Wednesday, October 26, 2005

German State Bans Headscarves

Germany's most populous state has banned Muslim teachers from wearing headscarves in classrooms in a government bid to protect pupils from the influence of 'Islamic fundamentalism'. Deputies from the ruling Christian Democrats and Free Democrats in have agreed unanimously to put the measure to a vote in the state legislature next month. Headscarf bans for teachers have already been introduced in the German states of Hesse, Lower Saxony, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria and Saarland. In Hesse the ban applies to all civil servants. Germany is home to more than three-million Muslims. -Sapa

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hijab by Sumayyah Joan

Originally published in Resalah, December 1999

It will be three years ago, this December 25th, that I stood before two Muslim sisters and declared openly my belief in Allah and His Messenger, Sallallahu-‘Alaihi Was-Sallam, and thus freeing and liberating myself from my former self-imposed bondage. Stepping out of the darkness of disbelief into the light of Islam, it’s funny that I found such freedom in the very thing that was keeping me from Islam in the first place; the hijab. Even though I get the wide gamut of strange stares, points, and comments, this covering makes me feel honored, safe, and cherished.

The word hijab comes from the Arabic word "hajaba" meaning to hide from view or to conceal their beauty in this society and do not give in to its oppressive system, are looked upon as invisible, without sexuality, and backward. Because I’m often mistaken for a nun, a terrorist, who may be hiding Allah knows what’s under all that stuff, or the poster-child for oppressed womanhood everywhere, I feel the reactions to the hijab for many women, is the truest test of being a Muslim. In instructing us to wear the hijab, Allah has given Muslim women what they can bear of injunctions and obligations. For Allah says,

"And we do not lay on any soul a burden except to the extent of it’s ability, and with Us is a Book which speaks the truth, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly." (23:62)

Unfortunately, Satan and his cohorts are calling the Muslim woman to enslave her to the creation, and to forget about her servitude to her Creator. Chastity, modesty, and piety are deceptively marked as shackles on personal freedom. Allah warns the believers that they should not let Satan deceive them, as he deceived their parents, Adam and Eve. Under the guises of fashion, culture, and modernism, however, Satan has succeeded and is succeeding to lead the Muslim woman into immodesty.

From the dawn of civilization, flowing dresses and headscarves has always been associated with "Godliness" or "God consciousness". Even the Christian pictorial representation of the earlier prophets and their womenfolk bear familiar likeness to the dress ordained for Muslim men and women. This tradition of modesty is reflected in the Qur’an, wherein Allah says,

"O Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover yourselves (screen your private parts, etc.) and as an adornment. But the raiment of righteousness, that is better" (7:26)

But since the heyday of feminist movement, there has been an increasing amount of scrutiny placed on the dress and status of Muslim women. According to these "liberated" women, the hijab not only covers the head, but also covers the mind, will, and intellect. They say that our dress code is outdated and oppressive, and it stops us from being productive human beings. They speak out of ignorance when they say that our hijab does not belong in these modern times, when due to the constant decrease in moral values in the world today, circumstances make the hijab even more necessary. More than ever before, sex crimes are rampant and "liberated women" in the larder society now face increasing higher chances of being raped or sexually harassed. The Federal Government conducted research in which they found that in America, a rape is committed every six minutes.

The women, who uncover their beauty and show off their bodies and made-up faces for all to enjoy, expose themselves to be harmed by wolves in human clothing. Allah enjoined hijab on the Muslim woman to protect her from harm. He knows his creation, and knows that when women make a dazzling display of themselves, with immodest clothes, perfumed bodies and made-up faces, it serves to increase the sexual deviance of the overall society. Many of those who are misguided would have us thing though that the hijab is a portable prison that restricts our minds, lives, and hearts. It is none of these things, and in order not to fall victim to their plots, we must begin to understand what the hijab truly is.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Police force Muslim woman to remove veil

By Shaista GohirCourtesy of MVUK,
this article appeared in following newspapers : The Jang (2nd June), Pakistan Post (3rd June), Asian Post (3rd June) and The Asian Leader, North Edition(6th June)

A Muslim woman from Birmingham has branded West Midlands Police as racist and Islamophobic. She says her calls to the police for help resulted in her being arrested and claims that she was ordered to remove her hijab (head scarf) and niqab (face veil) by police officers at the station.

Mrs Mahfooz Bibi has been arrested four times in a 14 month period over disputes with her neighbours. Although her neighbours are also Muslim the Pakistani mother of five claims that she was victimised because she wears the hijab and niqab.

Mrs Bibi’s husband who is also a policeman, but based at a different station, is shocked at the way his wife has been treated. Despite lodging formal complaints a year ago, they are still waiting to hear the outcome of the case.

