The Hijab Issue

April 18, 2008 at 11:13 am 9 comments

The hijab issue is one that is never-ending. There will always be new perspectives on it, new ways to attack it, and a million ways to look at it. No doubt it is controversial and has had its fair share of coverage in the news, slammed by feminists groups, propagated by another and discussed in various levels of society.

Last week, I read a very honest post about the hijab. Actually, to be exact, the people who don this. Some areas call them the “Hijabi” while in this area where Malay is a medium that is commonly associated with Muslims, they’re called the “Tudung Girl”. So this post caught my attention and I got the permission to replicate it here. I think there are a lot of people out there who have thoughts on this issue and I really want to hear them.

This was what was written:

“Wahlau. I really can’t stand tudung girls. Like you know my normal attire to school is shorts and some random top, and I go and pray in that shorts and same random top, and I face this whole panopticon of tudung girls. Okay lah, maybe my fault, cos who ask me to go and wear like that right and then still dare to put my face at a place where people pray? (God is my bestfriend4evaz la, we maintain a good relationship that way). But they also lah! Wear tudung then hold hands with boyfriend lah, take photos rapat-rapat lah, outside wear tudung but on Friendster hair all shown lah.. stuff that holier-than-thou attitude in your tudung man. Or use it to cover your face sekali next time when you do all the things you should not do as a tudung so that nobody can recognise you. Tudung is NOT JUST AN ARTICLE OF CLOTHING, BUT A WAY OF LIFE. AND AN IDENTITY. Want to wear tudung don’t wear tight clothes! Want to wear tudung don’t hold hands with boyfriend! Want to wear tudung DON’T GO AND ACTION JUDGE OTHER PEOPLE WHEN YOU YOURSELF ARE LIKE THAT. MENYAMPAH SIA. DON’T CLAIM TO BE A ‘MODERN AND LIBERAL-MINDED TUDUNG’ LAH SIA, THAT IS LIKE ME SAYING I AM A MUSLIM LESBIAN. Disclaimer: I obviously don’t hate ALL tudung girls, just some.”

My reply to this was:
Want to wear tudung don’t wear tight clothes! Want to wear tudung don’t hold hands with boyfriend!

of course one shouldn’t do all these with or without the tudung. but wearing the tudung suddenly it becomes more incumbent upon them to not do it more than others? because the tudung is more visible that you’re a muslim? so because people are watching you, so you gotta live up to certain expectations? i’m gonna sound dogmatic here but a law is a law. wearing a hijab is as important as praying 5 times a day. its like, you wear tudung but your perangai (attitude) like nonsense, thats your problem between you and Allah. just like praying. pray still must pray, but whether you khusyu’ or not, its between you and Allah.

i’m not defending anyone. i think no one has a right to judge another. if they give you looks for wearing what you wear, you won’t feel guilty or annoyed if you’re doing the right thing. if anyone reads what you wrote up there (description of the tudung girl) and feels guilty or annoyed, perhaps its because they know its not the right thing either. i mean its just like a guy with tattoos and gold hair who walks in a mosque, i’m sure he expects to get strange looks. it doesnt necessarily mean people are looking down on him, they probably have good intentions, its just something ‘strange’. you know?

either way, the whole holier-than-thou attitude is uncalled for la obviously.”

The reply to my reply was:

Yeah I guess there’s a difference between living up to social expectations and religious (by this I mean God’s) expectations and that even though at the end of the day it’s the latter that matters, right now, both are intertwined and it’s hard to separate the two.

And I don’t know if this happens to you but when you talked about visibility, immediately what came to mind was David Matza’s works. How being “deviant” is all about the visibility of the actions, and when we are talking about social responsibility, yes, wearing tudung brings about more responsibility because you are immediately more obviously a Muslim. And especially in light of all the bad stuff related to our religion, it is suddenly more incumbent upon you (not you per se but you as in tudung wearers okay!) to uphold the social responsibility of a Muslim, because this social responsibility is connected to your religious responsibility.”

And then I said:
you know when you talked about social & religious expectation, i was reminded of ‘amar ma’ruf nahi munkar’. and the hadith of Rasulullah SAW when he said “When any one of you sees anything that is disapproved (of by Allah), let him change it with his hand. If he is not able to do so, then let him change it with his tongue. And if he is not able to do so, then let him change it with his heart, though that is the weakest (kind of) faith.”

