Tag Archives: fashion

Just Do It…. InShAllah!!

Just Do It!! InShAllah!!

 

The sportswear giant Nike has finally realized that the hijab is not a symbol of oppression after all, but again, only if it is their design or has its logo. The hijab that Muslim women have been wearing for hundreds of years has gotten the recognition it deserves. The issue of hijab and Muslim dress is taking a huge space of our conversation. This is not just in the west but also in the Muslim world. Ironically while Nike is trying to tap in the huge hijab Market, some Muslim women now, are taking them off to show the modern warm soft Islam. Last week Egypt celebrated the 2nd anniversary of taking the hijab off One-Million-Woman March, as it is championed by General el-Sisi in Egypt and his co-horts in the Gulf states. To be clear, Muslim women wear or don’t wear their hijab based on lots of socio- economic issues, other than religious ones.

Islam wasn’t clear about the Hijab requirements. God doesn’t usually get into women’s fashion, and the prophet was busy completing and perfecting the Abrahamic faith let alone what should women wear or don’t wear. When it comes to Hijab, and unlike Nike, God doesn’t order women to, “Just Do It… InShAllah.  The Hijab that Muslim wear now, is very personal, stylish, and varies, it is becoming a fashion statement. You can see proud young and old women, wearing modern and traditional hijab, all express their identity and personalities. Now Nike wants all Muslims wear one hijab, an ugly looking black one that looks like it came out of  Black Sails movie,

Above all, Women and men are required to be modest, and this is a guideline that should cover lots of clothing styles and costumes around the world’s different climates; cold, hot, sandy, icy, or the political climate of Islamophobia. All require different costumes, and creative solutions.

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Selling Lingerie on the Egyptian Street

2014 04 24 13.36.28

Selling Lingerie on the Egyptian Street
Cairo’s Tahrir Square is the global symbol of the January 25th Revolution, where millions of Egyptians, including women, went to demand the toppling of the regime. Lately, Tahrir Square has witnessed the courting of the Egyptian population by General Al Sisi and his propaganda machine as well as a “Million Woman March” demanding the toppling of the hijab.
The history of progressive women and their struggle for independence and social freedom is an old one, starting with the Egyptian feminist and activist, Huda El Sha’arwi, founder of the Egyptian Feminist Union in 1923. Two events stand out in the history of women’s struggle in Egypt. In the Egyptian Revolution of 1919, women demonstrated side by side with men and used their hijab as a symbol of resistance to the British occupation, and again in the 1940’s and early 50’s, when small groups of radical women leftists embraced the topics of inequality and nationalism with a strong anti-imperialist bent. Here is pamphlet published by the group that announced, “. . . struggle to realize democratic freedom for women in Egypt–that is the freedom which cannot arrive under the shadow of the imperialist and imperialism nor under the shadow of enslavement and exploitation.”
Egyptian women, who are again trying to gain the freedom to remove their hijab, need to “burn their bras” first, as their western counterparts did in the sexual revolution of the 60’s. Back in Tahrir Square, Egyptian women may not be exactly burning their bras anytime soon, but you can see them buying bras, lingerie and undergarments on the street. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see bras and lingerie displayed on every street corner and in the windows of shops, even on sidewalks in the slums of Cairo.

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Why the West is fixated on Muslim women’s wardrobes

Hijab setting

Muslim women living in the West are attacked in the streets, supermarkets, buses, and football games, just for wearing the hijab. In France, Muslim students are denied education for wearing hijabs, last week a 15-year-old Muslim student was banned from school for wearing a long black skirt, “seen as openly religious for the secular France”, reported UK newspaper The Guardian. A Muslim woman was shown in a picture wearing a flag wrapped over her head, it was deemed as blasphemy.

The reactions on Social media were fraught with anger and violence. The Twitter Account @BannedIslam posted the picture of the young Muslim woman with this question: What would you do if you saw this? The reactions show how fanatical Americans think of Muslim women’s dress and sexuality.

One comment made by ‘Onenine’ suggested to people that they ‘burn the bitch’, and another person offered a different strategy by strangling the girl with the scarf. Hijab and Burqa aren’t rejected in the West for their religious inclinations, but of their anti-commercialism inclinations: they aren’t falling victim to the West’s commercial icons such as Liz Claiborne, Calvin Klein, and Victoria’s Secret.

A Western woman spends 287 days refilling her wardrobe, recounted The Telegraph: by choosing outfits for work, nights out, dinner parties, holidays, for the gym, and other activities. The Economist reported that an American woman spends an average of $3,400 to fill her wardrobe each year. The colonial West has been interested in the Muslim woman’s dress for a long a time. Orientalist artists and painters had depicted Muslim women as submissive sexual objects, devoid of any activities, simply sitting waiting for their men.

How do people in Muslim countries prefer women to dress in public? This question was raised by a recent, much-discussed survey from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, as part of a comprehensive study on post-Arab Spring attitudes towards America and democratic values. The survey was conducted in seven countries: Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, which aren’t all Arab or Muslim. Lebanon is not a solely Muslim country, and Turkey and Pakistan are not Arab countries.

The results, as outlined on the Pew Research Center’s FactTank, found that most people in the countries studied prefer that a woman completely covers her hair, but not necessarily her face. Only in Turkey and Lebanon, more than one in four thought it is appropriate for a woman not to cover her head at all in public. The study’s underlying assumption was that practices concerning women’s faces and hair coverings were a measure of women’s liberation and modernity itself. The question of modesty in general wasn’t even considered. Not since Samson, has there been such interest in Middle Eastern hair.

