Monday, June 20, 2005

Wearing hijab provides protection, liberation?

Setting aside all the arguments about whether the Hijab is Fard, Sunna does it actually protect?Protect from what?From the male gaze?
I hear some women talk about how being hijabed forces people to judge her for her personality instead of physical appearance & I always wonder how she knows that.
In an 'idealized' Islamic society where all women are hijabed, do we expect that men will stop looking at women?Isn't this an instinct that God created in us?That men look at women & women look at men?Can anything really stop it?And does it matter if it stops?Surely what matters is whether or not we act on our feelings/impulses/attractions?A Saudi friend told me once that there is no place in the world where women get more male attention & sexual harrassment than Saudi Arabia & all women are covered in Saudi Arabia.
What makes hijabed women think men don't look at them?I see a hijabed girl walk by & men will check her out just like all the girls who walked by before her. And at work I hear male colleagues talk about the attractiveness or lack thereof of ALL girls hijabed or not. Infact one colleague told me once that a girl we work with was even more beautiful with hijab. He was arguing for hijab at the time & I remember thinking well if it makes her even more beautiful i.e. noticeable then isn't that defeating the purpose?
Infact here in UAE, it's quite usual to see guys standing there while a girl from Eastern Europe walks past in a miniskirt & not paying too much attention but let an Arab girl wearing a headcover & 3abaya walk by & they get up & start following her.My friend's husband told her that when something is covered it arouses your curiosity. You get to use your imagination. And that no woman is ever as beautiful as you can imagine her.
I can understand that some Muslim men will respect a hijabed woman because she looks more religious & in our culture we respect religious people. But if she thinks that means they don't look at her as a woman then I've seen no evidence of that.
I always think to the Qura'anic verse that states that faithful Muslim women should cover up so that they maybe known & not harrassed. In America, I saw so many girls wear it & put up with a lot of harrasment because of it. Again if it singles you out & draws attention to you then isn't that defeating the purpose?



Anonymous Mohamed said...

True, because hijab has become so common, people do not look at it as a 'veil'.

6/20/2005 10:45:00 AM  
Anonymous rahmanium said...

i think hejab is a more of a social demand these days, lots of girls just wear it because the society force them to (..see those who wear it with tight jeans and/or some times mini skirt )..can we say they really seek protiction from the male gaze ,or do they want men to judge their personality instead of physical appearance !!

dose hejab protects aginst harrassment ?? egypt women in the sixties and seventies used to be unveiled ,yet they were very respectable treated well by men,harrasment increased as we moved through the eighties and nineties ,this days 80% of girls and women are veiled...dose it protect against any harrasment ?! dose it get men to judge women's personality rather than their physical apperance ?!
some girls are not attractive at all when unveiled ,veil can serve to draw men's attention as it arouses their curiosity as your friend's husband said.
of course the issue is not that simple ,needs further studies..more openions ..can we !!?

6/20/2005 01:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Mohamed said...

It doesn't really arouse any curiosity. Curiosity for what!! A bikini might arise my curiosity, but not a veil ya3ny! c'mon.

6/20/2005 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger LouLou said...


Why would a bikini arouse your curiosity?What is there to be curious about?Everything is on display!

I guess theoretically if you see a girl in a bikini & she has a less than perfect figure or cellulite or stretch marks will be aware of all that. But if you see a covered girl then you can imagine her to be having a perfect figure & unblemished skin since you can't see any proof to the contrary.

I can understand this because find myself going out & buying loose things when I've gained weight because if I'm fat then I look better if I don't show it off!

So it makes sense to me that covering more might sometimes be more attractive.

Besides I think the complete hijab/niqab situation like you see it under the Taliban or in Saudi actually eroticizes women. A woman who is covered up from head to toe has no identity other than her sexual identity. You can't see her face or hear her voice. You don't know her age or race or anything. You just know that she is a woman. So how can you think of her as a person at all?

6/20/2005 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger LouLou said...


>>dose hejab protects aginst harrassment ??<<

Well in the Qura'anic verse usually quoted to support this concept I would imagine there was a situation in Mecca or Medina at the time where wearing a veil in a certain manner showed that a woman is a Muslim & therefore she would not be harrassed.Please anyone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here.

But if that is the case then can we really project this onto all situations in all times from now til eternity?

I was shocked when the controversy over a video of American soldiers supposedly raping Iraqi women actually turned out to be from a pornographic site. I mean how sick can you get?

The point is what is considered attractive or provocative in a given time & place depends on a lot of issues, culture, personal taste there is simply no be-all, end-all solution for this.

We can take the moral of this surah to be that Muslim women should try to avoid being provocative & drawing unnecessary attention to themselves. How they do that depends on individual situations.

6/20/2005 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger LouLou said...


I was just asking someone why he thinks it's women who should cover up so as not to attract men when men can be as attractive as they want & we're expected to live with it.

He says that the beard & the short galabiya & the 3imma are the male version of the hijab. They're supposed to hide a man's attractiveness.

