Hijab, the Islamic headscarf worn by Muslim women, has been a topic of debate and discussion for decades. The Western media and some non-Muslims often portray the hijab as a symbol of oppression, claiming that Muslim women are forced to wear it against their will. However, as a practicing Muslim woman who dons the hijab, I am compelled to address the persistent and pervasive misconceptions surrounding this religious practice and its perceived impact on women’s rights in Islam.
Primarily, it is imperative to underscore that the hijab transcends the mere physicality of cloth, serving as an emblem of faith and a conduit for surrendering oneself to the will of Allah. The Quran unequivocally instructs women to veil themselves: “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms.” (24:31) By donning the hijab, Muslim women adhere to this directive and express their piety towards Allah.
Moreover, the gender-specific nature of the Hijab has often been a subject of contention. However, Islam acknowledges the indispensable value of modesty for both sexes. In fact, the Quran exhorts men to embrace modesty as well: “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them” (24:30). Hence, like women, men too are expected to be modest in their conduct.
In addition, contrary to the popular notion of hijab as a symbol of subjugation, it, in fact, serves as a tool of empowerment for Muslim women. The hijab serves as a shield against unwanted attention and objectification, affording women the opportunity to be valued for their intellect and personality, rather than their physical attributes. By embracing the hijab, Muslim women assert their autonomy and agency, transcending societal expectations and dictations.
Islam confers an unparalleled degree of respect and dignity upon women, a fact that is manifestly evident from the Quran itself. The Quran emphasizes the equality of men and women, stating: “And whoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female, and is a believer, we will surely cause them to live a good life, and we will surely give them their reward according to the best of what they used to do.” (16:97) Furthermore, the Quran celebrates the role of women as mothers, wives, and caregivers, recognizing their vital contributions to society.
It is incumbent upon us to eschew the myopic and misleading narratives that often engulf the discourse surrounding the hijab and women’s rights in Islam. Instead, let us strive to educate ourselves and others about the true essence of hijab and women’s rights in Islam, anchored in mutual respect and understanding. Only by transcending the limitations of stereotypes and biases can we foster a more inclusive, harmonious, and equitable world.
It is profoundly disheartening to witness how certain non-Muslims have perpetuated the notion of hijab as a tool of oppression, when in actuality, it is an act of faith and devotion to Allah , a choice born of an unwavering commitment to obey Allah’s commandments.
– The author is a New Delhi based Law student. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org