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.