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The problem with linking hijab to oppression of women in 45 seconds (video)

Following Dalia Mogahed’s appearance on the much-loved Daily Show with Trevor Noah, she made the following comments on her Facebook page:

Regarding a woman covering her head, consider these verses:

“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, for as much as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man.Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have a sign of authority on her head because of the angels.”

No, not the Quran. It is 1 Corinthians 11:7-11:11 in The Bible.

The problem I think is that many people have this understanding of the head cover (whether they know where it comes from or not), as literally a symbol of man’s authority over women and her inferiority, from the Judea-Christian tradition, and wrongly assume the same applies in Islam. It does not.

Here is the Quranic verses for comparison related to this topic:

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity: this will be most con­ducive to their purity – [and,] verily, God is aware of all that they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity, and not to display their charms [in public] beyond what may [decently] be apparent thereof; hence, let them draw their head-coverings over their bosoms. And let them not display [more of] their charms to any but their husbands, or their fathers, or their husbands’ fathers, or their sons, or their husbands’ Sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their womenfolk, or those whom they rightfully possess, or such male attendants as are beyond all sexual desire, or children that are as yet unaware of women’s nakedness; and let them not swing their legs [in walking] so as to draw attention to their hidden charms And [always], O you believers – all of you – turn unto God in repentance, so that you might attain to a happy state!” (The Quran 24:30-31)

The Quranic verses clearly are dealing with matters of modesty and privatizing the display of beauty, and begin by addressing men to behave respectfully toward women without condition. Nothing at all implies the head covering is a symbol of subjugation or inferiority to men.

You can watch the full interview here:

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  1. Nope, that’s not the definition of ‘oppression’. Here it is: “the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner”. I’d disagree with that, actually, as it fails to explicitly include the internalisation of those things. And, actually, using the word ‘oppression’ is evading the issue. Women the world over, Muslim or not, in the face of misogynistic behaviour, shrink or feel compelled to hide away from the behaviour of the men exhibiting that behaviour. If one is intimidated on a regular basis, one learns a coping mechanism. That coping mechanism is not necessarily healthy in the long term as one extends it to make oneself ‘safe’ in the presence of all men. Covering oneself is a coping mechanism. Covering oneself is basically saying that you don’t trust any man not to indulge in their animalistic, base, desires just because they see a glimpse of head hair, or face-below-the-eyes, not to mention (Shock-horror – SKIN!). It does an injustice to men (they are not animals!) and to women (we are your equals). Also, since when has being covered from head to toe resulted in zero rapes? Rape is not about sex, it is about power. It happens to old women, young women, men, boys, genderqueer, genderless, trans women, trans men, bois, dykes, and everyone else. It’s not about that, it’s about ‘modesty’, I hear you say. UTTER BOLLOCKS. Here’s the definition of ‘modesty’: modesty
    noun: modesty; plural noun: modesties
    the quality or state of being unassuming in the estimation of one’s abilities.
    “with typical modesty he insisted on sharing the credit with others”
    synonyms:self-effacement, humility, lack of vanity, lack of pretension, unpretentiousness; More

    the quality of being relatively moderate, limited, or small in amount, rate, or level.
    “the modesty of his political aspirations”
    synonyms:limited scope, moderation, fairness, acceptability, smallness
    “Gandhi’s political tactics obscured the modesty of his political aspirations”
    behaviour, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency.
    “modesty forbade her to undress in front of so many people”


    UNASSUMING IN THE ESTIMATION OF ONE’S ABILITIES!!!!!! What man ever fucking does that?!!! This is designed to keep women down.
    MODERATE, LIMITED OR SMALL IN AMOUNT- Again, this is designed to keep women down! What man every thinks like that?!

    1. I only feel oppressed when I tell people I’m not oppressed and they, like you, won’t listen and disregard my point of view because they are convinced that I am. You claim you are on my side, yet truly you are against me.

      1. I can say the same to both of you ewe of ‘The Lot’s daughters’.
        I inherited all and know the hearts of men. I appreciate you covering
        yours-elves up (to other eyes) your ‘private enterprise’ which is
        Mein Holocaust Concentration Campf Jihad’s Presence (of GOD and [follow] me).

        You are my presents to GOD, without children and without sex except from me, which I will not exercise except to allow you to drink the 2nd Wine of Christ
        which Moses and E-Manu-El-Isa-Jesus and Mohammed predicted being from
        (The Last Profit). My copyrighted name means ‘dark haired prince of peace’.

        The ‘Signs of The Southern Cross’ has been psalmed about by
        The Musicians of The Temple(s) for centuries, as today (2-DIO-Day-Den).
        I was ‘declared’ five eras (years) ago now and, have received nothing
        but humiliation from allah ewes Samaritan Woah, Men @ The Well.

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