The sermons of the Islamic world seem to have faded away in the heartland of Muslim world, Iran or the mandate from the mullahs has started to lose its sheen. The recent change in the religious dogma of Islam majorly among the young Muslim women have brought the topic to an international debate. Why are Muslim women stepping out and displaying their freewill and opting for a hijab free dressing? Why do they want to renounce the compulsory dress approved and strongly advocated by the Holy books and clergy? Let us explore the possible reasons.
The desire to dress as they want has come to open platforms such as Facebook. A British journalist set up a Facebook page Stealthy Freedom in May 2014. The owner of the page is inundated with thousands of postings every day. She makes sure that she is not revealing the identity of the individual who have shown their interest in relinquishing the mandatory piece of clothing.
The Meaning of Hijab in the Books
If we look at the verses of the Holy Quran, it is clear that there are two specific readings that use two very specific words like ‘Khumur’ and ‘Jalabib’. On consulting the Arabic dictionary Lisanu I – Arab (as referred in Al-islam.org), it is clear that Islam has a clear preaching for the decency of women. Khumur means the piece of cloth that covers head and the word Jalabib means a loose outer garment to cover bosom. Now upon reading a lot of literature online and talking to some of the scholars (Delhi and Bihar based Maulvis), I have found that the Holy book nowhere mentions the word Hijab for women. But, there is a clear reading that suggests women should cover themselves to cover their modesty. The story begins in the Arab world that includes Syria and Iran before 625 C.E, when Prophet Muhammad was young and lived in a place that was a community mosque for the locals. And followers kept coming in and out. All the wives of Prophet Muhammad used to live in the same place. So in order to protect themselves from the bad intention of the visitors they were enjoined on wearing hijab. This was also applicable to the ladies coming to offer prayer to Allah through Muhammad, they had to speak to Prophet Muhammad from behind the veil. That clearly infers that the wives of the most powerful person in the community had instructions to wear hijab.
After the death of Prophet Muhammad, women commenced wearing hijab in order to have the same values of the wives of Muhammad as they were the most respected of all the women then. Gradually, hijab became a mandatory piece of clothing for all the women who believed/believe in Islam or Prophet Muhammad.
The history of hijab is as old as the origin of Islam, however a lot of changes can be noticed the way it has evolved from its original meaning. As women cannot go out without the prescribed piece of clothing, they started embellishing Hijab. From a mere piece of clothing used to cover their breasts and head, it became colorful and embroidered. The change was not given any heed in the Islamic world or by the law makers. They never thought that one day, this would lead to a revolution.
The questions stands ‘how did it start?’ Who started it?
In a news talk show organized by NDTV where Mr. Zakir Naik, ShaRukh Khan, Kabir Bedi and Soha Ali Khan as well as a Muslim scholar were invited to discuss ‘how Muslims are changing or becoming liberal’. When asked by the host, Barkha Dutt, Soha Ali Khan says that she has immense respect for Islam and she follows it, but when it comes to dressing she has her own understanding of choosing what to wear and what not to wear. Islam clearly says when you believe in Allah and follows what he says, you have to follow everything that he suggests. You cannot chose and pick what suits you. That means there is no place for liberalism in Islam. You have to follow the readings of the book to the core. Or you are not a Muslim.
I have been talking to some young Muslim girls about how they feel wearing a hijab when they go out. Most of them answered almost the same thing. They said they did not want to wear it as a mandatory religious clothing but as a fashion piece. When they feel it looks trendy, they feel like wearing it and obviously they cannot wear it in parties. When I asked those who wear hijab normally as Islamic tradition, they said that their parents have instructed them to wear hijab. They are wearing hijab and roaming around with male friends in the campus and go out for movies. The once dolesome picture is getting some colors finally, it seems. Soon, there would be a time when rituals would be fully customized as per individual’s need. For young boys, offering Namaz five times a week has reduced to one time on Friday only. Parents are not forcing them to follow it religiously as they see that they have less time to follow it religiously. Everybody wants their sons and daughters to compete with Sharmaji’s and Chopraji’s sons and daughters.
People are accepting change and women are the part of the change. This craving for change has compelled them to come out openly and show the world that they too have desires and wishes, wimps and fancies, dreams and aspirations. They want to fly, but not with clipped wings.
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