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Wednesday, January 26, 2022
 
 

Women's liberation?

 

ANU GULMOHAR | Issue Dated: January 4, 2009
Tags : Tabassum Aamer | hijab | Ramadan | Catholic | Hajj | Chennai | abaya | burkha | Quran | would-be husband | forced silence | radical | unconscionable militancy |
 

Women�s liberation? I was no exception to the society who used to look down upon the whole concept of hijab, without knowing its true meaning. I was born in a modern Muslim family, which fasted in the month of Ramadan and prayed three times a day instead of five. Being brought up in this environment and going to a Catholic school and college, my understanding of Islam and its beliefs was very poor. I was practicing more of a Catholic way of life rather than Islamic.

In 2002, some of my relatives went to Hajj and upon returning, they decided to learn more about Islam and live in a modest Islamic way. To be honest, I was quite impressed by their decision, and each time I looked at their determination I wished to become more like them. I started visiting them often and asked questions about Islam and the hijab in particular. Never once did they force me to wear hijab. This is what Islam is all about � submission by your own self, not by force.

In 2003, my uncle started an Islamic school in Chennai. All my younger cousins joined the school and were very humble in their behaviour. Looking at them, I started to learn more about Islam and found out how practical it was. So, one day during Ramadan, I just decided to wear hijab. There was no force involved and it was completely my decision. I still remember my mom was a bit taken aback as she didn�t wear hijab. My dad and brother detested it and tried telling me that it�s not necessary for me to wear it. Hearing all this never made me think twice about my decision, it just made me stronger. My relatives supported me and my uncle even gifted me an abaya (burkha).

Time passed by and my parents accepted my decision. My sister-in-law and mother both started wearing hijab. It took a while for my friends to adjust, but later, they accepted it. I started reading the Quran with meaning. The more I read, the more happy I felt about my decision. Hijab earns you respect and also makes others know who you are. It protects you from unwanted attention and makes you feel pure from inside out.

As I was finishing my college, my parents started looking for alliances. When my would-be husband came to meet me, I was adamant and told him I would not accept the alliance if he made me remove my hijab after marriage. He was settled in Australia, and told me that I was free to make my decision. I am really happy about my decision, but at the same time I feel I lost a few years by not wearing it earlier. It has taught me to live modestly and practice good. I encourage all Muslim women to understand what hijab is and how it protects you physically and spiritually. Hijab shouldn�t be forced upon anyone but rather done through free will.

In the present world, hijab has come to symbolise either forced silence or radical, unconscionable militancy. Actually, it�s neither. It is simply a woman�s assertion that judgment of her physical person is to play no role in any social interaction. No one knows whether my hair looks as if I just stepped out of a salon, whether or not I can pinch an inch. And because no one knows, no one cares. BRASS TACKS

Wearing of the hijab was made compulsory by the Taliban regime, and it is enforced in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Turkey and Tunisia are the only Muslim nations whose law doesn�t allow women to wear hijab inside government buildings, schools, and universities.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017