IslamiCity.org Homepage
Forum Home Forum Home > Culture & Community > Groups : Women (Sisters)
  New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - Hijaab  What is Islam What is Islam  Donate Donate
  FAQ FAQ  Quran Search Quran Search  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login


Hijaab

 Post Reply Post Reply Page  12>
Author
Message
Suleyman View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior  Member

Joined: 10 March 2003
Location: Turkey
Status: Offline
Points: 3324
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suleyman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Hijaab
    Posted: 13 May 2005 at 12:19pm

Hijaab: My Personal Experiences

By Nakata Khaula

When I return to Islam, the religion of our inborn nature, a fierce debate raged about girls observing hijaab at school in France. It still does. The majority, it seemed, thought that wearing the head-scarf was contrary to the principle that public (that is state funded) schools should be neutral with regard to religion. Even as a non-Muslim, I could not understand why there was such a fuss over such a small thing as a scarf on a Muslim student's head.

Muslims contributed a proportionate amount of tax to the state funds. In my opinion, schools could respect religious beliefs and practices of students so long as they did not pose a threat to discipline. However, the French faced, apparently, increasing unemployment and they felt insecure about the immigration of Arab workers. The sight of hijaab in their towns and schools aggravated such insecurity.

More and more young people in Arab countries were (and are) wearing the hijaab.Such a revival of Islamic practices is often regarded as an attempt by Muslims to restore their pride and identity, both undermined by colonialism. In Japan it may be seen and understood as conservative traditionalism, or the result of anti-Western feeling, something which the Japanese themselves experienced following the first contact with Western culture during the Meiji era; they too reacted against a non-traditional life-style and Western dress. There is a tendency for people to be conservative in their ways and to react to anything new and unfamiliar without taking the time to see if it is good or bad.

The feeling still persists among the non-Muslims that Muslim women wear the hijaab simply ecause they are slaves to tradition, so much so that it is seen as a symbol of oppression. Women's liberation and independence is, so they believe, impossible unless they first remove the hijaab.

'Muslims' share such naivete with little or no knowledge of Islam. Being so used to secularism, pick and mix, they are unable to comprehend that Islam is universal and eternal. This apart, women all over the world, non-Arabs, are embracing Islam and wearing the hijaab as a religious requirement, not as a misdirected sense of 'tradition'. I am but one example of such women. My hijaab is not a part of my traditional identity; it has no social or political significance; it is purely and simply, my religious identity.

For non-Muslims, the hijaab not only covers a woman's hair, but also hides something, leaving them no access. They are being excluded from something, which they have taken for granted in secular society. What does the hijaab mean to me? Although there have been many books and articles about the hijaab, they always tend to be written from an outsider's point of view; I hope this will allow me to explain what I can observe from the inside, so to speak.

When I decided to declare my Islam, I did not think whether I could pray five times a day or wear the hijaab. May be I was scared that if I had given it serious thought I would have reached a negative conclusion, and that would affect my decision to become a Muslim. Until I visited the main mosque in Paris I had nothing to do with Islam; neither the prayers nor the hijaab were familiar to me. In fact, both were unimaginable but my desire to be a Muslim was too strong (Alhamdulillah) for me to be overly concerned with what awaited me on the other side of my conversion.

The benefits of observing hijaab became clear to me following a lecture at the mosque when I kept my scarf on even after leaving the building. The lecture had filled me with such a previously unknown spiritual satisfaction that I simply did not want to remove it. Because of the cold weather, I did not attract too much attention but I did feel different, somehow purified and perfected; I felt as if I was in Allah's company. As a foreigner in Paris, I sometimes felt uneasy about being stared at by men. In my hijaab I went unnoticed, protected from impolite stares.

My hijab made me happy. It was both a sign of my obedience to Allah and a manifestation of my faith. I did not need to utter beliefs, the hijaab stated them clearly for all to see, especially fellow Muslims, and thus it helped to strengthen the bond of sisterhood in Islam. Wearing the hijaab soon became spontaneous, albeit purely voluntary. No human being could force me to wear it; if they had, perhaps I would have rebelled and rejected it. However, the first Islamic book I read used very moderate language in this respect, saying that "Allah recommends it (the hijaab) strongly" and since Islam (as the word itself indicates) means we to obey Allah's will I accomplish my Islamic duties willingly and without difficulty, Alhamdulillah.

The hijaab reminds people who see it that Allah exists, and it serves as a constant reminder to me that I should conduct myself as a Muslim.

Just as police officers are more professionally aware while in uniform, so I had a stronger sense of being a Muslim wearing my hijaab.

Two weeks after my return to Islam, I went back to Japan for a family wedding and took the decision not to return to my studies in France; French literature had lost its appeal and the desire to study Arabic had replaced it. As a new Muslim with very little knowledge of Islam it was a big test for me to live in a small town in Japan completely isolated from Muslims. However, this isolation intensified my Islamic consciousness, and I knew that I was not alone as Allah was with me. I had to abandon many of my clothes and, with some help from a friend who knew dressmaking, I made some pantaloons, similar to Pakistani dress. I was not bothered by the strange looks the people gave me!

After six months in Japan, my desire to study Arabic grew so much that I decided to go to Cairo, where I knew someone. Generally speaking, young Egyptians, more or less fully westernized, kept their distance from women wearing Khimar (headscarf) and called them "the sisters". Men treated us with respect and special politeness. Woman wearing a Khimar shared a sisterhood which lived up to the Prophet's saying (Allah's blessings and peace on him) that "a Muslim gives his salaam to the person he crosses in the street, whether he knows him or not." The sisters were, it is probably true to say, more conscious of their faith than those who wear scarves for the sake of custom, rather than for the sake of Allah.

Before becoming a Muslimah, my preference was for active pants-style clothes, not the more feminine skirt, but the long dress I wore in Cairo pleased me; I felt elegant and more relaxed. In the western sense, black is a favorite color for eveningwear as it accentuates the beauty of the wearer.

My new sisters were truly beautiful in their black Khimar, and a light akin to saintliness shone from their faces. Indeed, they are not unlike Roman Catholic nuns, something I noticed particularly when I had occasion to visit Paris soon after arriving in Saudi Arabia. I was in the same Metro carriage as a nun and I smiled at our similarity of dress. Hers was the symbol of her devotion to God, as is that of a Muslimah. I often wonder why people say nothing about the veil of the Catholic nun but criticize vehemently the veil of a Muslimah, regarding it as a symbol of 'terrorism' and 'oppression'. I did not mind abandoning colorful clothes in favor of black; in fact, I had always had a sense of longing for the religious lifestyle of a nun even before becoming a Muslimah.

Nevertheless, I balked at the suggestion that I should wear my Khimar back in Japan. I was angry at the sister's lack of understanding: Islam commands us to cover out bodies, and as long as this is done, one may dress as desired. Every society has its fashions and such long black clothes in Japan could make people think I am crazy, and reject Islam even before I could explain its teachings. Our arguments revolved around this aspect. After another six months in Cairo, however, I was so accustomed to my long dress that I started to think that I would wear it on my return to Japan. My concession was that I had some dresses made in light colors, and some white Khimars, in the belief that they would be less shocking in Japan than the black variety.

I was right. The Japanese reacted rather well to my white Khimars, and they seemed to be able to guess that I was of a religious persuasion. I heard one girl telling her friend that I was Buddhist nun: how similar a Muslimah, a Buddhist nun and a Christian nun are! Once, on a train, the elderly man next to me asked why I was dressed in such unusual fashion. When I explained that I was a Muslimah and that Islam commands women to cover their bodies so as not to trouble men who are weak and unable to resist temptation, he seemed impressed. When he left the train he thanked me. In this instance, the hijaab prompted a discussion on Islam with a Japanese man who would not normally be accustomed to talking about religion. As in Cairo, the hijaab acted as a means of identification between Muslims; I found myself on the way to a study circle wondering if I was on the right route when I saw a group of sisters wearing the hijaab. We greeted each other with salaam and went on to the meeting together.

