison. The choice is yours.” Again there is a law by the state that when you steal, you get punished. *By the way, this analogy is not meant to compare wearing a hijab with stealing. Its comparing the element of choice.*Recommend

  • Rabia

    @lone liberal

    If thats the case, then in the western countries, Covered women are considered STUPID while uncovered woman is considered SMART. Isnt it the same thinking as the virtuous and evil woman debate?Recommend

  • Hareem

    Finally! I was wondering if we were only going to have hijab-bashing blogs on ET now. Thanks for a very apt write-up Saba! Recommend

  • abhi

    Many are arguing that some women wear burqa on their own free will and it may be true.

    However I have seen many women wearing burqa when they comeout of house and they remove it once they are far from the locality where they live. If they were wearing out of their will they wouldn’t do that.

    Burqa ban may not be right as it is against freedom of choice but there should be some discouragement to this tradition as in most of the cases it is imposed on the person and it is manifestation of a culture where women are not suppose to be independent and always dependent on men.Recommend

  • saad

    Why is it so difficult to understand for so many people that the liberal and secular agenda is meant to benefit every single person. This type of political and social ideology is specifically meant to allow the citizens a higher form of freedom. For hijabis, this translates to their unsolicited ability to wear a hijab freely and openly without being harrassed. For their more westernized counterpart, it allows these women to wear a mini skirt or whatever they wish. The general theme here is that women have more freedom of choice. Recommend

  • Intelektual

    @Hala:
    Kindly meet LoneLiberalPK who suggests Hijab is similar a choice as to not reporting domestic abuse or rape. These are the kind of Feminists that the author was talking about also feel free to observe Monsieur whos gonna die if he saw a cute 3 year old in Hijab !
    Point is People who believe Liberty means liberty from clothes only and if you are covered its an oppression by Clothes !! and since its an oppression you cud not have done it urslf or are too naive to know that you are being Oppressed By Klothes so they must come forward by voicing their concerns ! Recommend

  • Lala Gee

    @gp65:

    “Other than the beach, I have never seen half covered bodies – unless you describe anyone in skirts or shorts as half naked.”

    Perhaps you didn’t attend a college or university in Western Europe or North America and kept yourself confined to the Indian community there. I have spent several years there and also lived on campus in ‘The Residence’ for a few years. Believe me I have seen the liberal culture from inside out.Recommend

  • Intelektual

    @Loneliberal PK:
    You are missing the point of the author Den, as the feminist opposing Hijab , she reffered to, exist in the Developed World Like France, UK, US and similar factions of our own society not the patriarchial Societies ! She has objected Iran & Saudia for enforcing Hijab and the consequences women have to face for non compliance, and the Objection is equally valid !
    Extremisim in any case is objectionable and wrong ! be it in Iran or be it in France…
    And logic demands for us to call a spade when we see one, “a spade” its utterly childish to assume objecting one form of oppression means One is supporting the opposite form of the same thing cuz that’s still an Oppression !
    Stereotyping Hijab wearing women as oppressed or naive is equally as wrong as classifying the non Hijabis as morally loose.
    Liberty dictatess da freedom to make their choices within the generally accepted confines of morality and Feminisim demands that the standard of such morality be atlest the same for both sexes if not favouring women. Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Nousheen: “Sir considering the current demographics of Pakistan let me assure you that in alot of places its not non hijabis who are facing the oppression rather it is the hijabis who are oppressed”

    You have been gravely misinformed.

    What you’re referring to is a mere 0.5% of the urban elite. Roughly two-thirds of Pakistani population is rural, and most women in villages are privileged if they may even leave their homes unaccompanied, let along go out without pardah.

    In cities, it is highly unorthodox for hijabis to be stigmatized. Usually, such negative reaction is reserved for those girls who choose not to wear hijabs. And God save you from all the glares and even harassment if you ever decide to wear jeans.

    Your personal experience is not an accurate representation of the general state of affairs in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Lala Gee

    @elementary:

    “Your statement contains the contradiction and depicts the mindset.
    Why should women dress the way YOU or, for that matter anyone ,expect them to?
    Let women be the masters of their own life and body.Wll that make the heaven fall?”

    I admit that I have moderately conservative mindset and I am not ashamed of this fact. At the same time I am moderately liberal as well. While I do not object what others wear, I like my kids to dress up modestly. If someone thinks that it is oppression then I don’t care, this is what I am. You do what ever you like to do, and I have no objections.Recommend

  • Vikram

    @Rex Minor:
    In the western world today the hijab and Niqab have almost been eliminated

    Lot of WHITE middle aged women converts to Islam in Western countries are trying to save themselves by wearing from burqa.Recommend