Every Muslim woman is required to wear a scarf or some sort of head covering and loose-fitting, modest attire. This is not a means of controlling a woman’s sexuality or suppressing her but rather, a means for protection. It implies by dressing this way she will not be seen as a mere sex symbol but will be appreciated for her intellect. Furthermore, it will not subject her to harassment. It is interesting to state the head covering for women is not an Islamic innovation but was also practiced by Judeo-Christian women centuries earlier, and yet is laughed at by the West today.
Naima Omar, a student of University of Western Sydney says “It is funny to say the same veil worn by catholic nuns for God is despised and presented as a symbol of subjection and domination when it is worn by Muslim women for the intention to protect themselves and devoting themself to God“.
The term Islam means “submission to the will of Allah” and “peace”. Muslims believe Islam is the way of life and that is harmonious however the media portrays the opposite. Maria Moskovakis, 18, a Greek Orthodox says “yes of course Muslims are presented negatively in the news. An action by one Muslim is presented with so much bias. If one Muslim commits a crime, it is not the person but the religion presented that goes to trial. What we hear and see is all controlled.
Muslims have an obligation to fulfill which is to educate themselves, their children to gain knowledge which is ordained upon them regardless of their race, gender and marital status etc. A Hasan Hadith narrated by Ibn Majah in the Qur’an states: “Seeking knowledge is a duty on every Muslim” and therefore gaining knowledge is regarded as an act of worship. Only knowing our religion will help us to change the misconceptions non-Muslims have about Muslim women.
Many Muslim women practice hijab in accordance with their religious beliefs. It is also known as khimar and they wear it in public and in the presence of men who aren’t immediate family members. Some women cover most of their face as well with a niqab.
Women wearing hijabs face a lot of discrimination and prejudice when it should be okay for them to express their religious beliefs freely because, like every other human being has the right to practice their religion. This includes being treated equally and not harassed for wearing a hijab which indicates the religion they practice.
Civil rights complaints filed with a Muslim advocacy group rose by 674%, to 2,467 in 2006, from 366 in 2000. As a result of the visibility of headscarves, Muslim women are exposed to harassment since the aftermath of September 11th. In 2006, the same advocacy group reported 154 cases, in which the woman’s headscarf was what triggered the incident.
These infringements can occur in various contexts:
- In some work places, Muslim women are not allowed to wear hijabs and can be fired if they refused to or will be asked to work in the back room where customers will not see them.
- Girls that wear hijabs and go to school are often harassed, even their mothers that wear them. Wearing the hijab denies them of participation in athletic events, extracurricular activities or musical concerts.
- In law enforcement contents, women are not allowed to wear headscarves in courthouse detention, jail, whilst working in or visiting someone in correctional institutions.
- In some public places females wearing a hijab are denied access into places unless they submit to a male guard searching them or removing their headscarf entirely.
- Muslim women have been denied drivers’ licenses, under one condition, to remover their head covering to take their photo. Even when also obtaining a passport.
Some employers and Correctional Settings demonstrated it is possible to recognize and accommodate them right to wear religious garb.
- Police forces in 3 of the largest metropolitan areas, New York< Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as in Cook County, Illinois, accommodated officers that wish to wear religious garb.
- In Maryland, the Montgomery County fire department accommodated a female firefighter to wear a headscarf on duty.
- Correctional systems like the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Kentucky and New York state correctional departments have policies set to accommodate inmates that wear headcoverings.
- Majority of the states make exceptions for those that don’t want to be photographed without headcoverings in their drivers’ licenses pictures.