(sorry i had to cut & paste the hadith, i’m just afraid of distorting his words.)

but since we’re having an objective discussion (i hope), let me just continue. yeah so i was thinking maybe why the Singapore Muslim society is so horrible in our akhlak is because we don’t practise amar ma’ruf nahi munkar. just thinking aloud only, i’m not sure. but of course i don’t agree at all to the malaysian system of being kaypoh. i think it should be a more cultural thing rather than a top-down approach. like my Ustaz says, in egypt, people do tegur each other openly if they see someone doing something against the rules of Allah, so even though we all know Allah watches everything we do, sometimes we forget, and these people help to remind us that not only are they watching us, but so is Allah. and in that way, everyone is ever-watchful in everything they do. which is good la kan.

but because of the culture in singapore, where you hear people say, ‘kubur aku, aku punye pasal’ (its my grave, its my problem) (its no longer one kubur, one person now anyway) or you know, the whole freedom of choice and ‘i will live with the consequences myself’ attitude.. no one really wants to speak out when they see something wrong.

okay moving on to the topic of visibility.. i do agree that especially in these times, it is more incumbent upon myself to be a good ambassador of Islam. BUT. if we are going to talk about Islam in our society, and maybe even in SEA, malay (almost equal) = muslim. so it doesnt matter if one wears tudung or not, as long as you’re malay, most people will assume you’re muslim as well. so esp in our society, everyone has a role to play to clean up the image of Islam.”


I hope I get to hear some responses & that everyone keeps their cool when replying because we only want to have an objective & honest discussion. I think the only way we can get to the bottom of this issue : About the behaviour of certain Tudung Girls and what they represent; is to discuss it and find out what everyone else thinks about it. InsyaAllah, everyone will benefit from it.

This is obviously not restricted to my Muslim friends. I want to know what our non-Muslim friends think about the hijab and about these girls. Do you expect your Muslim friend who wears the tudung to act differently from another Muslim friend that doesn’t?

Looking forward to hearing from everyone! Come on, spam the comments section. :)


Entry filed under: hadith, hijab, pictures, Posts, Prophet SAW.

Account / Muhasabah Response to “The Hijab Issue”

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nurhuda  |  April 18, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Just one small note to point out;
    in today’s circumstances, there are a lot of interpretations of the Koran. For example, I remember my ustaz saying it’s ok to touch a pig, but we just cannot eat it because that is exactly what is being said in the Koran. When I told my parents, they say, “No, we cannot touch or eat pork.” As a result, we have many different small minuscule beliefs when it comes to Islam. You see Muslims eating a non-halal eatery and their reasoning is, “I am not eating pork or drinking alcohol.” You see fellow Muslims who are in the company of alcohol drinking companions, and they said, “I don’t touch the alcohol.” But to me, that’d be subahat despite not drinking. How, where or when can we actually tegur someone who is a fellow Muslim whom according to our own beliefs is behaving in a disapproving manner? Very often, I find myself in such tight situations which I don’t believe I could make a difference. In fact, I think I could possibly aggravate the situation due to clashing beliefs. My solution; walk away.

    As someone who wears the tudung myself, I don’t see myself as a beacon for my religion. I believe that there are women out there who doesn’t wear the tudung, but are better believers than me. To me, wearing the tudung is only just one small step to improving myself as a Muslim. In other areas, I have yet to improve myself, and I hope that in time to come, I’ll be a better Muslim.

    As a tudung wearer and only people like me can say this, I would never look down on that person described above who was found in that situation. I believe there’s always mitigative factors that explain every person’s behaviour. However, one particular thing that irks me is that my own society puts this unreasonably large expectation on me, which you have been discussing, but they fail to see, I am just trying to practise my religion and not being an exemplar to the rest of the community. We cannot put tudung wearers to be the beacon of Islam especially since you never know the reason behind wearing one. Tudung wearers does not equate to ustazah as it used to in the past and my community fail to move on from there.

  • 2. khaliesah  |  April 19, 2008 at 3:27 am

    I don’t wear the tudung and mostly, what deters me from wearing it is the colossal responsibility society places on a woman who wears a tudung to uphold the image of her religion. For me, the tudung just epitomises wearing your identity as a Muslim on your sleeve, and it’s not just one or two but many, many, many wearers of the tudung whom I’ve seen personally contribute to the continuing worsening image of a Muslim girl.

    Then again, it is increasingly difficult to be a Muslim and negotiate your religion with the secular world, especially in light of terrorism and sensationalisation by the media. Respect is called for tudung-wearers who know how to balance this ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’, while, as ‘judgemental’ or ‘harsh’ as this seems, those who can’t should try harder.

