A Commentary on the “Muslim Women are Cool Too” Video:

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Author’s-Note:
Allah states, within His Noble-Book: “Oh, Prophet!!! Tell your Wives, along with your Daughters & the Believing-Women, to cover themselves. That is to ensure that they are recognized publicly & not harassed. And, Allah is All-Forgiving, Most-Merciful.”.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.33, 59)

Since this “Somewhere in America Muslim Women Are Cool Too” video has went viral, basically, there has been a lot of buzz about it: good, bad, ugly & all sorts of in between. There are some whom have taken the video out of proportion from both the Conservative & Liberal camps within the Muslim-Community, anywhere/everywhere that this video has been viewed. So, what I’ve decided to do is simply ask someone,  whom is pretty much on the level socially, yet sincerely attempting to be an adherent Muslim, what are their potential concerns that this video may be projecting. I’ve decided to interview my brother Navroz Shariff, who I take to be a very balanced, well-rounded Muslims, to chime-in to personally examine this video & what image this video could possibly be sending to the public about Muslims generally, and also Muslim-Women. And, I know that a lot of People, Women (both Muslim & Non-Muslim alike) will take issue with Men speaking about the issue of “Hijab”, based upon a very ignorant misconception that (from both Men & Women: Muslim & Non-Muslim alike) that Islamic-Issues are monopolized by Genders, and/or that Hijab is only a Women’s-Issue…both are completely false (learn more about the reality of Hijab: http://www.garethbryant.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/theoriginofthehijabofthemanwomaninislam/).

Navroz Shariff pic

G.B.: So, what do you think about this phenomenon, known as Hijabi-Culture?

N.S.: The purpose of Hijab is to be inconspicuous, not to stand out, glowing with make up and various kinds of fashion-accessories. I am afraid that this video will make guys much more curious about our sisters in Islam who wear modest-clothing and it may even get to a point where they will be disrespected in the streets, because, guys will have the mentality that they can just approach them similar to any non practicing girl or any Non-Muslim for that matter. We know those who do not cover their `Awrat/Private-Parts, wear tight-clothing, and show their shape, love the attention they receive from guys. Unfortunately, this video is tarnishing the respect that girls who wear Hijab properly deserve, because, guys will start to get the impression that girls who wear Hijab are the same as girls who don’t and are just as approachable. Have you ever seen how non-Muslim men act towards our sisters who properly cover their `Awrat? They show so much respect to them. Ask any of the Hijab-wearing sisters how a woman is in front of them wearing a skimpy-outfit gets whistled at and harassed while when the modest sister passes the guys the all just quiet down. Ironically, the non-Muslim men here in America give our sisters more respect, compared to fellow Muslims in some/many Muslim-Countries. Our sisters in those countries get groped, harassed and even raped, even when they sincerely attempt to dress modestly.

G.B.: Well, honestly, many Muslim-Women who may choose to not dress properly, Islamically, or not cover their bodies to any extent, may say, “Even without ‘Hijab’, I’m still ‘Modest'”.  So, let me ask you: what is the (Islamic) definition of Modesty?

G.B.: You can’t have modesty without HIjab & vice versa: they define one another simultaneously Both Hijab & Modesty are (jointly) signs of purity and dignity; they highlight the Muslim-Woman as a pure, chaste, integral, woman and sets her apart from the immoral-behavior associated with women who dress/behave immodestly. It is an external-protection, for chaste Muslim-Women, against the evil that exists within the world. When a woman wears a Hijab she is less likely to be harassed by men, with lusty-motives, especially here in America. For our sisters who cover and wish to be inconspicuous, in my humble opinion, this video has just put them on the radar and Non-Muslim men will begin to think they are no different than women who don tight-jeans, mini-skirts, etc., who show their `Awrat. It is bad enough for some that men in some/many Muslim-Countries showing disrespect to our sisters, now the non-Muslim men will also do the same. May Allah protect our sisters, and in particular I am thinking of my lovely wife here, and guide us all. And, for the sisters that see this as a Hijab instructional-video (believe me some do), the perpetrators in the video will all be responsible for all the sisters they mislead when standing alone in front of Allah.