The study randomly selected about 3,000 people from each country, regardless of its size. Each respondent was given a card depicting six styles of women’s headdresses, and asked to choose the woman most appropriately outfitted for a public place. As the study stated, no labels were included on the card. The depicted styles ranged from a fully-hooded burqa (woman No. 1) to the less conservative hijab (women No. 4 and No. 5). There was also the option of a woman wearing no head covering of any type. I won’t get into the main findings, which were confusing, inconsistent, and mostly about preferences – not about how many women actually wear these different styles.

The two questions in the study that concern us are: What style of dress is appropriate for women in public? The concept of “appropriate” is loaded, if we don’t measure it against any norm – social, religious or personal. The West just can’t get its head around the fact that a Muslim woman’s choice of attire can just be a personal one, and not a cultural or religious one. The second key question was: Should women be able to choose their own clothing? I’m a little wary of this type of dichotomy in research questions; where you are given only two options – yes or no – especially when the question concerns a complicated social value, such as Muslim women’s freedom to choose their own dress. The study surveyed both male and female, but didn’t break the answers down by gender.

In a nutshell, the study found that only 14% in Egypt think women should choose their own dress, as opposed to 47% in Saudi Arabia. That means that 86% of respondents in Egypt, where women have relatively more latitude in their fashion selections, want someone else to influence their choices. In Saudi Arabia, where women are forced to consult with only one fashion designer, the Islamic dress code, 47% think they could make a better choice for themselves.

This kind of study doesn’t really measure Muslim’s attitudes towards women’s clothing, so much as it reflects the West’s attitude toward Muslim women and Muslim people. Just imagine, for the sake of argument, someone asking the same two questions in America, where the fashion industry spends as much money trying to control women’s bodies as the military spent invading Iraq. It tells American women how to dress – not necessarily how much hair they should cover in public, but how much skin they should reveal.

How would Americans answer this question: “What style of dress is appropriate for women in public?” Never mind how men would answer. In winter, frigid weather, which in some states reaches 40° below, I’d bet lots of women wouldn’t mind the fully-hooded burqa style that much.

Ahmed Tharwat is a public speaker and hosts the Arab-American show “Belahdan”.

His articles appeared in national and internal publications. He blogs at Notes From America www.ahmediatv.com. You can follow him at Twitter and fBook www.Twitter.com/ahmediatv

www.facebook.com/ahmediatv

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Western attitude toward Muslim women… the headdress theory! ..

Muslim women

 

How do people in Muslim countries prefer women to dress in public? This question was raised by a recent, much-discussed survey from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, apparently as part of a comprehensive study on post-Arab Spring attitudes toward America and democratic values.

The survey was conducted in seven countries (Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey), which aren’t all Arab or Muslim. Lebanon is not a Muslim country, and Turkey and Pakistan are not Arab countries.

The results, as outlined on the Pew Research Center’s FactTank, find that most people in the countries studied prefer that a woman completely cover her hair, but not necessarily her face. Only in Turkey and Lebanon do more than one in four think it is appropriate for a woman to not cover her head at all in public.

The survey’s underlying assumption is that practices concerning women’s face and hair cover are a measure of women’s liberation and modernity itself. The question of modesty in general wasn’t even considered. Not since Samson has there been such interest in Middle Eastern hair.

The study randomly selected about 3,000 people from each country regardless of its size. Each respondent was given a card depicting six styles of women’s headdress and asked to choose the woman most appropriately outfitted for a public place. As the study stated, no labels were included on the card. The depicted styles ranged from a fully-hooded burqa (woman No. 1) to the less conservative hijab (women No. 4 and No. 5). There was also the option of a woman wearing no head covering of any type.

I won’t get into the main findings, which were confusing, inconsistent and mostly about preferences, not about how many women actually wear these different styles.

The two questions in the study that concern us here are, first, what style of dress is appropriate for women in public? The concept of “appropriate” is loaded if we don’t measure it against any norm — social, religious or personal. The West just can’t get its head around the fact that a Muslim woman’s attire choice can just be a personal one and not a cultural or religious one.

The second key question was: Should women be able to choose their own clothing?

I’m a little leery of this type of dichotomy in research questions, where you are given only two options — yes or no — especially when the question concerns a complicated social value, such as Muslim women’s freedom to chose their own dress. The study surveyed both male and female, but didn’t break the answers down by gender.

In a nutshell, the study found that only 14 percent in Egypt think women should choose their own dress, as opposed to 47 percent in Saudi Arabia.

That means that 86 percent of respondents in Egypt, where women relatively have more latitude in their fashion selections, want someone else to influence their choices, while in Saudi Arabia, where women are forced to consult with only one fashion designer, the Islamic dress code, 47 percent think they could make a better choice themselves.

This kind of study doesn’t really measure Muslim attitudes toward women’s clothing so much as it reflects the Western attitude toward Muslim women and Muslim people.

Just imagine, for the sake of argument, someone asking the same two questions in America, where the fashion industry spends as much money trying to control women’s bodies as the military spent invading Iraq.

The fashion industry tells American women how to dress ­— not necessarily how much hair they should cover in public, but how much skin they should reveal.

And how would Minnesota women answer the question: “What style of dress is appropriate for women in public?” Never mind how men would answer. In the recent frigid weather, where some parts of the state reached 40 below, I’d bet lots of women wouldn’t mind style No. 1 that much.

 

Ahmed Tharwat is a public speaker and hosts the Arab-American show “Belahdan” at 10:30 p.m. Mondays on Twin Cities Public Television. He blogs at www.ahmediatv.com.

 

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