Yet another post about why burkha/hijab is ‘bad’ and should be banned. I’m so sick of this thing that I might just puke the green veggies I had for dinner.
This is originally a post I posted on facebook.
This is a counter-argument to points brought up by Saira Khan in her article HERE. It was published way back in 2009 but since these kind of articles never cease from being published – I’ll give my counter-arguments anyway. My points are not about why as a Muslim I should be wearing hijab (Burkha is a tradition of the Arabs, not a requirement of Islam per se) but rather, as to why her arguments are flaccid.
1) Not oppression.
Firstly, why is burkha/hijab always referred to as a form of oppression?*slapsforehead*
Oppression (according to the Meriam-Webster) is an unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power. Now, tell me, If I CHOOSE to wear it, in what sort of interpretation is it an oppression? If at all, I am the only one who is oppressing myself. And that brings us to my second point;
2) My rights.
Me choosing to do something is me making decision for me. Me deciding is me exercising my right to freedom of expression. People fight for all sorts of freedom and now, in the very name of freedom of speech, they’re trying to impinge others’ freedom? People can walk around scantily clad because it’s their choice but being ‘over-covered’ is definitely something forced upon them?
Religion isn’t personal but having able to exercise your religion is a personal right. I believe that people can argue about the content of your religion, that’s when (as a friend said) you start thinking about some thought stimulating challenges toward your faith, and answering them, broadening your understanding and build solid ground in it.
However, I disagree when people start fighting to stop us from doing whatever we do according to our believe.
3) Different definitions.
Just because you think something is wrong, doesn’t mean we (others) should too. This reminds me of the so-called ‘sacred’ mission of the West to bring about ‘proper civilisation’ as they invaded countries like Malaysia. What I still find debatable is the fact that what they thought civilisation is, may not be how we define it. And we, DO NOT need someone else’s definition of civilisation (or in this case, burkha/hijab) to live our life happily.
4) Differing opinions.
The writer talked about her terrifying experience wearing a burkha. How’s this even an argumentative point? I personally find wearing dresses made of polyester organza fabric extremely uncomfortable. So? It should banned because I’m talking on behalf of everyone who might buy and experience this discomfort? What??
The writer also said something about how since girls are forced to wear burkha/hijab since a very young age, they end up not having choices. Somewhat forced to wear it for their entire life or threatened with violence. Okay, it might be true elsewhere but I don’t think it is in Malaysia. As they grew up, they start to understand why they wear it & if they don’t, they remove their veil. I may disagree with their decision, I may try to explain & rationalise to them – but in the end, it’s their decision.
(the part where they’re forced to follow and if not, threatened with violence is another debatable point but I shall not discuss it in this post. Real Muslims aren’t violent, just know that for now.)
5) Muslims without hijab.
Fine, some Muslim find wearing a burkha/hijab as oppressive. But here’s the funny part, they aren’t even wearing it at the first place. And some never worn it before or don’t even understand why it is worn in the first place. I’m not trying to act holier-than-thou and condemning those who aren’t covering their heads, my point is – don’t condemn my decision to wear it. I can explain/reason to you why I’m doing this but if you refuse to try to understand, the least you can do is stay out of my way.
And here’s a comment from a friend, Amir Hakim about this:
Late to the party as usual, just like I am for lectures .
On the topic of freedom of choice, many do argue that the “mental conditioning” of religion means people do choose to adhere to its rulings, but that’s not what they REALLY want.
But just as I have seen young girls in hijab, I have also seen babies barely able to walk dressed in pants so short their diapers can be seen. Does the latter have any more freedom than the former?
My opinion is, when one is not “brainwashed” by organised religion, one is “brainwashed” by the more malicious and subtle “religion” of desire. It promises us freedom, only to lead us into slavery to our own wants and needs. True freedom can only come from discipline and practice in spirituality, as well as knowledge. If I want the freedom to play any song I want on the guitar, I must first go through many hours of practice, which to an observer might seem like shackling my musical freedom. If I try to be “free” right away, I will find myself bound by my own natural limitations. In the case of the spirit, this means reverting to the base desires of our limbic system.
Since no way is any “freer” than the other, which one is better? I can speak for only what I believe in, which is that the holistic islamic “control” system of faith, ritual, family, social conditioning and (finally) rule of law* is a good way of ensuring that a code of morality doesn’t just get enforced, but is embraced willingly by the people over the long term.
* “…Allah makes clear to you [His law], lest you go astray. And Allah is Knowing of all things.”
-Surah An-Nisa’ verse 176 (last sentence)
Of course, the more important thing is that the code being enforced is good. In my studies so far, i learned that our creed and moral code was sent down as a favour to us, to make our lives EASIER and to save us from hardship brought about by ourselves.
Nothing is free. Something of more value has a higher price. So what price would we pay for real freedom, peace of mind, confidence, purpose in life and long-term calm happiness? Some desires must be sacrificed, but surely it’s worth it, especially after the desires are “conditioned” away. Once one feels that peace, there is no other way one would rather be.
The catch is, religion cannot be simply personal. This is because we are social creatures, and our peace is dependent on the extent others impinge on our freedoms. Even if I were to find enlightenment in some way, it’s hard for me to find peace when people around me are robbing, murdering and raping away. For everyone to be free to experience peace, the freedoms of some have to be suppressed. The win-win situation? Mental and social conditioning for everyone so that they won’t even want these “freedoms” that get in the way of peace.
What about you? What you think about this?