Monday, 27 July 2015

My Thoughts on Hijab and Islam

DISCLAIMER: This post contains my view on religions, especially Islam - which is my own. If this is a sensitive topic for you or you feel uncomfortable reading about it, please feel free to skip this article. This is fully and wholly written based on my own opinion without the intention of forcing it on anyone. Constructive criticism - when told politely and with respect - is always welcome. However, flaming and disrespect are not. Please tread with caution.


Lately, more than ever, I start to notice more and more people wearing hijab. They might not, of course; the number could be pretty much stable. But, much like baby fever, once you're hit, you see your subject of obsession everywhere. You could say I am hit with hijab fever. They're actually quite similar, in which being in such a fever doesn't guarantee you taking action upon your obsession immediately. Why? Because they both require a great amount of commitment. Unlike babies, however, which you may or may not be able to conceive no matter how hard you try, hijab fevers are easier to satisfy. Throw a scarf on your head and you're pretty much done. Another difference between the two, though, is people don't really judge you for having babies - it's a universal "you do you, I do me" situation - whereas some people might react badly toward your hijab, even though you wearing it has nothing whatsoever to do with them.

For months now my interest in hijab has grown and I have expressed them to my friends; some of them have worn it for as long as I've known them, some for years and some for only several weeks. Interestingly, they all have very different views toward hijab and what they entail. Some claim to have received enlightenment and, thus, cover up. Some do it because they made a promise to God. While others are quite lighthearted about it: they wear it because they don't see why not. Getting to know their opinions on the matter gives me an insight of what wearing hijab is all about. I respect them for wearing it, of course, as long as they know that it is entirely their own choice - although also a command from The Almighty - but I cannot help but to see hijab as this huge thing, instead of a piece of fabric you put around your head to cover your hair and neck.

Growing up, I never really had anyone to look up to who wear hijab: most of the female members of my family are quite uncovered. They dress up like proper women, though, never having worn anything too revealing - still on the appropriate and polite side. Hijab to me felt like something older women wore, for whatever reason, and nothing so huge as I think now. The world was different then. Religions meant nothing else than something you believe in whose rituals you are ready to abide to. There were no wars between faiths, nor were there playing God within them. People used to say prayers their own way and nobody was none the wiser for telling them otherwise. It was a different time.

How did we get to a world where having a religion - any kind of religions - is such a shameful thing? How did talking about our beliefs lead to flames and discomfort? Don't tell me that's the way the world's always been! Because I knew a time when that wasn't the case at all. So people whisper their prayers instead of screaming them out loud, they burn their incense in the darkness instead of in the daylight and they say the word 'God' nobody believes in instead of 'Allah' or 'Jesus' or anyone else they actually do. Some even eventually walk away, decide to stop believing in The Almighty. Everyone blames the wrongs of the world in religions. But religions can't be wrong, can it?  It's just a belief. It's the action, the people, the culprits who are wrong. And, believe me, people who attack others in the name of God are the ones who sin the worst. Ask them about their so-called religion, they won't know what to say. They will pretend to cite the words of God to you, but they don't know what they mean. They will set their guns on you, instead of indulging in your questions. They're not fighting for God; The Almighty doesn't need no damn army. They're fighting for their own ego. Always.

Another thing that seems odd to me: If The Almighty creates the universe and everything in it, how did the world divide between science - which sets out to uncover the secrets of the world - and religion - which sets out to uncover the secrets of God? Shouldn't they actually unite? But, throughout history, we know how stunted the development of science has been due to religious institutes. Let's call Galileo into account. Despite his evidences, the Church refused to believe that everything will land on earth the same time, despite the mass. Or Da Vinci, and how the Church cursed him for trying to learn human anatomy. Imagine how far we would've been now, had those obstacles not happened! I'm sure it's not only in Christendom, of course. In early twentieth century, ulemas in Iran forbade the study of foreign languages as well as human bodies in medical schools. Another religion versus science situation. Which begs the question: why is that? Countless surahs and hadiths have cited that God encourages us - even make it our duty - to learn as much as we possibly can about the world, the earth and the universe that He's created. Some scientists even found Allah during his journey to understand His creations.

Nevertheless, something called scientology was founded and the distance between science and religion seems to grow. Aside from that, it really doesn't help that most religious leaders seem to not have been highly educated in other sciences. So none of them ever question why God forbids certain things and command others, even though The Almighty himself encourages us to do so.

That, in turn, leads to shaming and pointing fingers. People aren't allowed to dissect the meaning of Allah's words their own ways anymore, even though they will still stick to the truth once they find it. People who claim to be the most devout of us curse us for making mistakes, despite our eagerness to learn and grow as a person, as a human being. They point out our flaws and shortcomings, as if we don't already know, as if we don't need process to be better. Allah never once mentions in his Qur'an that we should be perfect in the snap of a finger. He always, always says that we should try, that we should ask for His guidance, not His approval. He knows we are flawed and that's why we should believe in Him. There was this phenomenon called jilboobs in our country, which became quite a scandal some time ago - I don't know if it's also the case in other Islamic nations. While these women might have been wrong to flaunt their 'curves,' it does not justify the finger-pointing other people do toward them. Wearing hijab is a process, it takes time for you to learn about what you can and cannot do. You don't criticise these women, especially when you do not wear - or have to wear - hijab yourself; you guide them with love, you pray for their growth and you praise them for their drive to be better. Nobody can really count someone's imaan, no one but God and His angels. So why don't we all stop playing God, judging others and claiming righteousness? We've all made mistakes, it does not bode well with Allah and each other, when we don't acknowledge our own sins.

This incessant need to judge others, to let them know - harshly - that they're wrong, to force them to change according to your own time; it tears us apart as a civilisation. Even Allah has cited in Surah Al-Kafirun (109: 6), "For you is your religion, and for me is my religion." Forcing your belief and your version of 'the truth' on others will only drive them away, farther from enlightenment and The Almighty's will. Also the reason why some women choose not to wear hijab yet, if ever. They know the moment that put that scarf on permanently, there is a stamp on their head that says they are now the "face of Islam." Allah never says they are, of course, it's people who think so. And, whether they like it or not, every little thing they do seem to be under microscope, observed intensively. Ironically, this is done mostly by their own brothers and sisters of the same belief. Funny, isn't it, how a piece of scarf on your head can be so overwhelming and heavy?

These days I ask this question to myself: "Why don't I try wearing hijab right now?" I had to think long and hard upon it, especially with so many of my friends doing so now. If you remember, three years ago, I wrote this post where I shared my plans after marriage. Though I start to wonder if I could follow through with it, I definitely will still fulfil it as best I can since I've promised Allah - and myself. But, if I have to start right now, I don't think I can. The first reason being my relationship with Firu. It may seem shallow, but I believe our relationship has brought me so many good things and positive outlook on life. I don't want to give that up, I don't want to give up the relationship I have with his family. Romantic relationships - or "pacaran" as we call it - is just a status, of course, but it's the judgment from other people that I cannot bear. Aside from that, I want to get fully ready with my wardrobe before I plunge. Now I'm starting to invest more on Muslimah clothing items, sadly there are very few ethical ones that I can find. And I'd still like to abide to that principle of mine. What's the point of wearing hijab and devoting yourself to Allah, if you do so by hurting people and nature, right? So until then, I'll try to build up my closet and grow as a person until Firu proposes.

P.S: As always, if you've read this far, you're my hero!


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