Egypt. Egypt. Egypt.

The following are two Op-Ed articles, published in the Egyptian Daily Star, that I found interesting:

The First is about political parties in Egypt. The writer takes to the street and asks Egyptians what they think.

The Second is about the Hijab, or veil, in Egyptian Society.

If you've managed to read this far, here are my views on the Hijab:

First of all, I am strongly opposed to the view that the Islamic Hijab is a fard, or religious tenet, for Muslim women (all the time of course – they do have to wear it when praying). None of the verses put forward from the Quran conclusively support this view, in fact, many scholars say there are no verses from the Quran that supports this view at all.

That said, my general outlook on society follows the code: To each his own. You do whatever you want to do as long as you do not cause harm to someone else. When mentioning harm here, I am most certainly not referring to the psychological and mental anguish some claim to feel when confronted with a non-veiled female.

As is obvious, anyone can wear the Hijab in my book. Still, if it so happens that a girl, or guy for that matter, mentions that all girls should wear the Hijab because it is an Islamic fard, they drop down many rungs on my ladder of respect. Usually, they fall right off. Generally speaking, most of the girls that I personally have dealt with that chose to wear the Hijab have turned out to have voluntarily surrenderred the use of their brain and mental faculties for any kind of thinking.

The aforementioned category of girls have said to me:

1. Amr Khaled said we shoud wear the Hijab.
2. It is written in the Quran. (Me: Which verse exactly? What does it say?) I'm not sure, but it's written in the Quran.
3. A pure Muslim woman has to wear the Hijab.

There were, of course, many other reasons. First though, I want to comment on the three mentioned above.

So Amr Khaled said you should, huh? And if Amr Khaled told you to go jump off the top of a building, wearing your Hijab, I suppose you would? Too sarcastic? Well, what if Amr khaled mentioned that killing all non-muslims (he hasn't) was the only way to make it to heaven? Would you stop and think about what he says then? Or maybe not. I keep getting the feeling that Amr Khaled is our prophet in disguise… It's amazing how people follow him this blindly!

As for the Quran, I have yet to be told the verses. I await that patiently.

Pure women has to wear the Hijab? So… my mother and grandmother aren't pure Muslim women? They probably went out whoring in their younger days, did they? Invited all the guys over to their homes and had regular sexual orgies, eh? What kind of pathetic argument is this? Your purity is defined by what you choose to do in life! Let me just tell you that all prostitutes in Sudan were veiled (and I've lived there).

Now, I think the main reason why women and girls wear Hijab in Egypt is because of Social pressure. Wearing the Hijab in this country has become a social custom, especially amongst the poor. This helps explain a phenomenon that many men do not understand, especially those that come from the wealtheir upper class; you know all those girls and women that you see wearing the Hijab yet still wearing pants so tight that it is difficult to imagine them being able to move? Well, that's why. The Hijab has become a social necessity, but they do not necessarily represent the religious views of the woman wearing them. Most of the time, she doesn't consider if she should wear it or not… there is no question. There is no debate on the issue.

Oh, and by the way, there are many poorer mothers who still believe that dressing their daughters in tight pants will discourage any possiblity of sexually-motivated attack as it would be difficult to get inside her clothes. (I've asked about this! Many, many times!)

Finally, I feel it needs to be said that while I believe that prejudiced generalizations made about a certain group of people because of creed, ethnicity or social class is abhorrent and wrong, one has to keep in mind that sometimes priorities are different for different people.

For example, in the school where I work, I happen to be in an office with the headmistress, her secretary and the assistant headmistress. All three of them are veiled. Sometimes it gets to be a pain… for example, I have to make sure I censor myself lest I mention something that they think is wrong. It's not that that they are annoying; to date, none of them have even asked me why I don't get up to pray, it's just that I don't want to get into that kind of discussion because I don't know how to tell people that I don't want to talk about it without sounding annoyed or rude.

And hey! What if I want to exclaim: "Oh, shit!" or "God damn it!" whenever I'm annoyed or something goes wrong? I don't. I don't because I don't want them giving me "the look" and possibly a couple of words on how I shouldn't say things like that… because when I do say things like that, those couple of words are definitely the last thing I want to hear (now that I think about it, it's probably the last thing they want to hear as well… *shrug*).

I find myself wanting to talk about how most girls in Egypt shudder and shake if a guy swears next to them, but that's another story for another post.

And that's basically the way I see it.



10 thoughts on “Egypt. Egypt. Egypt.

  1. Not this argument again…

    Anyway, agreed. Live and let live. The sight of non-hijabi women won’t kill you, neither will the sight of hijabi ones.

    I have heard entirely different reasons for the hijab, most of them having to do with faith, and feeling a closeness to God. Eh, whatever works.

    Regarding the versus, they do exist, it’s the interpretation that differs (between the anti- and pro- hijabis) They can be found in Surat AlNur verse 31 and AlAhzab verse 59.