My father was worried when I went out in long sleeves and head-cover even in the hottest weather, but I found that my hijaab protected me from the sun. Indeed, it was I who also felt uneasy looking at my younger sister's legs while she wore short pants. I have often been embarrassed, even before declaring Islam, by the sight of a woman's bosom and hips clearly outlined by tight, thin clothing. I felt I was seeing something secret. If such a sight embarrasses me, one of the same sex, it is not difficult to imagine the effect on men. In Islam, men and women are commanded to dress modestly and not be naked in public, even in all male and female situations.

It is clear that what is acceptable to be bared in societies varies according to societal or individual understanding. For example, in Japan fifty years ago it was considered vulgar to swim in a swimming suit but now bikinis are the norm. If however, a woman swam topless she would be regarded as shameless. To go topless on the south coast of France, however, is the norm. On some beaches in America, nudists lie as naked as the day they were born. If a nudist were to ask a 'liberated' female who rejects the hijaab why she still covers her bosoms and hips which are as natural as her hands and face, could she give an honest answer? The definition of what part of a woman's body should remain private to her is altered to suit the whims and fancies of either men or their surrogates, the so-called feminists. But in Islam we have no such problems: Allah has defined what may and may not be bared, and we follow.

The ways people walk around naked (or almost so), excreting or making love in public, rob them of the sense of shame and reduce them to the status of animals. In Japan, women only wear make-up hen they go out and have little regard for how they look at home. Muslims are accused of being over-sensitive about the human body but the degree of sexual harassment, which occurs these days, justifies modest dress. Just as a short skirt can send the signal that the wearer is available to men, so the hijaab signals, loud and clear: " I am forbidden for you."

It is an error of judgment to think that a Muslim woman covers herself because she is a private possession of her husband. In fact, she preserves her dignity and refuses to be possessed by strangers. It is non-Muslim (and "liberated (?)" Muslim) women who are to be pitied for displaying their private self for all to see.

Observing the hijab from outside, it is impossible to see what it hides. The gap, between being outside and looking out, explains in part the void in the understanding of Islam. An outsider may see Islam as restricting Muslims. Inside, however, there is peace, freedom, and joy, which those who experience it have never known before. Practicing Muslims, whether those born in Muslim families or those returned to Islam, choose Islam rather than the illusory freedom of the secular life. If it oppresses women, why are so many well-educated young women in Europe, America, Japan, Australia, indeed all over the world, abandoning "liberty" and "independence" and embracing Islam?

A person blinded by prejudice may not see it, but a woman in hijaab is brightly beautiful as an angel, full of self-confidence, serenity, and dignity. No sign of oppression scars her face.

"For indeed it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts within the bosoms that grow blind," says the Qur'an (Al-Hajj 22:46).

How else can we explain the great gap in understanding between such people and us?


(Nakata Khaula is a citizen of Japan and a Muslim by faith.)

    The Secretary General
    Mansura, Multan Road, Lahore, Pakistan.
    Ph: 92-42-7844605-9 Fax: 92-42-5419504
    Email:
    [email protected]

    For suggestions to improve this website:
    Email:
    [email protected]
    Back to Top
    Sponsored Links


    Back to Top
    Suleyman View Drop Down
    Senior Member
    Senior  Member

    Joined: 10 March 2003
    Location: Turkey
    Status: Offline
    Points: 3324
    Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suleyman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 May 2005 at 12:23pm

    Impressions:
    My Body is My Own Business

    By Sulata Yusuf Ali

    I probably do not fit into the preconceived notion of a "rebel". I have no visible tattoos and minimal piercing. I do not possess a leather jacket. In fact, when most people look at me, their first thought usually is something along the lines of "oppressed female". The brave individuals who have mustered the courage to ask me about the way I dress usually have questions like: "Do your parents make you wear that?" or "Don't you find that really unfair?"

    A while back, a couple of girls in Montreal were kicked out of school for dressing like I do. It seems strange that a little piece of cloth would make such controversy. Perhaps the fear is that I am harboring an Uzi underneath it. You never can tell with those Muslim fundamentalists.

    Of course, the issue in hand is more than a mere piece of cloth. I am a Muslim woman who, like millions of other Muslim women across the globe, chooses to wear hijaab. There are many different ways to wear it, in essence, what we do is cover our entire bodies except our hands and faces.

    If you're the kind of person who has watched a lot of popular movies, you'd probably think of harem girls and belly-dancers, women who are kept in seclusion except for the private pleasure of their male masters. In the true Islamic faith, nothing could be further from the truth. And the concept of hijaab, contrary to the popular opinion, is actually one of the most fundamental aspects of female empowerment.

    Whenever I cover myself, I make it virtually impossible for people to judge me according to the way I look. I cannot be categorized because of my attractiveness or lack thereof. Compare this to life in today's society: We are constantly sizing one another up on the basis of our clothing, jewelry, hair-do and makeup. What kind of depth can there be in a world like this?

    Yes, I have a body, a physical manifestation upon this earth. But it is the vessel of an intellectual mind and a strong spirit. It is not for the beholder to leer at or to use in advertisements to sell everything from beer to cars. Because of the superficiality of the world in which we live, external appearances are so stressed that the value of the individual counts for almost nothing.

    It is a myth that women in today's society are liberated. What kind of freedom can there be when a woman cannot walk down the street without every aspect of her physical self being 'checked out'? When I wear the hijaab I feel safe from all of this. I can rest assured that no one is looking at me and making assumptions about my character from the length of my skirt. There is a barrier between those who would exploit me and myself. I am first and foremost a human being, equal to any man, and not vulnerable because of my sexuality.

    One of the saddest truths of our time is the question of beauty myth and female self-image. Reading popular teenage magazines, you can instantly find out what kind of body image is "in" or "out." And if you have the 'wrong' body type, well, then, you're just going to have to change it, aren't you? After all there is no way that you can be overweight and still be beautiful.

    Look at any advertisement. Is a woman being used to sell the product? How old is she? How attractive is she? What is she wearing? More often than not, that woman will be no older than her early 20s, teller, slimmer and more attractive than average, dressed in skimpy clothing. Why do we allow ourselves to be manipulated like this? Whether the '90s wishes to believe it or not, she is being forced into a mould. She is being coerced into selling herself, into compromising herself. This is why we have 13-year-old girls sticking their fingers down their throats and overweight adolescents hanging themselves.

    When people ask me if I feel oppressed, I can honestly say no. I made this decision out of my own free will. I like the fact that I am taking control of the way other people perceive me. I enjoy the fact that I don't give anyone anything to look at and that I have released myself from the bondage of the swinging pendulum of the fashion industry and other institutions that exploit females. My body is my own business. Nobody can tell me how I should look or whether or not I am beautiful. I know that there is no more to me than that. I am also able to say 'no' comfortably when people ask me I feel as though my sexuality is being repressed. I have taken control of my sexuality.

    I am thankful I will never have to suffer the fate of trying to lose/gain weight or trying to find the exact lipstick shade that will go with my skin color. I have made choices about what my priorities are and these are not among them. So next time when you see me, don't look at me sympathetically. I am not under duress or a male-worshipping female captive from those barbarous (?) Arabian deserts. I've been liberated by Islam.


    Sultana Yusufali is a 17-year-old Toronto high school girl. (Courtesy: Toronto Star Young People's Press)

      The Secretary General
      Mansura, Multan Road, Lahore, Pakistan.
      Ph: 92-42-7844605-9 Fax: 92-42-5419504
      Email:
      [email protected]

      For suggestions to improve this website:
      Email:
      [email protected]
      Back to Top
      ummziba View Drop Down
      Senior Member
      Senior  Member
      Avatar
      Female
      Joined: 16 March 2005
      Location: Canada
      Status: Offline
      Points: 1158
      Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ummziba Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 May 2005 at 12:53pm

      Assalamu alaikum,

      Thank you for the posts, brother.  I never tire of reading stories of other hijabi's and how their surrender to Allah gives them the courage to wear a headscarf.  It certainly caused great distress to me when I first started wearing one.  After all these years, I can truely say that I am never more content then when I am "dressed" to please Allah.

