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#31 of 44 Old 01-13-2009, 09:20 AM
 
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Would that be an accurate way to describe it, from a Muslim perspective? That a woman who wears a niqab is "more observant" than a woman who only wears a hijab, both are more observant than those who wear no head covering, and so forth?
Not to belabor the point, which UmmZaynab has already made, but what a woman wears has nothing to do with her religious observance. I've recently started wearing the headscarf again and I am no more observant this week than I was last month. Nothing about me has changed, not my sense of humor (which tends to run to the dry and sarcastic), not my observance of actual religious obligations (which is spotty at best and I freely admit it), nor my political views (which tend to run to the Socialist side, I married a Marxist, what can I say?). The only thing that has changed is that I wear a piece of fabric--sometimes cotton, sometimes silk--on top of my head. Wearing this piece of fabric on my head does not make me better or more observant than the mama who doesn't cover, but does manage to make her five prayers every day (which I am very lax on).

If you think of the headscarf like any other symbol of religion, let's take a cross for example, then it's easier to understand. Is a Christian woman who wears a cross on a necklace more observant than one who doesn't? I remember waaaaaaaay back in the 80s (what I remember of the 80s anyway) when Madonna wore a huge rhinestone cross with her get-up. Does that make her a more observant Christian than someone who doesn't? Is a Jewish woman who wears a wig more observant than one who doesn't?

There is so much symbolism attached (largely by the Western world) to what a Muslim woman wears on her head, when in reality, for the vast majority of us, it's really not that big a deal.
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#32 of 44 Old 01-13-2009, 11:32 AM
 
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: to what TurkishKate said.

Although I will add, that even in the Muslim world, there is that stereotype for lack of a better word.

So, if somebody's son is engaged... the Mom may say proudly... "to a girl who wears hijab." And everybody will oooh and ahhh and think oh what a good Muslimah she must be.

Even though, in some countries (Egypt comes to mind), hijab is very much a fashion thing. So being fashionable can be the motivation behind hijab just as much as a sense of modesty. You'll see women in a pink hijab, with a tight shirt, tight jeans, pink sneakers... and a pink bag. Even though their head is covered... there is no sense of modesty to their dressing. You can see every curve.


Even though a woman who does not wear hijab may give more in charity, have better adab (Islamic manners), give more in charity, be more attentive to her prayers, etc. It's external. I guess that's why we're reminded that only God knows one's heart and who is really observant, so to speak.

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#33 of 44 Old 01-13-2009, 01:42 PM
 
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: to what TurkishKate said.

Although I will add, that even in the Muslim world, there is that stereotype for lack of a better word.

So, if somebody's son is engaged... the Mom may say proudly... "to a girl who wears hijab." And everybody will oooh and ahhh and think oh what a good Muslimah she must be.

Even though, in some countries (Egypt comes to mind), hijab is very much a fashion thing. So being fashionable can be the motivation behind hijab just as much as a sense of modesty. You'll see women in a pink hijab, with a tight shirt, tight jeans, pink sneakers... and a pink bag. Even though their head is covered... there is no sense of modesty to their dressing. You can see every curve.


Even though a woman who does not wear hijab may give more in charity, have better adab (Islamic manners), give more in charity, be more attentive to her prayers, etc. It's external. I guess that's why we're reminded that only God knows one's heart and who is really observant, so to speak.
Same thing in Turkiye, and you can see them smoking, sometimes even drinking a beer.
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#34 of 44 Old 01-13-2009, 02:14 PM
 
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Im gonna jump in here

I absolutely agree that whether or not one wears hijab, niqab etc defines "how religious" she is, because only God knows her intention behind wearing it, and how she is in other aspects of her life. But i do not want to discount the hijab either. The religion of Islam requires that we follow the teachings of Qu'ran and the practices of the prophet. There are many teachings because Islam encompasses ALL parts of life from family ettiquitte, to the way one should dress, to the best way to run a country, etc. it is not just "spiritual guidance", but guidance in every aspect of life. Wearing the scarf is very much part of Islam, and while it cannot judge how "religious" one is (because like i said, who knows if she prays, is good with her children, etc..) we should not discount the fact that it is a religious obligation and credit and respect should be given to one who wears it, just as the same should be given to someone who is kind to their neighbors, good with their children, etc... does that make any sense? In the end of course, every action is by intention, and that only God knows!

When i wore niqab and people asked me why, I would explain that there is a difference in opinion about it- the verse in Qu'ran says to tell the believing women to take their head covering and cover their bossoms. Some interpret that just to include the hair, neck, chest, etc, and others interpret that to include the face. Some do not believe it includes the face but cover their face anyways because we know that the wives of the prophet covered their faces and they are considered to be the best of women, so in a sense it is just trying to emulate them.

