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The Forum > Article Comments > The invisible hijab > Comments

The invisible hijab : Comments

By Jane Caro, published 29/9/2005

Jane Caro argues looking gorgeous is almost as oppressive as not being allowed to be seen at all.

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'Choice' is mentioned in relation to the wearing headscarves. This is something else Muslims seem to be hazy on. Do they have choice? Do men make them wear it? Does Allah require it? We have heard all these reasons from different Muslims. To the observer, it often appears that there are different versions of the Koran and Muslim doctrine.

Religious requirement or just choice would make a great deal of difference in the debate concerning the wearing of headscarves.

The statements of an Jouhour El Ghoul of the Islamic Council of NSW, addressing a Muslim rally recently, didn't help much. She said, in defending the wearing of headscarves, that it (wearing one) is a 'duty to Allah.' Shortly after, she said, 'I can wear what I want when I want.'

Making allowances for religion is not new in Australia. When I went to school, Jehovah's Witnesses were excused from the flag ceremony, rightly or wrongly.

If we know whether the wearing of a headscarf is a religious requirement or merely an individual choice, perhaps more sensible and rational discussion could occur. It would be helpful if Muslims gave us some information on the facts and myths of their religion instead of just blathering on about how hard done by they are.
Posted by Leigh, Thursday, 29 September 2005 12:09:51 PM
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Jane said: <<even the strongest ..women talk about the headscarf and modest attire as a way of controlling male sexuality.>>

So, we (men) are all 'lurking, waiting, watching as predators' ?

265. It is related from Qatada that Anas ibn Malik said, "The Prophet, ... used to make the rounds of all his wives at one go either at night or during the day - and he had eleven wives. Qatada said to Anas, "Had he the strength for that?" He said, "We used to say that he had been given the strength of thirty men."

The question under discussion where that came from was 'should a man wash after intercourse with each wife. They concluded that he only needed to wash after the last one.

Dialoging with Muslims always reveals an admission of the reality of sex to the point of Allah desiring to please men. Up to 4 wives, and captive slave girls are 'legal'.

I hope this is not going to be interpreted as an 'attack' because I've made no value judgements at all here, I'm scratching around for the origins of this acute 'male sex drive' consiousness which seems to lie at the root of some Islamic ideas.

On logic of the Hijab or Burkah, being to 'free them from lustful glances of men' I have to make a judgment and its plain ludicrous, as well as untrue. I saw a number of Iranian women all in black, a 90% burkah at Tullamarine, and the face +the general body type is quite adequate to determine if a girl is 'attractive'.

The principle which should guide ALL our behavior is that of modesty and NOT pandering competitively to our 'lower nature'. Even dogs have to wait for a bitch to be on heat, so their sex is not 'causual' as we practice it.

The more we reveal of our flesh and especially in 'sexy' ways, the closer we come to being "vagina's" and "penises" with a few arms and legs thrown in for mobility.
Posted by BOAZ_David, Thursday, 29 September 2005 12:23:58 PM
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Beats me why we discuss the veil at all: I can remember when my mother wore a bloody handkerchief on her head in lieu of a hat when she went to church for god sake.

If muslim wome wish to wear a veil or a burkha thats fine with me; some do some dont, so I guess thelevel of compulsion is far form universal and not applied all that slavishly.

These debates seem to draw more heat from Western men and women than it does from those who might have to wear the thing.

Jane is right; we have our own home grown forms of oppression that are just a demeaning as might be the wearing of a veil - if you dont want to wear one that is.

I recently saw a french docco that featured a raft of intelligent articualte muslim girls defending thier right to wear the scarf in the face of some extremely agressive secularists - what made the whole thing more tellling for me was the fact I was in the company of young french women who dismissed the muslims because "they're not really French. Our Country is full of these people!"

It is high time we let live and let live.
Posted by sneekeepete, Thursday, 29 September 2005 12:37:00 PM
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Our dear Jane here, writes this article in the first and second persons - I and we - as a woman and as being part of the group, women, so I as a man am excluded from its readership - gosh, talk about sexist!

Anyway, having fallen into the trap of reading a woman's article, I wondered where it was heading. A very circuitous argument she expressed, somewhat like being led around the bush, but then at last I arrived at the ultimate point - "As long as we continue to take responsibility for male sexuality, blah, blah, blah".


Here we go again - what women wear or don't wear, what they do or what they don't do, apparently, according to Jane, is all men's fault. Geez, give us a break and get off our backs!

If women feel compelled to shape their lives around perceived requirements of men, they'll never be men's equals. If women can't raise their own beings to include self respect, how in the world do they ever expect men to respect them?

And legislating for it through EOCs won't work either.

So, Jane, please stop feeling responsible for my sexuality. It's in very good condition, it's all in perfect working order and I'm not driven into a raping frenzy by seeing scantily clad women, although I do enjoy looking at them. I seem to have my sexuality under control and just for the record I think women wearing the hijab makes them look very attractive, clean and respectable. It's an image of women us Western men don't get the privilege of seeing much anymore.

So, to all you women out there - wear what you want, but don't blame us, men, for it. Just don't expect us, men, to necessarily like it. What we like is our business. What you wear is yours.
Posted by Maximus, Thursday, 29 September 2005 3:36:20 PM
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Jane, thanks to the dismantling of the female prison known as the kitchen we have women like Bronwyn Bishop, Sophie Panopoulos, and others in parliament. I would've thought that the sisterhood would have been cheering for them. Instead you seem to be calling 'foul'. I bet if women weren't allowed to speak you'd be upset.
What if ALL males over 16 got a free pair of sunglasses? Would that keep muslim women happy? I mean if a male could hide behind a pair of sunglasses then the lascivious and lustful stare would be hard to prove. Under those circumstances the need to wear the burqa could not be justified.

As for the argument that someone's mother wore a head covering to church I have also observed this. And if mass is at 8am, by 10am most of those women remove their head coverings and segue into the role of mother or wife or partner. Not so muslim women. The muslim woman who wears the burqa in the mosque on Friday also wears the burqa on the 7:35am train from Parramatta to the city Monday - Friday. I haven't noticed any muslim religious services on the train so the comparison between women going to church with a head covering which is worn for about 1 hour and muslim women who cover their heads 24/7 is fatuous.
Posted by Sage, Thursday, 29 September 2005 4:00:20 PM
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People will no doubt remember the Makkah School Fire in Saudia Arabia. (

Comparing Australian habits with mediaeval dress rules is unreasonable.

We have a choice to dress like Paris Hilton if that rocks our boat. The likelihood that someone might laugh at us is one thing, the idea someone might compel us to look like that is another. To actually attack us for our appearance is still possible even in the West but it is hopefully diminishing. Unlike saudi arabia for example, where we are not allowed to wear what we want, our society has different values and, shock horror, does things differently.

In a secular society such as ours, muslim belief about dress is irrelevant.

What is relevant in Australia is whether each and every female citizen such as, but not only, the inhabitant of the tent (literally, the chador) may, according to our laws, speak and act when she chooses and on the subject of her choosing, attend all necessary medical examinations for her health, obtain the right amount of sunlight and exercise if she wishes to stay healthy, drive if she wishes, vote because she must etc etc.

In other words, her dress / our dress is irrelevant in Australia unless it impedes personal freedom and if so, then we should all slip on something a bit more comfortable IF WE WANT
Posted by Ro, Thursday, 29 September 2005 6:09:27 PM
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