      Peace, ummziba.

      Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words...they break my soul ~
      Back to Top
      Suleyman View Drop Down
      Senior Member
      Senior  Member

      Joined: 10 March 2003
      Location: Turkey
      Status: Offline
      Points: 3324
      Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suleyman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 May 2005 at 1:23pm
      Originally posted by ummziba ummziba wrote:

      Assalamu alaikum,

      Thank you for the posts, brother.  I never tire of reading stories of other hijabi's and how their surrender to Allah gives them the courage to wear a headscarf.  It certainly caused great distress to me when I first started wearing one.  After all these years, I can truely say that I am never more content then when I am "dressed" to please Allah.

      Peace, ummziba.

      Aleykum Selam ve Rahmetullahi ve Berakatuh,

      Shortly we can say that the dress our sisters wear is the place they feel themselves in safe and happy;like a sun covers u with it's hands while u come from the cold...warm and warm clothe covered with the blessings of Allah...what a big happiness for the sisters doing this,what an interesting clothe that satisfy the souls;heyyy,i think this is more than a clothe,feel it...no matter if they wear or we see;satisfying both our souls... 

      Back to Top
      nadeem_aus View Drop Down
      Newbie
      Newbie

      Joined: 19 August 2004
      Location: Australia
      Status: Offline
      Points: 37
      Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote nadeem_aus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 May 2005 at 3:46am

      Assalam aliakum,  I feel it is very comforting when you read stories like the one from sister Nanakta.  I feel it puts in perpesctive the true meaning to a sister of wearing Hijab and its true meaning.

       

       

       

      Back to Top
      herjihad View Drop Down
      Senior Member
      Senior  Member
      Avatar
      Joined: 26 January 2005
      Location: United States
      Status: Offline
      Points: 2473
      Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote herjihad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2005 at 5:17am

      Bismillah,

      Firstly I will agree that these are lovely stories.  I enjoyed reading them, and am pleased for the sisters' happiness with their decision to wear Hijab.

      I would like to see men wear clothing, whatever the culture it comes from, that is distinctively Islaamic.  Now, you may say this is not required by Allah, SWT, but I disagree, and I don't wish to go into a long discussion about it because to me it is so obvious.  It is as obvious as the fact that our Loving, Merciful Allah would never require a human sacrifice to forgive our sins.

      This is just a simple statement and even encouragement to Muslim men that it makes me really happy when I see Muslimat (plural of Muslimah hopefully) wearing scarves, and Muslim Men wearing clothing that says to the world, "I am a Muslim Man."

      So, Guys, please consider how much more respect and appreciation you will receive from the Muslimat that see you dressed in a way that says you are Muslims and not afraid to show it.

      Al-Hamdulillah (From a Married Muslimah) La Howla Wa La Quwata Illa BiLLah - There is no Effort or Power except with Allah's Will.
      Back to Top
      Suleyman View Drop Down
      Senior Member
      Senior  Member

      Joined: 10 March 2003
      Location: Turkey
      Status: Offline
      Points: 3324
      Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suleyman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2005 at 6:28am

      WHAT IS THE ISLAMIC DRESS
      (Abridged and Selected)

      Sayyid Abul A'la Al-Maududi (1903-1979),was one of the chief architects of contemporary Islamic resurgence, and outstanding Islamic thinker and writer of his time in India. He devoted his entire life to expound the meaning and message of Islam and to organize a collective movement to establish the Islamic Order. In this struggle, he had to pass through all kinds of sufferings. Between 1948-67, he was put behind bars on four occasions, spending a total of five years in different prisons of Pakistan. In 1953, he was also sentenced to death by a Martial Law court for writing a 'seditious' pamphlet, this sentence being later commuted to life imprisonment. In 1941, he founded Jama'at-I Islami, of which he remained Amir (chief) until 1972 and which is one of the most prominent Islamic movements in India and Pakistan. He authored more than one hundred works on Islam, both scholarly and popular, and his writings have been translated into forty languages." Here are selections from his long article: The Question of Dress " Comments within brackets are explanatory observations by the editor.

      The Question of Dress

      FUNCTION AND CRITERION OF DRESS :

      Viewed exclusively in relation to the natural need , dress would appear to have just two functions:(i) (1)to provide a covering-since man has an innate sense of shame and modesty-for certain parts of the body; and ((2) to protect the body against the impact of the weather. A dress which meets these twin needs should, in its simple form, be the dress fit for all. (Any dress which fulfils these two conditions is good.) Available information about the earliest human beings shows that in the times when dress catered only to the original, natural needs of man, it had no great diversity of shapes. The little diversity it did have was due largely to climatic differences. But as human consciousness developed and man marched towards civilisation, as new resources were discovered and industries set up, and as that human faculty called taste became cultivated, certain superr-aadditions were made to the original dress.

      EIGHT DETERMINANTS:

      It is impossible to enumerate all the major and minor factors which cause the birth, change, and evolution of variously,-shaped dress among various peoples. If we skip details and concentrate on the principal factors which accustom different nations to different styles of dress, we shall find that they divide into eight categories. 1-Geographical conditions, which 'compel the inhabitants of a country to adopt a particular kind of dress 2.-Moral and religious notions whose divergence makes nations use dissimilar dresses. 3.-Taste. The natural faculty of taste is, develops in each nation differently. As a result the likes and dislikes of nations differ. 4. The mode of life, which, too, develops distinctively in the case of each nation, conforming as it does to the distinctive geographical, economic, intellectual, and moral conditions of that nation. Consequently, each nation uses a dress which is best suited to her mode of life. 5.-The economic situation. This includes a nation's general means of living, her vocations and industries, her strong or weak financial position. The dress' of each nation is closelyy related to the state of her ' economy and changes with a change in the latter. 6.Culture and refinement. Each nation exists on a certain level of culture and refinement and her dress necessarily keeps to that level. 7.National traditions, by means of which one generation inherits from another a particular style of living and dress, and, altering that style here and there, bequeaths it to the coming generation. This continuity in the phenomena of life is actually a guarantee of continued national existence. Naturally, it is held dear by every nation. 8.Extraneous influences, which are exercised upon the thoughts and living patterns of every nation as she comes into contact, with other nations. But the nature and extent of these influences are determined largely by the political, intellectual and moral climate of the nation in question. These are the main factors which have a rigorous control not only over the dress of a nation but over her whole social life. The dress of each nation is the product of their combined operation.

      TWO FUNDAMENTAL FACTS:

      Two basic facts emerge from the foregoing analysis. One, that dress is not merely an external device for covering and protecting the body, it is also rooted deep in the psychology, culture, civilisation, traditions, and social setting of a nation. It is, as a matter of fact, a manifestation of the spirit which informs the body of a nation. It is through her dress that a nation articulates her nationality and introduces herself as a collectivity before the world. Secondly, every nation, undergoing a constant, though imperceptible, change. Slowly but surely, their change and evolution affect not only the dress but the whole gamut of the national life. When a nation advances in the field of knowledge and the arts, achieves enlightenment of thought, develops her industry, commerce and craftsmanship, attains economic prosperity, makes closer contacts with other nations and learns from their morality, culture, and mode of living various kinds of lessons, then a natural process of evolution is touched off in her social life: her sentiments change, her taste and manners improve and her way of life acquires grace and elegance. She-devises new methods to meet the, newly-arisen needs and expresses her respect for the national traditions in more befitting forms. With gradual development taking place in all spheres of life, her dress, in stuff and style, becomes more tasteful, attractive and decorous. (Thus, the dress is always changing. There is no sanctity with a dress. Every dress is good so far as it is in accordance with few basic conditions of Islam.)

