Tag Archives: Hijab

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.

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an-Niqab/the Islamic Facial-Veil: Endurance & Struggle vs. Ridicule & Opposition

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Sonyia Ali pic

Author’s note:

At the request of the sister whom submitted this article, I will keep her identity anonymous. She specifically wanted to not be known, for submitting this article, which I must/should respect. Furthermore, even though anonymous, it’s so important that stories such as these are told, as often as possible, to let people know that the Niqab isn’t just something that’s a simple as placing a covering over one’s face.

This is her personal-account of the benefits & perils of donning the Niqab:

“It was a sunny, spring, day, and I took full advantage of it, by deciding to visit my oldest uncle from my dad’s side. A few blocks away from my apartment I decided to head out and fulfill my duties as a Muslimah, by visiting the sick and trying to uphold the rights of family at the same time. It was a nice visit… always interesting for my uncle is the type to talk about history and I love history, and he loves to talk. Our relationship goes hand in hand. So he talked, and I listened. Feeling content after the visit I stepped out of his house and headed home.

On the way home I decided to call and catch up with a friend from England, chatting away on my cell phone I was oblivious to what was about to take place. Walking in broad daylight in a Jewish neighborhood, which has neighborhood patrol you’d have to be in the safest area in Brooklyn. But alas, Brooklyn is Brooklyn and you have to expect the unexpected. As I reached the middle of the street I heard a glass shattering and then a Jewish man walking in front of me yelling at someone behind me. I turned around to see what was going on and not even a foot away from me lay a broken glass bottle.

And at the corner of the block I saw a figure running away. I stood there in shock trying to let what I saw sink in. It’s not that serious was my first thought. And then I heard the kind man in front of me asking me if I was alright. I looked at him trying to answer but I just nodded my head. Yes… I managed to stutter. Then more firmly Yes I said. My senses started to kick in and I realized what had just happened. I had been a victim of a hate crime. I was attacked and barely escaped injury because I was a niqabi. It stood there for a few more seconds as I saw the Jewish man run towards the end of the block to see if the culprit was in anywhere in sight and of course he had fled. “ He’s gone”, the man called from the corner of the street. Are you ok? He asked. I’m ok I answered and started walking home.

The incident lay behind me, and I pretty much forgot about it. I was used to having people react to my attire. I remember in the beginning when I first started wearing niqab (at the age of 16) I would tell people to “f@*& off” if they cursed or spit or even stared too long. But as I grow spiritually I realized people were afraid of the unknown, afraid of things that were different so I let them stare and comment and even responded with smiles and laughs.

Then almost a year later I was waiting for a bus on the corner of an extremely busy street. While I was waiting I was reading a book that a professor had let me borrow. I stood at the window of a bank focused on my book. As I stood there, a man pushed past me to go into the bank moving aside I didn’t take any notice and kept reading. Moments later the same man, who had walked into the bank walked out, and as he started walking away from me he pulled my niqab from my face. He didn’t get to pull it all the way down but it was enough of a tug to expose my forehead. Our eyes met as he walked away and never in my life did I see such hatred and animosity in a human being. I was in shock. Frozen and taken aback unable to figure out what to do. He walked away into the crowd of people leaving to my stunned state.

Crowd of people. I was in a crowd of people and not one person came to my aid. Not one person asked if I was ok. Not one person even looked at me. I was in a crowd of people. It left me wounded. Where was the humanity in humans? Why wasn’t I helped? Why wasn’t the man stopped? Why did everyone look away? Was it because I was covered? Was it because I had it coming? That night I cried. I cried for all the sisters that struggled day in and day out with wearing their Muslim attire and having to face such hate. I knew I was lucky. The man hadn’t physically hurt me. I knew of sisters who had been beaten, sisters who had broken bones, and sisters who carried internal and external bruises. And regardless of their pain they still walked proud with their hijabs and niqabs. And I cried for myself, it was the first time in so many years that I felt afraid to walk out of the house because of my niqab.

