HIJAB IN THE WORKPLACE

Below is a question/answer format for the topic of hijab at work.

Q. What are the requirements for Muslim women's dress?

         A: Rules regarding Muslim women's (and men's) attire are derived from
              the Quran, Islam's revealed text, and the traditions (hadith) of the
              Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In the Quran, God states: "Say to
              the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their
              modesty...And say to the believing women that they should lower their
              gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty
              and adornments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they
              should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty
              except to their husbands, their fathers...(a list of exceptions)"
              [Chapter 24, verses 30-31] Also, "O Prophet! Tell thy wives and
              daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer
              garments over their persons...that they should be known and not
              molested." [Chapter 33, verse 59]

 

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The Command of War in Islam

Certain verses of the Qur'an give the command to do battle (22:39). Here are a few points on this subject that we learn from our study of the Qur'an.

The first point is that to initiate aggression or armed confrontation is absolutely forbidden for Muslims. That is why the Qur'an clearly states: Fight in the cause of God those who fight against you, but do not transgress (2:190).

Islam allows only a defensive war. That is, when aggression is resorted to by others, Muslims may engage in war only in self-defence. The initiation of hostilities is not permitted for Muslims. Combat may be engaged in only when "they (the opponents) were the first to commence hostilities against you." (Qur'an, 9:13)

Furthermore, even in the face of aggression, Muslims are not immediately to wage a defensive war. Instead they are to employ all possible means to prevent a carnage from taking place. They are to resort to fighting only when it becomes totally unavoidable. All the battles that took place during the life of the Prophet provide practical examples of this principle. For instance, during the campaign of Ahzab, the Prophet attempted to avoid the battle by digging a trench, and thus successfully averted war. If, on the occasion of Hunain, the Prophet had to engage in battle, it was because it had become inevitable.

There was another kind of war, according to the Qur'an, which was temporarily desirable. That was the struggle to end religious persecution (fitna) (2:193).

In this verse 'fitna refers to that coercive system which reaches the extremes of religious persecution. Prevalent all over the world in ancient times, this system had effectively closed the doors to all kinds of spiritual and material progress for man. Therefore, God commanded His devotees to put an end to the kings' and emperors' reign of terror in order to usher in an age of freedom in which man might receive all kinds of spiritual and material benefits.

This task was undertaken internally within Arabia during the life of the Prophet of Islam. Afterwards, the Sassanid and Byzantine empires were dismantled by divine succour during the period of the rightly-¬guided caliphs. Consequently, the coercive political system ended at the international level, and thus began an age of intellectual freedom.

In this connection we find a very authentic tradition recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari. When, after the caliphate of Ali ibn Abi Talib, Abdullah ibn Zubayr and the Umayyads engaged themselves in political confrontation, Abdullah ibn Umar (son of the second Caliph) and the senior-most surviving companion of the Prophet kept himself aloof from this battle. A group of people came to him and, referring to the verse (2:193), which commanded the believers to do battle in order to put an end to persecution, asked him why he was not willing to join the battle, Abdullah ibn Umar replied that ‘fitna’ did not refer to their political confrontation, but referred rather to religious persecution, which they had already brought to an end. (Fathul Bari, 8/160).

This makes it clear that the war putting an end to persecution was a temporary war, of limited duration, which had already been concluded during the period of the rightly guided caliphs. Now justifying the waging of war by citing this verse is not at all acceptable. This verse will apply only if the same conditions prevail in the world once again.

Biographers of the Prophet have put the number of war campaigns at 80. When a reader goes through these biographies, he receives the impression that the Prophet of Islam during his 23-year prophetic period waged wars at least four times a year. But this impression is entirely baseless. The fact is that the Prophet of Islam in his entire prophetic period fought only three battles. All the other incidents, called ghazwa, or military expeditions, are in fact, examples of avoidance of battle, rather than of involvement in battle.

For instance, the incident of al-Ahzab has been called a battle in the books of seerah. Whereas in reality, on this occasion, 12,000 armed tribesmen of Arabia came to the border of Madinah in order to wage war, but the Prophet and his companions did not allow the battle to take place by digging a trench, which acted as a buffer between the Muslims and the aggressors. The same is the case with all those incidents, called ghazwa, or battles. Whenever the Prophet's opponents wanted to involve him in battle, the Prophet managed to defuse the situation by adopting one strategy or another.