      CHANGE: NATURAL AND UNNATURAL:

      This then is the only natural way in which a national dress is born, changed, and evolved. There is an artificial or unnatural way also, namely, compelling a nation to abandon her dress and take some other nation's dress as her own. As for change, it would occur in both cases But there is a world of difference between the two types of change. The former may be compared to the growth of a tree. As a tree grows, its colour, size, fruit, leaves, flowers, and branches change constantly. In spite of all these change, however, the "selfhood" of the tree remains unimpaired. If it is a banana tree. it will remain such till the end. If it is a mango tree, it will continue to be one throughout the various stages of its growth. It will take in much soil, water, air heat, and sunshine, but will thoroughly assimilate whatever it takes in. The other kind of change is exemplified by a tree which began as a banana tree but on which were suddenly stuck she bark, twigs, and leaves of a mango tree. No one can tell what this queer specimen actually -mango or banana! Stunts like this do not produce any genuine and profound change. They in fact impede natural evolution. But people who possess no insight into social problems and have a superficial way of looking at things, childishly think that if the external features of a nation's dress and living are altered the nation herself will change in a real sense. If the dress and mode of life are changed artificially and compulsorily, or only the dress is thus changed, chaos strikes the entire social life, because the other departments of life fail to keep step with the change and, consequently, suffer in the harmony of interrelationships. (Natural change is both natural and good but the artificial change, either imposed are born out of inferiority complex is not desirable. Thus tashabbuh or blind imitation of other dress is condemned by Islam.) Dress, language, and script are the basic elements of a nation's individuality. Without them her individuality suffers corrosion and a time comes when she is totally absorbed into other nations. It is this fact which explains why certain nations, now called extinct nations, disappeared from the face of the earth. Their extinction does not mean that their members al perished. It means that those nations failed to retain their individuality. They either themselves knocked down the props of their individuality or allowed them to collapse. Their members went on adopting the dress, language, script, and social manners of other nations and so ended up by losing their identity. A like fate awaits the nations who are taking the stupid measures of their unwise leaders as a .guarantee of progress. 7. A nation who adopts the dress and living of another nation in fact-betrays deep inferiority feelings. She owns that she is low and contemptible. She acknowledges that she possesses nothing of which she could be proud. That, in order to pass herself off as a civilised nation she is prepared to borrow indiscriminately from other nations, whom she regards as her model. ( However, we must state that the shape and style of a dress are not in themselves something sacred or permanent. They are rather the result of the combined working of a large number of natural and social factors. Every dress is good and mode of dress always change. It is wrong to identify one form of dress as Islamic. Every dress can be Islamic that fulfils the basic conditions of Islam which we will enumerate )

      THE VIEW OF SHARIAH:

      The religion of Islam is in' complete harmony with nature. In every matter it takes up a position which is supported by common sense and vindicated by sound thinking. Take an unjaundiced view of things and you are sure to reach the conclusions which Islam has already arrived at. Islam does not force man to wear a particular kind of dress and choose a particular mode of life. However, purely from the ethico-social viewpoint, it enunciates a few principles and wants every nation to amend her dress and living in accordance with them. The first principle relates to satr or essential concealment. Islam thinks it morally necessary that all male persons, to whatever nation or country they may be belonging, should conceal the bodily parts between the navel and the knees; and that all female persons, no matter what region of the earth they inhabit, should cover the whole of their bodies except the face, hands and feet.' If a nation's dress is not meeting these conditions, Islam would require it to be altered in the light of this principle. Once the conditions are fulfilled, Islam will deem its object achieved and will not concern itself with what type of dress that nation wears. ( Eastern or Western all dresses are good if they fulfill these conditions) (It should be noted-that, in regard to women, this injunction relates to satr and not to hijab. Satr implies what a woman must conceal from all [which includes her father and son] except her husband. Hijab means more than that. It draws a distinction between the closely related and the unrelated males. Islam does not permit women to go about displaying their charms and graces outside the limits of their domestic life) Secondly, Islam asks men to keep from wearing silk dresses and golden and silver jewellery, and both men and women to avoid using dresses which are luxurious and showy and suggest conceit and vanity. The Prophet said: "On the Day of Judgement, God would not look at the person who conceitedly trails his dress on the ground." Exclude these articles from the dress worn in your country or society and it becomes an Islamic dress. In the third place, Islam wants the human dress to be free from all those symbols of idolatry and polytheism which have been adopted by any religious sect. These would include the Cross, the Hindu cross-thread, pictures, and other un-Islamic emblems. Besides introducing these ethical and cultural reforms, Islam thinks it necessary that the Muslims' dress should have some distinguishing mark so that they do not get mixed up with non-Muslims, are able to recognise fellow Muslims easily, and succeed in cementing the bonds of their social life. No specific mark or symbol has been recommended for this purpose by Islam. The matter has been left to be determined by the people themselves.

      IMITATION OR TASHABBUH:

      At this point we are faced with the question of tashabbuh or imitation. Imitation means assuming the likeness of someone. It is of four kinds, and below we shall discuss each kind in the light of Islam. 1.Imitation of one sex by the other. Men's' imitation of women and women's imitation of men represent a deviation from the course of nature and are symptomatic of a diseased mentality. Islam, therefore, condemns it. The Prophet has cursed the men who wear feminine dress and the women who wear masculine dress. 2.Imitation by one nation of another. Sometimes a nation as a whole adopts the style of appearance of another nation.This emerge out of the inferiority complex and is not natural change or a conscious adoption of some form more useful. This, again, is an irrational attitude and is developed in a nation invariably at the time when she touches the nadir and indignity. It is severely censured by Islam. 3- Individuals' imitation of another nation. When some members of a nation imitate the ways of another nation, they give evidence that they have a weak and unstable nature that their character is like a liquid which assumes the shape of its container. Such behaviour is morally reprehensible and may be compared the one who thinks it a shame to be the son of his real father, honour could be achieved only by being related to an alien nation. This is a wrong state of mind not appreciated even by those whom we are following. WE can borrow dress from any nation but it should be not out of inferiority complex but in keeping with our necessities and advantages. That explains why the Companions, especially the Caliphs 'Umar and Hazrat Ali upbraided those Muslims who, were living in foreign countries, had abandoned the Bedouin dress and, bedazzled by the glamorous cultures of Rome and Iran, had started using Roman and Iranian dresses. 4.Muslims' imitation of the disbelievers. Such imitation is injurious to the collective existence of Muslims. It alienates Muslims from one another and. obstructs the cooperation which Islam desires to exist among them. Besides, it is an indication that a person who is a Muslim has quite strong leanings towards non-Muslims.: "Distinguish from the Jews .,and the Christians"; distinguish from the Zoroastrians." These words, found in so many traditions, clearly show that the Prophet wanted that Muslims should be able to recognise their brethren and treat them as such and treated like the members of that nation. Islam as it does not believe in the exaggerated Nationalism lends no support to anything which breaks the legitimate, natural bounds of nationality. The Qur'an tells us that although all men have a common origin , God has set up two types of distinctions between them: the one between the male and the female, and the other between families, tribes and nationalities : 0' mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. ((XLIX : 13) And that He createth the two spouses, the male and the female. (LIII : 45) These two kinds of distinctions are at the bottom of social existence and human civilization, and the Divine Scheme calls for their maintenance. The distinction between man and woman has been made so that a psychological attraction may exist between them. It follows that their distinguishing characteristics must be fully preserved. The distinction between nations has been made so that human beings are divided into such social groups as would facilitate cooperation among them. Again, it is essential that each social division or cultural group should have some distinguishing marks by means of which its members may recognise, understand, and become intimate with one another and differentiate themselves from the members of the other groups. Obviously, the only marks of this kind could be language, dress, living patterns, culture, and civilisation. The need .to preserve them is thus urged upon by nature itself. That is 'why imitation has been interdicted by Islam. There is a tradition in which the Prophet has cursed the woman who wears masculine dress and the man who puts on feminine dress.' In another tradition he has cursed the men who imitate women and the women who imitate men (Mustadrik-, Vol. iv, p. 194; Bukari, "Kitabul-Libas). The reason for this tough-line approach is that such imitation suppresses and diminishes the psychological attraction which God has caused to exist between the two sexes, whereas Islam wants that attraction to be retained. Likewise, the abolishing or mixing up of the cultures, practices, and dresses of nations is against the interests of collective existence. Consequently, Islam is opposed to this also. The Prophet said.. " .He who assumes the llikeness of any people is one of them." 3. The Caliph Umar wrote to Utbah binFarqad) Governor of Azerbaijan: " Take heed of wearing the dress of polytheists" (i.e. the people of Azerbaijan. (Abuu Daud) 4.The Caliph Umar had issued orders to all his governors not to allow the non-Muslim citizens to use the dress or present the appearance of Arabs. (Muslim: Kitabul-Libas) 5.The Arabs who were posted in Iraq and Iran in connection with military or civil services were continually reminded by Caliph 'Umar and Hazrat Ali to take care of their speech and refrain from speaking foreign tongues. For these reasons, Islam is against the idea of a nation becoming replica of another nation and trying to copy the latter's dress and mode of living. As for the cultural borrowing and lending that naturally takes place between nations in contact with one another, Islam not only approves of it but encourages it. It is not Islam's wish to wall nations off from one another by creating prejudices, among them and thus, preclude any kind of cultural or other exchange between them. The Holy Prophet wore the Syrian gown which was an article of the Jewish dress. The tradition says " He performed the ablutions while having a Syrian gown on" He also put on the narrow-sleeved Roman cloak which was worn by Roman Catholics. The Naushirwanian mantle, described in a tradition as the Persian royal mantle was also in his use. However this is not imitation. This is conscious borrowing not imitation . Imitation is the blind following out of a feeling of inferiority complex, when man's total appearance resembles that of another nation.

