I guess you guys have already seen this article, but here it is
again...men do actually have hijab. Women cover their attractive parts, men
cover theirs. While many women cover for their own fulfillment, the veil
and hijaab are sometimes imposed or regarded as a symbol of male dominance
-- that's where the problem is. There are many nuances to the hijaab -- the
intention behind it may have been good and still is if remembered ( as in
Naheed Mustafa's case) but it is also "exploited" to silence women --
which is unislamic. Ayesha, the Prophet's favourite person and wife, led a
war; yet, today several Muslim women are secluded from public lie and
symbolised stereotypically by the veil, not their intellect.
My BODY is MY Own Business
By Naheed Mustafa
MULTICULTURAL VOICES: A Canadian-born Muslim woman has taken to
wearing the traditional hijab scarf. It tends to make people see her as either a
terrorist or a symbol of oppressed womanhood, but she finds the experience
The Globe and Mail Tuesday, June 29, 1993 Facts and Arguments Page (A26)
HEADLINE: MY BODY IS MY OWN BUSINESS By Naheed Mustafa
I OFTEN wonder whether people see me as a radical, fundamentalist
Muslim terrorist packing an AK-47 assault rifle inside my jean jacket.
Or may be they see me as the poster girl for oppressed womanhood everywhere.
I'm not sure which it is.
I get the whole gamut of strange looks, stares, and covert glances.
You see, I wear the hijab, a scarf that covers my head, neck, and throat. I do this
because I am a Muslim woman who believes her body is her own private concern.
Young Muslim women are reclaiming the hijab, reinterpreting it in light
of its original
purpose to give back to women ultimate control of their own bodies.
The Qur'an teaches us that men and women are equal, that individuals
should not be judged according to gender, beauty, wealth, or privilege. The only thing
that makes one person better than another is her or his character.
Nonetheless, people have a difficult time relating to me. After all,
I'm young, Canadian born and raised, university educated why would I do this to myself,
Strangers speak to me in loud, slow English and often appear to be
playing charades. They politely inquire how I like living in Canada and whether or not the
cold bothers me. If I'm in the right mood, it can be very amusing.
But, why would I, a woman with all the advantages of a North American
suddenly, at 21, want to cover myself so that with the hijab and the other
clothes I choose to wear, only my face and hands show?
Because it gives me freedom.
WOMEN are taught from early childhood that their worth is
proportional to their attractiveness. We feel compelled to pursue abstract notions of
beauty, half realizing that such a pursuit is futile.
When women reject this form of oppression, they face ridicule and
contempt. Whether it's women who refuse to wear makeup or to shave their legs,
or to expose their bodies, society, both men and women, have trouble dealing with them.
In the Western world, the hijab has come to symbolize either forced
silence or radical, unconscionable militancy. Actually, it's neither. It is simply a
woman's assertion that judgment of her physical person is to play no role whatsoever in social
Wearing the hijab has given me freedom from constant attention to my
physical self. Because my appearance is not subjected to public scrutiny, my beauty, or
perhaps lack of it, has been removed from the realm of what can legitimately be discussed.
No one knows whether my hair looks as if I just stepped out of a
salon, whether or not I can pinch an inch, or even if I have unsightly stretch marks.
And because no one knows, no one cares.
Feeling that one has to meet the impossible male standards of beauty
is tiring and often humiliating. I should know, I spent my entire teenage years trying
to do it. I was a borderline bulimic and spent a lot of money I didn't have on potions and
lotions in hopes of becoming the next Cindy Crawford.
The definition of beauty is ever-changing; waifish is good, waifish
is bad, athletic is good -- sorry, athletic is bad. Narrow hips? Great.
Narrow hips? Too bad.
Women are not going to achieve equality with the right to bear their
breasts in public, as some people would like to have you believe. That would
only make us party to our own objectification. True equality will be had only
when women don't need to display themselves to get attention and won't need
to defend their decision to keep their bodies to themselves.
Naheed Mustafa graduated from the University of Toronto last year
with an honours degree in political and history. She is currently studying journalism.