Friday, February 26, 2010

Interpretations and Intentions

So, let's talk about this. The thing that upset some and completely offended others. The thing that caused backbiting and stress.

Caption: The difference between a covered and uncovered woman.

This picture can be taken in many different interpretations. What I find interesting is that it brings forward the preconceptions people have; it reveals what they assume within.

Hijab: assumed to be limited to the headcovering that Muslim women wear. Yes, the word, hijab, is typically used in this fashion as it makes it easy to describe and determine what you are talking about. The concept behind hijab is much more wide though, and should be understood correctly. Hijab is not only covering your hair, but covering your body shape and being modest in mind and action. Hijab in this sense is for both men and women. Anyone following one of the three Abrahamic religions will agree that modesty is a moral deeply valued.

As Muslims, we believe that modesty is a timeless value and does not change with the social norms. The dress code does not become more strict or lax when those around them change the way they dress. As such, we dress relatively the same as we did 1400 years ago. The cloth and colors and styles are different, yes, but the level of modesty remains the same. This is not true for all Muslims, but many Muslims do follow this, or have intention of reaching this level at some point, inshaAllah.

Does this mean that anyone who does not dress the same is considered immoral or immodest? NO

There are many women in this world that have the intention of dressing modestly. While we believe that the guidelines we follow are valuable for all people, we don't hold people who aren't Muslim to the same standards we hold. Heck, we don't hold others basically to any standard... who are we to make the measuring stick for the world's population to live up to?

So who or what does this picture refer to? It refers to those who place themselves on display intentionally and it refers to the unwanted attention people get when they are out and about. In no way is the intention behind showing this to the general public a secret way for me to degrade those who do not dress like me.

I welcome discussion and comments.


  1. as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullah,

    Hi sis, I am "T" from MSU :)

    Mashallah excellent post!! I never saw this photo until now but my first thought was the same view you had.

    That is a very creative photo Mashallah :)

    I just made a lil post about hijab... I invite you to come and read it inshallah :)

  2. Interesting post... and a question for you... we are going to visit Turkey again this year. A country we both love - one of my main problems is what do I wear, so as not to cause offence? I am hoping you might have some suggestions...

  3. I can't say I've ever visited a Muslim country, so I don't know about the local culture, but I can tell you that if you have the right intentions, I'm sure it will inshaAllah (God-willing) take you to a blessed place. Long skirts or pants and shirts that don't show off your chest is best in any country, in my opinion, especially a Muslim country. We don't expect others to follow our exact dress code, but we respect deeply those who ask, as you have, what is appropriate given certain situations in the Muslim world.

    Peace and Blessings!

  4. ((((hug))))'s many blessings to you too.... what a lovely sensible answer.

    I don't tend to wear trousers outside the home - but I do wear long skirts all the time. I also tend to wear long sleeved loose it looks like I am set to go (as it were.)

    I am going to take my headscarf - and a big sun hat.

    Guess the next question is a modest swimsuit.

  5. And who do the nasty flies represent? Is that the Muslim men who can't treat a woman with respect if she is not covered up?

  6. Judging by what I wrote in the rest of the article, that would be a big jump in assumptions. The flys can represent men from any culture or religion, or women for that matter, giving negative attention to one who is not covered.

    I have witnessed the majority of Muslim men treating ALL women with respect. We must not impose our assumptions on figurative pictures nor on the reality of humans.