G.B.: Do you think that Muslims are trying too hard for socio-cultural/socio-political acceptance in Non-Muslim-Countries/Non-Islamic societies, at the expense of their religious-integrity?

N.S.: It seems that Muslims are desperately trying to be accepted even if it means that they have to sculpt their religion to gain acceptance. They heed more the creation than the Creator. What does this say about their emaan? It may very well be a test for them from Allah which they are failing miserably. Mu`awiyah wrote to `A’ishah (May Allah be pleased with them both), asking her to write him a letter giving him advice but not to make it lengthy. She wrote: ‘Peace be upon you! To proceed: I heard Allah’s Messenger (saws) say, “If anyone seeks Allah’s good pleasure at the cost of people’s displeasure Allah will keep from him the trouble caused by people; but if anyone seeks people’s good pleasure at the cost of Allah’s displeasure Allah will leave him in people’s hands.”

G.B.: Are you at all biased to their views on what direction Muslims should turn towards?

N.S.: If we were to stick to the Qur’an and Sunnah, then we would not be having this discussion. Is that what you mean by that question?

G.B.: Have you previously revealed your general-views regarding this new-wave of “Islamic-Identity?

N.S.: Yes, my views I tend to write in public; but, to verify that I am not biased, I ask others that they think about my opinion, discuss with them, look at it at other angles.

G.B.: How much opposition do you/have you received as a result of your views against your stances against this brand of “Islamic-Expression/Islamic-Identity”?

So far, none. But, there are many people who condone what the video shows, and the way it depicts Muslim-Women.

G.B.: If you could have a serious-conversation with either the producers of, and/or those depicted within this video, what would you say to them, and how would you say it; meaning how would you even approach the conversation?

N.S.: Honestly, it really depends: if the producers are not Muslim, then I would question the sisters…if they both are Muslims, I would question both of them and their agenda, especially with regards to the explicit lyrics and dress-style which are contrary to Islamic practice anyway…if they are just young, then I would question the elders in the video what were they thinking and that they should know better to guide their sisters.

G.B.: Are you fearful of fellow Muslims viewing you of being “backwards”, “too conservative”, “unrefined”, “too traditional”, etc.?

N.S.: I am only fearful of Allah. Islam is not about picking and choosing what you of Islam and compromise it.

Islam is not about picking and choosing what you like of the Deen and compromising.

11 responses »

  1. I love how the interviewee here is a man who has never experienced the hijab or what it’s like to live as a Muslimah with or without it. They have no idea the experiences we endure and cannot speak on behalf of hijabis. Why don’t we find a white person to interview about racism while we’re at it?

    • Firstly, HIjab is not something that is Anthrocentric, it is Divinecentric. Meaning, it is something ordained, for both Men & Women, via Revelation, dating back to Adam & Eve (Peace be upon them both).

    • Secondly, just because a Muslim-Man isn’t obligated to cover his entire body doesn’t mean that he isn’t qualified to speak on the subject. It’s like stating that just because a Woman is a single Mother that she isn’t capable of teaching her son how to be a good Man, because, she isn’t a Man. That argument is completely unintelligence.

      • That analogy is flawed. The two are unrelated. A mother can teach her son to be a good person, regardless of gender. A man who is not a woman and has never had to cover his hair with what we refer to as the hijab (you can get technical and argue semantics that hijab is a concept for both men and women and not a head covering but that’s detracting from the point at hand) in a country where it is not the norm to do so is not qualified to SPEAK on behalf of women. A mother raising her son doesn’t speak on behalf of men, she teaches her son to be a good person. A white person doesn’t get to speak on behalf of people of colour. Men don’t get to speak on behalf of women. Non-Muslims can’t speak on behalf of Muslims. etc. You wouldn’t interview a white person about racism, a non-Muslim about Islamophobia, a physicist about chemistry, then why a male about the female headscarf? No one is qualified to speak on behalf of a group they’re not a part of.

