Are Muslim Women Oppressed By Hijab?

The feeling still persists in society that Muslim women wear Hijaab or the outer covering because they are slaves to tradition, so much so that it is seen as a symbol of oppression. Western society says that women’s liberation and independence is impossible unless they first remove the Hijaab. This view is not correct. Why do Muslim women wear the outer covering that sometimes covers their face and hides the rest of their body?

Almighty Allah says in the Holy Qur’an, Chapter 33, Verse 59: “O Prophet! Tell your wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons; that is better, that they should be known (as such) and not be molested.” And in Chapter 24, Verse 31: “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what appear thereof; that they should draw their scarves over their bosoms – ”

Muslim women all over the world are wearing Hijaab as a religious requirement and a sign of respect, not out of a misdirected sense of “tradition.” It is both a sign of a women’s obedience to Allah and a manifestation of her faith. The Hijaab is part of a Muslim’s religious identity. It gives women dignity and self-respect.

Islam commands women to cover their bodies so as not to trouble men who are weak and unable to resist temptation. In Islam, men and women are commanded to dress modestly and not appear “naked” in public, even in all male and female situations.

Just as a short skirt or a see-through dress can send the signal that the wearer is available to men, so the Hijaab signals, loud and clear: “I am forbidden to you.” Wearing the Hijaab protects the female from harassment and men. It is the western women who are to be pitied for displaying their private self for all to see.

An American, Ruth Anderson, has said: “Hijaab is not a sign of backwardness, ignorance or mental incompetence, but a woman’s duty and her right.”

A women in Hijaab is like a jewel that is of high exceptional value and that which must be kept hidden. Wearing the Hijaab is a choice that Muslim women make. To discard the Hijaab or expose that part of her body ordered covered by the Divine Law is to disobey Islamic principles and a women’s basic Islamic belief.


Growing popularity of Islamic dress code in Indonesia has started a new trend. Women from the middle income group have explicitly shown escalating preference to Islamic clothes resulting in a multi-million fashion industry as admitted by Aami Waamsu, Editor of the fashion magazine “Femina.”

According to Taufiq Abdullah Nigar of Indonesian Science Institute, this shocking trend has developed in the short span of the last 2 – 3 years. This has been in the wake of the recognition that Indonesian men are more respectful towards women in Islamic attire. Previously, modern Indonesian women wore tops, pants and ordinary scarves. Nowadays, preference is given to dignified loose clothing with scarves completely covering the head.

The fever has caught on to such an extent that even non-Muslim designers have resorted to designing Islamic clothes. Muslim women are active in social, religious and political fields dressed according to Islamic dressing code. A really interesting angle of this “fashion revival” is that so impressed are the non-Muslim women by this trend that they too have begun to imitate it!


At the Beijing World (“anti-Islam & anti-religion”) Conference, “experts” talked about the need to liberate Muslim women from Islam, and in general all women from religion. It was easy to see that there were open attacks against Islam and religion in general. There were also open talks about rights for prostitutes, lesbians and homosexuals. The Conference also discussed about the rights of children over their sexual lives.

Betty Freidan, an American feminist leader and author, talked about the dangers Islamic conservatism poses to women. In a panel session entitled “Muslim Women in North America”, led by a Muslim delegate chosen by the Clinton administration to represent the US as a liaison between the US and the Muslim and Arab worlds, a panel member vehemently attacked the Imams of North American mosques for fanaticism against Muslim women in the “land of freedom”.

In another session that was chaired by a feminist Hindu, she described how the Vatican had come together with Islam for the purpose of denying women’s rights. Another speaker in this session, who was a liberal Catholic, encouraged women to become more “open” and to acquire power. She also said that “the biggest mistake in the universe” is to envision an “omnipotent or perfect God.” Dr Riffat Hassan, a professor in Islamic studies from the University of Louisville, explained how she had been engaged in the last 20 years in developing a “feminist theology in the context of Islam”.

It was also clear from the Conference that the powers who were running the UN have an agenda to impose their own “Shariah” on the entire world. Just by attending the Conference at government level, the Muslim countries accepted the principle that they could negotiate about this imposed Shariah. Muslim delegates did not realize that they were actually “dignifying” a gathering that could not be dignified.

The Conference failed to encourage the individuals need in altering their life styles in order to combat sexually transmitted diseases; did not encourage family life and morality; for women (and men) to abstain from early sex; etc. The UN also encourages that for women to work in a factory or an office is a right; to stay at home is an oppression. A woman should not be dependent of her husband; she should be dependent on her boss.

Muslims throughout the world, including all South African Muslims, must condemn and reject this Conference. What about the women in Kashmir who jumped into the Jhelum River in Kashmir to protect their honor from the Indian forces? Why did the World Conference on Women not speak about that! What about the 70, 000 Muslim women raped, abused and beaten in Bosnia? What about the millions in Iraq, Kashmir and Bosnia who are without food and medicine? The “women’s right” which the Conference speaks about is far from the women’s rights which Islam grants. This is nothing but an attempt by the UN and the world in condemning Islam, Islamic values and creating a world and society completely devoid of all sensibility and shame. (Facts extracted from “Impact International” – Vol.25 No.10)

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