The Contemporary Muslim Women Veiling and Fashion

Document Type:Essay

Subject Area:History

Document 1

In Islam, women are supposed to cover themselves well especially in public places in the presence of the opposite sex. The Islamic, its traditional purpose is to generate a modesty attitude as well as obtain little or no attraction. However, modern Muslim women seem to break that rule by putting on the hijabs in order to look attractive and stylish in the eyes of other women and men. In today’s Muslim society, women are seen blending the traditional purpose of hijab with modern inspiration to abide by the Islamic rules. Muslim women are expected by their rules to observe veiling which means they should cover their whole body except for the eyes and arms only. This does not seem to be the order of many Muslim women in today’s society as they seem to mix the ethnic clothing with the Western ones. There are numerous views surrounding these choices Muslim women have made in addressing the issue of veiling and fashion2. This paper will look at the origin and history of the veiling, Quranic teachings on the same and the different views from different people regarding the topic. The Origin and History of Veiling Veiling entails covering most of attractive parts of the body in order to observe modesty3. In the Islamic world, there are numerous names given to the piece of clothes covering certain parts of the body. For example, the hijab is the head scarf that mostly covers the neck and head. Niqab covers mostly the hair, neck and face whereas chador covers mostly the head and the entire body leaving the face open.

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Burqa is a type of veil that covers the entire body even the eyes but one could see through a net screen placed over the eyes. In the modern Islamic world, Abaya is widely known as covering the whole body. Most of these veils are supposed to be of black color as other colors are said to attract attention, and among the reason for putting on such is to avoid the attraction from the opposite gender. Before the advent of Islam, there were numerous other cultures that did put on the veils and scarves4. This is to mean that the veil was not make known to people by Islam. Up to date, the many religions such as Catholicism, Judaism and Orthodox still pay much attention to the head coverings. It is not Islam only that takes into consideration of the veiling.

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Islam began in the Arabian Peninsula, currently known as Saudi Arabia, in the seventeenth century and spread to numerous parts of the world and became among the major religions in the world. Muslims have now incorporated it as cultural practice instead of only as an Islamic practice. As time went by, the cards changed. The most privileged women in the society started to reject the veil while the poor women started to adopt it at a higher rate and used it as way to climb the ladder. A good example of those upper-class women who rejected the veil is Huda Sharawi, An Egyptian feminist. In the medieval Europe, women dressed like those in the Muslim world as it was expected especially for married women to cover their hair with numerous types of headscarves.

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Over the past century, Indonesia has recorded an increase in veiling, a change that has occurred in less than fifty years. There are many critics who claim that Muslim women wear the veil due to the pressure placed on them to do so and not by choice. This may seem true but when looking at it at another angle it contrasts to the many Muslim women explanation of their veiling. Most Muslim women put it on as a symbol of piety and devotion and not oppression as claimed by many. It is a choice to put on the veil as it is a question of self-expression and religious identity. They will thus be recognized and no harm will come to them. God is all forgiving and most merciful. ” This verse explains the enforcement of the veil on Muslim women and girls in order to avoid assaults and uphold modesty in the society.

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In another verse, Surah 33:53 it states that “If you have to ask his wives (the prophet’s wives) for something, ask them from behind a barrier (Hijab). This is purer for your hearts and their hearts. However, all that can be prevented by making the women in the Islamic society to abide to the veiling mode of dressing as nothing can be seen attractive on them unless to the responsible people such as the husband, father, uncle, brother and so on. Early Islamic tradition is also seen to be the source for the veil custom in the Muslim world. The Hadiths are believed to have borrowed from the Quranic verses and passed from people who observed what the Prophet Muhammad of the Muslims was doing, saying or recommended others to do.

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One tradition had it that: “The advantage in observing Hijab is that these women are recognized as pious and respectable. Thus, the evil doers would not be after them and the women would not have to face unpleasantness. A Muslim woman has the authority to choose better garment and cover their cleavage, This and many more verses in the Quran such as (Quran 7:46, 33:53, 42:51, 19:16-17, 41:5) and so on deal with the issue of veiling of Muslim women in the world even though they use different wording and terms. When looking at the Quranic teachings of Veil especially the Hijab, men are first addressed on the matter and not women. Men are given the duty of observing hijab (of the eyes) and are obliged to observe modesty as well13. Women are addressed later on the importance of the veiling (clothing decently).

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Even though the Quran does not tell people how to do it, the Hadith supplements it. Others, who are strongly attached to the Islamic teachings, have it that it symbolizes respect for their God, identity and modesty. Each side has its own reasons for saying so. For instance, those who are against wearing headscarves and veil defend themselves by saying that the modern scarves go against the primary purpose of attracting no or little attention as they do the opposite. First, modern headscarves and the veils are colorful, shiny and of materials that are attractive in nature. Also, modern Muslim women have numerous ways of tying them to appear good-looking in the public where men and women mix. Also, in some few cases, Muslim women choose to put on the veiling to express their cultural identity.

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By doing so, they have hope to say a lot about their social and political association with the country they originate from. This may act as a way of challenging the bias that the Western discourses have toward the countries speaking Arabic. They also put on the veiling to challenge the numerous Western feminist dissertations that stipulate women who wear veil or hijab are silenced or oppressed. Therefore, they try to prove them wrong by wearing the veil by their choice. The Guardian. Last modified November 29, 2017. theguardian. com/commentisfree/2015/mar/20/muslim-woman-veil-hijab. Amer, Sahar. html. Ingber, Hanna. Muslim Women on the Veil. The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. Last modified May 27, 2015. Rashid, Qasim. Muslim Men Need to Understand That the Quran Says They Should Observe Hijab First, Not Women.

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The Independent. Last modified March 29, 2017. independent.

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