The first incident ironically occurred on September 11th 2003, the second anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Mrs Bibi, who lives in the Sparkhill area, had called the police after she and her two sons had been physically assaulted by neighbours. She complained about what had occurred to a Muslim Police Officer in Urdu, as she was not fluent in English. She alleges that although the Muslim Officer was sympathetic, the other police officer ignored her version of events and instead ordered her to be arrested. “I could not believe what was happening. I had called the police yet I was being arrested for causing a breach of the peace. There was physical evidence of injuries to my sons but my complaint was ignored,” says Mrs Bibi, speaking through an interpreter.

When she was taken to Belgrave Road Police Station, which serves a predominantly Asian area, she was released without charge. However Mrs Bibi describes how she was mocked and ridiculed by police officers. “At the station, officers were looking at me and putting their hands over their face and making gestures to show they were wearing niqabs. One of the officers that drove me back home even mimicked me by making whimpering noises because I was crying in the back of the car.”

On another occasion Mrs Bibi was arrested and charged for criminal damage although the allegations were unfounded and the case later dropped due to the lack of evidence. She explains how officers had ordered her to remove her head scarf and veil while she was in custody at the police station.

“The male officer demanded that I remove my face veil for a photograph. After consulting my interpreter and solicitor I agreed providing I was dealt with by a female officer. However, the female officer told me to remove my entire hijab and uncover my head. I even asked her if this would be the case for everyone, including for Sikh Males who wear turbans. I was told it was normal practice, so I removed my hijab.”

After the incident Mrs Bibi was upset to learn that Sikh males are not required to remove their turbans for photographs.

A month later, Mrs Bibi was taken to the police station again. She alleges that the same male officer demanded she remove her veil so he could see her face. “I felt vulnerable and his oppressive behaviour made me very scared. Through duress I unveiled my face to the male sergeant. I felt humiliated at having to remove my niqab in front of this man.”

Still upset at her ordeal, Mrs Bibi added, “The police force’s lack of sensitivity towards the Muslim culture is evident from the way I have been treated.”

Mrs Bibi’s, then 17 year old daughter, Sofina Bibi claims she was also ordered to remove her face veil by the same male police officer when she attended the station voluntarily to answer questions. “When I asked him why this was necessary the officer replied ‘You are a danger to me’. However, I refused to remove the veil in front of him,” explains Sofina.

When Mrs Bibi lodged two formal complaints last year about her treatment, senior police officers dismissed her allegations. However Mrs Bibi pursued the matter with the Independent Police Complaints Commission who instructed West Midlands Police to investigate the complaint further. Although the case has now been taken up by the Professional Standards Department at Lloyd House, Mrs Bibi accuses West Midlands Police of not taking her complaints seriously. “They have failed to take any action against the officers concerned and a year on I am still waiting to hear the outcome of the case.”

It is thought that the negative perceptions the Muslim community already has about the police will be reinforced by Mrs Bibi’s case. Already counter-terrorism powers are used disproportionately against Muslims and recently a Met police officer was suspended over claims of racial abuse after he was secretly recorded by a Kurdish teenager that he had arrested.

Also the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) concluded their inquiry earlier this year, which was launched in October 2003 in the wake of the undercover BBC documentary that revealed racism among police recruits. According to the CRE report, a new disciplinary offence of "racial misconduct" should be created to combat bigotry in the police. At present, racial misconduct cases are brought under a number of different sections, increasing the chance that they are not recorded properly.

Although it will be impossible to entirely stamp out racism in the police force, implementation of the 125 recommendations by the CRE report should go a long way in improving the situation.

Shaista Gohir is the Director of Muslim Voice UK
If any Muslim women have been treated in a similar manner by any organisation, please e-mail

Monday, October 03, 2005

Hijab on Campus

By Wida Kamal Hamidi

My senior year of high school was a memorable time. It was a year of changes, of saying goodbye, of learning to let go of youth and begin the voyage to adulthood, a voyage that started the first day after graduation. My classmates would discuss college with such yearning and anticipation, because to them, it spelled F-R-E-E-D-OM, freedom to finally live life as they wanted, to experience independence, in other words to "party". I always viewed college as a place to study, to mature, and to gain the necessary skills and tools to live a full, rewarding life as a responsible adult. How different my views were from those of my peers!

Many Muslim parents are not aware of exactly what occurs in the university. I have heard horror stories of Muslim youth, who have become engulfed by the whole college experience. Parents should be wary and really talk with their children before they send them off on their own. There have been numerous studies conducted regarding the amount of alcohol that is consumed in the freshman year. According to the Core Institute, an organization that surveys college drinking practices, 300,000 of today's college students will eventually die of alcohol-related causes such as drunk driving accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, various cancers and heart disease. And 159,000 of today's first-year college students will drop out of school next year for alcohol or other drug-related reasons. (

The only way to protect our Muslim youth from the vices of college life is by giving them a strong foundation in the deen. For example, praying five times a day serves as a continuous reminder that we are always in the presence of Allah (SWT), and thus it helps us to avoid being led astray by Satan. Likewise, hijab serves the same purpose; similar to police and other officials in uniform, we tend to behave more honorably when dressed such. We are human beings; we are imperfect, and we tend to forget and slip at times (like our parents, Adam and Eve, who forgot and ate from the tree). Hence, we need to be consistently reminded of the fact that we are never alone; Allah is always watching.

