Unveiling The Hijab : Oppression Versus Self Determination
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Unveiling the hijab: oppression versus self-determination in modern Islam
The hijab is a traditional headdress worn by Muslim women, and to a lesser extent, Muslim men, based on Qur 'anic interpretations relating to modesty. Since religious mandates are rarely enforced in modern society, especially in Western nations, the persistent practice of wearing veils by Muslim women has received increasing scrutiny from government agencies and certain feminist groups . A common misconception stems from the belief that hijabs are used as a tool of oppression against Muslim women. However, many Muslim feminists have defended the practice as willful self-expression of identity, while stating systematic censorship is the real agent of oppression. Ultimately despite the vocal objections of certain political and feminist groups, the hijab represents far more than the religious implication. It is the embodiment of Muslim women’s right to self-determination and should only serve the interests of the individual wearer.
The religious origins of the hijab are rooted in Qur 'anic verses 24:30-24:31, which states that women “draw their veils over their bosom and not display their beauty”, unless they are in the presence of their husbands and family members (Qur’an 24:30-31; Ruby 56). Modesty in public is encouraged as a means of avoiding harassment from male strangers. “Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when