The Muslim Student Association presented its second annual Islam Awareness Week last week. Among the events which included an art exhibition on famous Muslims, a lecture on Shariah Law (the moral and religious law of Islam) and stand-up comedy about Muslim stereotypes, was a lecture on reasons for why Muslim women wear the hijab, modest attire and head scarf.
Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Council of American Islamic Relations in San Francisco (CAIR-SFBA), spoke about the history of the Islamic faith, the equality of gender in Islam, the role of women and the use of the hijab.
“A lot of times we tend to hear that they must hide their sexuality for men, hide their bodies. I don’t think it is necessary to hide myself from men, because I don’t believe men are out to get me,” joked Billoo.
Wearing a brown hijab that covered her hair and neck, along with a simple long-sleeve black shirt and black pants, Billoo said there were two reasons why women wear the hijab. The first is that modesty is a commandment from God. The other is because the use of the scarf and conservative attire identifies women as practitioners of Islam. This is something believed to have been encouraged by the main prophet of the Islam religion, Mohammed.
“One of the teachings of the Prophet was that the women in his community would dress this way so that they would be made distinct, so other people would know they are Muslim women,” Billoo said.
She added that a lot of modern Muslim women also wear the hijab as a way of stating they want to be judged for their opinions, not their appearance. Both men and women are required to dress modestly, but women usually have specific rules. Billoo said the majority of Muslims believe women should cover everything except their hands, face and feet, but there are variations. Some people believe they should also cover their faces and wear clothes that don’t show the shapes of their bodies. Others say women should dress modestly but don’t believe in specific requirements.
Rabell Afridi, president of the Muslim Student Association, said she does not wear the hijab because she doesn’t feel she is ready to make a commitment of practicing religious rules of attire unto God. Her parents are from Pakistan and her mom wears the hijab, but she never forced her daughter to do the same.
“I have started thinking about it, and I’ve become more comfortable with the idea, so maybe after I graduate I’ll start wearing it. I’m waiting for the right moment, when my intentions about religion are clear,” she explained.
Billoo said that according to the Qur’an, God judges everyone as equal. It is believed the Prophet Mohammed also believed in the equality of gender. Yet, Billoo added that Adam and Eve are perceived to have been created as individuals with different qualities that complemented each other.
“Men and women are equal, but in The Muslim Student Association presented its second annual Islam Awareness Week last week. Among the events which included an art exhibition on famous Muslims, a lecture on Shariah Law (the moral and religious law of Islam) and stand-up comedy about Muslim stereotypes, was a lecture on reasons for why Muslim women wear the hijab, modest attire and head scarf.