Hijab, also, helps to safeguard and protect Muslimahs from the negative aspects of the college environment. There are many benefits to wearing hijab on campus, but before I name them, I would first like to define what hijab is.

Many of my sisters mistakenly think that by simply wearing a headscarf, they are observing proper hijab. However, this is not the case. Hijab is an all-encompassing term that denotes the entire aura, demeanor of the Muslimah, from her clothes, to her attitude, and most importantly to her hayah and modesty. When we practice true hijab, we never allow ourselves to be alone in the company of non-mahrem men because we know this would negate our hijab. When we practice true hijab, we not only ensure that all of our hair is covered, but also that the rest of our body is properly attired with LOOSE, modest clothing. When we practice true hijab, we do not lie or tell improper jokes; we safeguard our tongue because we know this is one of the shortest routes to the Hellfire. When we practice true hijab, we know that we are ambassadors of Islam and that the impression we give to non-Muslims will influence their overall opinion of Islam; therefore, we make sure that we are always polite, courteous and respectful. The Muslimah in proper hijab is an aweinspiring figure, a no-nonsense, independent, strong personality who does not have time to waste in futile activities, but uses her time on campus productively. She takes her studies seriously, and she only participates in those activities that will please her Creator. The college campus can be a wild terrain full of temptations, but it will have no attraction for her.

Benefits of wearing hijab on campus:

1. Hijab helps to keep women from being objectified by her male peers and to be taken more seriously, thus easing the way for her to succeed in the academic environment.

2. Hijab makes her stronger because wearing it on campus is not an easy task, and most likely she may be viewed as odd or a social "misfit" who does not belong with the rest of the sorority sisters or typical college coeds. She becomes immune to the stares and the whispers and uses each experience to become wiser. Contrary to popular opinion, she is a strong, independent woman who doesn't compromise her values and beliefs in order to fit into the popular mold. She upholds her morality in an environment that has long since forgotten the meaning of the word. She stands apart, and she knows that though she may be a figure of ridicule to some, in the eyes of her Lord, she is BEAUTIFUL. She does not need society's acceptance, nor stamp of approval, because she only aims to please her Creator.

3. Hijab serves as a protective barrier between her and the ills of campus life. In hijab, she is less likely to be approached by members of the opposite sex and less likely to be invited to parties and other such gatherings where, most likely, alcohol and drugs will be prevalent.

4. Hijab improves her self-image and confidence because she does not need to spend an hour each morning primping and pruning to please others. She dons her modest clothing and presents a clean, fresh image, for she knows that cleanliness is half of deen. By not having to worry about fixing her hair and wearing tons of makeup, she saves valuable time that she uses to study or just rest. She has a healthy self-image of herself because beauty and fashion is not as important to her as most of the other young college women. Thus, she is not part of the10% of college women who suffer from a clinical or nearly clinical eating disorder. (, who place a strong emphasis on physical appearance, are usually the ones who will succumb to an eating disorder. Many of my friends were victims of anorexia and bulemia, and with them, it resulted from a constant fixation on their bodies. Hijab helps us to take control over our bodies, by limiting access. When we cover our bodies day in and day out, we devalue the importance that society has placed on image and physical appearance.

5. Hijab helps to protect her from the horrible fate of rape that occurs so commonly on college campuses, because she attempts, as best as possible, to not place herself in risky situations. This is very important because rape is the most common violent crime on American college campuses today; an estimated 25 percent of college women have been victims of rape or attempted rape.( According to researchers, high rape rates among college women exist due to the environment of the campus (the frequent unsupervised parties, the easy access to alcohol, single students living on their own, and the availability of private rooms). Also, research indicates that in over three-quarters of college rapes, the offender, the victim or both had been drinking and that fewer than 5% of victims report the crime to the police.

Alhamdulillah, the benefits of hijab are numerous. As Muslims, we know that when our Creator decrees something for us, it is in our best interest. Obviously, the One who created us knows us much better than we. We should be thankful that Allah has given us this beautiful gift of hijab and that we have the right to wear it freely in the US, whereas so many of our sisters do not have this same right. Whether it is a Muslim-majority country like Turkey, or a non-Muslim one like France, young Muslim women all over the world are struggling to have the right to wear hijab. May Allah help them in their noble cause and easy their difficulties, as well as guide all of our sisters to don the hijab. February-March 2004