In bed that night I thought things through. Even though I was on a busy street I was still alone, living in New York you can’t always have someone with you. So what would have happened if I was really physically attacked and pummeled? I’m 5’ 2”, less than a 100 pounds and all I would have done was taken the pounding, probably gained a few broken bones and a damaged mentality. I had to do something. I needed to be able to protect myself. So I made the decision of finding a place that held self-defense classes for women. It was a trip.

I googled and called and googled again. I couldn’t find anything in Brooklyn that had such a facility. I was disappointed.  But not discouraged. Maybe I can have private lessons… was my next thought.  I called Midwood Martial Arts and spoke to the sensei there asking for a female teacher who was willing to give me private lessons. And lo and behold, the sensei agreed.

I went to the dojo the following week and talked to sensei Alison who listened to my account of being attacked. We started training. I trained privately with her for about a month, as we trained I talked to her about how at first, I was looking for a female instructor and was also hoping that the class would cater to women only. Not just Muslim women but women who just felt comfortable with having a female class and a female teacher. And what did the sensei say?  “Soniya, if we can bring in women to the dujo for an all female class then I can bring myself into train them.”  From there slowly but surely we gained a class of women from Pakistan, Germany, Israel, Muslim women, Jewish women, Christian women, mothers, daughters, students, nurses.

Who would have known that an incident that kept me avoiding crowds, and kept me crossing streets to avoid people coming from the opposite direction would have led to something so dynamic?

Gareth Bryant/2013

My Message to the Women of the World:

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Humza Oza pic

Author’s note:

This lovely poem has been duly written by Humza Oza, a heavy-hearted individual, with a lot of substance, and a lot of important & beautiful things to write about.

Why don’t you see?

And continue to suffer indignity

Hijab is not what brings you down
Verily, your scarf is your crown

For you see in Islam, women are royalty
Virtuous and filled with true beauty

And only for worthy eyes to see

So you see, the veil is not opression
Nor does it bring women in depression

Women of the World

Do you now see?
Hijab is what truly sets you free

Humza Oza/2013

The Muslims need Self-Representation!!!

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I’m takin’ back my voice!!!

Don’t speak for me.
I’m a man and free.

My religion doesn’t give hatemongers the credence to silence me.
Having a beard is not a license to detain me, for an hour or three.

My Arabic tongue shouldn’t be a reason to be doomed, living a life of the falsely-accused.
This pain, of living with Islamophobia, hurts worse than that of a lung punctured & bruised.

Neither my sister, nor mother, are not victims, just because they chose to cover their body.
They wear Hijab in order to please Allah, their creator, and it makes them proud & happy.

I have with me only one, single weapon.
It has now become a prized-possession.

I have my own voice.
With it, I make noise.

It states proudly, to the world, that Islam does not oppress.
How our women do not have to conform to immoral-dress.

How our men don’t have to hurt someone to gain respect.
It’s part of our faith, and duty, to serve, as well as protect.

It tells everyone, everywhere, that we will not take attacks lying-down.
Islam won’t stop spreading, until it reaches every home & every town.

My voice verbally affirms who I am.
It’s time for you & I to take a stand.

Gareth Bryant/2012

Some Brief Islamic-History (Islam’s female version of the “Dream-Team”):

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Author’s note:

I’ve written this exclusively to address the fallacies of people whom are Islamophobic, who state that Islam has no respect for women, and that it’s even religiously-sanctioned in Islam to mistreat women, all of which are complete not at all true.  However, ironically, unfortunately, sadly, there are Muslims out there who attempt to justify the abuse of women via the religion of Islam. What my writing is merely meant to do is to highlight just some of so many known female figures in Islam, whom Allah has honored to such a magnified degree.

