Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim
Salaam Alaikum wa Rahmatullah
I was reading some postings about hijab. Now, usually I find the topic uplifting, because my sisters post verses from the Holy Qur’an and hadiths about the ruling on women covering. It is inspiring to see women who rush to obey Allah and cover themselves. May Allah help us to obey Allah in all areas of our lives, such as praying, fasting, being good wives to our husbands, strong mothers for our children, and obeying our parents.
The tone that I take issue with is when a Muslim contemptuously classes non-covered women as “a piece of meat”. I know, I know, it is so true that a woman who goes about skantily clad makes herself a target for men who wolf whistle and harass. But we cannot forget our Islamic adab, our manners, and should not condemn or dismiss women who do not cover, be they Muslim or non-Muslim.
I am American. I grew up here, I lived half my life as a non-Muslim. Before Allah guided me, I wore the typical clothing of an American girl. Jeans, t-shirts, shorts, swimsuits, the whole thing. I sometimes wore makeup. I put on perfume. In my mind, this was ‘normal’. I was not some sex-crazed nymphomaniac trying to bed every man who came across my path. I did not particularly want to attract the attention of construction workers or the guy bagging my groceries. I did want to be seen as attractive, and I was immersed in a culture that taught that the first thing you consider important is your looks. If you don’t catch a guy’s eye with your sexy cleavage or tight jeans, well, he’ll never talk to you and get to discover the “real” you under those revealing clothes. It’s just the mindset of “modern” culture. Is it to be condemned? Well, would that be useful? I think it would be more appropriate and beneficial to avoid using terms like “meat” and other phrases that show contempt, and rather concentrate on teaching. Share that verse from the Qur’an, type up that hadith and forward it, post a lovely story about how a stranger held the door for you and how men say “ma’am” because you dress modestly. Less hellfire and damnation, more cajoling and confirmation.
So, let me start. For all you non-Muslim ladies, or you Muslim ladies who don’t understand the concept of hijab, here it is: Hijab, first of all, is a command from Allah, and if there were nothing else than that, I would hear and obey. But, having lived on both sides of the issue, I can tell you that I get a lot more respect from men. I do come into contact with men fairly often as I shop, take my son to martial arts practice, or deal with businesspeople. Men know that I am a brain, not just a pretty body, and they don’t objectify me (or parts of my body) as they probably would if I were dressed in shorts and a tank top. I have no need to reveal my body or beautify myself for these men who are strangers, because they have not earned the right to see the wonderful, beautiful, precious person that I am. My husband has that right, and I jealously guard it for him. I am free from the servitude of the hair dryer and curling iron. I do not bow at the altar of makeup and perfume. I don’t wobble in high heels or suffer the cutting pain of a pushup bra. I dress nicely, yes, in a feminine manner, of course, clean and crisp and with a freshly-scrubbed face, but I leave the rest of the stuff for my husband who already knows my heart and soul, so it’s fine if he lusts after my body, lol.
So, when I see a non-Muslim dressed in tight clothes, do I think of her derisively as a piece of meat? No. I see her as a woman who is in need of guidance. Guidance comes from Allah, but since we are the khalifahs on this world, we must choose our words carefully and not put off someone from being interested in Islam because we chose an insulting word or gave a raised eyebrow or a look of disgust. Start with a smile, be a good role model, and when a woman in the grocery store says “Aren’t you hot in that?”, use it as an opportunity to share with her in a positive way the beauty of Islam and your hijab. And Allah knows best.