Hijab compulsion or choice?

 Hijab – compulsion or choice?
(Dec 31, 2007)
The horrendous killing of 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez in Mississauga, allegedly by her father over the issue of wearing hijab and adapting to Islamic values, raises the question one more time: Is the hijab a compulsion or choice in Islam?
Many Muslims in Canada argue it’s a choice, but many view it as a compulsion, too.
Self-described modern Muslims claim there are no clear instructions in Islam about compulsion of hijab.
On the other hand, devout Muslims insist Islam dictates that once a woman reaches puberty, every part of her body except her face, hands and feet must be covered.
In the wake of the Parvez killing, there is again an open debate over religious and cultural differences among Islamic scholars, Muslim feminist sisters, multiculturalists, media, veil- and hijab-rights activists and society in general.
Muslim feminist sisters appear in the media to tell the public that they wear hijab on their own, no one forces them.
In the case of adult women, if they choose to wear the hijab, one can understand their own will. But seeing hijabs on the heads of little girls and teens doesn’t reveal their choice. Parents and families surely force girls in Grades 2 or 3 to wear the hijab.
When these little ones reach their teens, some of them retaliate, as was apparently the case with Aqsa.
Some get a deadly fate, some survive.
Some get used to it. They even become advocate for those “Islamic rights.” For instance, a Muslim sister recently told the media that when she was asked to wear a hijab in Grade 3 she felt it very weird but now she is accustomed to it.
Most hijab-wearing Muslim ladies claim they do so because of their own will, but they don’t reveal and realize that it’s a conditioning imposed by their men, families and so-called values.
Aqsa Parvez is not the only victim of these values.
There are thousands of victim girls every year across the Muslim world. Then Islamic scholars come out and announce that honour killing is not acceptable in Islam. They claim that whatever is happening is not Islam. That’s good news.
But those traditional Islamic scholars never emphasize that there is no need of hijab or veil in Islam.
If they announced that, there would certainly be less conditioning of Muslim girls and less pressure on them. So the reality is that they demand the hijab.
Where is choice, then?
It’s shocking that Aqsa’s many classmates knew the grave situation between Aqsa and her family, but no body thought to inform the police about that tense situation.
There is a lesson through this terrifying incident: Whenever classmates sense any threat for their hijab- wearing friends from their homes, they should immediately inform their school office. In such cases, the school should respond immediately by contacting police, the Children’s Aid Society and the family itself.
We should not take this incident as just a matter of one family. We now need to understand that there is religious suffocation happening in many Muslim families in Canada.
We should also make it clear to all religious groups that Canada is a secular society. We can’t tolerate any more such horrendous acts.
Tahir Aslam Gora is a Pakistani-Canadian writer living in Burlington. He is the author of several books and is working on two manuscripts, Understanding Canadian Multiculturalism and Why Islam Needs To Evolve.
Credits: Hijab compulsion or choice?
(Dec 31, 2007)

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