1. Eve-
The mother of the Human race, Eve (also known as Hawwa’ [Peace be upon her]) is the pinnacle of womanhood. The first to mother a child-She was the first to nurturer & educate people. She was the first woman to cover herself, commanding respect, honor, pride, and dignity, by not revealing her body to others, setting an ever important precedent & example for any & all of her female descendants to come after her.

2. Hager-
Known as Hajar in Arabic, Hager (Peace be upon her) was the wife & mother of Prophets, Abraham, her husband & Ishmael, her son (Peace be upon both of them). She taught us all how to deal with the separation of family, during hard times. She taught us that a woman can raise a man, in the absence of a father. She taught us the resilience, drive, ambition, and iron-will that is required for survival. She taught us gratitude, in the absence of security & hope.

3. Mary-
The mother of Jesus (Peace be upon him), Mary, known as Maryam in Arabic (Peace be upon her) was an outcast of the Children of Israel, because she had a child, but no father for him. Because of this, she was scrutinized, ridiculed, and slandered. But, through all of this, she was still an honorable woman & a mother like no other, whom in the face of adversity, raised a man, whom Allah is well-pleased with, who became a Prophet, Messenger, the Christ, and will return to this Earth, as the one who will rid the world of the corruption of the Anti-Christ. Through Allah’s guidance & direction, Mary gave her son his foundation, to commit himself to the service of his creator.

4. Khadijah-
The first wife of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), our mother Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her) was the first from among his nation to believe in his Prophethood & the first to accept the teachings of Islam, even when he doubted the legitimacy of his own calling. She gave him the encouragement that he needed to endure through those early years in Makkah, when he really didn’t know whether he was suitable for this mission, and when the Muslims were mocked & persecuted, just for their belief in the existence & oneness of Allah. There was never anyone before or after her whom the Prophet could’ve individually count on for moral support in the fashion that was provided to him by Khadijah.

5. `A’ishah-
The wife of Muhammad (Peace be upon him) & the daughter of his most trusted friend, Abu-Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him), our mother `A’ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) set the standard for leadership & scholarship among women. She set an unprecedented & unchallenged authority of narrating the most Prophetic-Statements about Muhammad (Peace be upon him), about his military campaigns, his home/family life, his character, his business practices, his humor. All of the narrations about Muhammad, through her, gave us humanized aspects of his life, that we may have never known without her exposing them to us, through teaching them to countless persons, many of whom were men. After all, she came from a society where women were not Humanly valued as they should be. But, through the guidance of Islam, she was able to establish herself as a religious, social, and political authority that no one would dare violate the sanctity of.

Gareth Bryant/2012

Some Brief Islamic-History (the Origin of the Hijab of the Man & Woman in Islam):

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Hijab and Niqab pic

Author’s note:
This article has been written as a result of a previous lecture that I had given about Hijab at Hudson County Community College, in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Unfortunately, whenever the subject of Hijab comes up, it’s basically always gyno-centric-It’s always concentrating upon the Hijab of the Muslim woman & not enough or at all upon the Hijab of the Muslim man. I personally view this bias, when it comes to only mentioning the Hijab of the woman, as very unfair, for the following reasons: It gives a lot of Muslim women the impression that men can wear whatever they want without reservation, which makes the mandates of Hijab seem very misogynistic. Also, the rise of a feminist mentality among Muslim women has established the very  radically deviant opinion that women don’t have to wear Hijab, at all, because it’s something that puts women back, as opposed to putting them forward. Then, there’s the whole fallacy that the Hijab is just an Arab thing, or something which predated Islam in Arabia.

