January 20, 2004


The recent plans to ban the hijab in schools and other public institutions in France and Germany has provoked the anger of Muslims across the globe. They have understood that this was not simply an attack against a piece of cloth, or a solitary Islamic rule, but rather an assault against Islam as an ideology and way of life. Many have spoken out against the ant-hijab laws: leaders of the Muslim community, intellectuals, Muslim organisations, scholars and even particular rulers in the Muslim world. Demonstrations involving thousands of Muslims have already been held in France, Britain and many other countries across the Muslim world.

However, as Muslims it is crucial that we respond to this issue in an Islamic manner. It is vital that the arguments we present against the tyrannical plans of the western governments emanate from the Islamic viewpoint alone and not from non-Islamic ideas that will strengthen the attack against Islam through our own hands.

Mistakenly, some Muslims have attacked the banning of the hijab using the non-Islamic standard of personal freedom. They have argued that the ant-hijab laws are illegitimate because they violate the personal freedom of the Muslim woman, infringe on her right to freedom of religion, and abuse her human rights. So for example, the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) commented, ˘The planned French law to ban hijab and religious symbols in state-run schools is totally against the principles of the French Revolution, which came to entrench freedom and human rights, which distinguished France as the mother of liberties.
It continued, ˘Liberal secularism is not an excuse to pass stringent laws that strip people of their enshrined human rights, basically the freedom of religion.

A Muslim organisation in Britain stated about the ban, ˘There can be no doubt that such laws represent a gross breac
h of human rights and a contravention of the notions of secularism which uphold personal freedoms and liberties, including the right to religious _expression and worship.

Some Muslim women have mistakenly defended their right to wear the hijab on the bas
is of freedom of choice. One example is the member of the Turkish parliament, Merve Kavakci, who was forbidden from wearing the hijab in the parliament. In an interview she explained that her decision to cover in parliament was a test of democracy; "In the twenty-first century, they must allow us this freedom." She further stated that her right to wear the headscarf was guaranteed by the constitution and international law. On top of this, many Muslim scholars have shirked Islam as a justification, and chosen instead to use the freedom card to argue against the anti-hijab laws.

The concept of freedom, whether it is personal freedom, freedom of religion, or freedom of _expression, emanates from the secular belief and not the Islamic belief. This belief states that God or religion has no place in deciding the rules and laws of lifes
affairs, rather man is sovereign over God. Such a belief is abhorrent to Muslims, so how could they accept or trust any idea that is built upon it, such as freedom or human rights? The Quran states,

˘Such is Allah, your Lord. His is the Sovereignty. None has the right to be worshipped but He. How then are you turned away?
[Az-Zumar: 6]

Furthermore, the one who believes in freedom is the one who believes that it is his own desire
s or mind that should govern how he should live his life rather than his Creator, Allah (swt). He has made his desires his god and guidance in life, and they decide what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong. Allah (swt) says,

˘Have you (oh Muhammad) seen him who has taken as his ilah (god) his own desire? Would you then be a wakil (disposer of his affairs) over him? Or do you think that most of them hear or understand? They are only like cattle; nay they are even farther astray from the Path.
[Al-Furqan: 43-44]

In stark contrast, the Muslim is the one who has used his free mind to determine the true purpose of life. His free mind tells him that this world has not appeared by chance, but rather it has been created by Allah (swt). His mi
nd also tells him that Islam is the message of Allah (swt) to mankind, and the Quran is His (swt) word. As such, he accepts that he is a slave to the commandments and prohibitions of Allah (swt). Allah (swt) states,

˘It is not fitting for a believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, to have any option about their decision. If anyone disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong path

As Muslims, we should therefore understand that o
ur actions are determined by the Islamic Shariah (the halaal and the haraam), and not by man made freedoms. Such secular concepts have no place in Islam and therefore it is haram to use them as a standard in life, or in any response we give in the ongoing intellectual, verbal and physical attacks against Islam. Furthermore, we should understand that it is this same concept of personal freedom that allows a woman to display her nakedness in public, that makes adultery and fornication acceptable actions in society, and that allows men and women to engage in homosexual relationships. Would Muslims who argue for the hijab on the basis of personal freedom, also defend these other freedoms? Clearly they would not, however, the idea of freedom comes as a complete package, and Muslims cannot pick and choose which freedoms they would accept and which they would reject. The western world is also well aware of this, and would be quick to ensure that Muslims openly express their complete adherence to the holistic beliefs of freedom, once they mistakenly tread along that path.

The wearing of hijab is not an action of personal choice but an Islamic obligation commanded by our Creator, Allah (swt). Allah (swt) says,

˘Let them draw their head-coverings (khumur) over their necks and chest
[TMQ An-Nur: 31].

As Muslims, our anger towards the banning of the hijab should not be that it violates our freedoms or takes away our personal choice in how to dress, but rather that it is an attack against an obligation from Islam. It is an assault against the true belief defined and chosen by the Creator of the Universe for the whole of mankind. In the current intellectual battle between the secular belief of Capitalism and the ideology of Islam we should not provide ammunition to the western world by embracing its thoughts, but rather present the distinct Islamic thoughts as a superior and true way of life for humanity.

Abu Hurairah (ra) narrated that he said to the Prophet (saw), ˘O Allah's Apostle! Who will be the luckiest person, who will gain your intercession on the Day of Resurrection?" Allah's Apostle said: ˘O Abu Hurairah! I have thought that none will ask me about it before you as I know your longing for the (learning of) Hadiths. The luckiest person who will have my intercession on the Day of Resurrection will be the one who said sincerely from the bottom of his heart
None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.╝╜


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