There are three occasions when the Prophet entered the field of armed combat – at Badr, Uhud and Hunain. But as proven by events, fighting had become inevitable on all these occasions. The Prophet had no choice but to do battle with the aggressors. Furthermore, each of these military engagements lasted for only half a day, beginning at noon and ending by sunset. Therefore, it would not be wrong to say that the Prophet in his entire life took up arms only for one and a half days. That is to say, of the entire 23-year prophetic period, except for one and a half days, the Prophet observed the principle of non-violence.

While giving the command of battle to the Prophet and his companions, the Qur'an clearly states that it was the other party, which had commenced hostilities (9:13). This verse gives conclusive evidence that there is only defensive war in Islam. It is absolutely unlawful for the believers to wage an offensive war. The Islamic method is entirely based on the principle of non-violence. Islam does not allow for violence in any circumstance except that of unavoidable defence.

taken from: http://www.cpsglobal.org/content/command-war-islam

WOMEN IN ISLAM VERSUS WOMEN IN THE JUDEO-CHRISTIAN TRADITION

WOMEN IN ISLAM VERSUS WOMEN IN THE JUDEO-CHRISTIAN TRADITION:
THE MYTH
& THE REALITY  

BY Dr. Sherif Abdel Azeem

1. INTRODUCTION

Five years ago, I read in the Toronto Star issue of July 3, 1990 an article titled "Islam is not alone in patriarchal doctrines", by Gwynne Dyer. The article described the furious reactions of the participants of a conference on women and power held in Montreal to the comments of the famous Egyptian feminist Dr. Nawal Saadawi. Her "politically incorrect" statements included : "the most restrictive elements towards women can be found first in Judaism in the Old Testament then in Christianity and then in the Quran"; "all religions are patriarchal because they stem from patriarchal societies"; and "veiling of women is not a specifically Islamic practice but an ancient cultural heritage with analogies in sister religions". The participants could not bear sitting around while their faiths were being equated with Islam. Thus, Dr. Saadawi received a barrage of criticism. "Dr. Saadawi's comments are unacceptable. Her answers reveal a lack of understanding about other people's faiths," declared Bernice Dubois of the World Movement of Mothers. "I must protest" said panellist Alice Shalvi of Israel women's network, "there is no conception of the veil in Judaism." The article attributed these furious protests to the strong tendency in the West to scapegoat Islam for practices that are just as much a part of the West's own cultural heritage. "Christian and Jewish feminists were not going to sit around being discussed in the same category as those wicked Muslims," wrote Gwynne Dyer.

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Liberation by the Veil

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by Sehmina Jaffer Chopra

  Modesty and chastity , very important ideologies with Islam, are achieved by prescribing standards on behavior and the dress of a Muslim. A woman who adheres to the tenets of Islam is required to follow the dress code called Hijab, other synonyms are Veil, Purdah, or just Covering. It is an act of faith and establishes a Muslim's life with honor, respect and dignity. The Hijab is viewed as a liberation for women, in that the covering brings about "an aura of respect" (Takim, 22) and women are recognized as individuals who are admired for their mind and personality, "not for their beauty or lack of it" ( Mustafa ) and not as sex objects.

Contrary to popular belief, the covering of the Muslim woman is not oppression but a liberation from the shackles of male scrutiny and the standards of attractiveness. In Islam, a woman is free to be who she is inside, and immune from being portrayed as sex symbol and lusted after. Islam exalts the status of a woman by commanding that she "enjoys equal rights to those of man in everything, she stands on an equal footing with man " (Nadvi, 11) and both share mutual rights and obligations in all aspects of life.

Men and women though equal are not identical, and each compliments the other in the different roles and functions that they are responsible to. " From an Islamic perspective, to view a woman as a sex symbol is to denigrate her. Islam believes that a woman is to be judged by her [virtuous] character and actions rather than by her looks or physical features" (Takim, 22). In the article, "My Body Is My Own Business", Ms. Naheed Mustafa , a young Canadian born and raised, university-educated Muslim woman writes, "The Quran [ which is the Holy Book for Muslims] teaches us that men and women are equal, that individuals should not be judged according to gender, beauty, wealth or privilege. The only thing that makes one person better than another is his or her character." She goes on to say, "In the Western world, the hijab has come to symbolize either forced silence or radical, unconscionable militancy. Actually, its neither. It is simply a woman's assertion that judgment of her physical person is to play no role whatsoever in social interaction."