  2. What’s up?

    Way I see it, the argument hasn’t been settled, ba3dain 3adee ya3nee, I only included it now because of the article I chose to link to and have read in the Daily Star.

    You are right though. It won’t hurt me either way.

    When I mentioned that the verses haven’t been given me, I meant that conclusive verses haven’t been given. My bad if I didn’t make this clear. I guess I belong to the anti- school when it comes to the interpretation. That still doesn’t mean that half the girls that talked to me haven’t been able to quote the verses or even give me the sura, as you just did.

    Thanks for dropping in.

  3. the verse is “walyadribn bekhomorehenna 3ala jyobehenn”. I know you might argue that this does not entail veil, but to my humble knowledge in Arabic “khomor” means veil. Of the “many” scholars who disagree, I only know of 2 and both are not credible scholars (still you are free to follow them if you think they make sense, I believe they don’t whether it is regarding the veil or other stuff).

    “most of the girls that I personally have dealt with that chose to wear the Hijab have turned out to have voluntarily surrenderred the use of their brain and mental faculties for any kind of thinking.” well, my mother is a PhD in Oncology and she wears hijab. Am not saying that wearing the hijab will make you a doctor in onclology, but I am saying that it won’t prevent you. I know you do not like stereotyping.

    Anyways I think the issue of the veil is inflated by both sides. Wearing it doesn’t make a devout Muslim and taking it off doesn’t make an “emancipated” woman. You know I rarely argue about it, and I wouldn’t have opened the issue if I hadn’t found the post, and if I hadn’t been idle.

  4. i choose to wear the hijab because it is required for prayer and it is a constant reminder of my faith. although it is important to remember that it is only a piece of cloth on the head leaving the woman wearing it to dictate her purity. girls have the choice to wear it or not and if the reason is not thought about and reached through search in your personal faith then it is an empty choice.

  5. i am 13 yrs old and i wear the hijab in a public school. not only do i wear it because its a fard and i am modest, but it marks me as a muslim girl. i am not saying not wearing it doesnt mean you are muslim, but wearing it along with the right modest clothes and the right attitude wil show people you are proud of who you are. people respect me and often ask me about hijab and islam and many of them become interested in islam. so that means the hijab can also be considered dawah. i no many girls are afraid to wear hijab but i never felt more confident in my whole lifewith it.

  6. Everyone has a right to dress the way they want so if a Muslim woman wants to wear a hijab she should be able to and if she doesnt she souldn’t be forced

  7. im from south africa, n i was pretty impresd tht so many girls wearn scarf onmy trip2egypt,but ther seemd2b an awkward vibe abt it.i wear hijab n a agree with Sara,th respect u get4it shows th beauty of wearn hijab. i hav no idea abt wether i hav2wear it or not.its that i want2wear its abt th hole package,the attitude u wear it with.

  8. with do all respect, i somehow find this very disturbing..
    what makes us different than animals as mentioned in the Quran? That we have brains am i right? we think, we can act and we can also differntiate. I am a Muslim but i do not believe in Hijab, i think its more of a cultural tradition rather than a religious obligation? people intend to believe that Hijab will lead them to glory and all that atleast the low class people and the uneducated, i on the other hand think it s only hindering us as women, we live now in a fast world, change is happening all the time we need to co ope with it as much as we can, we need to let go of all our old tradtions and get along with the form of globaliztion cause other than that we would stay where we are, i beleive independent women will go farther in life with no hijab not that its wrong, but we live in such a word and we have brains to see that and clearly understand that. when i was a bit younger i thought if Hijab as the last step, but now i dont think it should be anything that is related to religion it is just a tradition

  9. who said that muslim woman can live their life as they want and the have the choice whether to wear hijab or not?as a revert i am kindda shame with some muslim women who act worse than kafir.Allah said in quran that all muslim women should wear hijab which covers their hair and chest.
    of course these women can live without hijab.but they will be punished by Allah when the time comes.just bear in ur mind that dunia is not forever and all of will face Allah one day.does any woman on this earth could give a good reason why a muslim woman shouldn’t wear hijab and are they possible to escape from Allah?
    Allah creates us and do as He said coz He knows better than any of us.DON’T ACT SMART COZ U MIGHT BE BURNT IN HELL.SALAM

  10. Hey Aysha.

    The verses mentioned in the Qur’an which many “religious scholars” say are the basis behind what they consider the face that woman have to wear Hijab are debatable.

    Also, just because you might not have heard of this debate, does not mean it does not exist.

    I, for one, have always followed the side which said the verses are unclear. My reasoning behind this is simple. At the time of the prophet, there were poets who wrote poems about the battles that Muslims fought against other Arabs in the peninsula.

    In one of them, a female muslim warrior is specifically mentioned and the poet describes, in more than one line, her long, red hair. The man was describing her bravery and the fact that she was spilling blood the color of her hair… etc.

    Now, if that woman fought alongside the prophet… you’d think he’d tell her not to fight or at least wear a hijab whilst fighting, wouldn’t you?

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