Friday, January 29, 2021

Are Muslim Women required to wear the hijab or is it a choice?



This question is asked for sever reasons, amongst them are the differing claims of Muslim women that is a choice, and a requirement. If it is required why would some make the claim. This must be examined.

Womens’ magazine Cosmopolitan decided it was important to ask this question on July 4, 2016:

While Islam as a religion often comes under heavy scrutiny for its oppression of women, given many wear a hijab around their face or a burqa to cover their full body, isn't it worth hearing how the women themselves feel?

We think so, which is why this Reddit thread, which invites women who do wear a traditional garments to cover themselves up either fully or partially in public, was so interesting to read. How does it feel to wear it? Is it a choice or is there pressure from within their family or their community? Do they feel sidelined in public because of their burqa?[1]

Sadly, this article talks about how a woman feels, addresses the head scarf (hijab) only as a family tradition, but never explores if it is required by Islam. It is as if the brief article asks the question fairly from women who like and hate the hijab. In this it appears unbiased, unless you ask why they addressed the question about pressure from a family versus a religious requirement. The article in truth never addresses who or what places the requirement on the family. Is it not Islam that places this requirement or choice on a family? What does Islam say about the Hijab? Is it a choice?

The Quran states in 33:59 that Muslim men must tell their wives and daughters to cover-up for their own safety. Below is the verse. The reasoning for covering pretty much mean if you do not obey a severe punishment follows.

O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.

This is not clearly stating to cover the hair. But notice the reasoning behind it. If they are not covered, they will be abused. This a reference to sexual abuse. Who would do the abusing? Considering this passage was given inside an Islamic community, it would be Muslim men doing the abuse. This included daughters. So little girls also had to be cautious of men seeking to sexually abuse them AND WERE TOLD TO COVER THEMSELVES TO KEEP FROM BEING MOLESTED.

The Quran also says in 24:31:

And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.

Some say this stomping was to show cleavage that their garments did not cover, but the shawl/ head gear draped over them to provide extra protection. Some say that it is indeed a covering over the hair because ‘adornment’ is a direct reference to the hair. A slight reference is made to women stomping so they could show someone their pretty hair, by causing their cover to slip. This has evolved to a tight wrap of the hair not allowing any of it to appear in public. Does this seem optional? Is there a choice given? Remember the statement the above citation states the purpose is to protect the women and daughters from sexual attacks.

In the Islamic countries like Pakistan the head covering of a hijab can also be a chador. One official in the Haripur district of Pakistan in September of 2019, made it mandatory for all school age girls to wear a head covering and gown to dress "in order to protect them from any unethical incident," and “necessary to protect girl students from a growing number of complaints of eve-teasing and harassment."[2]


Here they are saying that school girls’ (ages 5 to 18) hair is tempting men to sexually molest girls, so it is their fault if this happens, IF THEY ARE NOT COVERED. Of course, if they are, their word only counts as half a man in a court of law so they can never bring charges against their molester.


The question of whether the hijab is mandatory has been a central theme wherever Islam wanders today. On August 7, 2019, Al-Qaeda's Al-Sahab media wing released a video of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri titled "The Battle of the Hijab.” The Middle East Media Research Institute caught this, translated it and released a summary of it to the public within a week. According to this lover of shariah, western countries are doing everything they can to destroy Islamic women’s modesty and morals. This is how Islamic women are warned against Western cultural values. It is deemed as an attack on their modesty.


France has had a law forbidding the displaying of religion for a hundred years. It is called, Laïcité (Lah-Cee-Tay). They have been fighting to keep French culture which a hijrah is working to dismiss. France passed a law in 2010[3] to ban the face veil as part of keeping French culture and Laïcité. Granted this is not about the hijab, but this is a more restrictive requirement placed on Islamic women by stricter observance of Islam seen in many Islamic countries.

This law passed the French Senate with 46 votes and had already passed the upper house of the parliament in July of that year. Justice Minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie stated, “the full veil dissolves a person's identity in that of a community. It calls into question the French model of integration, founded on the acceptance of our society's values. Living with one's face uncovered was a question of dignity and equality."[4]


In the USA the Democratic Party took it upon themselves to lift a 181 year old law forbidding hats in the House of Representatives so that Ilhan Omar would not have to remove her hijab in order to serve in her role as a representative of Minnesota. While a hijab is not a hat it is a head covering. She is one of two Muslim women elected. Rep. Rashida Tlaib does not wear a hijab, so they simply could have enforced the rule showing that not all Muslims follow this rule. Rep. Ilhan Omar has made bold statements about her hijab and her reasons for wearing it. In March 0f 2019, she told Vogue magazine, that

 

wearing her hijab allows her to be a ‘walking billboard’ not only for her faith but also for representing something different from the norm. ‘To me, the hijab means power, liberation, beauty, and resistance.’[5]

 

This is the same rule that several Democrats violated, by wearing hoodies on March 28th, 2012, when trying to show they were standing with Trayvon Martin who was killed in Florida.