Muslims believe that God gave beauty to all women, but that her beauty is not be seen by the world, as if the women are meat on the shelf to be picked and looked over. When she covers herself she puts herself on a higher level and men will look at her with respect and she is noticed for her intellect , faith ,and personality, not for her beauty. In many societies, especially in the West, women are taught from early childhood that their worth is proportional to their attractiveness and are compelled to follow the male standards of beauty and abstract notions of what is attractive, half realizing that such pursuit is futile and often humiliating (Mustafa). Chastity , modesty, and piety are promoted by the institution of veiling. The hijab in no way prevents a woman from playing her role as an important individual in a society nor does it make her inferior." (Takim,22)

A Muslim woman may wear whatever she pleases in the presence of her husband and family or among women friends. But when she goes out or when men other than her husband or close family are present she is expected to wear a dress which will cover [her hair and] all parts of her body , and not reveal her figure. What a contrast with Western fashions which every year concentrate quite intentionally on exposing yet another erogenous zone to the public gaze! The intention of Western dress is to reveal the figure, while the intention of Muslim dress is to conceal [and cover] it, at least in public (Lemu,25).

The Muslim woman does not feel the pressures to be beautiful or attractive, which is so apparent in the Western and Eastern cultures. She does not have to live up to expectations of what is desirable and what is not. Superficial beauty is not the Muslim woman's concern, her main goal is inner spiritual beauty. She does not have to use her body and charms to get recognition or acceptance in society. It is very different from the cruel methods that other societies subject women, in that their worth is always judged by their physical appearance. The are numerous examples of discrimination at the workplace where women are either accepted or rejected, because of their attractiveness and sex appeal.

Another benefit of adorning the veil is that it is a protection for women. Muslims believe that when women display their beauty to everybody, they degrade themselves by becoming objects of sexual desire and become vulnerable to men, who look at them as " gratification for the sexual urge"(Nadvi,8). The Hijab makes them out as women belonging to the class of modest chaste women, so that transgressors and sensual men may recognize them as such and dare not tease them out of mischief" (Nadvi, 20). Hijab solves the problem of sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances, which is so demeaning for women, when men get mixed signals and believe that women want their advances by the way they reveal their bodies.

The western ideology of, 'if you have it, you should flash it!' is quite opposite to the Islamic principle, where the purpose is not to bring attention to ones self, but to be modest. Women in so many societies are just treated as s ex symbols and nothing more than just a body who "display themselves to get attention" (Mustafa). A good example is in advertising, where a woman's body is used to sell products. Women are constantly degraded, and subjected to reveal more and more of themselves. .

The Covering sanctifies her and forces society to hold her in high esteem. Far from humiliating the woman, Hijab actually grants the woman an aura of respect, and bestows upon her a separate and unique identity (Takim, 2). According to the Qu'ran, the same high standards of moral conduct are for men as it is for women. Modesty is essential in a man's life, as well, whether it be in action, morals or speech. Islam also commands proper behavior and dress of men, in that they are not allowed to make a wanton show of their bodies to attract attention onto themselves, and they too must dress modestly. They have a speci al commandment to lower their eyes, and not to brazenly stare at women.

In Sura Nur of the Holy Qu'ran it says, " Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them, and God is well acquainted with what they do". Many of the misconceptions of the Muslim woman in the west, particularly her veil stems from Arab and Muslim countries that have deviated from the true doctrines of Islam, and have " mixed up Islamic principles with pre-Islamic pagan traditions" (Bahnassawi, 67)

In this present period of decline from Islam, many Muslim women are alienated , isolated from social life, and are oppressed by Muslim men and rulers who use the name of religion for their injustices. (Bahnassawi, 65) In this instance, the Hijab is used as a means of keeping many Muslim women away from society, with the misconception that it signifies isolation and weakness. But as many Muslim women come back into the fold of the untainted and true Islam, they are able to recognize the injustice of men who have for so long stripped them of their rights to be an integral part of society and "deserving the same dignity, honor, progress and prosperity as the men" (Nadvi,26). Women regaining their true identity and role in society, are now wearing Hijab and embracing its concept of liberation for women, and are taking their rightful places that Islam had endowed upon them fourteen hundred years ago.

Please copy and distribute to whoever can benefit from the above paper. Thank you, peace and blessings of Allah to all my brothers and sisters in Islam,

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