By Farzana Hassan
January 31, 2019
It is time again for us to politely ignore
World Hijab Day. This day allotted to the Hijab – a regressive, patriarchal and
cumbersome garment – has been observed every February 1 since 2013. The farce
has spread to many nations now. The objective is to normalize the Hijab amongst
Muslims and to exhort non-Muslims to accept this as an undeniable symbol of
Let it be known once and for all that the
Hijab is most certainly not a symbol of Islam.
One reason is purely theological: the Hijab
is not decreed by Islam. There is no explicit injunction in the Qur’an stating
women must cover their hair. The holy book is clear on other injunctions but on
this issue it is gleefully ambiguous.
The terminology could have been precise.
God did not have to mince words when decreeing acceptable garb for Muslim
women, but no verse states plainly, “Muslim women – cover your hair.” What we
have is commentary and interpretation on verses of a general nature that
recommend modesty, for men as much as for women.
Another reason is cultural. Only 30% of
Muslim women worldwide observe the Hijab. Are the dominant 70% not good
Muslims? Would fundamentalists simply deny their “Muslimness” because they have
chosen not to cover their hair? What gives them the right to pass such a
Many of those who cover their hair do so
because local laws prescribe it, for example in Iran. Few speak of their
Islam should be proud that it has adherents
of many different stripes. No one should have the power to question how the
faithful choose to express their religiosity.
The press release for Hijab Day 2019
brazenly calls on women of all faiths to wear the garment to show solidarity
with “Muslim Women.” This means solidarity with a minority who cover their
hair, some by choice but many by force. What about the dissident majority? Who
will show solidarity with us among Islamists?
The Hijab, then, is a symbol not of Islam
but of its more belligerent cousin, Islamism, which in all its dimensions is an
aggressive political movement that seeks to expand Islam’s visibility by
promoting what it considers its symbols.
Muslim women who adhere to the Islamist
view claim piety but wear the Hijab as a political statement rather than a
religious requirement. They and their supporters, including naive liberal
apologists outside the faith, insist that the Hijab is a religious obligation,
but it most certainly is not. Moderate Muslim women have ditched this ancient
and inauthentic garb in favour of practical modern clothing. Their religion
resides in their hearts, not on their skin.
Thankfully, there are challenges to
Islamism and in particular to the Hijab. Iranian reform groups have asked women
of other faiths not to support this. One tactic is the awkward but noble
hashtag #WorldHijabDay does not reflect struggles women have with patriarchal
interpretations of Hijab.
No one should be forced to wear the Hijab,
and no one should be encouraged to wear it to show solidarity with a political
movement that strives to subjugate women.
If any solidarity needs to be shown, it is
to Muslim women who continue to live under repressive Sharia laws that force
them into veiling and segregation.