Marlowe's Shade

Monday, February 14, 2005

Taking up the Hijab

From the MetroWest Daily News

Many meet every Friday or Sunday at the Islamic Greater Society of Worcester to pray to Allah and socialize. Men sit in front of the Iman, the spiritual leader, who recites half in English, half in Arabic, the way to reach paradise. Women climb the stairs to the first floor as they walk in, separated from the men.

They all kiss the floor two times before sitting down, with their shoes off, their heads down.

At a recent Friday service in Worcester, Dunia Ramadan, a 21-year-old who was born in Hudson and now lives in Northborough, closed her eyes to pray. She started wearing the veil last year and it wasn't a difficult decision to make.

"I was never told to do it. My parents never told me I had to wear it," said Ramadan. "As you learn more about your religion, you learn more about your obligations. This has to come from yourself, nobody else."

Next to Ramadan, Shafaq Kazi, 34, from Northborough, smiles. Her mother does not wear the 'hijab,' but Kazi did not hesitate and took the step.

"I have seen an increase of women wearing it," she said. "I think right now there are many ways to know more about your religion, through the Internet, for example. Maybe that's why more women want to express their Muslim identity."

When they are asked about the head scarf seen as a symbol of oppression from men, they both clarify concepts: a sign of oppression is when women are forced to reveal instead of covering, they say.

"Women deserve to be respected," adds Kazi.

Personally I am ambivalent about the hijab if it doesn't cover the face. The interesting issue for me is that despite the claims of the acceptance of the hijab being voluntary, I think there is a much more complex dynamic of influence.
papijoe 8:27 AM