In 2007, Quebec Canada’s Bouchard-Taylor Com-mission created recommendations, which became policies for the province. Amongst them was:

 

Judges, Crown prosecutors, police officers, prison guards and the president and vice-president of the National Assembly be prohibited from wearing religious signs.[6]


This recommendation was for government employees alone. It in effect banned the Christians from wearing of a cross, the Sikhs from wearing a turban, Jew from wearing yarmulkes, or Muslim women from wearing a hijab to work in a government post. There is no religious prejudice involved as it does not address any one religion.

Tarek Fatah, a Canadian Muslim “reformist” sees the hijab a little differently than many do today. He wrote of it:

The fact is that while the Sikh turban, Jewish yarmulkes and the Catholic crucifix are definitely religious symbols, the hijab is not. Rather it is a political symbol that until the late 1970s was unheard of in Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Turkey, Somalia and Nigeria. It was the uniform of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab world.[7]


Fatah also made mention of Ferid Chikhi who lives in Qubec and agrees with him that the hijab is a political symbol more than a religious one. Chiki stated,

… the hijab, conceals in itself the idea, the representation or the thought of a first generic sense which is ignored by all and which conveys a double meaning: translated in French or in other languages, this word wants say curtain, separation, hanging ... or even storefront and not dress or scarf that covers the head of women. He simply referred to a separation of the space into two, the foreign men to the Prophet's house and that of his women.

 

Then, history reminds us, after the death of the Prophet, the male power extended the territory hijab imposing it as a separation between the spaces of all men and all women. Finally, at those generally Islamic and not Muslims, citing verses al-Ahzâb (33 e sura), the khimar is a shawl and djilbab or thaûb are shawls, worn by the women of the time in these same Arab Gulf coun-tries. They did not have the function of covering as they would like to make us believe the head, but the shoulders and the chest.[8]

This is the reason why some ambiguity exists as to whether a hijab is required or not. The Quran refers to covering. It refers to shawls and more. But the specific item of a hijab is not mentioned. It is why Iran has a chador and not a hijab.

Whether required a woman is often left without a choice to wear the hijab. Youness Moussaid, left little doubt of this December 6, 2019 in Bismark,[9] North Dakota, when school officials reported the abuse he had done to his step-daughter. His step-daughter was refusing to wear the hijab and dresses when at school. She snuck in a change of clothing.

Moussaid in response struck the teenage girl with a broom stick, causing bruising on the top of her right hand and on the front of her thighs. He grabbed her hair and struck her head against the wall, causing a quarter-sized bump.

Moussaid admitted to this crime. Perhaps he did not see it as a crime, or did not understand females are considered equals under the law.

The girl now has an order of protection from her step-father. He faces 5 years if convicted. Moussaid felt justified by the Islamic social norm he believed exists to demand his daughter wear a hijab.



 



[1] Harvey-Jenner, Catronia. 2016. "Muslim women explain how they feel about wearing a hijab: Mainly it's their choice." Cosmopolitan. July 4. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/reports/news/a44416/muslim-women-explain-how-feel-wearing-burqa-hijab/.

[2]  Sirajuddin. 2019. "KP govt makes it mandatory for schoolgirls across the province to 'cover up'." Dawn. September 16. Accessed September 30, 2019. https://www.dawn.com/news/1505542.

[3] Davies, Lizzy. 2010. "France: Senate votes for Muslim face veil ban." The Guardian. September 14. Accessed October 1, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/sep/14/france-senate-muslim-veil-ban.

[4] Ibid

[5] (GOUVEIA 2019)

[6] (Global News 2013)

[7] Fatah, Tarek. 2019. "FATAH: Why some Canadian Muslims celebrated the Quebec hijab ban." Toronto Sun. June 18. Accessed October 2, 2019. https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/fatah-why-some-canadian-muslims-celebrated-the-quebec-hijab-ban.

[8] Cikhi, Ferid. 2019. "State secularism: veil or hijab, the real meanings and their scope." Huffington Post. March 28. Accessed October 2, 2019. https://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/ferid-chikhi/laicite-etat-voile-hijab-veritables-significations-portees-quebec_a_23702059.

[9] Svihovec, Travis. 2019. "Man accused of abusing stepdaughter with broomstick over religious beliefs." The Bismark Tribune. December 6. Accessed March 30, 2020. https://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/bismarck/man-accused-of-abusing-stepdaughter-with-broomstick-over-religious-beliefs/article_4d95d50a-95c1-555f-a2bb-cca8e84dd7d1.html


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

What do Islamic social norms say about the Treatment of Dogs?

