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Islam in Perspective

Why hijab is important in Islam

This is the concluding part of the article.

One of the main reasons for the hijab ban in a country like France is secularism, a system in which government functions with little or no connections to religion or religious institutions. Religion does not dictate political decisions or thinking. As a philosophy, secularism is the belief that life can best be lived with little or no reference to God or gods. In secular societies, people do not assume religious beliefs to be widely shared and over time religion becomes less important in their lives. The obvious danger of this philosophy is that it encourages atheism and agnosticism. There is an emphasis on rationalism and a denigration of religions and religious teachings.
France is a pure secular states as noted in the first sentence of its constitution (1905) “France is an indivisible and secular Republic…” In relation to the hijab, the President of France, Jacques Chirac, is quoted as stating, “What is at stake is supporting the principle of secularism, which is one of the pillars of our Republic.” Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the Prime Minister of France, has stated, “Secularism in France is a fundamental value, particularly in France’s foremost Republican sanctuary, her schools, where every young person is learning about citizenship, universality, and where he or she must benefit from the principles of equality and liberty, the neutrality of public service.” Seventy percent of French people support the hijab ban. This is also one of the main reasons that hijab is banned in the secular countries of Turkey and Tunisia.
Islam is a threat to these governments since it is quite the opposite of secularism. Islam is not only a religion, but a deen, a way of life. As a way of life, it is comprehensive, covering virtually every aspect. A Muslim is not able to separate religion from the rest of life for the deen is the life. A true practicing Muslim breathes, walks, and lives Islam, even down to the smallest details. Upon rising in the morning, she remembers Allah. She immediately washes for pray and completes the fajr prayer. She eats with his right hand during meals. During social interactions she follows Islamic etiquette. Hijab is a part of this way of life and as such it cannot be altered or removed. The religion of Islam pervades both private and public life. These cannot be separated and one cannot say that she i1l be religious in private life but not public life. An individual takes her deen to public life when she wears hijab. She takes her religion to public life when she refuses to shake hands with males. The religion comes into play during social interactions, economic transactions, and political decisions. A Muslim can never live a “secular” life. Unfortunately, this is what nations are forcing Muslims to do, even in so-called Islamic countries. But, Allah has guaranteed to preserve the religion and to reward those who work for His cause in its protection.
The second reason given for the hijab ban is reflected in the following quote by Jacques Chirac —“Regardless of their origins and their convictions, French men and women have the same rights, the same duties, and they have a right to the same respect and the same opportunities.” The goal of these societies is to make men and women totally equal or the same; exactly identical in rights, duties, and opportunities. It is somehow strange to think that by removing hijab men and women will somehow become magically equal in status. These people also assume that women who wear Hijab are oppressed, subjugated and in need of liberation. They seem to think that Muslim women want to be liberated and to be told to remove the hijab. It is as if they are doing a favor for the Muslim woman.
From an Islamic perspective, it is important to realize that although men and women are similar in many ways (i.e., spiritual), Allah Almighty has created specific rights and responsibilities for each gender in certain realms of life. He has not only done that, but He has also created each gender uniquely to best fulfill the duties that have been assigned to each. Science, in fact, has affirmed these concepts. This does not imply the superiority of one gender over the other since both roles are honorable and operate in a complementary manner. They are both essential for effective functioning of the society. One may ask the question, “If Allah Almighty had intended for men and women to be equal or the same, would it be necessary to have two genders?”
A Muslim woman does not need the “freedom” that is being offered, for she is already liberated. Her liberation comes through submission to her Lord and Creator. The hijab liberates her from the focus on worldly and lower desires and elevates her into the domain of spirituality and nearness to Allah. The “liberation” they promise is only subjugation deceptively shrouded in the cloak of goodness. There can never be liberation in disobedience to Allah.
Although secular countries proclaim to support freedom of religion and speech, these can easily be compromised in defense of the secular philosophy. The following quote highlights this fact: “The European Court in Stasbourg protects secularism when it is a fundamental value of the state. It allows limits to the freedom of expression in public services, especially when it is a matter of protecting minors against external pressures.” In these societies, everything is upside down, even to the point of giving minors rights above their parents. In essence, what they are doing is taking control from parents and giving it to the state. So, it is no longer parents who are telling their children to wear hijab, but it is the state telling them to take it off. There is still no freedom, only a different force. This is not much different from saying that you have come to liberate a country, only to occupy it yourself.
In Islam, the rights of parents are sacred and honored. Allah commands the believers to obey and respect their parents and this is often placed next to submission and obedience to Allah in importance. They are attempting to tear down this fundamental aspect of the deen and the culture, but this cannot be allowed. From an Islamic perspective, parents can force their daughter to wear hijab since this is a religious obligation. They are only requiring her to do what is best for her, her family, and her society. This is really no different than enforcing a curfew or placing limitations on friends or outings. In reality, it is more essential since the benefits are immense. It is important to note that girls are not obligated to wear hijab until puberty, but they should be taught about the essentials of hijab from an early age. If they are properly taught the beauty and meaning of hijab, they will willingly make their own choice to don it when the time is right.

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