A note from Radarsite: Today I received this email notifying me of a belated comment to Gary Fouse's informative Jan 2009 article on the hijab and its significance. I went back and read the comments to see if I could figure out which one upset her the most. I think it was the one about the women "not knowing any better", although I'm sure she took offense to that plea for aid for Geert Wilder. I didn't comment at that time to Gary's article but I will respond to this email, as it was addressed to me. Here, then, is the emailed comment and my response. - rg
"I realize this is an old post of yours, but I happened to stumble upon it in a google search and was sort of horrified by the responses that you got to this.
So here's an answer from a hijabi (one who wears hijab). Hijab is what we call fard- meaning it is obligatory. That doesn't mean that it is allowed to be forced on a woman, in fact the Qur'an forbids this (but most so-called "Muslim countries" wouldn't know real Islam if it did a dance in front of them while shouting at the top of its lungs- but that's another rant all together). It IS actually mentioned in the Qur'an, but somewhat vaguely so. Within the Qur'an, women are instructed to wear loose clothing that does not show their shape, it explains who a woman should cover in front of and who she doesn't have to and gives the instruction that a woman should use her scarf (which many Meccans already wore on their heads before Islam) to also cover her chest. It is more elaborated in hadiths (recorded sayings and teachings of Muhammad, peace be upon him). Muslim women are supposed to wear hijab, not just for the sake of modesty, but also so that they will be recognized as believing women as well as Muslim women. The covering of a woman's hair is a tradition that we inherited from the Jews and the Christians (although many of them no longer practise this). By wearing hijab we are identifying ourselves as continuing that tradition.
I would argue that most women choose to wear hijab or do not mind to (I've heard some Iranian women comparing it to wearing a tie to work- in certain situations certain dress codes are required). In "Muslim countries", most women are more concerned about their general rights and freedoms rather than a piece of fabric. People focus on the scarf but don't realize that the concept of covering the body is cultural (I mean this in general, not only in regards to hijab). For instance, in the west it has become culturally acceptable for a woman to walk around in shorts- 100 years ago there would be no chance in hell that a woman would do such a thing. On the other hand there are some areas of the world where it is perfectly acceptable for a woman to walk around without a top on, or even completely nude! To suggest that Muslim women simply "don't know any better" is ridiculous and suggestive of Western supperiority- which is utter bull. I'm a proud Canadian, but I still know that there's somethings that my country could do better on (just like I know that Saudi Arabia has A LOT of things that it could and SHOULD do better on).
Hope this was helpful to you. Feel free to continue asking questions and sorry for replying to such an old post, but those replies really bothered me. " (UniMuslimah)
A response from Radarsite: So, our presumably-western-educated, proud Canadian Muslim woman is "sort of horrified" and "really bothered" by the comments made to that Radarsite article? Well, here we go again, folks. Another offended Muslim condescends to enlighten the ignorant infidel. And I for one am getting pretty damn sick of it. Read more at Radarsite