      Back to Top
      Suleyman View Drop Down
      Senior Member
      Senior  Member

      Joined: 10 March 2003
      Location: Turkey
      Status: Offline
      Points: 3324
      Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suleyman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2005 at 6:29am

      THE QUESTION OF DRESS

      Syed Abul A'la Maududi

      (This article was originally written in 1929 for the journal Mar’arif of Azam Garh. In 1940 it was reprinted in the journal Tarjumanul Qur’an. It was subsequently included in the author’s book Tafheemat (vol. II), from where it has been translated)

      Viewed exclusively in relation to the natural need which first prompted man to use it, with the cultural super additions to it left out of account, the thing called dress would appear to have just two functions.

      To provide a covering—since man has an innate sense of shame and modesty—for certain parts of the body; and
      To protect the body against the impact of the weather.


      A dress which meets these twin needs should, in its simple form, be the dress of all places since the bodies of all human beings, as also the obvious and convenient methods of covering them, are alike. At most, for climatic reasons, there could be this difference that the warm regions have dresses which are lighter and cover a lesser part of other body, and the cold regions’ dresses which are heavier and cover a greater part of the body.



      Available information about the earliest human being also shows that in the times when dress catered only to the original, natural needs of man, it had no great diversity of shapes. The little diversity it did have was due largely to climatic difference. But as human consciousness developed and man marched towards civilization, as new resources were discovered and industries set up, and as that human faculty called taste became cultivated, certain super additions were made to the original dress. And since the new influences had varied in quality and magnitude from nation to nation, the super additions which different nations made to the original dress came to be different as well.



      EIGHT DETERMINANTS
      It is impossible to enumerate all the major and minor factors which cause the birth, change, and evolution of variously-shaped dress among various peoples. In a span of several thousand years, the collective life of nation and the personal lives of the members of each nation come under countless influences, internal and external, which are nowhere recorded. Some of them are too subtle to be perceived even. But if we skip details and concentrate on the principal factors which accustom different nations to different styles of dress, we shall find that they divide into eight categories.



      1. Geographical conditions, which compel the inhabitants of a country to adopt a particular kind of dress and living.

      2. Moral and religious nations, whose divergence make nations use dissimilar dresses.

      3. Taste, the natural faculty of taste is, in the case of each nation, worked upon by peculiar influences. It, therefore, develops in each nation differently. As a result the likes and dislikes of nations differ.

      4. The mode of life, which, too, develops distinctively in the case of each nation, conforming as it does to the distinctive geographical, economic, intellectual, and moral conditions of that nation. Consequently, each nation uses a dress which is best suited to her mode of life.

      5. The economic situation. This includes a nation’s general means of living, her vocations and industries, her strong or weak financial position, etc. The dress of each nation is closely related to the state of her economy and change with a change in the latter.

      6. Culture and refinement. Each nation exists on a certain level of culture and refinement and her dress necessarily keeps to that level.

      7. National traditions, by means of which one generation inherits from another a particular style of living and dress, and, altering that style here and there, bequeaths it to the coming generation. This continuity in the phenomena of life is actually a guarantee of continued national existence. Naturally, it is held dear by every nation.

      8. Extraneous influences, which are exercised upon the thoughts and living patterns of every nation as she come into contact with other nations. But the nature and extent of these influences are determined largely by the political, intellectual, and moral climate of the nation in question.



      These are the main factors which have a rigorous control not only over the dress of a nations but over her whole social life. The dress of each nation is the product of their combined operation.



      TWO FUNDAMENTAL FACTS
      Two basic facts emerge from the foregoing analysis.
      One, that dress is not merely an external device for covering and protecting the body, it is also rooted deep in the psychology, culture, civilization, traditions, and social setting of a nation. It is as a matter of fact, a manifestation of the spirit which informs the body of a nation. It is through her dress that a nation articulates her nationality and introduces herself as a collectivity before the world.

      Two, that the above mentioned factors, with the exception of the first (geographical conditions) are, in respect of every nation, undergoing a constant, though imperceptible, change. Slowly but surely, their change and evolution affect not only the dress but the whole gamut of the national life. A little elaboration will make this point clear.

      When a nation advances in the field of knowledge and the arts, achieves enlightenment of thought, develops her industry, commerce, and craftsmanship, attains economic prosperity, make closer contacts with other nations and learns from their morality, culture, and mode of living various kinds of lessons, then a natural process of evolution is touched off in her social life: her sentiments change, her taste and manners improve, and her way of life acquires grace and elegance. She devises new methods to meet the newly-arisen needs and express her respect for the national traditions in more benefiting forms. With gradual development taking place in all spheres of life, her dress, in stuff and style, becomes more tasteful, attractive, and decorous. At no stage of this evolutionary process is the need felt to summon a conference or Parliament and push through it a resolution which would prescribe a particular shape or style of dress for the whole nation. Automatically, under the impact of the jointly operating social factors, the old forms of dress are modified, new forms come into vogue, and the national taste and temperament, in keeping with their true inclination, go on refining the dress.



      CHANGE, NATURAL AND UNNATURAL
      This, then, is the only natural way in which a national dress is born, changed, and evolved. There is an artificial or unnatural way also, namely, compelling a nation to abandon her dress and take some other nation’s dress as her own. As for change, it would occur in both cases. But there is a world of difference between the two types of change of a tree. As a tree grows, its colour, size, fruit, leaves, flowers, and branches change constantly. In spite of all these changes, however, the “selfhood” of the tree remains unimpaired. If it is a banana tree, it will remain such till the end. If it is a mango tree, it will continue to be one throughout the various stages of its growth. It will take in much soil, water, air, heat, and sunshine, but will thoroughly assimilate whatever it takes in.