So let me see...if I see Anthony Banderas or Russell Crowe with a beard & a short galabiya I will no longer think they're gorgeous?Am sorry. Doesn't work quite like that I don't think.

But it is an interesting thought. I never heard of a male hijab before!A fresh perspective on things at least.

6/20/2005 03:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Mohamed said...

Loulou, guys like to say that covering up more makes them curious, so that way gals will think that they should uncover to keep the guys away. Get it?

We know exactly what's underneath. We just want to see it for ourselves :)

6/20/2005 03:44:00 PM  
Anonymous rahmanium said...

.."He says that the beard & the short galabiya & the 3imma are the male version of the hijab. They're supposed to hide a man's attractiveness"

so what is man's attractiveness ?
dose it go mainly physical as women's that it should have its hijab too..

6/20/2005 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger LouLou said...

"so what is man's attractiveness ?
dose it go mainly physical as women's that it should have its hijab too..

Initial attraction is always physical whether it's a man to a woman or a woman to a man. Am not talking about falling in love or having a relationship or making a lifelong commitment to someone. I'm talking about noticing an attractive passerby. Something you will probably forget about 5 min later.

If a girl who looks like Claudia Scheiffer visits my office the guys will notice. And if a Banderas look alike visits then the women will notice & we will all comment & giggle about it. Even if he has the dress sense of Bin Laden.

6/20/2005 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger LouLou said...


"Loulou, guys like to say that covering up more makes them curious, so that way gals will think that they should uncover to keep the guys away. Get it?

We know exactly what's underneath. We just want to see it for ourselves :) "

Reverse psychology you mean?Machiavellan!

And girls think guys are just dumb muscle & that we are the ones who manipulate you!

6/20/2005 05:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Mohamed said...

Yeah.. I guess so.. but we're still pretty dumb. See, girls end up taking the veil and we lose bardu!

Hey, if Claudia Scheiffer passes by, the girls will look at her before the guys.

6/20/2005 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger LouLou said...

I think guys do use the reverse psychology thing but not in the sense you mean.

My ex-fiance used to complain a lot about the way I dress. I thought he was exaggerating but I said fine if it bothers him that much I'll just dress more conservatively.Then what happens?I notice that when we go out together he sits around & stares at girls who are literally half-naked. Girls who are wearing things I would NEVER have dreamed of wearing.And I would be thinking huh?But I thought he liked women in conservative clothes. He'd told me it was more elegant & tasteful etc....

One time I was invited to a wedding in his family & I noticed him checking out one girl & I just snapped. I went up & started talking to her. Of course he was sweating because he was afraid I was going to make a scene. All I did was tell her I loved her dress & where did she get it.And we got into a girl's talk about dresses & styles etc...But he learnt his lesson. He never did it again. At least not when we were together.

Unfortunately when I tried to buy the dress it was out of stock. And I REALLY wanted it too!

One of many reasons he's my ex-fiance.

6/20/2005 09:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Mohamed said...

Well, he didn't ask you to dress conservatively to be more attractive, I don't think so. And ofcourse he'd find less dressed women attractive (if well-dressed and good looking), but he should've been respectful of you --that's the problem I see with him.

6/21/2005 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger LouLou said...


>>>Well, he didn't ask you to dress conservatively to be more attractive, I don't think so. <<<

He said it made him feel uncomfortable when he thought too many people were looking at me. And as I stated here I've never been convinced that it's a woman's fault if men are looking at her because it's a fact of life that men look at all women.

I guess when that line of argument didn't work he changed tactics & tried to convince me that he thinks I look more attractive when more covered up & of course THAT worked like a charm!

Anyway that's all in the past now. The only thing I still feel sad about is that he was a very old friend & when we got involved & it didn't work it ruined our friendship. We should just have stayed friends. I always worried about that but everyone kept saying but you two are so close etc....I think we both let others talk us into it. When a man & a woman are good friends everyone expects you to get married. I think in our culture the concept of friendship between men & women is still new. But that's another debate for another day.

6/21/2005 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger doshar said...

i amazingly noticed that the comments here are from guys, and no comment from a veiled girl?

well i am veiled, and mmay i tell you how it is at least for me)

just to understand where i mentally come from, let me tell you that i am 30, i wore the veil less than 2 years ago. so i was veiled at 28!! so i know both sides of the story

no social or cultural reasons caused my veiling.

i come from a social or cultuaral standard where it is just as ok to be veiled as it is not to.

i have friends and relatives from both the veiled and the non veiled. and i am the same person with them.

yes it does offer some prootection, i tell you. that is if you don't wanted to be stared at all the time

i felt it the very first day i got veiled. i would cross the street before, and every car with guys in it would chech me out!! i used to hate that. after hhijab, they actually don't. maybe there are exceptions but that is the rule

also, sadly people tend to stereotpe people by the way they appear, and sometimes you would appear more religous or respectable in veil in contrast to looking like a liberal free girl when not. believe me i have been in both situations

but that is not the reason i got veiled, i felt that your first statement of disregarding wehter it is fard or not can not apply, because that is exactly why i got veiled. i felt that it is something that God would require of me, and it would please God to do that and that is the most important thing that makes all the other arguments pointless. wether men look more or not, they can only see what God has allowed me to reveal, and so my concience is clear.

i can go on and on about this but it is quite a long story.

