Saturday, December 01, 2012

Norway hospital dons new Hijab

The Norwegian medical institution says it has introduced a new redesigned Hijab in cooperation with designers that both adheres to Muslim rules and at the same time is more comfortable to wear.
OUH has long had Hijabs suited to staff uniforms, it says, but explains the new type has softer fabric that is better.
“We can’t refrain from hiring an employee because the individual wears religious headgear, Hege Linnestad, head of section for equal opportunities health services, says in a statement.
“This is why we are facilitating for the use of Hijabs. We want to be an attractive place of work that is set up for the employees’ religious beliefs,” she adds.

Hege Linnestad in "shawl" Hijab
Nina E.Gausdal Try, OUS
Norwegian legislation does not permit an employer to bar personnel from wearing religious headgear, except in special cases, but he/she does have the right to place demands on its design.
OUH has now had two models of Hijab made, a so-called “hood”, and "shawl". Personal Hijabs are no longer permitted.
“We understand the aesthetic reasons for wishing to wear these, but there are laundering requirements at the hospital. Everyone who wears a uniform and uses a hijab has to employ the hospital’s new models because they are to be cleaned together with the rest of the uniform,” declares Hege Linnestad.
The new Hijab types can withstand wash temperatures of between 85 and 90 degrees and are made as an all-in-one piece of fabric.



Friday, November 23, 2012

Girl makes history with hijab in House of Parliament

A schoolgirl is believed to have become the first person to wear a hijab while speaking at the despatch box in the House of Commons.

Sumaiya Karim, 16, from Wokingham in Berkshire, was speaking during a debate on whether children should be given a greater say over the contents of the national curriculum, as the Youth Parliament held its annual session in the Commons.

Speaking out in favour of a radical overhaul of the system, which would give youngsters greater life skills, Sumaiya is thought to have made a small piece of history as she appeared at the despatch box in the Muslim headscarf.

She said: “If it’s true then it’s amazing. Wearing the hijab was my own choice. It’s a choice that I made a few years ago when I found the hijab.

"It’s about when the time is right and the time was right for me.”

Sumaiya, currently studying biology, chemistry, maths and history at A-level, wants to become a surgeon before embarking on a political career later in life.

In her speech, she called on ministers to allow a committee of young people to review the national curriculum, which she said should include a greater focus on political education, as well as sex and relationship advice.

She told more than 300 members of the Youth Parliament: “What does it mean when I say that I am dating someone? What’s commitment? What impact does having a baby have on my life? “What’s parliament? How do I get through uni? What’s a cash ISA? And more importantly why does my favourite chocolate bar as a kid go from 10p, to 15p, to 17p, and now ridiculously 20p?

“These are questions that need answers. Parliament isn’t just a building, it’s the mother of all democracies. There are financial education schemes available but not for the whole of the UK population.” In a vote, the youngsters chose to make national curriculum reform their campaign for the coming year.

Only 23 members voted to keep public transport as the issue for the youth parliament, whilst 154 voted in favour of making the national curriculum the campaign for the year.



Sunday, November 18, 2012

EgyptAir stewardesses begin wearing hijab

CAIRO: EgyptAir stewardesses, who campaigned to wear headscarf, have begun donning the hijab for the first time since the national carrier was founded in 1932, a company official said on Sunday. The first flight attendants dressed in the hijab, which mainstream clerics say is mandatory, worked on flights to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

Under Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled in an uprising in early 2011, the hijab was taboo for women in some state institutions such as state television and the national carrier. But after the election of the Islamist President Muhammad Morsi in June, women in television and EgyptAir campaigned for permission to wear the hijab, like most Muslim women in Egypt. The company had agreed to allow the stewardesses to wear the hijab after a strike by cabin crews in September that also demanded better pay. An EgyptAir official said a foreign company has been contracted to design a cap and headscarf for the estimated 250 stewardesses who want to wear the hijab, out of 900 women working for EgyptAir.

In September, an anchorwoman was the first woman to appear on state television wearing the scarf, which traditionally covers the hair and neck. Some more liberal women wear the hijab to cover only their hair.



Monday, August 14, 2006

American High School Graduation

An American High School Graduation That Should Be a Model for All
Ray Hanania, Arab News

It was a small high school graduation that took place in Chicago’s Southwest Suburbs, consisting of only 28 students.

They all shared the same hopes, dreams and career aspirations with other teenagers who are graduating from thousands of high schools all across the United States.

But this group is different. They wore white gowns. Their silvered tassels hung from the left side of their cap and were switched to the right after receiving their certificates. And they all wore white-laced hijab. All 28 of the young women are Muslim and graduates of the Aqsa School, an accredited Islamic high school in Bridgeview, Illinois.