      The other kind of change is exemplified by a tree which began as a banana tree but on which were suddenly stuck the bark, twigs, and leaves of a mango tree. No one can tell what this queer specimen actually is—mango or banana! Stunts like this do not produce any genuine and profound change. They in fact impede natural evolution. But people who possess no insight into social problems and have a superficial way of looking at things, childishly think that if the external features of a nation’s dress and living are altered, the nation herself will change in some real sense.



      THE CASE FOR A CHANGE OF DRESS
      The arguments generally advanced in favour of a change of dress are as follows.

      A change of this kind transforms the mentality of a backward nation. It replaces her inaction by action. No sooner is the dress of the decadent age cast off than all the inner weaknesses and the interests associated with that age do the vanishing trick. And no sooner does a nation slip into the new dress---especially if it has been taken from a developed nation—than her psychology and way of life undergo a radical change: she gets a spontaneous feeling of being developed and is accepted by the advanced nations as a peer and equal. Once she adopts the mode of life of the advanced nations, she becomes civilized, practical and enterprising like them. It follows that, in order to become civilized and efficient, it is both necessary and useful to adopt the dress and living of the civilized and efficient nations.



      THE FLAW IN THE REASONING
      Such are the arguments—and there are no doubt many other arguments like these—which are adduced in favour of changing the national dress. But they are all flimsy; no deep thinking or insight underlies them. It is sought to reinforce them by citing in their support some renowned personalities, with the expectation that their names, the moment they are pronounced, will strike an instant awe into the listeners. (It should be kept in mind that this article was written in 1929, at a time when the rulers of certain Muslim countries were putting their nations on the path of “development” by forcibly changing their dresses. In India also, certain sections of people were urging the use of this recipe for progress.). But the fact remains that quoted authorities hardly possess any greater wisdom and insight than do the quoting followers. Both are intellectually shallow and academically inferior. A military general whose successful strategy in an emergency prevents the destruction of a nation must be esteemed and admired. But the honour accorded to him should strictly commensurate with his accomplishment. Moreover, he should be honoured only in the capacity in which he has made that accomplishment. But to elevate him to an unmeritedly high plane and to describe him as a thinker, reformer, and architect of civilization is to commit a folly of the same magnitude as when an able engineer who has secured a town against floods by raising embankments is eulogized as a genius and saviour in every sense and is named for the directorship of education and health also.



      THE CASE AGAINST A CHANGE OF DRESS
      So far the problem has been dealt with in principle. The discussion, it is hoped, has sufficiently exposed the error of the pro-changers. But it seems that the misunderstanding bred by the trend of the times are a little hard to banish. I therefore feel that the case against changing the national dress should be stated with greater explicitness.

      The shape and style of a dress are not in themselves something lasting or permanent. They are rather the result of the combined working of a large number of natural and social factors. If this fact is granted, it will also have to be admitted that the style of dress natural to a nation is the one produced by the working of those factors, and that it would be extremely unnatural to replace it by a style which has not been produced in that way.
      There is a close affinity between a nation’s dress and her mode of life. The latter, again, has many sorts of correlations with the cultural life of that nation. These correspondences are able to survive the changes in the dress and mode of life when the changes have occurred naturally. But if the dress and mode of life are changed artificially and compulsorily, or only the dress is thus changed, chaos strikes the entire social life, because the other departments of life fail to keep step with the change, and, consequently, suffer in the harmony of interrelationships.
      For a dress to be decent, handsome, and congruous with a developed state of existence, it is essential that the nation should as a whole make progress and grow to be a cultured, tasteful, enlightened, and practical-minded nation. Her advancement in that direction will be accompanied by an improvement in her dress. As she covers the stages of development, she will, naturally and unconstrainedly, better some of its old things, and, borrowing certain other things from outside, will adapt them to serve her turn. To disregard this natural method of improvement and, instead, abruptly change the dress is like attempting to leap out of one state into another. No real transformation can be brought about in social life by such funny jumps.
      To upgrade a nation’s living and dress before she has developed socially and to raise her to an undeservedly high position is just like making a minor reach puberty by placing him in an explosive situation and giving him special foods and drugs. The havoc that this extraordinarily attained puberty will play with the young innocent’s mental and physical mechanism is only too obvious and gives an idea of the disturbance and anarchy which will afflict the mind, morality, and social set-up of a nation on her being compulsorily “civilized”.
      To weigh down a nation with a dress and a living which are too much for her economy is tantamount to ruining her. For she will then try to adopt not only the dress and living of the richer nations but their norms and mores also, and that will have a disastrous effect upon her.
      Dress, language, and script are the basic elements of a nation’s individuality. Without them her individuality suffers corrosion and a time comes when she is totally absorbed into other nations. It is this fact which explains why certain nations, now called extinct nations, disappeared from the face of the earth. Their extinction does not mean that their members all perished. It means that those nations failed to retain their individuality. They either themselves knocked down the props of their individuality or allowed them to collapse. Their members went on adopting the dress, language, script, and social manners of other nations and so ended up by ‘losing their identity. A like fate awaits the nations who are taking the stupid measures of their unwise leaders as a guarantee of progress.
      A nation who adopts the dress and living of another nation in fact betrays deep inferiority feeling. She owns that she is low and contemptible. She acknowledges that she possesses nothing of which she could be proud. That her forebears were incapable of leaving behind anything which she could preserve without bringing shame on herself. That her taste is too vulgar, her mind too obtuse, and her creative faculties too mean to devise a proper mode of life for her. That, in order to pass herself off as a civilized nation, she is prepared to borrow indiscriminately from other nations, whom she regards as her model. That her own existence during the thousands of years has been no better than the existence of beasts since she has failed to produce anything commendable or worthy of survival. It is obvious that no nation with a modicum of self-respect would make a spectacle of her self like that. History, current as well as past, bears witness that a nation puts up with such ignominy only in one of the following two cases: when, in every field, she has suffered defeat after defeat at the hands of other nations and finally knuckled under (E.g. India, Turkey, Egypt, Iran); and when she possesses no glorious traditions; no culture worth the name, and no high-grade creative powers and is a parvenu among the nations of the world (Japan, for instance).
      The only thing which a nation may, in fact must, borrow from another is the results of the latter’s researches, the fruits of her creative activities, and those practical methods of hers which have led her to success. Any lessons that can be learnt from her history, morality, and administration must be learnt. The causes of her rise and success must be canvassed and all things of use picked up since these are the common heritage of mankind. To slight and spurn them on nationalistic grounds is mere prejudice. But to disregard them and borrow from a nation her foods, wearing apparel, and living style and to consider these a means of progress is crass stupidity. What sensible person would for a moment think Europe owes her advancement to jackets and petticoats, skirts and waistbands, hats and bonnets? Or that she has developed because she makes a liberal use of powder and rouge and lipstick? If it is not things like these which have made Europe developed, then why do the advocates of reform and progress make their first rush for them? Why does it not sink into their heads that the splendour of European life is due to efforts put in unremittingly through centuries? Why do they fail to understand that any nation who works industriously, resolutely, and perseveringly would achieve a quality of life as enviable as the quality of European life?
      These arguments make it amply clear that the nation who adopts the dress and living of another nation behaves unreasonably and unnaturally. In normal circumstances nobody would even play with the idea of abandoning the general lifestyle prevalent around him and adopt in its place the lifestyle of an alien people. Such thinking is the product of abnormal circumstances only and is comparable to the act of eating earth by some women in their period of pregnancy, or to the condition of the man who has a defective eye structure and to whom, therefore, everything looks askew.

      THE VIEW OF THE SHARIAH
      So far we have been treating the subject from the social standpoint only. Now we shall approach it from the angle of the Shariah and see what Islam has to say about it.

      The religion of Islam is in complete harmony with nature. In every matter it takes up a position which is supported by common sense and vindicated by sound thinking. Take an unjaundiced view of things and you are sure to reach the conclusions which Islam has already arrived at Islam does not force man to wear a particular kind of dress and choose a particular mode of life. However, purely from the ethico-social viewpoint, it enuciates a few principles and wants every nation to amend her dress and living in accordance with them.

