It has happened again, guys. Another day, another man (or men, in this particular case) policing a woman’s hijab, whilst conveniently ignoring the obligations associated with the male hijab.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, a Pakistani educational institution, namely the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad (UAF), has renamed Valentine’s Day as “Sister’s Day.” Oh, it gets better. In an effort to mesh and Islam-proof Western traditions and holidays that are being adopted more in Pakistan, the vice chancellor plans to have men hand out scarves to female students instead of the traditional gifts associated with Valentine’s Days, such as flowers, chocolate, and cards.
The man behind this ill-conceived plan, Zafar Iqbal, laughably stated the reason behind this gesture (that no women asked for) as follows: “In our culture, women are more empowered and earn their due respect as sisters, mothers, daughters, and wives…Unlike in the West, our religious values encourage respect for women and guarantee protection of their rights.”
My question to Mr. Zafar is simple: So what are the women handing out to the men? Because when it comes to the practice of hijab, it goes both ways. The word “hijab” means ‘covering,’ and this applies to both sexes according to the Holy Qu’ran. Our Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) left passages advising both men and women the appropriate way to cover. Now that we have this covered, are the women attending UAF allowed to walk around handing out long-sleeved shirts, pants above ankles, pamphlets of halal haircuts, and sleeping masks to avert the gaze of every male who thinks it’s his right to give every female in his path the once-over?
Here’s a friendly reminder to all the akhis out there who love to lecture us women on what is halal and haram: first fully understand your responsibility as a follower of the ummah to refrain eyes and oblige by the hijab code given to men. tweet
This of course totally overlooks the pertinent fact that NOWHERE in our merciful religion does it infer that men have the right to police what adorns a woman’s body. In handing out headscarves as part of some tragic attempt to flip a Western narrative, Mr. Zafar is revealing his complete miscomprehension of Islam.
This so-called gesture further exemplifies that when men even try to make an effort to include women in any sort of narrative, it is still in an authoritarian and condescending way.
Here’s a friendly reminder to all the akhis out there who love to lecture us women on what is halal and haram: first fully understand your responsibility as a follower of the ummah to refrain eyes and oblige by the hijab code given to men.
This point is elaborated in the Quran 24:31: “Say to the believing men that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Surely, Allah is well aware of what they do.” Hijab is a practice that was bestowed upon men before women. The practice of refraining their eyes from women was the first condemnation of hijab in Islam, and it was because of this eye-glaring that women were advised by the one and only Merciful Allah SWT to cover their body parts. But never once was it mentioned that a man has authority over a woman to force her to wear a headscarf.
Instead of adopting a Western holiday as a decoy to subdue the same institutionalized thinking that is not backed by Islam, V.C. Zafar Iqbal should attempt to include equality amongst the sisters in his University, and in society, an obligation that is mentioned and backed by the Qu’ran.