Why the obsession with hijabs and burqas?

No, I am not referring to our silly tabloids but some of our own Imams. Today’s Khutbah was so depressing. The Imam got himself worked up because he said he saw Muslim families out in public and – shock, horror – their grown-up daughters were not covered up. ‘Neither Burqa, niqab or even a hijab’ were his exact words. ‘They are promoting Zina (fornication or adultery),’ he shrieked.

He criticised the fathers of these daughters for not assuming responsibility for their daughters wearing the ‘correct dress’.

What was even more depressing was that the Khutbah was meant to be a continuation of a series on Salah (ritual prayers) which he had been talking about in recent weeks but that genuinely important topic went out the window because of the bare-headed girls.

Isn’t it rather more important for parents to teach their children the virtues of honesty, education and diligent work? Why this obsession with whether a girl covers her head in public or not?

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8 Responses to Why the obsession with hijabs and burqas?

  1. javed says:

    i totaly agree with you on this inayat on the day of judgment i thing the all mighty will be looking at are deeds and character, i dont think he will be throwing people in to the hell fire just because they never covered their heads, ‘ mrs yousaf you’ve lived a honest life you helped the poor and needy and were kind to your parents and fulfilled your dutys as a human being, but unfortunatly one thing you never done and thats cover your head for that reason your going to hell’

  2. 'Uthmān says:

    Although I agree with you on many issues Br. Inayat, in this case I have to disagree. To observe the hijab is a commandment of Allah – not something that can be trivialised. If the Imam sees a problem in the community related to this, then it’s his responsibility to speak up about it. I’ve little doubt that you’re already aware of the following hadeeth but just as a reminder:

    “Whoever amongst you sees anything objectionable, let him change it with his hand, if he is not able, then with his tongue, and if he is not even able to do so, then with his heart, and the latter is the weakest form of faith.” [Reported by Muslim]

    It’s important for parents to teach their children to obey Allah in all relevant aspects, and the hijab is one such aspect.

    • Sara says:

      Uthman – are you telling me that you agree with the Imam – that by not wearing a headscarf a woman is committing zina? That is so irrational – and if one thing Islam is, it is rational. Not only is it irrational it is a complete and utter lie to attribute this statement with Islam. There are many different scholarly views on whether the headscarf is a commandment – some clearly say it isn’t. You might not agree with that view but please respect that it is an opinion that exists and those women that follow it (that view) they should be respected.

      You also say:” If the Imam sees a problem in the community related to this, then it’s his responsibility to speak up about it.” – Don’t you feel there are far more pressing issues facing the Muslim community? The fact that 12% of the prison population are Muslim, the fact that many Muslim women are denied access to employment or education, some facing forced marriages and domestic violence? The fact that we have a minority amongst us who believe that Islam encourages the killing of non-Muslims and so clearly demonstrated in the London bombings?

      Javed – couldn’t agree with you more – well said.

      • 'Uthmān says:

        As-salaamu ‘alaykum sister,

        Just to be precise, the Imam apparently said ‘promoting’ zina as opposed to actually ‘committing’ it. Having said that, it’s true that I’ve never heard of any scholar, classical or contemporary, who has directly connected not wearing the Hijab to promoting zina.

        I’m not aware, however, of any mainstream scholarly opinion which says that the Hijab (at the very least) is not a commandment. As far as I knew, all mainstream scholars advocate that, at the very least, the Hijab is obligatory (and there is a difference of opinion about covering the face) but I’m open to the possibility of this not being the case if you can provide some evidence for it.

        With regards to the other issues facing the community, I agree that these are pressing issues and I agree that Imams should raise these issues in Khutbahs as well. What I don’t agree with is the trivialisation of one issue just because something else is apparently ‘more important’.

  3. Julie says:

    Well said Inayat!
    But why am I not surprised by the Imam. No doubt, the ‘leaders’ in our community just don’t have a handle on things and no wonder things on the ground seem to be going from bad to worse. As has been said, the real issues are quite simply not being tackled. Recently I was at a seminar and one brother ran a session giving some really eye opening facts and stats about the Muslim communities, the ups and downs, the good the bad and the ugly. Most of it people were hearing for the first time regarding prison stats, education (low) achievement etc. In the Q & A there were 8 questions – 7 out of 8 were on what?? Yep, hijab et al. It’s almost as if we’ve become so obsessed by it that it has become the sticking plaster to cover up the real issues, some of the rot that we have at our core that we are not willing to deal with. I know a 17 yr old girl who, 3 weeks ago was literally beaten up in her bedroom by her father for refusing to marry the cousin in Pakistan. She wore the scarf before, she has just taken it off. She is going through a crisis. Her father deserves to be in prison for that. These things require leadership and courage for people to speak out against and get a grip on them. All the time we just get out the elastoplast, the issues are getting worse and worse. God help us all…..

  4. kalsoom says:

    surely the best hijab for a woman is education- she can then make up her own mind and make an informed decision…which is not based on worrying about men not being able to control their sexual urges when confronted with her long tresses…

  5. Yusuf says:

    Let’s not conflate issues. It is one thing to say imam’s should be addressing a whole host of issues whether that be about personal spiritual matters as well problems within the Muslim community and challenging cultural baggage, but it is an entirely different matter to suggest that it is not obligatory for a woman to cover, it is a recent trend that some argue this is a matter covered by difference of opinion. The talk of rational as an arbiter for measuring the validity of actions is not correct, many of the rulings in Islam are not rational if rational means in agreement with one’s mind which is naturally influenced by societal norms, why do we pray five times a day, surely this is irrational as it interrupts (quite severely in winter) the working day, why not pray twice a day, that is far more rational.

    Julie,

    I don’t see what the relevance of your anecdote is to this conversation. The father is in the wrong (Islamically) in beating up his daughter and trying to force her to marry someone against her will. There are a huge mountain of problems in the Muslim community and they need to be addressed, but this should not be seen as a zero-sum game. We need to encourage our imams to address issues, challenge cultural baggage and be more aware of the problems we are facing, but not at the expense of defending Islamic positions such as covering.

  6. Ahmed says:

    Dears,
    these days you dont have to wear a Hijab to be barred from sin, most girls who wear the hijab and buqu’ in the Middle East take it in the behind, and everyone knows that …
    it has become more of a radical way to protect their dying culture, thinking that they will protect their honor with a scarf but dont see other points, like girls wearing hijab start wearing tighter clothes … they look like a human sized Q-tib to be honest …
    On the otherhand, the Arab (and Middle Eastern) culture has the problem where they think that their “Honor” is between the legs of the female. That is one of the major issues they have to face, the emphasise on the Vagina more than they emphasise on “loyalty to the homeland” or “Public knowledge” …

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