Friday, May 30, 2014

Must A Muslim Woman Wear The Tudung (Head Scarf) Or The Full Hijab?

May 31 is the D-Day for the Teluk Intan parliamentary by-election

Dyana's detractors are taking issue with her not wearing the tudung.

They might as well tell the Pm's wife off for setting a "bad" example!

Why focus so much on form instead of substance, and on petty distractions instead of issues? 

In fact, covering the hair is not a must, contrary to what many Muslims claim, at least not, it seems, where the Koran is concerned.

The verse in the Koran that is often cited as authority that a Muslim woman must wear the tudung or berhijab is Surah 24:31. 

But NOWHERE in the verse is the hair even mentioned! What the verse says is that a woman should cover her bosom (chest) and not display her beauty or ornaments EXCEPT what must ORDINARILY appear thereof. (The emphasis are mine to bring out the point.) 

The word used for "cover" is "khinar". "Khinar" in Arabic, it seems, means a "cover," not a "head cover". Anything that covers is a khinar. A table cloth is a khinar for the table. Even a blanket is a khinar for the body.

"Khinar" has often been mistranslated as "veil" to cover the face and the hair. BUT NOTICE THAT THE VERSE DOES NOT EVEN MENTION THE HAIR AT ALL! The verse just says, use a 'khinar" (cover) over the bosom. It gives the emphasis to the bosom which it specifically enjoins to cover.

Further, if the verse is taken to mean that a Muslim woman must cover her whole body, the phrase, "except what must ordinarily appear thereof" becomes meaningless and redundant. A Muslim woman is expected to be modest (just like a Muslim man), not expose her body - that's all! She is not required by 24:31 to cover her face or hair or wear a full hijab. Wearing the veil or hijab was just an old Arabic custom or practice because of local conditions. Even before the advent of Islam, they were already wearing the hijab!

It seems that many Arabic words and phrases in the Koran might have been mistranslated by the Arab ulamas.

In fact, it is interesting to note that the Koran says that the Arabs are the most "degil' (recalcitrant and stubborn). Surah 9:97 states that the Arabs are staunchest in disbelief and hypocrisy! Of course, it seems that they have also translated the word for "Arabs" to refer to the Bedouins instead of themselves! 

Examples of Arabic words and phrases in the Koran that have been said to have been mistranslated:-

"deen" meaning "way of life" became "religion"

"ta'budu" meaning "serve" became "worship"

"'so-laa" meaning "commitment" became "ritual prayers"

'muSollan" meaning "the committed" became "place of ritual prayers"

"zakaa" meaning "purify or menyucikan" became "religious tithes"

"wa-ruka'is-sujud" meaning "humbly consenting themselves" became " bow and prostrate"

and so on and so forth so much so that the original meanings, it is said, have become obscured and what is taught may not necessarily accord with the teachings of the Koran

It would be profitable if independent Islamic scholars who are well versed in the Arabic language do research into the claims that many Arabic words and phrases in the Koran might have been sorely misinterpreted.

Dyana is as Muslim as any other Muslim who would keep the "deen" - the way of life as revealed - doing good deeds, honouring their parents, taking care of the anak yatim (orphans), helping the poor and the weak and dealing honestly in their transactions with others and the world. Keeping the peace. After all, that's what the word "Muslim" means, one who keeps the peace, isn't it?

Dyana does not become more Muslim if she does what the conservatives want her to do, by covering herself up to appear '"alim" to please them, but doing all the bad things behind the cover. Just like all the hypocrites who talk a lot on religiosity but focus on form and little on the spirit, and does do all that is antithetical to the Koran but demand unquestioning respect and obedience as if they are the divine himself!

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