Saturday, May 22, 2004

Islamic Women's Headgear
"Hijab" Not Part of Ancient Muslim Tradition

Via LGF comes Amir Taheri's interesting column from 2003 regarding the head cover that seems to be all the rage among Muslim women in western countries. As it turns out, it's by no means a religious mandate in fact, it's really no more than a fashion accessory inspired by Catholic nuns:

The headgear in question has nothing to do with Islam as a religion. It is not sanctioned anywhere in the Koran, the fundamental text of Islam, or the hadith (traditions) attributed to the Prophet.

This headgear was invented in the early 1970s by Mussa Sadr, an Iranian mullah who had won the leadership of the Lebanese Shiite community.

In an interview in 1975 in Beirut, Sadr told this writer that the hijab he had invented was inspired by the headgear of Lebanese Catholic nuns, itself inspired by that of Christian women in classical Western paintings. (A casual visit to the National Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, or the Louvres in Paris, would reveal the original of the neo-Islamist hijab in numerous paintings depicting Virgin Mary and other female figures from the Old and New Testament.)

And the original reason for the idea of women wearing the hijab? Well that is even more interesting:

Sadr's idea was that, by wearing the headgear, Shiite women would be clearly marked out, and thus spared sexual harassment, and rape, by Yasser Arafat's Palestinian gunmen who at the time controlled southern Lebanon.

Sadr's neo-hijab made its first appearance in Iran in 1977 as a symbol of Islamist-Marxist opposition to the Shah's regime. When the mullahs seized power in Tehran in 1979, the number of women wearing the hijab exploded into tens of thousands.

Ah yes, another example of the wonderful "Islamic culture," not to mention Yasser Arafat's fine moral leadership. He goes on to describe that the hijab is a symbol of the Islamic disdain for women:

The garb is designed to promote gender Apartheid. It covers the woman's ears so that she does not hear things properly. Styled like a hood, it prevents the woman from having full vision of her surroundings. It also underlines the concept of woman as object, all wrapped up and marked out.

For a long time, it has been my personal belief that this headcover was simply a way for Muslims to make a spectacle of themselves in the hopes of fomenting "discrimination" about which they could complain. Mr. Taheri feels that its purpose is even more pernicious:

This fake Islamic hijab is nothing but a political prop, a weapon of visual terrorism. It is the symbol of a totalitarian ideology inspired more by Nazism and Communism than by Islam. It is as symbolic of Islam as the Mao uniform was of Chinese civilisation. It is used as a means of exerting pressure on Muslim women who do not wear it because they do not share the sick ideology behind it. It is a sign of support for extremists who wish to impose their creed, first on Muslims, and then on the entire world through psychological pressure, violence, terror, and, ultimately, war. The tragedy is that many of those who wear it are not aware of its implications. They do so because they have been brainwashed into believing that a woman cannot be a "good Muslim" without covering her head with the Sadr-designed hijab.

Even today, less than one per cent of Muslim women wear the hijab that has bewitched some Western liberals as a symbol of multicultural diversity.

Do read the whole thing. Though the writer is a Muslim, I think he tends to underscore the underlying hollowness that makes Islam so dangerous.

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