The Hijab: A form of liberation or a sign of oppression? Essay

Whereas, the majority of Muslim women argue that it is a arsenal, religious choice and a powerful form of female liberation. Banning the Hajji: In 2003, two students were expelled from Cole Charlemagne high school In Montreal for refusing to remove their hajjis. The school administration claimed that their hajjis were In violation of the schools dress code. The administration announced, “she would not be allowed back unless she removes her hajji” (Elemental). Therefore, both students were refused access to a free education because they would not remove a piece of clothing that represents their religious beliefs.

The expulsion violates the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, which states, “persons belonging to ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities shall not be denied the right to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion” (Canadian Multiculturalism Act, 3 [a]). The hajji is a strong symbol of religious devotion and prohibiting students from wearing this symbol is an Infringement upon their personal rights. The Code of Ethics of the Education Profession, which defines the educator’s commitment to the student, protects the rights of students within the school environment.

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The code claims that the educator “shall not on the basis of race… Political or religious beliefs, family, social or cultural background… Unfairly exclude any student from participation in any program” (Strike, and Soloist ix). Based on the Code of Ethics, banning hajjis is a violation against the students’ personal right of religious expression. The school administration could argue that section 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights allows “limitations for the respect of the rights or reputations of others and for the protection of national security (“Global Campaign for Free Expression” 16).

The covenant supports students right to legally express religious symbols as long as they do not pose a threat towards the safety of others. I am unable to make the connection between a religious scarf and a threat to public safety. The school administration did not provide a public comment on the situation and the students’ expulsion was removed. The organizations that have attempted to ban hula’s have been met with objections, especially among activist groups that support individual rights to personal Many feminist groups view the hajji as a symbol of oppression between males and females.

Even if women choose to wear the hajji for personal or religious purposes, it is interpreted as a sign of female compliance. Author and feminist, Diane Guiltily, wrote a book entitled Democracy and Sexual Equality, which attacks feminists groups that support women’s decision to wear the hajji. In an interview, Guiltily defines a feminist act as “something that aims for emancipation, both of oneself, as an individual, and as a group. It’s not a feminist choice to choose the veil” (Montreal Gazette). According to Guiltily, women who choose to wear the hajji endorse the inequality that exists between men and women.

This feminist perspective has become less popular with the rise of literature that approaches misconceptions about the hajji. For example, in 2005, Rand Abide-Faith released the young adult novel, Does My Head Look Big in This? The novel explores the difficulties that a sixteen-year-old girl experiences when she decides to wear the hajji. The main character Mammal encounters criticism regarding this choice, but “she stands by her decision to embrace her faith and all that it is” (Abide-Faith). The feminist shift is generated by the recognition that women have a right to choose, which is a form of liberation in itself.

Young adult novels such as, Bifocal and Neither This Nor That, are based on Muslim experiences, which help women view their choice as a form of liberation, rather then a form of compliance to the expectations of society. Liberation: Many Muslim women believe that wearing the hajji is a personal right and a form of female liberation. A young woman named Sultana Wishfully wrote a powerful essay entitled, My Body is my own Business. Wishfully makes a bold statement, claiming that the hajji liberates her from “the bondage of the swinging pendulum of the fashion industry and other institutions that exploit females” (Wishfully).

Fashion industries exploit women by promoting unattainable standards of beauty. The hajji liberates women from these social constraints by allowing them to focus on deeper aspects of their identity. Within the Muslim culture, the hajji is often accompanied with modest clothing that also conceals the body. This concealment prevents people from making assumptions about women based on their physical appearance, while also preventing women from being sexually objectified. Wishfully explains that the hajji creates “a barrier between me and those who would exploit me” (Wishfully).

The hajji ivies her control over her physical appearance, while freeing her from the superficial expectations of society. Many Muslim women agree that the hajji helps them claim ownership over their physical being. An anonymous poem entitled, On Hajji and Oppression, suggests that the hajji forces people to consider a woman’s intellectual identity rather then her physical body. The poem states, “My body is not for your eyes to hold/ You must speak to my mind, not my feminine mould” (“Beautiful Islam”). This barrier, as Wishfully describes it, liberates women by giving them a sense of ownership over their bodies.

In this sense, women gain control over their identities and how they are perceived by society. I believe that women who choose to wear the hajji should be commended for symbols, such as the hajji, can be interpreted in so many different ways based on individual experience and personal biases. Thankfully there are legal systems in place that recognize the rights of individuals to express their religious beliefs. Despite the criticisms that Muslim women encounter, the hajji is a personal choice that requires respect and understanding within a diverse and inclusive society. Works Cited Elemental, Salaam.

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