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  Opinion   Oped  15 Mar 2017  Mystic Mantra: Nothing veiled about the hijab

Mystic Mantra: Nothing veiled about the hijab

Moin Qazi is a well-known banker, author and Islamic researcher. He can be reached at moinqazi123@gmail.com
Published : Mar 15, 2017, 3:48 am IST
Updated : Mar 15, 2017, 5:48 am IST

For women who observe hijab, it is a path that helps in preserving their moral chastity and coming nearer to their Creator.

For many well-educated women Muslim women, wearing a hijab offers a way for them to take control of their bodies and challenge the ways in which women are subjugated by patriarchal values.
 For many well-educated women Muslim women, wearing a hijab offers a way for them to take control of their bodies and challenge the ways in which women are subjugated by patriarchal values.

The hijab (a scarf wrapped tightly around one’s head to conceal every wisp of hair), popularly called the veil, is an ally of an empowered modern Muslim women and shouldn’t be equated with backwardness. The hijab expresses a translational form of Islamic feminism that has been marked by the entry of women into all public spheres of Islamic life including formal religious learning.

Muslim women choose to wear the hijab as a way of showing self-control, power and agency. For many well-educated women Muslim women, wearing a hijab offers a way for them to take control of their bodies and challenge the ways in which women are subjugated by patriarchal values.

Veiling was once an armoury of the poorer classes. Today it is the mascot of the most enlightened Muslim girls who are pursuing prestigious careers in top class universities. A woman can wear a hijab as a sign of modesty, yet still embrace all of the rights and opportunities enjoyed by Western women. Prophet Mohammad said, “Every religion has a chief characteristic and the chief characteristic of Islam is modesty.” In Islam, modesty is a virtue for both men and women.

In fact, the Prophet himself was described as being the epitome of modesty in his behaviour with people. When the Quran tells believers to lower their lustful gazes and guard their chastity — important aspects of the modesty tradition — it begins by commanding this to men before women. The Arabic word for modesty is hayaa. The interesting thing about this word is that it is linguistically related to the Arabic word for life (hayat).

Muslim scholars believe that there is an intimate connection between the two terms. Modesty is the virtue that gives spiritual life to the soul. For women who observe hijab, it is a path that helps in preserving their moral chastity and coming nearer to their Creator.

Tags: hijab, muslim women, islamic feminism