Having lived my whole life by the teachings of the Islamic faith, I understand the appreciations and values associated with the Hijab. However, also living in Canada, a pro-western society, I also see how some might see it as an oppression set upon Muslim women; objectively isolating them from the rest of society. I believe that the Hijab means much more than just a piece of cloth covering a woman’s hair. It represents their identity and their pride. It is considered to be the flag of their way of life, their religion.
Unfortunately, people of other cultures see it as a horrific tradition of the past that degrades a woman’s rights and freedoms. Catherine Meckes, a Canadian journalist argues that the Hijab does not ultimately liberate a woman. She feels that it is a way of hiding behind bars so one does not have to deal with the realities of life. This is untrue. My argument is that wearing a Hijab doesn’t hide you from the realities of life. In fact, it helps you face them. Wearing a Hijab, doesn’t mean you “give in” to the battle over men’s natural temptations by objectifying yourself.
It shows that you want to be loved, appreciated, and, most of all, you want to be respected. You aim to gain this respect not from the appearance of your body, but the contents of your personality and character. Like what Martin Luther King Junior said, “I have a dream where one is not judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. ” The Hijab can help get this message across throughout the globe. Ms. Meckes also outlines that the Hijab prescribed for Muslim women has its origins in the need of men protecting their woman.
Although I feel that this is true to some extent, the Hijab is not a tool that persuades men to consider women as their property. The western world has seemed to stereotype that woman are radicalized and forced to wear the Hijab. This is utterly untrue. Islam preaches that women must choose to wear the Hijab for themselves, and that they are responsible for their own actions. They should not be forced by anyone, as no one else should be responsible for the woman’s actions. Of course, every group has its fanatics, but it shouldn’t be the representing image for the whole group. Furthermore, Ms.
Meckes mentions that the Hijab is an unnecessary degrading practice of the past that Islam is spreading throughout the globe. The Hijab isn’t something that originated solely from Islam. Long before the rise of Islam, women wore veils that covered their heads as a sign of love and submission to God. Take in, for instance, the mother of Jesus, Mary. Upon all her portraits, she is wearing a veil covering her head. Muslims and Christians, who make up almost half of the population on Earth, have some sort of gratitude and appreciation towards the Hijab. Why is it so if the Hijab is the uniform of oppression?
Why would half of the world’s population value a garment that oppresses and degrades a woman’s rights and freedoms? Hence, we cannot say that wearing Hijab is a degrading attribute for women and that Islam is infesting the world with this garment promoting a mockery of liberation. Thus, I disagree with Ms. Meckes describing the Hijab, as backwardness, submissiveness and degradation. How you choose to dress yourself shouldn’t be the main focal point of judgements that are passed on to you. Hijabs, and other garments similar to Hijabs such as Turbans, aren’t a way of oppression.
They’re also not just a piece of cloth that one has decided to cover him or herself with. They bear much more meaning behind them, and blindly claiming it as a sort of oppression, are just caused by lack of knowledge, confusion, or simply ignorance. Let me also condone to those cases in which the Hijab is forced upon women. The greatest gift we were given was the power of freewill. Claiming you are obeying the commands of God, by forcefully garmenting a woman with a Hijab, is ultimately defying God’s greatest gift, the right to have your own opinion.