Friday, April 23, 2010
By Emaan at 8:55 AM
Vanity is impermissible under religious law. Taken that the hijab and burqa (or whatever it is called in different countries - I am talking of the head and body cover) is the normal clothing style approved for a woman, and that we are not allowed to wear make-up when going out (or basically when we are in the presence of other na-mehram men), it does make life rather bland. The only time we are allowed to dress up, wear make-up and perfume is when we are either only in the presence of other women, or with husbands. As soon we leave this company, the fancy clothing, the make-up, the perfume has to somehow magically disappear. With perfumes though, in case of some really stubborn ones, the fragrance can linger on even if you scrub yourself to nothingness.
The supposed rationale behind all this is that you should not try to beautify yourself any more than how Allah has already made you. Yeah, too bad if you haven't already landed a Giselle-Bundchen face! Quran is supposed to be for all times, it's theory cannot fail, and you cannot challenge it. Well for the Islamic well-being, a woman would be better off with godzilla features really.
But there is a problem. Regardless of how ill-looking and unpresentable a woman is, no matter how old or young, and how covered or uncovered she is, she still faces harassment. So how exactly a hijab and lack of cosmetic indulgence is working, I have no idea. Even more sad is how it is worse in Muslim countries. No matter how appropriately you're dressed, you can't escape harrassment. Sure they'll say they've lost Islam's way, they're under-educated. But is that what has become of Islamic countries? It's so easy to always blame the woman. Does Atefah Sahaleh ring a bell? The execution of an under-age girl in Iran, and so many other similar cases, where women end up on the execution stand, and their abusers stand amongst the public and mercilessly watch.
It is really stupid to say that there is harasment in the West as well because according to us, they are immoral as it is. But guess what, the harassment of Islamic countries far exceeds that of a non-Muslim one. So vanity or no vanity, every woman gets her fair share of it. Practically looking at it, we should just be modest, adopt the middle path. Neither overdo it, nor be too relaxed. Because as for the men, they are going to be annoying anyways.
This can be tricky though, since everyone has their own understanding of being modest. Europeans may find the Indian belly showing in their sari immodest, and the Indian may find the European mini-skirt immodest. But if I'm not mistaken, mini-skirts and uber-shorts aren't consider completely modest here in the West either. It's about how you wear it. If you pair it with high-heels or a posture that says look at my boobs, then go back to see my ass, you know what that means.
I think intuition-ally, we know when we are doing too much. We know when we are just trying to be sexy and appealing in the wrong way. That gut instinct cannot be ruled out. And that is where the understanding of modesty comes about. We should simply aim towards being graceful and pleasant. And a burqa combined with a hijab/niqab is just at one far end of the spectrum.
What pisses me off the most is how a Muslim woman's modesty (at first glance) is only judged by her outer garb. While there is no such criteria for a man. Otherwise I'd be seeing all these white caps and trousers above ankles. It doesn't matter what she is from the inside, in the strict Muslim countries, lack of adherence to the proper dress code can mean a harsh penalty. Does anyone remember that instance where a girl's school caught fire in Saudi Arabia, and the girls weren't allowed to leave the blazing building because they were not wearing the correct Islamic dress? Read here. How fucked up is that?
Muslim women suffer a lot more than any given Muslim man. The laws are harsher for her. Life is much harder for her. Inequality is screaming from every corner and crevice! Those who don't get it, don't know any better. Their reality is so well indoctrinated into them that it's really sad.
Men can have multiple wives. He can choose from a larger audience. If his spouse disobeys, he can hit her. He can take his shirt off in public and think no woman is going to feel sexually drawn to him on his flexing muscles (if he has a good body, i.e.). He can plough whenever he feels like and the woman cannot reject. He is the master and she must be submissive.
And what does a woman get? An ordained burqa? And if she behaves well, mercy of her husband? what kind of a twisted relationship is this?
The current version of Islam doesn't sit too well with me, of how our cultures bring it to us. The real Islam seems like a fine silk thread: you have to look real hard to know it's there. A woman has so much more rights than we are made to believe. Can someone please link me to a female scholar of Islam who hasn't studied her subject through other men?
Any moderate family I come across is not a result of a true religious following, but rather the lack of following. My parents believe themselves to be religious, and I am an outcast because I wasn't in sync with them. The number of times I've seen my father hit my mother is enough for me to know for a fact that Islam is the single most corrupt ideology of any given household!
I haven't disowned Islam. I have disowned those who have left me in this predicament. All of them!
Vanity may be a sin. But being a little selfish every now and then isn't. I'm not getting a second life.
p.s. I have a strong feeling that God has something else in store for women!