    So now you’ve heard from a hijab-wearer and a non-wearer (or should I say, future-wearer).. :D

  • 3. khaliesah  |  April 19, 2008 at 3:29 am

    BY THE WAY, the light blue looks nice on you (:

  • 4. Nadia  |  April 19, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Personally, I think that if one is ready enough to wear the tudung, she should be ready to be a good muslimah. Because if there’s anything that differentiates her and another muslim who doesn’t is the tudung. I always keep in mind that when wearing the tudung, that I am an obvious muslim. And being one, it is simply a no-no to do anything against the religion. Of course, it doesn’t mean that wearing the tudung makes you a saint, but just put a little effort in being a better muslim.

    I absolutely shun seeing those wearing hijab yet the panty-lines or some even g-strings can be seen (delibrately), and especially those who behave intimately with non-muhrims in the public eye.

    First and foremost, know the logic behind hijab. It is advised to be worn so that your body be kept solely for one man that is your husband only. So if you’re going to wear the tudung and still showcase your assets, and play touchy-feely with a man you aren’t even sure you’re going to marry, that there’s just no point in wearing the tudung, really. In fact, you’re just gaining attention to yourself by doing so. As a hijab-wearing, behave proper, and be proud to be one, show the people out there that muslims are proper. I am not saying that non-hijab wearers are allowed to behave otherwise, but I believe that once you put on the tudung, be responsible and at least have some pride in wearing it.

    Lastly, this happens I believe because hijab should not be imposed by other humans. When that happens, your heart is not sincere in doing so, and hence the ni’at is all wrong. That is why these girls who don the hijab treat it like just an accessory instead of wearing it with pride.

    At the end of the day, it’s all about your ni’at, not the fact that you put it on. Well, that’s what I believe anyway.

    :) And babe, you’re a perfect example of a muslimah who takes pride in her hijab… Another I know is Muna, and Sakinah, all of whom have my utmost respect. *Smiles*

  • 5. Nadia  |  April 19, 2008 at 11:20 am

    I have to add this…

    Either way, no muslims have any right to judge the other. Just because a person dons the tudung, that does not mean she has the right to think that she is more superior than one who doesn’t. Likewise, a none-tudung-er has no right to diss the actions of the tudunged because at the end of the day, all is judged by Allah. We are all mere servants of his, and we are all equal in that sense. How much sins and good one does is for Allah to know, and no one else.


  • 6. shahirah  |  April 19, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Personally, I know I shouldn’t judge, but I can’t help but feel really disappointed when I see “Tudung Girls” not behaving in the way they should. The hijab represents a LOT to me; when I do wear it, I want to be at a stage where I know I am a good Muslimah with a strong iman who can portray my religion with pride and confidence. I would consider myself betraying Islam if I don’t behave in an appropriate way while wearing the hijab. And I think I expect the same out of other tudung-wearers, which explains the disappointment when they don’t meet that standard. :( It’s a really tough issue.

  • 7. Rizal  |  April 20, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    “everyone has a role to play to clean up the image of Islam.”

    Nicely put.

    p/s: I like the car seat, racing style. :p

  • 8. North Asia  |  April 23, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Nice pics of u in tudung… :)

    Back to the topic…wow a lot going on already. I guess Muslim ladies put on tudung for some reasons and the obvious one would be to cover aurat. However, as time goes by, vanity takes over and their (ok some of them) need to be fashionable or look stunning or outstanding outshines the important reason. For example, we have our own celebrities who have decided to don the tudung. But are they doing justice to it? Let me be more specific, they wear tight clothings (to look good I suppose – like they say it if u have it then flaunt it) yet wear a head covering (I much like to say tutup rambut). What exactly is aurat to them – this is the issue that should be made obvious, don’t u think? So then others see and copy that kind of fashion and think its alright.

    The other matter about behaviour. This is each and every muslim’s responsibility. The stress should not just be on a tudung wearer’s actions. I believe in individual’s right! Of course, I personally do not condone such misbehaviours as mentioned like holding hands and tight clothings are inappropriate. Wearing tudung is not just to cover the hair but more so to cover aurat. I am sure u know hair is not the only aurat.

    It is really about understanding what is Islam. Making ISlam the way of life. We should start small, within the family. That should be the way to promote the image of Islam.

  • 9. Hijab « amee al-faqeer  |  September 5, 2008 at 8:20 am

    […] The Hijab Issue […]

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