That their ceremony passed without any media attention is not unusual. About the only time the mainstream American media covers Muslims and Arabs is when the event relates to the “war on terrorism” or feeds the growing Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiment of American society.

There are about four million Arabs in the United States, split evenly between Muslims and Christians. And, there are about seven million Muslims in the United States, about 22 percent are Arab.

Unlike their teenager contemporaries, nearly all boasted honor distinctions and membership in the National Honor Society. Their future plans were shared with the audience of about 300 parents, grandparents and siblings by the Aqsa School principal, Khalida Baste, who also wore a hijab and traditional abaya.

Nearly every one of the graduates said they wanted to serve those in need. All said they wanted to be not only good Muslims but good Americans, too. Like their parents.

Most said they planned to pursue careers in nursing. A few said they wanted to be doctors. Some said they hoped to enter the world of business, a place where not only Muslims struggle but women in general face challenges of gender discrimination.

Two said they hoped to become journalists, with one saying her goal was to work at the Al-Jazeera Satellite television network.

One said she wanted to work to support “the starving young children in Africa, give a voice to the prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison, and champion the rights of Palestinians in the Israeli occupation.”

They will all go on to college. Moraine Valley. Robert Morris. The University of Illinois at Chicago. Loyola. And, the University of Chicago. One will travel to the occupied West Bank to study at the besieged but honored Birzeit University.

The fact that they are all women graduating from college and pursuing advanced careers also stabs at the heart of a vicious stereotype that somehow only women in the Arab and Muslim world face excessive discrimination.

Discrimination against women occurs throughout the world in male-dominated societies. Muslims, at least, can boast that three of the largest Muslim nations of Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh elected women heads of state.

One day, the United States will elect their first woman president. The closest Americans have come to a woman head of state has been on television, with Geena Davis playing the nation’s first woman president on the popular TV program “Commander in Chief.”

Maybe, America’s next president might be one of the graduates of the Aqsa school, which was founded nearly 20 years ago and named after one of the holiest mosques in Islam located in the city of Arab East Jerusalem. It was built, in part, with a donation from Saudi Arabia and funds raised among the growing Arab and Muslim population in Chicago, which numbers more than 250,000.

Sabrina Ahmad, the Salutatorian, seemed to reflect the pride and commitment of the graduating class best when she said, “We have learned much about our religion that we would not have learned anywhere else,” and quoting the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who advised others “to seek education from the cradle to the grave.”

Graduate Sanah Yassin said, “Here standing before you are 28 smart Muslim ladies, some of whom are the first to ever graduate in their families.”

Hind Saleh, the mother of one graduate and speaking on behalf of all the proud parents, noted the closeness of Muslims to mainstream American society when she said, “When I was young I did not have a school like this. My parents did not want me to go to public school, so they enrolled me at an all girls Catholic school.”

There, she said, she learned to respect the family, God and her society. If only every graduating class in America could boast having students like them.

— Ray Hanania is a Palestinian American journalist and author. He can be reached at

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hijab in Western Countries

Hijab in Western Countries
Adil Salahi, Arab News

Q. On the basis of my understanding of verses such as 24: 31, and 33: 53 & 55, the hijab is obligatory for Muslim women. However, some of our brothers and sisters living in the US claim that it is optional for those living in the US and other Western countries. They argue that wearing it is counterproductive, as it attracts attention to them and exposes them to pressure, discrimination and ill treatment. Please comment.
Nasima Zakariya

A. It is one thing for a Muslim to say that in his circumstances he finds great difficulty in complying with a particular Islamic duty, and a totally different thing to try to justify his noncompliance with it by saying that it is not a duty.

In the first case, the person concerned acknowledges the duty and his failure to comply with it, praying God for forgiveness. In the second, he tries to twist the meanings of texts in order to show that he does not contravene divine orders. This is extremely wrong, and God has denounced those among the Jews and other earlier communities who did that.

Verse 24: 31 is very clear in its instructions, requiring Muslim women to drop their head coverings over their bosoms so as to cover the top opening of their clothes. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has made clear in many Hadiths that a woman must cover her body, except her face and hands. This verse addresses all believing women, which means that its requirements apply to all Muslim women. As for the other two verses you have referred to in Surah 33, these are applicable only to the Prophet’s wives.

It is true that verse 55 implies the same requirements as certain parts of verse 24: 31, but this is to make clear that the general instruction also applies to the Prophet’s wives.