6/25/2005 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger LouLou said...


"i felt that it is something that God would require of me, and it would please God to do that and that is the most important thing that makes all the other arguments pointless. wether men look more or not, they can only see what God has allowed me to reveal, and so my concience is clear.

Ok fair enough. If someone wants to wear hijab as a religious act & another level of faith then that is logic I can accept.
What I find hard to accept is when someone thinks they can control other people's thoughts & reactions. Most of the time that is an illusion. You don't know how other people's minds work, their tastes or their backgrounds so how can you possibly hope to control what they look at or admire?
As I said I never felt that it's such a big disaster if someone looks at me. When a guy is attractive I look at him so why should I object if someone else finds me attractive & looks?It would be hypocritical.
And if someone is sitting in his car facing ahead & I walk right infront him what do I expect him to do?Turn his head the other way?Of course he'll look at me because I walked into his line of vision.
It does bother me when it's someone I know & have to talk to like at work & he's doing it to my face in a really perverted, invasive way but I know how to embarrass him & make him stop. Added to which if someone is that sick I doubt that wearing a hijab is going to stop him.
I'd do it if I really thought it would bring me closer to God & I'd do it for someone I care about. I'd go change if something I was wearing bothered my parents or my fiance like I mentioned. I just don't see myself making lifestyle decisions because of someone I think of as a pervert or because of some complete stranger on the street that I'll never see again.Neither one of them is that important in my life.

6/25/2005 09:43:00 PM  
Blogger doshar said...

What I find hard to accept is when someone thinks they can control other people's thoughts & reactions.

of course it is hard to accept. it is not your job or responsibility to change other people's thoughts or actions!!!

and it is not a good reason to wear hijab. if i hadn't worn hijab for religous reasons i would never have worn it for other people. before i wore hijab i never used to wear anything provocative and so kind of held the perverts at bay as you say. but hijab did actually help me get closer to God. before, because i was not veiled, i could not afford to audit myself and actions closely for mistakes and minor sins, it is like my subconcious says "i am not even veiled, so i would be hypocritical if i watch all the right and wrong in all my other actions and yet insist on this one."

by the way my comment on crossing the street and people looking, our street has a main flow with a traffic light and i have to wait on the side till it changes. that is when they look. so i am not walkinh in their line of vision. i would have to be a very vain or paranoid person to think that if i cross in front of a guy in a car then he is checking me out!!:)

anyway my point is, seebek from all this stuff about people's attitude and desires. if you wear hijab do it for God's sake and no one else, i for one would never have worn veil i think for my fiance, if i can't do it for God, who is suposed to be the dearest to our hearts then i won't. if it is not a religous matter i do have a very argumentive personality by the way.

6/26/2005 12:26:00 AM  
Anonymous sor said...

hi i want to comment on some stuff
first for rahmanium , iread something for you before and i was really disappointed from your opinion
What is that ???
women in 60s were more respectable in egypt although they were not in veil is that the way you guys excuse things to say that they are right ?

well ok in the 60s the social drinking was something common and people claim that they wererespectable , can we say that this is ok . does any thing seem to be acceptable in society is excused, well in some countries they might wear hot stuff in the public streets and people get used to that , so is that an excuse?

saying that uncovered girls dont arise curiosity can iask for something , isnt there something called instinct ? can we deny that arouses with guys when they see girls with unproper clothese? do u guys want to convince me that if two girlls are passing by one in veil and the other is wearing hot clothes, guys would look abd get curious to the one in veil.

well my best froned she wears 3bayat and theother is some how free , i can tek you they are both very kind and both are veryrespectable but people might take a wrong impression about the girl whois somehow free although she is not llike that At All so i think this how it proects us the veil , even if we are not really proper it just gives an impression even if itwasnt true that we are to an extent consevative, beside it is an order from God guys, so in whatterms are you making this argument ofr all for ?

well i can say something else , before i get in veil i was pretty conservative in my clothes , but yet sob7an ALlah i was put in a situation before i get in veil by 4 months that was in a hurghada and i and my best frien went to the beach and i never did before like 6 years, also i had my sis frind wedding and she took me one of the bride maids and i found pput that the dress she made for me is something that was over than i wear i mean not respectable enough and that ws before i get in veil nby 5 months

so my point is that even if you were respectable clothes , but veil cut itdown short for you in order not to thinkto wear or go into any other stuff like that .

As for the girls who wear tight geans well i adopt the concept which is called the LEAST, i dont like the concept of do it all or loos e it all , we make it harder on people, to stick to the right this way

lolou your fiance i guess he was a bit jealous , i think this is it

6/26/2005 01:05:00 AM  
Blogger Ummu Al-Fateh said...

at least it protects our skin..

9/01/2010 09:12:00 AM  

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