Chapter 6.doc

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Women's and Gender Studies
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Anissa Talahite- Moodley

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CHAPTER 6: Listening to the Voices of Hijab − researchers such as Nasser have pointed out that the 'new hijab phenomenon' initially began two decades ago in countries such as Egypt, and Muslim women around the globe have since embraced the practice − in Canada, the hijab is often seen as a symbol of Muslim women's oppression and a restriction to their mobility, particularly in the media − many Muslim women, however, claim that the hijab empowers them in numerous ways: making their identities distinct; taking control of their bodies; and giving them a sense of belonging to a wider Muslim world − the intricacy of the issue of hijab, nonetheless, is not limited to whether the hijab oppresses a Muslim woman or liberates her − most often, the Muslim community and the dominant culture recognize the hijab as clothing that is used to cover the female body (i.e., a headscarf and/or long coat) Methodology and Sampling − Khaled argues that the debate on the hijab among classical and contemporary scholars is fundamentally rooted in the previously mentioned idea of fitnah (temptation) − he states that the Qur'an uses the word fitnah for non-sexual temptations, such as 'money and severe trials and tribulations' − nonetheless, scholars often associate the notion of fitnah with women's sexuality, which is signalled, in part, by an uncovered appearance in public − Khaled writes that women are prohibited from attending mosques or driving cars, and that 'every item and colour of clothing is analyzed under the doctrine of fitnah' − he argues, however, that these restrictions are misplaced, and that fitnah reflects men's fantasies of uncontrollable lust, which they have associated with women's sexuality − Khaled further argues that the injunction that women need to cover their bodies to avoid bringing on fitnah is not in harmony with Islam's message; the Qur'an does not use the word to imply women's temptation, and does not view women's bodies as fitnah − moreover, Islam requires lowering of the gaze and guarding modesty for both men and women; thus, a covered female body will not lead to a modest society (the essence of the hijab) until men behave in a similar manner What Is the Hijab? The Discussion among the Participants − the hijab, in the form of physical garments, signifies headscarves, but also modest clothing that does not include the covering of the head − scholars such as Asad have pointed out that there are sound reasons for not stating precise rules regarding the covering of women's bodies − he argues that human circumstances vary over time, and that the verses are moral guidelines that could be observed against the ever-changing background of time and social environment Why or Why Not Wear the Hijab? − in verse 33:59, the Qur'an states that women should cover themselves so as not to be 'molested' − the context of the verse indicates that at the time this verse was revealed, men treated slave women very disrespectfully, and there were incidents in Medina when the men assaulted Muslim women − the offenders' excuse w
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