      The first principle relates to satr or essential concealment. Islam thinks it morally necessary that all male persons, to whatever nation or country they may be belonging, should conceal the bodily parts between the navel and the knees; and that all female persons, no matter what region of the earth they are inhabiting, should cover the whole of their bodies except the face, hands, and feet. (It should be noted that, in regard to women, this injunction relates to satr and not to hijab. Satr implies what a woman must conceal from all which includes her father and son) except her husband. Hijab means more than that. It draws a distinction between the closely related and the unrelated males. Islam does not permit women to go about displaying their charms and graces outside the limits of their domestic life.

      And “face” means just face and not half of the breast; “hands” means hands up to the wrists and not arms bared up to the shoulders; “feet” means up to the ankles and not uncovered legs). If a nation’s dress is not meeting these conditions, Islam would require it to be altered in the light of this principle. Once the conditions are fulfilled, Islam will deem its object achieved and will not concern itself with what type of dress that nation wears.



      Secondly, Islam asks men to keep from wearing silk dress and golden and silver jewellery, and both men and women to avoid using dresses which are luxurious and showy and suggest conceit and vanity. The magnificent trailing costumes (Worn, for example, by kings, popes, priests, judges of the high courts, and other high-ranking officials on ceremonial occasions, and by brides on the eve of marriage. A costume of this kind is so long that quite a few men have to walk behind holding it up. The Prophet said:” On the Day of judgement, God would not look at the person who conceitedly trails his dress on the ground.”) which give a swelled head to their wearers are, in the eyes in Islam, condemnable. The prestigious and ostentatious dresses which some men wear only to create a lordly impression on the common people or to flaunt their riches are also forbidden. Nor does Islam like those flashy garments which engender attitudes of luxury worn in your country or society and it becomes an Islamic dress.



      In the third place, Islam wants the human dress to be free from all those symbols of idolatory and polytheism which have been adopted by any religious sect. These would include the Cross, the Hindu cross thread, pictures, and other un-Islamic emblems. Besides introducing these ethical and cultural reforms, Islam thinks it necessary that the Muslim’s dress should have some distinguishing mark so that they do not get mixed up with non-Muslims, are able to recognize fellow Muslims easily, and succeed in cementing the bonds of their social life. No specific mark or symbol has been recommended for this purpose by Islam. The matter has been left to be determined by the people themselves. When the Islamic Movement got under way in Arabia, the Prophet and the other Muslims used to wear the customary national dress of Arabia. But the Prophet wanted the Muslims to be distinguished in appearance from non-Muslims, so he instructed them to wear turbans along with caps (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, and Mustadrik contain the following tradition; “That which sets us off from polytheists is caps with turbans”. This tradition has led some to suppose that wearing caps with turbans is a sunnah and so constitutes a permanent law to be universally observed by Muslims. But this is a misunderstanding. The sunnah simply is that the Muslims, when they are living amidst a nation consisting chiefly of non-Muslims, should in some way distinguish their dress.) The common Arabs wore either turbans or caps, one to the exclusion of the other. Wearing turbans and caps at the same time thus became typical of Muslims and adequately served the purpose of telling the followers of the New Movement from the common people of Arabia. Later on, when the whole of Arabia embraced Islam, it no longer remained necessary to retain this mark of distinction because now the Arabian dress itself had become Islamic and none of its wearers was a disbeliever or polytheist any more.



      Likewise, when Islam started gaining ground in Iran and other countries, it was at first considered essential that the converts to Islam should either wear the Arabian dress or add to their old national dress some distinguishing mark, (e.g. a turban or a cloak of special type.). For their dress at that time was the dress of non-Muslims and had they continued to wear it without any distinguishing symbol, a separate collective existence of theirs could not have been made possible. But when most of the people of those countries entered into the fold of Islam and their national dresses were modified in accordance with the specification noted earlier, those dresses all became Islamic dresses. In modern times also, the national dresses of the countries all or most of whose people have adopted Islam are, with all their variety, Islamic dresses. Where the Muslim and non-Muslim communities are mixed, any dress which identifies its wearer as a Muslim is an Islamic dress. And where the whole population consists of non-Muslims, every convert to Islam should add to his dress some recognized Islamic sign so as to distinguish himself from non-Muslims.



      Imitation

      At this point we are faced with the question of tashabbuh or limitation. Imitation means assuming the likeness of someone. It is of four kinds, and below we shall discuss each kind in the light of Islam.



      Imitation of one sex by the other. Men’s imitation of women and women’s imitation of men represent a deviation from the course of nature and are symptomatic of a diseased mentality. Islam, therefore, a condemns it. The Prophet has cursed the men who wear feminine dress and the women who wear masculine dress. Every sane person would do exactly the same. Femininity in men and masculinity in women are, in any form, detestable and revolting.
      Imitation by one nation of another. Sometimes a nation as a whole adopts the style of appearance of another nation. This, again, is an irrational attitude and is developed in a nation invariably at the time when she touches the nadir of indignity. It is severely censured by Islam. The way in which, during the period of the companions, such imitation was curbed and the conquered nations checked from taking to Arabianism in the Islamic spirit truly expressed.
      Individual’s imitation of another nation. When some members of a nation imitate the ways of another nation, they give evidence that they have a weak and unstable nature, that their character is like a liquid which assumes the shape of its container. Such behaviour is morally reprehensible and may be compared to a shameless fellow’s claiming kindred with an unrelated person. The claimer of false kinship and the imitator both deserve reproach, the one because he thinks it a shame to be the son of his real father, and the other because he believes that it is unworthy to belong to the nation he was born into and that honour could be achieved only by being related to an alien nation.


      Culturally also such conduct is wrong because the people who take a foreign nation as their ideal become rootless and, in the end, belong neither to the nation they were born into nor to the one they wish to belong to. That explains why the Companions, especially the Caliphs Umar and Ali, upbraided those Muslims who, while living in foreign countries, had abandoned the beduoine dress and, bedazzelled by the glamorous cultures of Rome and Iran, had started using Roman and Iranian dresses.

      4. Muslims imitation of the disbelievers. Such imitation is injurious to the collective existence of Muslims. It alienates Muslims from one another and obstructs the cooperation which Islam desires to exist among them. Besides, it is an indication that a person who is a Muslim has a quite strong leanings towards non-Muslims. Politically, the danger is that the man who presents the appearance of a non-Muslim would be taken for and treated as a disbeliever by the Muslims. For these reasons the Prophet has advised Muslims to shun this kind of imitation. He said: “Oppose the Zoroastrians”. These words, found in so many traditions, clearly show that the Prophet wanted the Muslims should be able to recognize their brethren and treat them as such. The Prophet also remarked that he would not responsible for the Muslim who lives among non-Muslims. He meant that if, in a war, such a Muslim is taken for an enemy and killed by the Muslims, he himself would be to blame for his death. And when then Prophet said that he who imitates any people is one of them, he again meant that the imitator is to be regarded as a member of the nation he imitates and treated like the members of that nation.

      -Tarjumanul Qur’an

      Zil Qa’adah 1258/January 1940 C.E.





      EUROPEAN DRESS
      (This is a part of an article written in 1939 in criticism of the address which a well-known religious scholar, on his return to India after a long exile, delivered while presiding over the Calcutta session of the Jamiat Ulama-e-Bengal. In this address he advised the Muslims to adopt Indian nationalism on the one hand and European dress on the other.)

      Queer fish these Eastern nationalist! Vigorously preaching nationalism on the one side, they feel, on the other, no qualms about adopting the dress and culture of an alienation or country. And that is not all. They make so earnest attempts to popularize the foreign culture and dress among their people as if it formed an article of their nationalistic creed. And, where they can have their way, they do not hesitate to impose these things upon the people. In India, Iran, Egypt, Turkey—every where they follow the same line of action.

