Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tolerance is not a Weakness

This is one of the ads going up in the DC area to try to raise people's awareness of the meaning of Jihad to moderate Muslims. "Religious struggle" and "holy war" are not equivalent ideals. I like this one...

...but I'm not sure most people will get it. What it's saying is that there is a stereotype that a woman wearing a hijab is living under oppression, but that really she is not being weak, she is being modest, and it's something she chooses to do in order to be more virtuous, to become a better person. To me, it's a bit like a woman who chooses for religious reasons to shave her head or wear it very close-cut (like a Buddhist nun). The idea is to force people to see the person, not her adornments. It is also an outward sign of submission to God. I just kinda wish the ad had said "Modestry is a strength", instead of "Modestry is not a weakness."

This commentator explains it well, I think, although I simultaneously get an Ick! feeling from her knee-jerk soul-searcing about how it could somehow be her fault that a sleazy ignorant guy on the bus thought it was OK to quiz her about whether she's available while she's wearing a hijab.
No, sweetie, it is not your fault that sleazy ignorant guys are legion.
Hey! Legion of Sleazy Ignorant Guys: a woman wearing a hijab is signalling that she is asserting her right to be viewed in a non-sexual way, so NO, she does not want to talk to you about dating or how pretty you think she is.
(cheez whiz!)

I thought this would be a good opportunity to look at the viewpoints of some young women who wear the hijab.

This young lady is a convert to Islam. In Texas. From her perspective it has partly cost her her career. I think she explains the concept of jihad well, that it is a test of her faith. As a convert to Islam, she is also grappling with the change in her identity, both internally and as viewed by the community in Dallas, Texas. For her, the whole issue is more complicated than just signalling that she claims her right to be seen as a person rather than a sexual object. There are employment issues, prejudices, and what seems to go the deepest for her, her example to younger girls. The video is long-ish at 13 minutes, but I think well worth the watch for an honest look at someone struggling with these forces.

This lady in England addresses what she sees as the common misunderstandings about hijab:

Another set of women discussing misunderstandings about wearing the hijab:

No comments: