The attempt to regulate the wearing of the hijab in France is disturbing. Wearing a hijab is part of worship in the Islamic faith, writes Ahmed Wetaka
Tempers are flaring around the Muslim world over the proposal to ban Muslim women from wearing hijab in France. The proposal stems from a report prepared by the committee of the national parliament.
32 deputies of the committee allegedly studied the issue of wearing traditional Muslim clothing in public places due to numerous complaints received from native citizens of France.
It is alleged that native French are concerned with the growing number of women dressed in dark overalls in the streets. The members of the committee came to the conclusion that hijabs, naqabs and alias veils symbolise oppression and terrorism.
The deputies decided that the garments violated the principle of sexual equality and were therefore incompatible with the norms of France. The committee recommended that government drafts a law regulating the wearing of hijabs in public places including schools, markets and offices.
A woman who wears a hijab as a religious obligation does not expect reward from her husband or members of family but from her creator. This proposal from France boarders on the extreme and is in bad taste. France is one of the countries which claim to believe in democracy and individual enjoyment of freedoms.
I also believe France is one of the countries whose leaders are arm-twisting Uganda not to endorse a bill outlawing gay practices, arguing that gays have a right to enjoy their way of life. Ironically, the same people are trying hard to legislate against Muslim women from wearing a harmless piece of cloth.
The events in France raise two questions; are Muslim women putting on hijabs because they are of a lesser sex or inferior? Does the hijab have benefits for those who choose to wear it? Muslim women wear it for many reasons including piety, identity and even as political statements. According to the Koran, women put on Hijabs for their own protection.
Koran 33:59 says: “O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever forgiving, merciful.”
Even on the streets of Kampala, it takes a lot of courage for any man to mock a woman dressed in a hijab; I have seen several women, even non-Muslims, being addressed respectfully as Hajati, just because they are dressed in one.
So where is the issue of subjection coming from? It should not be forgotten that the Koran does not give men liberty to dress any way they want. Koran 7:26 says: “O you Children of Adam! We have bestowed on you raiment to cover your shame as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness, that is the best. Such are among the signs of Allah, that they may receive admonition.”
Trying to equate the Hijab to a symbol of oppression is farfetched, and it’s a figment of people’s imagination. The Koran teaches women not to expose their beauty except to their husbands. Koran 24:31says: “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 must ordinarily appear thereof…”
The west claims to be fighting for the women’s rights but has actually exposed to them to exploitation. For example, why would a radio station or newspaper launching its publication choose a woman who is barely dressed? What has the nudity of a woman got to do with creating a listnership for a radio station? The Koran is not alone in trying to agitate for decency amongst the female folk. The Bible also calls for decency amongst women.
1 Corinthians 11:5 says: “But every woman that prayeth or prophesied with her head uncovered dishonoured her head: for that is as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.”
The same message is repeated in 1 Timothy 2:9-10: “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becomes women professing godliness) with good works.”
In my discussions with Christian friends, many say what is important is not the outside appearance but inner faiths. My reply is always, “Thank you, that is your opinion but the scripture says something different.”
James 2: 26 says: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also”. It is one thing to believe that one is descent but the Bible says walk the talk. What the French and their supporters are actually doing is to try and undo what God has planned with the misconception of hurting Muslims.