      • Again, you are completely missing the point: any issue that pertains to Islam, a Muslim has the right to have a say about it, regardless of their Gender, as long as they are well-versed in the texts which concern the issue.

        The issue of Hijab is not exclusively a Women’s issue anyway, why? Because Men are Isalmically required to wear a Hijab as well: Men can’t just go out into the street & wear whatever they want & expect it to be Islamically acceptable. Lie Sagging: the cultural phenomenon known as “Sagging”, where we have Men letting their pants hang off of their behinds until the imprint of their rearends are visible is completely unlawful Isamically, a complete violation of how a Man is to dress one’s self according to the Qur’an & Sunnah. Now, if a Muslim-Woman, or a group of Muslim-Women were to comment about this, no one would ever say to them, “You, as Women have no authority to speak about Sagging, because you’re not Men.”. And, do you know why no one would say something like that, because not only would that be a false-statement, it would be a stupid-statement.

        But, yet, ironically, if a Muslim-Man decides to address an issue, he’s “out-of-line”, just because of his Gender…that’s ridiculous. And, that’s actually a manifestation of `Asabiyyah/Bias: excluding, discrimination of someone, based upon factors they have no control over, like Gender, for example.(Lisan-ul-`Arab: Lexicon of the Arabic-Language)

  2. “because, guys will have the mentality that they can just approach them similar to any non practicing girl or any Non-Muslim for that matter. We know those who do not cover their `Awrat/Private-Parts, wear tight-clothing, and show their shape, love the attention they receive from guys. ”

    —What an idiotic comment! As you (GB) mentioned—modesty applies to both men and women—and men are to lower their eyes REGARDLESS of how covered up or scantily dressed a woman is!!!
    Therefore there is absolutely no license whatsoever to ogle at and disrespect women FOR ANY REASON—-and No—“its her fault” does NOT cut it!.

    • This is not a “Who’s fault is it” issue. You’re really missing the entire point. And, the point is very simple: Men are Islamically required to dress a certain way, and so are Women. Allah made this imposition, not Man. So, if you have a problem with the way that Islam dictates how Muslim-Women are to dress, that means that you have a problem with what Allah, the Creator/Lord of the Universe. And, that’s your problem, not mine.

      • Yes, i may have missed the point—sorry—-just ranting…
        I respect women who strive to follow God’s laws/rules…..but….what are God’s rules?, what are man’s rules?, and what is simply tradition/culture?

        The place to find out what God says is pretty easy—go to the Quran.

        What does Allah say?

        The 5 places that the word “Hijab” is used in the Quran implies a “screen/barrier” NOT an article of clothing. (7:46, 19:16-17, 33:53, 41:5, 42:51)

        The place where clothing is discussed, the word khimar (scarf) is used…to cover the bosom.—Surah 24, verse 31. (and the verse goes on to explain when it is NOT necessary to cover it!….)

        In other words—what God says is vague enough to be open to interpretation depending on the custom and the times.

        What the Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) says is pretty clear—women should cover except for face and hands……However Fiqh is man’s interpretation of the Quran!!!

        How each woman navigates these 3 aspects God, man, and tradition must be upto her….why? because women are endowed with the intelligence to figure these things out…

      • And, that’s why we also must follow the Sunnah of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), as he mentioned the way a Muslim-Woman is to cover her body, relative to her reaching Puberty.(Abu-Dawud)

      • Also, the concept of Muslim-Men/Muslim-Women covering specific parts of our bodies comes directly from the initial orders which Allah had imposed upon our parents, Adam & Hawwa’/Eve (Peace be upon them both).(Stories of the Prophets)

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