We need to remind ourselves that the Prophet’s wives had a number of special rulings that applied to them alone. Other Muslim women need not follow their suit, because God tells them clearly that they have a special case and that they are unlike other women. In fact, these rules specify certain additional restrictions, which means that their nonapplicability to other Muslim women is an act of God’s grace, making things easier for us.

Having said that, I understand the difficult position of Muslim women in Western countries, particularly in recent years. There must be collective counter pressure so as to make compliance with Islamic teachings acceptable. Unfortunately, such pressure does not seem to be forthcoming, particularly because governments in some Muslim countries are similarly opposed to the hijab. Nevertheless, all of us, even those who do not wear the hijab, should make clear to Western governments and societies that compliance with our religious duties is an inalienable right of every Muslim, man or woman.

Muslim women should continue to wear the hijab, so that they practically demonstrate that prejudice against them is nothing but flagrant discrimination. If there are certain rules that prevent them from doing their duty, they should do everything within the law to get those rules changed.

The community as a whole should bring pressure to bear on politicians, parliamentarians, the media and the government in their respective countries to ensure that they enjoy their rights of practicing their faith.

Unfortunately they have not been helped by the attitude of certain scholars, particularly by the fatwa given by some scholars. This fatwa is wrong in its very premise, and it betrays total ignorance of how things are done in Western countries. Thus, it gave ammunition to those who are against Islamic practices, and deprived Muslim women and communities of their constitutional rights to observe the teachings of their faith without pressure or prejudice.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A Japanese Woman's Experience of Hijaab

A Japanese Woman's Experience of Hijaab
by Nakata Khaula

When I reverted to Islam, the religion of our inborn nature, a fierce debate raged about girls observing the hijab at schools in France. It still does. The majority, it seemed, thought that wearing the headscarf was contrary to the principle that public - that is state-funded - schools should be neutral with regard to religion. Even as a non-Muslim, I could not understand why there was such a fuss over such a small thing as a scarf on a Muslim student's head. The feeling still persists amongst non-Muslims that Muslim women wear the hijab simply because they are slaves to tradition, so much so that it is seen as a symbol of oppression. Women' s liberation and independence is, so they believe, impossible unless they first remove the hijab.

Such naiveté is shared by "Muslims" with little or no knowledge of Islam. Being so used to secularism and religious eclecticism, pick and mix, they are unable to comprehend that Islam is universal and eternal. This apart, women all over the world, non-Arabs, are embracing Islam and wearing the hijab as a religious requirement, not a misdirected sense of "tradition."

I am but one example of such women. My hijab is not a part of my racial or traditional identity; it has no social or political significance; it is, purely and simply, my religious identity.

I have worn the hijab since embracing Islam in Paris. The exact form of the hijab varies according to the country one is in, or the degree of the individual's religious awareness. In France I wore a simple scarf, which matched my dress and perched lightly on my head so that it was almost fashionable! Now, in Saudi Arabia, I wear an all-covering black cape; not even my eyes are visible. Thus, I have experienced the hijab from its simplest to its most complete form.
What does the hijab mean to me? Although there have been many books and articles about the hijab, they always tend to be written from an outsider's point of view; I hope this will allow me to explain what I can observe from the inside, so to speak. When I decided to declare my Islam, I did not think whether I could pray five times a day or wear the hijab. Maybe I was scared that if I had given it serious thought I would have reached a negative conclusion, and that would affect my decision to become a Muslim. Until I visited the main mosque in Paris I had nothing to do with Islam; neither the prayers nor the hijab were familiar to me. In fact, both were unimaginable but my desire to be a Muslim was too strong (Alhamdulilah) for me to be overly concerned with what awaited me on the "other side" of my conversion.

The benefits of observing hijab became clear to me following a lecture at the mosque when I kept my scarf on even after leaving the building. The lecture had filled me with such a previously unknown spiritual satisfaction that I simply did not want to remove it. Because of the cold weather, I did not attract too much attention but I did feel different, somehow purified and protected; I felt as if I was in Allah's company.

As a foreigner in Paris, I sometimes felt uneasy about being stared at by men. In my hijab I went unnoticed, protected from impolite stares.

My hijab made me happy; it was both a sign of my obedience to Allah and a manifestation of my faith. I did not need to utter beliefs, the hijab stated them clearly for all to see, especially fellow Muslims, and thus it helped to strengthen the bonds of sisterhood in Islam.

Wearing the hijab soon became spontaneous, albeit purely voluntary. No human being could force me to wear it; if they had, perhaps I would have rebelled and rejected it. However, the first Islamic book I read used very moderate language in this respect, saying that "Allah recommends it (the hijab) strongly" and since Islam (as the word itself indicates) means we are to obey Allah's will I accomplished my Islamic duties willingly and without difficulty, Alhamdulilah.

