The Burqa ban has inspired much debate around Europe and the world. In this article first published in Foreign Policy blogs, Tahera Nassrat explains women's motivations for wearing the Hijab, considers the family's role in preventing women from achieving independence, and suggests how families can better follow the Quran through equal treatment of girls and boys.
Hijab is the Arabic word for “Curtain, or Cover”. It is taken from Hajb meaning to cover, to veil, to shelter. Muslim women wear the Hijab for different reasons. Some wear the Hijab to delight their God- in reference to holy Quran. Some to please their families and some to obey the Islamic law.
Afghanistan is one of the Islamic countries where women wear Hijab by law, not by choice. The law which powerful Islamic groups created misuses the concept of Hijab in the Quran and forces women to cover and remain home. The holy Quran asks Muslim women to wear an outer garment when going out to differentiate them from non-Muslims and identify them as “believing” women in the society. The holy Quran does not say that women should be veiled and kept at home away from mixed society. Conversely, it insisted on full participation of women in society and religious practices.
Women in Muslim countries like Afghanistan are compelled to behave in a certain way from the very beginning. When a girl is born, different treatment is afforded to the girl. They are told to avoid men’s room, talking among elders, walking without a veil and joking with boys. Girls are always shown to be weak human beings while boys are seen as strong. It is common among families, that when a boy cries, the parent says, “Are you a girl to cry?” or “A boy never cries”. Boys get the sense of being a strong human being. Girls get the sense of being weak, dependent and followers of men.
This internal discrimination germinates a feeling inside Muslim men that they no longer wish their wives and sisters to be independent and uncovered. They meet and make relations with non-Muslim women who are not veiled and treat them respectfully, but do not provide the same respectful treatment to Muslim women.
Motivation, support and equality are not delivered to the girls in the families. Rather, discrimination spreads out into the society, where women find it hard to stand up and speak for their rights. So, why such a discrimination from parents to their children? Why should women should dress and behave against their wishes when men do not?
I think reconciliation of these incorrect concepts is necessary. Families should educate themselves and deliver equal treatments to their children. They need to understand that personality, Islam and religion is not an appearance. It is in you and the way you behave and treat others. People should increase their level of awareness and avoid practices like forced marriages and limiting women from society. They should instead sponsor a poor family or provide shelter, food, clothes and medication for those who are suffering.
Follow this link to watch an interesting short video from "60 Minutes" about the Burqa and Hijab bans in Australia and Europe.