I am MUSLIMAH... pt.II

This is the second part of the I am Muslimah series. click here to read the first part. 


HIJAB

types of hijabs
The different faces of Muslim women
Hijab, a headscarf or veil, has become the identifier of Muslim women. However, its actual definition is very broad, which is why there are opposing views on what Hijab actually is and its physical manifestation. The consensus is that a Hijab (veil) is part of an Islamic woman's dress code- covering all, but the face, hands, and feet, in loose garments. Nevertheless, neither in the Qur'an nor Hadith is there a full description of what it looks like or who should wear it and how.

The Hijab in all cases has been mentioned as an anecdote to issues faced by women( and men) at a particular period. What usually isn't mention is that Hijab isn't just for women but also for men.
But here is my very singular experience with it. I understand Hijab to be as much a state of mind as it is a physical veil, which means covering myself the way mentioned above but at the same time practicing modesty through speech, action, and thought. I started wearing my Hijab when I was 13. It came to me pretty naturally, because I wore one every time I prayed and grew up seeing every Muslim woman around me wear one. It was a form of right of passage for me, it signified I was one of the women and with that, it gave me an aura of maturity and prestige; all as a result of my closeness to Allah. It made me conscious of who I am, my role and gave me an image of how I was to carry myself.


Covering myself with a Hijab uplifted me, unfortunately, it isn't that simple.
The covering of a woman in Islam has been seen as a form of oppression by most non-Muslims and a large growing portion of Muslims too. The supporters of wearing a Hijab, see it as a means of modesty; because a veiled woman is seen as untouchable therefore out of the league of most men. The other side of the veil is explained by Samina Ali, who sees Hijab as a modest protective layer which elevates women by guarding women against predators.

With only 3 verses in the Qur'an directed explicitly at women's dressing or Hijab, Hijab like many things in Islam can only be judged 100% by Allah and we (Muslims) can only strive to do our best to please Him. Because to Allah, what matters most is our intention. 


LACK OF EDUCATION

The very first commandment given to the Prophet (ﷺ) was "Iqra" which means 'read,' ‘learn,' ‘explore’ and ‘seek enlightenment.' The verse did not say Ya Mohammad read, or men read or the rich read or read only about Islam instead it was a blanket command for everyone to read and educate themselves. Therefore, to seek knowledge is a sacred duty and an obligation on every Muslim, male and FEMALE, no matter the external factors. 

The first commandment that was given to Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ)
There are numerous verses in the Qur'an which repeatedly emphasizes the importance of education.  Verse 20:114 says, “My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” The verse can be read as a prayer, from us (believers) to attain more knowledge and wisdom as well as a reminder that whatever we know is limited and so we need to tirelessly keep asking Allah to increase our knowledge as well as pursue it ourselves. Therefore, a Muslim should constantly be seeking to enlighten him/herself. The Qur’an treats knowledge (ilm) as a means to gaining Iman (faith) for all Muslims, males and females, to becoming true believers.


The issue with preventing women from being educated or enlightened has been a long standing tradition in many parts of the world, including those that practice Islam. Which is another example where culture and tradition have been confused for Islam. And to prevent a woman from pursuing knowledge should be considered as a grave crime. Imam (Islamic scholar) Hakim Naisapuri states: “One fourth of our religion depends on the narrations of women. Were it not for those narrations, we would lose a quarter of our religion". Historically, Muslim women like A’isha b. Abī Bakr (the prophet's second and youngest wife), Al-Malika al-Ḥurra Arwa Al-Sulayhi (Yemen), Fatima Al-Fihri (Morocco), Nana Asma'u (Nigeria) etc. have been revered for their knowledge and wisdom. Countless such women have existed in Islam and have been credited for playing major roles in the beginning of Islam.

Click here for the third episode of the series. Don't forget to Comment, Ask Questions and Share.