The Hijab between Islamic Law and the Civil Law
The issue of Hijab (the Islamic headscarf) is still being debated in Europe where there is a row about a law that bans the Muslim women from wearing the Hijab in schools, regarding it as a religious symbol that does not conform with secularism.
This negative situation has also extended to reach some Islamic countries that adopt the western law. In Turkey, a country that adopts the secular system and the first overwhelmingly Muslim country that bans Muslim school girls from wearing the Hijab in public schools, universities, and official institutions, including the Turkish parliament
this country has banned the veil because it is concerned of the effect of this Islamic phenomenon on the secular system.
Recently, the issue was strongly raised in Tunisia and what brought up the question was that justifying this banning on a national level was due to considering the Hijab an imported phenomenon or a sectarian matter that has no relation with Islam at all.
Consequently, we draw the following remarks:
First, this negative attitude against Hijab represents a kind of human oppression against the Muslim woman who observes the Hijab and a restraint of the public and private freedoms, since man has the right to choose what he wants to wear, especially, if some of his personal concerns represent a religious obligation that every Muslim who abides by the Islamic law can not exceed its proper limits. Moreover, the Hijab in Islam represents an obligatory legitimate ruling that the Muslim woman should observe.
Secondly, we consider that raising the issue of Hijab as an expression of a religious symbol alone and not on the symbols of other religions, reveals that the West has an incurable complex against Islam represented by the protest against the observance of the Muslim women residing in Europe of their religious commitments, especially after the spread of the sensitivities against Islam as a result of accusing Islam and Muslims of terrorism. These sensitivities have made the veiled Muslim girls feel embarrassed and afraid that wearing the Hijab, which indicates their religious Islamic identity, would make them exposed to physical or psychological aggression in some countries or societies.
Thirdly, talking about the Hijab as an imported phenomenon reveals the western ignorance of the Shariaa (Islamic law) and history. Hence, the Muslim women started to wear the Hijab since the Hijab Aya (Quranic verse) was revealed when the Prophet (p.) was in Al-Medina. Therefore, even though some women in non-Muslim countries wear the Hijab as a result of their non-religious traditions, this does not mean that Muslims have imported it since it is a manifestation of their religious observance.
Fourthly, the issue of Hijab is not one of the government's responsibilities. It is a personal commitment that is related to man's freedom of choosing what to wear, exactly like other freedoms. It is ludicrous that some officials in some governments talk about wearing modest clothes, while, they do not ban the women from wearing clothes that are not modest in many social and tourist places. Therefore, they do not aim at maintaining morals, but they are rather importing western concepts and imitating western style. This is because those officials want to prove to the West that they are free from the influence of the Islamic traditions in order to gain western support.
Fifthly, if the legal reason of banning the Hijab in schools is due to the bad impression that the veiled girls leave on the students is found on psychological basis, veiled girls may also say that taking off the Hijab may leave a negative psychological impression on them. Moreover, this issue is not limited to schools but rather it extends to all the mixed places in the society where people practice their public freedoms that may make them accustomed to this diversity that might be demonstrated in the nations different costumes.
Sixthly, the law of banning the veiled girls from entering schools and universities contradicts with the principles of freedom and democracy. It prevents many veiled girls from continuing their studies, in case their circumstances do not permit them to enter to Islamic private schools. In other words, this ban represents an educational oppression that has no relation with human values.
Seventhly, the religious diversity inside the different societies is an expression of a civilized society of different underpinnings and practices that affirms the coexistence between different cultures. This diversity suggests a cultural interaction that is open to the dialogue between different religions. It would also motivate people to know the religions of each other.
It is noticeable that the issue of banning the Hijab was not strongly raised in the United States of America that focuses on respecting private freedoms and the humanity of those who observe the laws of their religions. This is because a historical complex against Islam is not found in America, but, it may be embodied in the European culture. Hence, Islamic countries officials imitate the Europeans because they want the west to certify that they adopt the western civilization, while, on the other hand, they are oppressing their people through suppressing their political movements and civil rights.
Eighthly, we believe that confirming the freedom of the Islamic veil through covering the body and unveiling the face and hands does not prevent the woman from moving in the society. Furthermore, the Muslim woman that abides by the Islamic laws presents herself in the society only as a human being and not as a female that arouses the instincts. Nevertheless, this does not prevent her from practicing her femininity in her conjugal home or even in the female society without arousing the instincts.
Ninthly, it is remarkable that the champions of oppressing the woman who observes the Islamic laws claim that giving the woman her freedom to enter the official schools, universities and institutions contradicts with the secular system. This claim is not precise since the secular system is not based on the way the students observe their religious obligations, especially that secularism does not oppress the religious freedoms, although, it does not consider it a basis for the law of the state. Moreover, observing the public freedoms is more important than observing some educational aspects.
Tenthly, the law of banning Muslim schoolgirls from wearing the Hijab in schools represents a racial oppression that has no relation with democracy and makes people act politically against the secular system.
We advise the Islamic countries to abandon this non-humanistic arbitrary law, rise the peoples cultural and educational level and open upon the human Islamic values that are based on the moral path which elevates man to the spiritual level, so that people may communicate on the basis of knowing and opening upon one another.
We also want the European countries where these negative calls against Hijab are raised, to stay away from this non-humanistic approach that is against Muslim girls, on the basis of believing in the public freedoms that the West deemed adequate to its system, knowing that Muslims nowadays represent big committees in the European societies
In this way, we will prevent others who try to exploit such a special complexity in order to find some negative states that do not benefit the society in any of its affairs.
We call for a cultural dialogue in which the people of the different religions and cultures may understand the cultural points of view of the basis of the different kinds of observances
. Such a dialogue may lead to a spiritual, cultural and social peace for the entire society.
By the Religious Authority, H.E. Sayyed Mohammad Husein Fadlullah