The hijab reminds people who see it that God exists, and it serves as a constant reminder to me that I should conduct myself as a Muslim. Just as police officers are more professionally aware while in uniform, so I had a stronger sense of being a Muslim wearing my hijab.

Two weeks after my return to Islam, I went back to Japan for a family wedding and took the decision not to return to my studies in France; French literature had lost its appeal and the desire to study Arabic had replaced it. As a new Muslim with very little knowledge of Islam it was a big test for me to live in a small town in Japan completely isolated from Muslims. However, this isolation intensified my Islamic consciousness, and I knew that I was not alone as Allah was with me.

I had to abandon many of my clothes and, with some help from a friend who knew dressmaking; I made some pantaloons, similar to Pakistani dress. I was not bothered by the strange looks the people gave me!

After six months in Japan, my desire to study Arabic grew so much that I decided to go to Cairo, where I knew someone. None of my host family there spoke English (or Japanese!) and the lady who took my hand to lead me into the house was covered from head to toe in black. Even her face was covered. Although this is now familiar to me here in Riyadh, I remember being surprised at the time, recalling an incident in France when I had seen such dress and thought, “there is a woman enslaved by Arabic tradition, unaware of real Islam,” (which, I believed, thought that covering the face was not a necessity, but an ethnic tradition).

I wanted to tell the lady in Cairo that she was exaggerating in her dress,that it was unnatural and abnormal. Instead, I was told that my self-made dress was not suitable to go out in, something I disagreed with since I understood that it satisfied the requirements for a Muslimah. But, when in Rome, I bought some cloth and made a long dress, called khimar, which covered the loins and the arms completely. I was even ready to cover my face, something most of the sisters with whom I became acquainted did. They were, though, a small minority in Cairo.

Generally speaking, young Egyptians, more or less fully westernized, kept their distance from women wearing khimar and called them “the sisters”. Men treated us with respect and special politeness. Women wearing a khimar shared a sisterhood which lived up to the Prophet’s saying (Allah’s blessings and peace on him) that “a Muslim gives his salaam to the person he crosses in the street, whether he knows him or not.” The sisters were, it is probably true to say, more conscious of their faith than those who wear scarves for the sake of custom, rather than for the sake of Allah. Before becoming a Muslimah, my preference was for active pants-style clothes, not the more feminine skirt, but the long dress I wore in Cairo pleased me; I felt elegant and more relaxed.

In the western sense, black is a favourite colour for evening wears as it accentuates the beauty of the wearer. My new sisters were truly beautiful in their black khimar and with a light akin, to saintliness shone from their faces. Indeed, they are not unlike Raman Catholic nuns, something I noticed particularly when I had occasion to visit Paris soon after arriving in Saudi Arabia.

I was in the same Metro carriage as a nun and I smiled at our similarity of dress. Hers was the symbol of her devotion to God, as is that of a Muslimah. I often wonder why people say nothing about the veil of the Catholic nun, but criticise vehemently the veil of a Muslimah, regarding it as a symbol of “terrorism” and “oppression.”

I did not mind abandoning colourful clothes in favour of black; in fact, I had always had a sense to longing for the religious lifestyle of a nun even before becoming a Muslimah!

After another six months in Cairo, however, I was so accustomed to my long dress that I started to think that I would wear it on my return to Japan. My concession was that I had some dresses made in light colours, and some white khimars, in the belief that they would be less shocking in Japan than the black variety.

I was right. The Japanese reacted rather well to my white khimars, and they seemed to be able to guess that I was of a religious persuasion. I heard one girl telling her friend that I was a Buddhist nun; how similar a Muslimah, a Buddhist nun and a Christian nun are! man who would not normally be accustomed to talking about religion.

My father was worried when I went out in long sleeves and a head-cover even in the hottest weather, but I found that my hijab protected me from the sun. Indeed, it was I who also felt uneasy looking at my younger sister’ s legs while she wore short pants.

Muslims are accused of being over-sensitive about the human body but the degree of sexual harassment which occurs these days justifies modest dress. Just as a short skirt can send the signal that the wearer is available to men, so the hijab signals, loud and clear: “I am forbidden for you.”

The Prophet once asked his daughter Fatima, "What is the best for a woman?” And she replied: “Not to see men and not to be seen by them.” Having married, I left Japan for Saudi Arabia, where it is customary for the women to cover their faces outdoors. I was impatient to try the niqab (face cover), and curious to know how it felt. Of course, non-Muslim women generally wear a black cloak, rather nonchalantly thrown over their shoulders, but do not cover their faces; Non-Saudi Muslim women also often keep their faces uncovered.