      But “nationalism”—if that word connotes national self-respect also—naturally demands that a man stick to the dress and culture of his own nation, feel great and superior about them, and learn to take pride in them. Where this sentiment is totally lacking, goodness knows where nationalism comes into the picture from. Nationalism and lack of national self-respect exclude each other completely. But our Eastern nationalists excel in yoking opposites together. As a matter of fact, a man needs to have a judicious mind and a sound vision to guard him self against contradictions in thought and practice. And if a man possesses these qualities, why on earth must be leave the straight and smooth path of nature and embrace, of all things, nationalism?

      The direct, clear, reasonable, and natural approach which it is possible to adopt in any matter--- that is what is called Islam. And Islam, just as it holds no brief for the exaggerated and inflated version of nationality, i.e. nationalism, lends no support to anything which breaks the legitimate, natural bonds of nationality, sponges out the individuality or distinguishing marks of nations, and cultivates base morals in the members of a nation.

      The Quran tells us that although all men have a common origin, God has set up two types of distinctions between them: the one between the male and the female, and the other between families, tribes and nationalities.

      O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nation and tribes that ye may know one another.. (XLIX: 13)

      And that He createth the two spouses, the male and the female. (LIII: 45)

      These two kinds of distinctions are at the bottom of social existence and man civilization, and the Divine Scheme calls for their maintenance. The distinction between man and woman has been made so that a psychological attraction may exist between them. It follows that their distinguishing characteristics must be fully preserved. The distinction between nations has been made so that human beings are divided into such social groups as would facilitate cooperation among them. Again, it is essential that each social division or cultural group should have some distinguishing marks by means of which its members may recognize, understand, and become intimate with one anther and differentiate t6hemselves from the members of the other groups. Obviously, the only marks of this kind could be language, dress, living patterns, culture and civilization. The need to preserve them is thus urged upon by nature itself.

      That is why imitation has been interdicted by Islam. There is a tradition in which the Prophet has cursed the woman who wears masculine dress and the man who puts on feminine dress. (Mustadrik, vol.iv, p.194.) In another tradition he cursed the men who imitate women and the women imitate men. (Bukhari, “Kitabul-libas) The reason for this tough-line approach is that such imitation suppresses and diminishes the psychological attraction which God has caused to exist between the two sexes, whereas Islam wants that attraction to be retained. Likewise, the abolishing or mixing up of the cultures, practices, and dresses of nations is against the interests of collective existence. Consequently, Islam is opposed to this also. When national distinction is unnaturally blown up into nationalism, Islam makes jihad against it. For it is nationalism which gives birth to stupid chauvinism, savage prejudices, and ruthless imperialism. But Islam is at enmity only with nationalism and not with nationality. Denying nationalism, it wants to keep nationality intact and is as much opposed to abolishing it as it is opposed to inflating it out of proportion. In order to understand Islam’s balanced and moderate attitude in this regard, the following transmissions should be read carefully.

      1. A Companion of the Holy Prophet asked: “What is partisanship? Is loving one’s tribe (or nation) partisanship?” The Prophet said: “No partisanship is to support one’s tribe (or nation) in oppression”(Ibn Majah)

      2. The Prophet said: “He who assumes the likeness of any people is one of them.”(Abu Dawud)

      3. The Caliph Umar wrote to Utbah bin Farqad, Governor of Azerbaijan: “Take heed of wearing the dress of polytheists” (i.e. the people of Azerbaijan). (Muslim, “Kitabul-libas waz-zeenah”.)

      4. The Caliph Umar had issued orders to all his governors not to allow the non-Muslims citizens to use the dress or present the appearance of Arabs. So much so that, on making peace with the people of certain regions, a regular clause forbidding those people to wear the dress of Arabs was inserted in the treaty. (Abu Yusuf, Kitabul Kharaj.)

      5. The Arabs who were posted in Iraq, Iran etc., in connexion with military or civil service, were continually reminded by the Caliphs Umar and Ali to take care of their speech and refrain from speaking foreign tongues. (Baihiqi)

      These precedents make it plain that the internationalism espoused by Islam does not aim to intermix nations by wiping out their distinguishing characteristics. Islam wants nations to preserve their identity and traits and to establish among themselves such bonds of morality, culture, beliefs, and ideas as would eliminate international tensions, frictions, prejudices, and oppression and promote brotherhood and cooperation.

      There is another reason why Islam holds imitation is contempt. A nation forswears her national characteristics only when she has deteriorated mentally and degenerated morally. The man who readily accepts the influence of others and takes on their colour while he gives up his own must be morbidly fickle, docile, and impressionable. Unchecked, that malady will get worse; and if it turns into an epidemic, the entire nation will catch a psychological illness; she will suffer from moral enervation and her mind will grow too weak to take the strain of a sound and solid ethical system. Islam hates to see any nation nursing this psychological disease. It therefore tries to protect against it not only Muslims but, where possible, non-Muslims also because it does not like moral infirmity to be found in any human being.

      It is among the vanquished and subjugated peoples that this disease spreads most widely. Not only are they morally weak, they lower themselves in their own eyes. They regard themselves contemptuously and hope to win esteem by imitating their rulers, whom they take as models of virtue, excellence, nobility, refinement, and anything else they can think of Slavery so eats away their humanity that they become willing to parade their disgrace, and so far from feeling ashamed of this act, take positive pride in it (Should anybody doubt our statement, he may note the difference between the Englishmen and Indians in India itself. A handful of Englishmen scattered and dispersed, have been living amidst tens of millions of Indians for two hundred and fifty years. But your will not find a single Englishman who has taken to the Indian dress. On the contrary, it is still difficult to number the Indians who dutifully mimic the Englishmen and who take pains to copy not only the latter’s dress but their speech and behaviour also. What explanation, after all, will be offered for this?

      It should be remembered that the present article was written in 1939, when India was one country and a long-time colony of the British. However, what has been said in this footnote remains. True even after the passage of more than a quarter century. John Bull is gone but the condition of his bondsmen has not changed.) Islam, which aims to redeem man from degradation and invest him with nobility and honour, would do its best to prevent his falling into the deep most pit of indignity. That precisely is why the Caliph Umar sternly forbade the non-Arab nations, after they had come under the rule of the Islamic Government, to imitate the Arabs. Had they been allowed to develop slavish traits and habits, Islamic jihad would have lost its sense and purpose. When the Prophet charged the Muslims with the banner of Islam he did not want them to become overlords of those nations and train them in servility.



      For these reasons, Islam is against the idea of a nation becoming a replica of another nation and trying to copy the latter’s dress and mode of living. As for the cultural borrowing and lending that naturally takes place between nations in contact with one another, Islam not only approves of it but encourages it. It is not Islam’s wish to wall nations off from one another by creating prejudices among them and thus preclude any kind of cultural or other exchanges between them. The Holy Prophet wore the Syrian gown which was an article of the Jewish dress. A tradition reads: “He (the Prophet) performed the ablution while having a Syrian gown on.” He also put on the narrow-sleeved Roman cloak which was worn by Roman Catholics. The Naushirwani mantle, described in a tradition as the Persian royal mantle, was also in his use. Umar donned the burnous, which is a kind of high cap and forms a part of the Christian monks’ dress. Use of odd things like these is a matter quite different from imitation. Imitation is when a man’s total appearance resembles that of another nation and it becomes difficult to tell his nation by taking a look at him. On the contrary, what we have termed borrowing and lending implies only that one nation may borrow from another something good and suitable and assimilate it into her style of appearance, the style of appearance, even after that assimilation, on the whole remaining the same.

      (Tarjumanul Quran, 1358 H/1939 C.E.)

      //  

      Back to Top
       Post Reply Post Reply Page  12>
        Share Topic   

      Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

      Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 12.03
      Copyright ©2001-2019 Web Wiz Ltd.