 


      In Western civilization, dogs are often called “man’s best friend.” Thousands and thousands of people own and love their dogs. Some treat them like their children. Dogs are also used in Western Civilization in various jobs. Some hold traditional roles such shepherding, while others work as sighted guides, and others are valued for their noses and serve in multiple roles from law enforcement to the military.

      The United States government uses dogs in the military to sniff out bombs. This enables a quicker rate of response of Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) teams to ensure the safety of those who would be effected. For the handlers of these dogs, a special bond forms that allows them to be highly effective. One of the EOD dogs who received a K-9 Medal of Courage was Coffee. Coffee served three tours of duty. His handler, Army Sgt. 1st Class James Bennett, shared their story.

“Coffee’s purpose originally was IED defeat … so her job was to clear routes, buildings, paths, looking for explosives, anything that might injure troops. And beyond that, to find caches where they would hide stockpiles of them,” said Bennett…

“Overall, her job was literally to lead units, be in front of units and get them from point A to point B safely, so they could effectively do their mission,” Bennett said.

“We got every troop home safe, back to base on mission safe, every time we went out. She’s never let me down. Not once.”[1]

      The effectiveness of these dogs was the number one reason it was felt a sign of good friendship to give EOD trained dogs to Islamic countries to aid them in fighting terrorism. This was a great idea, at least it seemed so at first. Then the Islamic social norm about the treatment of dogs prevailed upon our four footed friends and major news outlets carried the sad stories of neglect in December of 2019.[2]

      Kate Ng wrote about this for the Independent. She writes that, “The US has stopped exporting bomb-sniffing dogs to Egypt and Jordan after a number of animals died from mistreatment and neglect, US authorities said.”[3]

      Why were dogs trained to sniff out explosives being neglected in Muslim countries? The only commonality in these countries is their belief in Islam. What would Islam have to do with poor treatment of dogs?

      Muhammad apparently did not like dogs. We know this from a hadith in Bukhari:


“Once Gabriel promised the Prophet (that he would visit him, but Gabriel did not come) and later on he said, ‘We, angels, do not enter a house which contains a picture or a dog.’” (Sahih Bukhari 4.54.50)

     As research on this topic progressed a question was formed. If Muhammad did not like dogs, would he treat them badly? Would he cause them to be harmed? In the hadiths, Muhammad does exactly this. He orders the killing of dogs with no explanation.

Abdullah (b. Umar) reported: Allah’s ordered the killing of dogs and we would send (men) in Medina and its corners and we did not spare any dog that we did not kill, so much so that we killed the dog that accompanied the wet she-camel belonging to the people of the desert.” — Sahih Muslim 3811

     This upset many. Especially those who owned working dogs such as hunting dogs, herding dogs guard dogs and more. They posed the question about allowing working dogs to live.

“Ibn Mughaffal reported: The Messenger of Allah ordered killing of the dogs, and then said: What about them, i. e. about other dogs? and then granted concession (to keep) the dog for hunting and the dog for (the security) of the herd, and said: When the dog licks the utensil, wash it seven times, and rub it with earth the eighth time.” — Sahih Muslim 551

So only those dogs who work were allowed to live? Does this mean in Islam, that only working dogs are allowed to live? Would Muhammad have all dogs who live as pets killed?  

But the real problem today is how are dogs treated by those who feel a need to imitate their prophet Muhammad. Would they want to be near a dog whose very presence negates their prayers? A Muslim who would be responsible for an EOD dog, would not be able to pray even on break. Simply, because Muhammad claimed their presence negates prayers. 

      This explains the actions of Muhamad’s followers around the globe who work in transportation.

      In the UK a Muslim Uber driver refused to allow a sighted guide dog into his vehicle. The law requires him to allow this since the dog is assisting a visually impaired person. Colin Perreira, 24, from Hemel Hempstead said this is his fifth time taking an Uber driver to court for refusing to allow him AND his dog a ride.[4] The commonality of course is left unsaid to protect Muslims.

      In Austria, the same issue arises among Muslim cabbies. In August of 2019, Gabriele Jandrasits from Innsbruck attempted to pre-order a taxi to the airport bringing her beagle in an “airplane friendly transport cage.”[5] This proved to be problematic because drivers for the company she called refused to transport a dog even though the animal was in a cage. In this article by Michael Domanig, others had difficulties taking dogs in taxis.

Ms. Jandrasits, who works for the Tyrolean Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, gives yet another example: A former board member of the association - the lady is completely blind - also ordered a taxi via the radio control center. On the assumption that her companion dog for the blind had to be taken with her anyway, she didn't mention the dog on the phone. The taxi driver then refused to take it with him.[6]

      In this article they do reference that “around 80 percent of the drivers now have a migration background - and that Muslims traditionally often view dogs as “impure.”[7]

      This means a social norm does exist that is strong enough to impact the majority of Muslim cabbies in Austria. Is this any different in North America?

