Recently, The Christian Science Monitor published a series of articles centered around the hijab. While I appreciated the valiant effort to offer some insight into the discourse around the hijab and the lives of Muslim women, it ultimately left me frustrated.
The articles treat the headscarf as the heart of women’s issues in Islam. Centering on the practice of veiling makes it appear central to women’s issues and ultimately glosses over the realities and depths of the problems that Muslim women may face in the world. While the hijab may serve as a symbol, the real issue lies with the relationship between socioeconomic factors and religious interpretation. That diversity felt marginalized by this series.
The first article, titled “The veil, the Koran, and the Muslim women’s movement” and written by the Monitor’s Editorial Board, looked at the involvement of women within the discourse surrounding Islam. The article opens with a statement about the hijab not being mentioned in the Qur’an. After this, the article says:
A Muslim woman, then, should have the freedom to cover her hair – or not. But that is not the case in a country like Saudi Arabia. The Koran also supports a woman’s right to own and inherit property, to be educated, and to choose her husband – but not all societies in the Muslim universe of 1.5 billion people recognize these rights.