My first niqab left my eyes uncovered. But in winter I wore a fine eye-covering as well. It is an error of judgment to think that a Muslim woman covers herself because she is a private possession of her husband. In fact, she preserves her dignity and refuses to be possessed by strangers. Observing the hijab from outside, it is impossible to see what it hides. The gap, between being outside and looking in, and being inside and looking out, explains in part the void in the understanding of Islam. An outsider may see Islam as restricting Muslims. Inside, however, there is peace, freedom, and joy, which those who experience it have never known before.

Practising Muslims, whether those born in Muslim families or those reverted to Islam, choose Islam rather than the illusory freedom of secular life. If it oppresses women, why are so many well-educated young women in Europe, America, Japan, Australia, indeed all over the world, abandoning “liberty” and “independence” and embracing Islam?

A person blinded by prejudice may not see it, but a woman in hijab is as brightly beautiful as an angel, full of self-confidence, serenity, and dignity.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Muslim girl basketball players compete in modesty & effort

Muslim girl basketball players compete in modesty and effort
Thursday, February 02, 2006
JEFF DIAMANTNewhouse News Service
SOUTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Each afternoon before basketball practice, Hiba Hussain swaps her regular polyester Muslim head scarf for a cotton one.

The cotton better absorbs sweat as she hustles down the court, scurries for rebounds and dives for loose balls.

Hiba, 15, is a point guard for the state's only girls basketball team from an Islamic school. The players at Noor-Ul-Iman School in South Brunswick compete while wearing head scarves - called hijabs - long sleeves and sweat pants.

"It gets a little in the way, but what can you do?" Hiba said of the hijab. "It's part of the religion. It doesn't bother me, I really don't mind. I deal with it. ... People say, `Don't you get hot? Don't you sweat?' But it's part of the game."

By several accounts, Hiba is the most intense player on a team of enthusiastic teenagers that has been around three years. The team is 1-4 so far this year - it beat Academy Charter High School of Lake Como. But even in losing, the team is a minor spectacle, attracting stares for its garb and surprising opponents with its aggressive play.

In a recent 49-15 loss to Piscataway Tech, players battled so hard for rebounds and loose balls that afterward a Tech player emerged from the locker room and loudly criticized Noor-Ul-Iman's players for their aggressive play as they left the gymnasium.

Scarves an afterthought:
It is the head scarves, though, that usually draw the most attention and initially make the girls seem out of place on the court to many fans. To the girls themselves, the scarves are an afterthought.

"We wear it everywhere outside the house. I'm used to it," said Asma Saud, the tallest player on the team at 5-foot-9. Like most of her teammates, she began playing basketball in a hijab as a child with brothers or male cousins. "You don't really remember how it was when you didn't play with it."

There are fewer than a half-dozen girls basketball teams at Islamic schools in the country, according to the Islamic Schools League of America, a networking organization for Islamic schools. The players at Noor-Ul-Iman view their team as a way to teach Americans something about Muslim women.

"You want to show people we can do things," Hussain said. "We can go out and play sports, we can go out and do this. ... Yeah, it (a hijab) is obligatory, but it doesn't hold us back from anything. We can do everything that everyone else does."

Clearly, the players and their coach aren't satisfied with being an anomaly on the high school sports scene. They want to win more games.

"You have to demand more of yourselves!" coach Abir Catovic told her players after their loss, in which Noor-Ul-Iman scored 2 points in the second half. "You have to run your little tails off! ... I'm going to be hard until you meet my expectations!"

The Noor-Ul-Iman girls said no one has ever taunted them at a game, and that opponents almost always are friendly. Only once, Catovic said, has anyone asked about the hijabs, and that was during a boys game.

"People who saw me cheering once asked about the head scarf; they asked, `What is this called?' and `What are you wearing?'" Catovic said.

Noor-Ul-Iman has only 28 high school girls, and 15 of them play on the team. The school is associated with the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, which is considered a religiously progressive mosque.

Imam is supportive:
While some adults at the mosque oppose the idea of girls playing sports in public, the mosque's religious leader, Imam Hamad Chebli, said he is strongly in favor of the team as long as the girls are modestly attired.

"We're very proud of them," he said. "I encourage it."

Iran, a predominantly Muslim country, hosts the Muslim Women's Games every four years. Athletes there do not need to dress modestly because no men are allowed to watch the events, and no media broadcast them.

Source: the Birmingham News