Coming across the new BBC Trending for the day, I found the trend most intriguing. http:// http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-27373368 The title of “Women taking off their hijab in Iran” just did not sound right. Though the efforts of a somewhat Islamic state bans women from walking in the streets uncovered, Iranian women have only grown ever more defiant of what they see as an oppressive rule. As outspoken as social media calls can get; the hashtag #MyStealthyFreedom spread quite quickly despite the controversial billboard campaigns otherwise encouraging hijab across Tehran. Yet a question comes to mind, who are we defying? And what is freedom in Islam?
Never seeking to target these individual acts with any sort of hate messages; it only seems fair to wonder under that hijabi head of mine. A Muslimah is ordered, not by state, nor by male guardian, but by Allah SWT to cover-up; where many benefits would be sought as piety and modesty as well as striking a divine order to balance the role of both men lowering their gaze and women wearing hijab. The Ayah in Surat al-Noor as translated by Pickthal; “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands’ fathers, or their sons or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigour, or children who know naught of women’s nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed.”
However, the debate of obeying the command is a century old, as multiculturalism somehow introduced an alternative to the veil; be it a full-face cover or a head cover. Associations with feminism were bound to “liberate” women from these oppressive coverings. Or did they? For as long as perhaps thirteen centuries, the dress code of a free Muslimah was respected, adorned and woven into culture. This does not mean that history might not hold stories of an opposite; yet it was an entire clash of civilizations that brought more commands of Islam to a debatable table. As an era of Golden Islamic Empire lost its glimmer and glow; a Westernized version of civilization seemed to grow as reference.
From a marketing perspective, it is quite evident how fashion covers less and less. Though a market gap proved profitable for designers to “halalify” attire and brands to be more “Hijab-friendly”, an ever growing trend of secular state calls slip the scarf off. Personally, I have seen my country through waves of tide, back and forth to the conservative commands of Islam. While I might recall my hijab as an awakening, others viewed it as a “fad”. Many a time when campaigns for hijab only backfired, as they prove too insensitive, controversial or just short-sighted. As a hijabi myself, I remember first seeing the poster above. Though the marketing message attempts to build on the strong reasoning as to “control” any forms of sexual harassment; the offensive representation of both sexes was the only thing that came across. And in a country where sexual harassment targets victims both hijabi and niqabi, this picture was worth a thousand words of imbalance. Yet if we are less obsessed with the “why” we obey and focus on “who” we obey, we would better fight our inner demons.
A true believer gives in to the undeniable faith that Allah SWT is most gracious most merciful, his orders us for what’s best for this life and the hereafter. This very belief stands against “freedom”. And where a dress code may not be enforced by a law of court, you are truly choosing to obey a law of Allah. In conclusion, I declare I am not oppressed, and only pray to be a more modest hijabi for the sake of my Creator.