      On February 2, 2019 CTV news aired a item on a woman being again refused a ride with Uber due to her sighted guide dog. In the video, Shelby Travers a visually impaired woman complains that this has happened at least a dozen times. The last time the driver drove off with her hand still on the door.[8] “According to a follow up article by CTV, the man was charged with a bylaw offence.  “Travers said she’s experienced similar incidents in Calgary and Toronto and added, “I just want this to stop happening.”[9]

      In the USA this would be deemed a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act also known as ADA. It would also be considered a violation of their civil rights. This incurs severe fines, and should remove drivers from working. However, the same issues are happening in the USA, and no one is talking about why! What is the reason? Why are the news sources hiding the names and the religions of those who won’t allow a rider with a dog in their cars.

In 2007, cabs, Ubers etc., had so many refusals by Muslims to take dogs in their vehicles that the Minneapolis-St Paul airport took action. At this point 75% of the drivers were Muslim and primarily from Somalia. Muslim cabbies were not only reusing to transport dogs, they were refusing to transport alcohol, and claiming it was against their religious belief. Patrick Hogan, the spokesman for the Metropolitan Airport Commission said, "There are times where cab after cab will refuse service, and passengers can be waiting for 20 minutes."116 Mr. Hogan also said that they were seeing about 77 refusals a month! 

This problem caused Chuck Samuelson of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota to speak to this issue. He addressed that this was an issue of people used to living under shariah when he said:  

 

This is a public access issue.  Bottom line is we are a secular society, and that's the way it is.117 

 

The airport already had a penalty in place for refusing access to people with service dogs. They instituted two penalties. A first offense gets a 30 Day suspension and a second offense earns a two year revocation. This only removed their ability to pick up at the airport. Refusing service dogs comes with a more severe penalty including the possibility of being sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.  

Muslims tried to fight taking dogs into their cabs again and took their case to court. In 2008 they lost their appeal. 

Perhaps the worst case of cruelty to a dog by a Muslim that went national occurred on October 1, 2019 an resulted in the man pleading guilty. Kyle Hanney, Lead Animal Control Officer  said that “the man confessed that he had picked the dog up and then slammed it on the ground multiple times which then caused several compound fractures to the right-rear femur of the dog."118  He is charged with animal torturing in the second degree. There is no reason given for the horrendous crime. He did work out a deal that required no jail time. 

Was this last news item due to his Islamic beliefs about dogs? The issue here is that the Muslims in non-Islamic countries wish to impose their hatred or at least refusal to transport or be near our four footed “best friends.”  The USA protects service animals as workers. This may be a reason there is less news on this topic. 

Knowing what you know now, would you invite a Muslim to your house if you have a pet dog? Should you be expected to walk on the other side of the street with your dog when a Muslim passes by to appease a Muslim new to your country?   

 

 

Further Reading

https://www.oversight.gov/sites/default/files/oig-reports/ESP-19-06.pdf



[1] Basch, Michelle. 2017. "5 military dogs honored with K-9 Medal of Courage ." WTOP. October 11. Accessed April 17, 2020. https://wtop.com/animals-pets/2017/10/5-military-dogs-honored-k-9-medal-courage-photos/.

[2] Ng, Kate. 2019. "US suspends export of sniffer dogs to Jordan and Egypt after series of deaths." Inependent. December 24. Accessed April 17, 2020. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-sniffer-dogs-exports-jordan-egypt-deaths-trump-administration-a9259211.html.

[3] ibid

[4] Andrews, Luke. 2020. "Moment Uber driver refuses to give a ride to a blind man's guide dog before driving off - as he is fined £1,700 for breaching the Equality Act." MailOnline. March 2. Accessed April 22, 2020. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8066065/Moment-Uber-driver-refuses-ride-blind-mans-guide-dog-driving-off.html.

[5] Domanig, Michael. 2019. "Taking dogs in Innsbruck taxis remains an excitement." Tiroler Tageszeitung. August 8. Accessed April 22, 2020. https://www.tt.com/artikel/15929619/mitnahme-von-hunden-in-innsbrucker-taxis-bleibt-ein-aufreger?sfns=mo.

[6] ibid

[7] ibid

[8] Griff, Kate. 2019. "Ont. woman says Uber driver rejected her guide dog." CTV News. February 3. Accessed April 22, 2020. https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/ont-woman-says-uber-driver-rejected-her-guide-dog-1.4280881.

[9] CTV News Ottawa. 2019. "Uber driver who allegedly refused ride to woman with service dog charged." CTV News. February 10. Accessed April 22, 2020. https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/uber-driver-who-allegedly-refused-ride-to-woman-with-service-dog-charged-1.4290370.