Hijab: Spotlighting Servitude to God
Published: March 25, 2021 • Updated: March 22, 2023
Author: Roohi Tahir
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
The image of the hijab as the symbol of oppression and violence against women by the hands of the uncivilized Muslim man became the rallying point not only for American politicians, but for contemporary Western feminists as well. The body of the veiled, Muslim woman became the entity on which Western liberal neo-Orientalists superimposed their values, and it was the exposed female body, active in the public sphere, which became the marketable image of women in free market capitalism. Although feminist efforts have long been used as a method to deconstruct patriarchal control over women, including their physical selves, many argue that such movements have found a strange bedfellow with capitalism that is reinforcing unfair expectations for women’s bodies. Feminist movements have evolved from “state feminism,” which advocated for policy change within the state, to “market feminism,” in which the same goals are achieved in the private sector in concert with market trends.
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collectively show that contemporary Muslim femininities are increasingly mediated through the market forces of consumer capitalism, impacting Muslim women’s identities, lifestyles, and belonging in complex ways. What is meant to be a Muslim woman is constantly negotiated, defined and redefined through or in reaction to the images, narratives, and knowledges about Muslim womanhood constructed in the marketplace. As Muslim women stake out their own positions, they actively engage with given Islamic practice and knowledge as well as with modalities of capitalism… representations of self-determined, independent, and professional Muslim women conform to images of the ideal consumer. While the veiled images re-inscribe Islamic norms and identifications by emphasizing particular ways of being Muslim for women, they also transform the very content and contours of Islamic piety and femininity.
Know your purpose
O mankind, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, that you may become righteous. [2:21]
One who submits to someone with hatred is not worshipping him. And one who loves someone without submitting is likewise not worshipping him; this is like a man who loves his son and friends. Therefore, neither love nor submission alone are sufficient in worshipping Allah. Allah must be loved most by al-ʿabd and He must be the greatest of all in his sight. Nothing deserves complete love and submission except Allah. And whatever has been highly regarded without it being by the command of Allah, its glorification is rejected.
And We sent not before you any messenger except We revealed to him that, “There is no deity except Me, so worship Me [alone].” [21:25]
Seek the most noble status
The [true] servants of the Most Compassionate are those who walk on the earth humbly, and when the foolish address them [improperly], they only respond with peace. [25:63]
The practical role of the Qur’an and Sunnah
You [alone] we worship and You [alone] we ask for help. Guide us along the Straight Path [1:5-6]
Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allah, then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [3:31]
Whose interpretation to follow?
And We have not revealed to you the Book, [O Muḥammad], except for you to make clear to them that wherein they have differed and as guidance and mercy for a people who believe. [16:64]
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “I have left two matters with you. As long as you hold to them, you will not go the wrong way. They are the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet.”
The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allah (His Words, the Qur’an) and His Messenger ﷺ, to judge between them, is that they say: “We hear and we obey.” And such are the prosperous ones (who will live forever in Paradise). And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger ﷺ, fears Allah, and keeps his duty [to Him], such are the successful ones. [24:51-52]
These are nothing but names you have invented yourselves, you and your forefathers. God has sent no authority for them. These people merely follow guesswork and the whims of their souls, even though guidance has come to them from their Lord. [53:23]
O Prophet, sufficient for you is Allah and for whoever follows you of the believers. [8:64]
Hijab as a means of liberation and empowerment
As for those who struggle in Our cause, We will surely guide them along Our Way. And Allah is certainly with the good-doers. [29:69]
So We have sent you [Prophet] to a community—other communities passed away long before them—to recite to them what We reveal to you. Yet they disbelieve in the Lord of Mercy. Say, “He is my Lord: there is no god but Him. I put my trust in Him and to Him is my return.” [13:30]
…Indeed, he who is mindful of Allah and patient, then indeed, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of those who do good. [12:90]