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Thread: Islamic Beliefs Regarding Women

  1. #1

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    Default Islamic Beliefs Regarding Women

    Just a quick question, to Dachlostar and any other Muslims out there...

    What is the significance of the woman wearing the veil? Is it true that she should not show her body to any man other than her husband? And are there any similar proscriptions on the man? I am wondering about the significance of these beliefs...


  2. #2

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    Dachlostar will probably come on and talk about this, but try the 'Clothing requirements' thread that Sarah_H started - Dachlostar's answer there may give you a starting point...

  3. #3

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    This was on the radio a few months back: the Islamic chappy on there said that the veil was a requirement for the wives of Mohammed, they were the only women required not to show their faces, so therefore using the veil today is not needed - but this was on a debate because a school aide (working with 5 year olds) refused to take her veil off and the children couldn't hear or understand her too well because of it. The lady speaker said that it was modest to wear a veil and to hide your beauty, but sadly they didn't read or answer my question of if you're supposed to look plain and modest, not showing off your features, why the heavy kohl around the eyes?

    I would love to hear some more perspectives on this and understand it more, as it has been quite a volatile topic last year in the UK.

  4. #4

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    I'll try not to ramble on but as a woman, a Muslim and a feminist it might be difficult lol.
    The main significance of the veil/hijab is that it is a requirement of Islam outlined in the Quran.
    There is a fairly common misconception that Muslim women wear the viel because Muslim men make them do so. The truth is that this is quite rare. Most women wear hijab because of their faith not because of their men. I know several women who wear hijab against the wishes of their fathers and husbands and my husband has been known to whinge that I look like a granny when I'm feeling a bit lazy and just chuck and abaya (big dress) on rather than getting dressed up.
    Hijab/covering also has a fairly feminist dimension in that it explicitly rejects the male gaze.
    I'm being lazy now and quoting wikipedia rather than doing my own typing..
    Male gaze in relation to feminist theory presents asymmetrical gaze as a means of exhibiting an unequal power relationship; that is, the male imposes an unwanted gaze upon the female. While some argue that women who fit the ideal of female beauty enjoy this gaze, many second-wave feminists would argue whether these women are actually willing, noting that they may be merely seeking to conform to the hegemonic norms constructed to the benefit of male interests that further underline the power of the male gaze.
    . By covering muslim women refuse to participate in becoming objects for a male gaze and force interaction that is based upon mental engagement rather than physical appearance.
    The irony of course is that in the cultural interaction between Islam and the west the feminist dimension of hijab is generally marginalised and is viewed in the opposite light; as a symbol of oppresion rather than liberation.
    Sadly in some cultures with Muslim majorities this is the case but this is more a result of cultural traditions than Islam.
    I think one of the sad ironies of our time is the miscommunication between Western feminists and Muslim women. Arguably many Western feminists have followed a fairly rascist agenda that assumes that non-Western women want to be the same as Western women but I think it's true to say that most modern feminists are aware that differant women have different ideals and that we should be striving to help women attain thier own goals rather than imposing ours upon them. That said many of the goals of Western feminists such as sexual equality, women's only space, recognition for the value women's work in the home are made explicit in Islam. Under Islamic law a woman can ask for a divorce if she is not satisfied sexually (The Quran mandates foreplay), upon divorce a woman has a right to a divorce settlement and a marraige isn't considered valid without a pre-nup. These guidelines were laid down over 1500 years ago which is fairly remarkable in light of the fact that until only a century ago women in many Western countries forfieted all their property on their marriage and could not get it back if they divorced. In addition I should mention that one of the best known sayings in Islam is that paradise is at the feet of the mothers. Of course some men have chosen to ignore all these laws and others regarding to women and gender relations.

    In regards to proscriptions upon men, firstly there is a law which commands them to lower their gaze. so even if a woman chooses not to observe hijab they should just look away. I went to the Rocks on a friday night once with DH and a very religious friend of his. The poor guy spent the whole night watching his toes lol. In terms of men's dress men are required at the most basic level to cover from their navel to their knees in front of men and women but usually in tradition Muslim societies men's dress is as modest as women's.

    That's the short version lol.
    If you don't understand my ramblings or have any more questions feel free to ask.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosehip_Fairy View Post
    This was on the radio a few months back: the Islamic chappy on there said that the veil was a requirement for the wives of Mohammed, they were the only women required not to show their faces, so therefore using the veil today is not needed - but this was on a debate because a school aide (working with 5 year olds) refused to take her veil off and the children couldn't hear or understand her too well because of it. The lady speaker said that it was modest to wear a veil and to hide your beauty, but sadly they didn't read or answer my question of if you're supposed to look plain and modest, not showing off your features, why the heavy kohl around the eyes?

    I would love to hear some more perspectives on this and understand it more, as it has been quite a volatile topic last year in the UK.
    Ryn, the idea that only the wives of the Prophet had to cover is a fairly recent one and it isn't really supported by traditional scholarship. Traditionally there are a number of sources of Islamic law. They are the Quran, the Sunnah (the sayings and actions of the Prophet), Ijma (the concensus of the community) and qiyas (analogical reasoning). Some modern groups try to make rulings that are based only on the Quran and the ruling that hijab only applies to the wives of the scholars is one of those rulings. Ironically enough the 2 groups that tend to do this are the most opposed to one another; the radicals (Osama binLaden etc) and the apologists (your chappy and the others who want to bow to the west). Traditional islam is far more multi-faceted than either of these groups choose to believe.

  6. #6

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    chloe - your posts regarding islam are always interesting and enlightening - i'll admit to being somewhat ignorant to islamic culture having honestly had very little exposure - so this has been very interesting reading for me!

  7. #7

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    Thank you Chloe! As always, most enlightening.

    P.S. I don't think you could 'ramble' if you tried - you write so lucidly and comprehensively!

  8. #8

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    As DH is a muslim i have learnt a bit about the hijab in the past few years and I think this liberating aspect of it is wonderful:
    By covering muslim women refuse to participate in becoming objects for a male gaze and force interaction that is based upon mental engagement rather than physical appearance.
    In western society, women are judged so much more on appearance than men. Even we women do it. I find myself noticing Julia Gillard's many changes in hair do rather than listening to her speak I think it would be very liberating to wear it and take away some of the competetiveness women have toward each other.

  9. #9

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    Thank you for clarification, Chloe - as always, a joy to read!

    I agree with Anney, how nice it would be to not be judged on looks. I find myself more and more in agreement with the hijab (if not the full-face covering - that's something beginning with N, I think, but can't remember the word), but then I think it's more a backlash against the current "who has the most flesh on display" contest that seems to be current pop-star fashion. I would think feminism was more helped by not looking like you were dressing to titilate men, how is going out wearing almost nothing liberating? It just encourages ogling and the objectification of women.

  10. #10

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    Wow - haven't read or thought about feminist theory in years

    The idea of the "male gaze" and women being complicit in judging eachother sure is interesting when you consider all those skimpy tops, bras and g-strings aimed at little girls.....especially when you consider women usually buy these for their daughters.

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