Firstly, the ordinance of the Hijab originates not from Islamic-Arabia, but rather, according to “Stories of the Prophets”, written by ibn-Kathir, the Hijab was initially an established mandate for our Human parents, the first Muslims from among Mankind, Adam & Eve (Peace be upon both of them)-Ibn-Kathir has clearly explained, in his work, that when they disobeyed Allah & ate from the tree which Allah told them not to go near in the Paradise, they were evicted from the Paradise itself. When they were subjected to live upon the Earth, Allah had thus commissioned both of them to wear clothing, to cover their private areas. So, Adam had made clothing for himself, which covered him, from his navel to his knees (which coincides perfectly with the statement of Muhammad [Peace be upon him] when he described the `Awrah [private-area] of the man in which & he said, “Whatever lies under the navel & to the knees is an `Awrah [private-area].” [Sunan ad-Daraqunti & al-Bayhaqi]), and made clothing for Eve, which covered her entire body from head to toe (which also coincides perfectly with how Muhammad [Peace be upon him] described the `Awrah [private-area of the woman] when he said, “A Woman is is to cover her entire body & reveal nothing except her face & hands, once she reaches puberty.” [Sunan Abu-Dawud])-Now keep in mind that they were the only Humans upon the Earth at this time. So, the fact that this was ordained for them when there were no other Humans around, except them, is very important & significant, thus proving that the Hijab for both men & women possess roots in Islamic antiquity.

In all reality, the purpose of the Hijab is to maintain proper etiquette & decency between men & women, that they treat one another with respect, and not to merely view one another nor themselves just sexual objects. But, unfortunately, we all live in a modern/secular context, which promotes general/full-scale immorality via over-sexualization of our global society. Also, we live in an age where these disgusting misogynistic & feminist ideas of what men & women are outside of an Islamic context & this has caused Muslim men & women to have developed demented ideological religious stances as to how to practice Islam on an individual level as well as a social level. For now, let’s just stick with the individual aspect of practicing Islam.

The Feminist-Community has basically blacklisted the obligation Muslim women to cover properly as something archaic & savage, meant to demean women. On the contrary, the Hijab of both men & women was established to uplift both respective genders, never to debase them. However, because Secularism has become the ideological king of our society, people like members of the Feminist community have actually supported various movements to get the Hijab for women, specifically, banned in as many places as possible. Basically, they want our Muslim sisters to shame themselves, before men as well as other women, by exposing parts of their bodies which Allah has ordained to be covered & concealed from public view, as Allah says in the Qur’an: “Oh, Prophet!!! Tell your wives, daughters & the believing women to cover themselves with their garments. This is ensure that they be recognized & not be harassed. And, Allah is all-forgiving, most-merciful.”.(Chpt.33, V.59) In all actuality the purpose of the Hijab is not to make us miserable, rather to separate us from the rest. I mean really, do you want a bunch of horny, ill-mannered men who don’t believe in Allah & the Last-Day or disobedient Muslims to drool over the sight of your body?!!! We need to seriously think about this!!!

Now, there are those who would argue that men should have more control, or that women shouldn’t have to cover just because men are lustful. Well, from a Human perspective that’s a very good point. But, we’re not the ones who make the rules; rather, the Creator of the Universe has ordained how men & women are to worship behave, act, and dress, not us-The whole reason that Allah has ordained that men & women cover different parts of our bodies is because by our very nature, which He has created us with, men & women are anatomically attracted to different things. Let’s be very honest here, we all know that even anatomically, women are more attractive & possess more to offer men than the other way around.

The reason why women are required to cover their entire bodies is because every aspect of the external anatomy of a woman is attractive to some man in some way, and it’s not normally the other way around, meaning every aspect of the anatomy of a man is not attractive to a woman women are attracted to very specific things on a man’s body, while men are attracted to a whole number of things on a woman’s body. The ordinance for both men & women to cover their bodies a certain way is actually a mercy from Allah, for all of the reasons that I already mentioned previously. The whole notion of supporting legislation in countries that are attempting to legally eradicate the Hijab, for women specifically, are truly people who are hell-bent on establishing Secularism everywhere, and are on the side of the Shaytan to attempt to extinguish the Light of Allah (i.e. Islam). This is systematically being allowed because Islam is the only force that stands in between those who wish to see the world immersed in complete desire-driven corruption, and their goal of a world without any divine guidance established anywhere.

Gareth Bryant/2012