Friday, 22 July 2011

Curious Reading: Answers to Non-Muslims' Common Questions about Islam, Part 2

And here we go with the second installment of my ripping through Dr Naik's booklet "Answers to Non-Muslims' Common Questions about Islam".  So without further ado, let's get to it!

Chapter 3. Hijab for Women

Here we go into another tricky topic for those with an interest in Islam and Women's Rights.  Doctor Naik begins the chapter by pointing out how ancient civilisations of the past have degraded their women, citing Babylon, Greek, Roman and Egyptian civilisations.  He uses Pandora as an example for Greek civilisation's degradation of women, for being the root cause of misfortune to human beings world wide. Please tell me I'm not the only one who felt like laughing at the irony that he used a myth as an example?  Not only that, but he himself calls her an 'imaginary woman'.  But I digress.  He also mentions in all these civilisations, sexual perversion and prostitution is rife, with women at the bottom tier of all societies.  Even in Pre-Islamic Arabia, he says that Arabs looked down on women.  (No change there, really).

So, what of his argument for the hijab?  Well, first he extols Islam as giving women equality and expects them to maintain status.  He hastens to add that men also have hijabs.
"Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do." (Al-Qur'an an 24:30)
So, a man's hijab is merely to look away if he starts thinking 'brazen or unashamed thoughts' about a woman he's looking at.  But if that's the case, then any honest man will end up walking into walls or lamposts more often.  Let's face it, men are no strangers to sexual thoughts, just like women.  And what of women?
"And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appeart thereof; that they should draw veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons..." (Al Qur'an an 24:31)
Doesn't that seem a little one sided to anyone?  A man has to look away, but a woman has to cover up?  I have nothing against modesty - I think every woman has her day where she doesn't want to slap up but really, is full body coverage necessary?

So, Doctor Naik, what are the criterion for hijab?  Well, first off, he very briefly lays out the obligatory dress code for men, namely 'to cover the body at least from the navel to the knees'. For women, 'the extent of covering obligatory is to cover the complete body except the face and hands upto the wrist.  If they wish to, they can cover even these parts of the body'.  All right...still not helping on the one-sidedness there. And there's more as well, although this time it applies to both genders.
  • The clothes worn should be loose and should not reveal the figure.
  • The clothes worn should not be transparent such that someone can see through them.
  • The clothes worn should not be so glamourous as to attract the opposite sex.
  • The clothes worn should not resemble that of the opposite sex.
  • The clothes worn should not resemble that of the unbelievers i.e. they should not wear clothes that are specifically identities or symbols of the unbelievers' religions.
Quite the dress code there.  Pass me that potato sack, Doctor Naik, I'm feeling decidedly exposed now compared to that list.

Oh wait, fuck that!

There is nothing wrong with the human body that it requires a complete camoflage like that.  As for resembling the opposite sex, that's a point against encouraging transexuals or effeminate or butch dressers in their community as well.  And we all know that sexual attraction ranks lowest when we view the opposite sex, obviously!  That's why we don't have to even look at them or be interesting to look at; how dare we?  Actually, that's something I don't get - the suggested covering for men is only from the belly button to the knees, and yet you can't attract the opposite sex with the way you dress.  Don't they think a woman would catch a big eyeful if guys went along with that, or is that too immodest for the woman as well? (Oh wait, of course it is.  We're not supposed to be sexually aware).

But the hijab isn't all about how you dress.  It's about how you act as well.  Everything should be modest, from how we walk, talk, behave.  Bland, dull and homogenous.  I don't know if it occured to Dr Naik and others like him, but we're humans, not sheep.  We possess a thing called individuality.  Personality.  Some of us will be louder than others, more confident.  This enforced dress code is simply a way to drain independant thought from people, not just women.  And when you take that away from people, then they are far easier to preach to with no argument.

But that's not all.  The other reason for hijab for women - their own protection!  The hijab is supposed to be a billboard for men; that the woman is of the modest sort and it will put them off raping her.  There's also a situational example provided - the Example of Twin Sisters.
Suppose two sisters who are twins, and who are equally beautiful, walk down the street.  One of them is attired in the Islamic hijab i.e. the complete body is covered, except for the face and the hands up to the wrists.  The other sister is wearing western clothes or a mini skirt.  Just around the corner there is a hooligan or ruffian who is waiting for a catch, to tease a girl.  Whom will he tease?  The girl wearing the Islamic Hijab or the girl wearing the mini skirt?  Naturally he will tease the girl wearing the mini skirt.  Such dresses are an indirect invitation to the opposite sex for teasing and molestation.  The Qur'an rightly says that hijab prevents women from being molested.
Hmm, now, I'm not a criminal psychologist, but won't a rapist firstly focus on assaulting a woman walking by on her own?  Not with her sister or friends or whatever?  They don't particularly want to be caught, after all.  It won't matter if that woman was modestly dressed - if a man already has it in his head he wants to rape a woman, he will do it, hijab or not.  And is it me, or does the whole dress thing also smack heavily of "blame the victim"?  I'll be frank, I once thought like that.  That if you dress like a whore, expect to be treated like one.  However, I had since looked in the mirror.  I have walked out the door in shorts or mini skirts before.  It's not me inviting men, indirectly or otherwise, to molest me.  Oh, and incidentally, the men who do see me dressed like that don't instantly decide to attack me.  Oh no, don't tell me, it must be that those men ARE NOT MINDLESS FUCKING ANIMALS!  They are free to appreciate a woman's beauty, but it's not as if they're going to instantly want to rape them!  Leave that to the ruffians, hooligans and people whom other men would not want representing their gender. 

The argument Dr Naik presents about Western society's false claim of women's liberation being a disguised form of exploitation then becomes laughable.  We are not degraded in body, soul and honour.  Having pride in our appearance is not degrading, and our souls are not any more tarnished for it.  We are not "mere tools in the hands of pleasure seekers and sex marketeers". 

The closing sentiment in this chapter is the kicker as well.  After his talk of the hijab preserving a woman's modesty, he brings out statistics on rape cases in America, which leads onto, wait for it....

Implementation of Islamic Sharia law!

You KNEW that was coming.

But wait!  It makes PERFECT sense.  Sharia law implements capital punishment for rapists, so that should be reason enough.  What husband doesn't want to punish a man who rapes his wife?  What father wouldn't want to kill the man who would hurt his little girl?  But hang on a sec.  Isn't this Sharia Law the same one that demands that a woman brings four male witnesses OF THE RAPE IN ACTION to prove it!?  Isn't this the same law that decrees that a married woman cannot be raped because sex is part of her duties as a wife, no questions asked?  Isn't this the same law that punishes raped women who cannot find witnesses to their rapes, executing them and labelling them adulterers? 

Umm, excuse me Dr Naik, but keep your Sharia Law.  I much prefer living in secular Britain, where religion has no place in politics and law, where a woman isn't blamed for her sexual assault, where a woman's testimony is enough to start an investigation and where she is not at risk of being executed for being a liar. 


  1. Never, ever be left alone in a room with ANYONE who thinks victims should be blamed for rape.

  2. For whose safety, mine or theirs?

  3. Most excellent post. I enjoyed your insights.

    What does Dr. Naik have to say about legal molestation of 9-year old girl as a child bride sanctioned by Sharia??