As far as the comment the boy had made- it was a joke and we took it that way. Nothing more. I think perhaps if I was dressed in reveling clothing, and someone made the comment, I would have been insulted- but I think it would have then reflected more on the way I was dressed than the other person. Make sense? I think the kid was just being sarcastic and we found the humor in it.

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#35 of 44 Old 01-13-2009, 03:35 PM
 
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I absolutely agree that whether or not one wears hijab, niqab etc defines "how religious" she is, because only God knows her intention behind wearing it, and how she is in other aspects of her life. But i do not want to discount the hijab either.
I agree with this ... there's kind of a fine line that one can too easily fall too far to either side in terms of perspective on the matter ... just as it is easy to say hijab/niqab/whatever is more of a reflection of piety than it is, it is also easy to say it is less of one. While there are cultural traditions, fashion trends, etc, it can not be wholly ignored that for many women such dress IS a pious matter, and IS worn in part as a tangible reminder to act more in accordance with religious guidelines and/or simply in the effort to be more pleasing before god.
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#36 of 44 Old 01-13-2009, 03:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Turkish Kate View Post
Not to belabor the point, which UmmZaynab has already made, but what a woman wears has nothing to do with her religious observance. I've recently started wearing the headscarf again and I am no more observant this week than I was last month. Nothing about me has changed, not my sense of humor (which tends to run to the dry and sarcastic), not my observance of actual religious obligations (which is spotty at best and I freely admit it), nor my political views (which tend to run to the Socialist side, I married a Marxist, what can I say?). The only thing that has changed is that I wear a piece of fabric--sometimes cotton, sometimes silk--on top of my head. Wearing this piece of fabric on my head does not make me better or more observant than the mama who doesn't cover, but does manage to make her five prayers every day (which I am very lax on).

If you think of the headscarf like any other symbol of religion, let's take a cross for example, then it's easier to understand. Is a Christian woman who wears a cross on a necklace more observant than one who doesn't? I remember waaaaaaaay back in the 80s (what I remember of the 80s anyway) when Madonna wore a huge rhinestone cross with her get-up. Does that make her a more observant Christian than someone who doesn't? Is a Jewish woman who wears a wig more observant than one who doesn't?
.
I can't speak about a cross on a Christian woman - because I am not in her shoes. However, to an observant Jewish woman modesty is tantamount. It is inseparable from the rest of the how she lives her life. Just as she keeps kosher, keeps the Sabbath, and guards the rest of the commandments, this to is a part of that. A married Jewish woman who is observant does cover her hair. Women who are less observant may not cover their hair at all. We are told 'modesty is an adornment for life'.
This is not to say that the observant woman is the same as a religious woman. I tend to use those two words differently. Someone could be very religious - speaking to G-d on a regular basis and feel very closely connected to our Creator, but not be observant - not keeping the Sabbath the way we are intended to, not dressing modestly, etc. Conversely, someone could be very observant: dressing modestly, keeping the Sabbath, kosher, etc, but not be religious and not feel connected to G-d at all.
At least to me, in my religion, a woman who covers her hair is more observant than the one who doesn't. (Then there are different levels of how to cover hair...just like in your religion).

Rivka, mommy to 3 big boys and a set of b/g twins
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#37 of 44 Old 01-13-2009, 04:16 PM
 
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I can't speak about a cross on a Christian woman - because I am not in her shoes. However, to an observant Jewish woman modesty is tantamount. It is inseparable from the rest of the how she lives her life. Just as she keeps kosher, keeps the Sabbath, and guards the rest of the commandments, this to is a part of that. A married Jewish woman who is observant does cover her hair. Women who are less observant may not cover their hair at all. We are told 'modesty is an adornment for life'.
This is not to say that the observant woman is the same as a religious woman. I tend to use those two words differently. Someone could be very religious - speaking to G-d on a regular basis and feel very closely connected to our Creator, but not be observant - not keeping the Sabbath the way we are intended to, not dressing modestly, etc. Conversely, someone could be very observant: dressing modestly, keeping the Sabbath, kosher, etc, but not be religious and not feel connected to G-d at all.
At least to me, in my religion, a woman who covers her hair is more observant than the one who doesn't. (Then there are different levels of how to cover hair...just like in your religion).
I absolutely agree with this! And you are right, same applies in our religion. Thanks for sharing that viewpoint! I think it was a great explanation

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#38 of 44 Old 01-13-2009, 04:16 PM
 
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At least to me, in my religion, a woman who covers her hair is more observant than the one who doesn't. (Then there are different levels of how to cover hair...just like in your religion).
The problem is that in Islam there is nowhere that says outright "hair must be covered," let alone "face must be." It is the vast majority's accepted interpretation of the verses dealing with covering (hair, that is), however there is a minority interpretation which disagrees with the current understanding of what the named garments were, what they were being called to cover, what the prophet's explanation of those verses meant, etc. So it can be a question of interpretational differences, not just ones of degrees of observance.
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#39 of 44 Old 01-13-2009, 04:17 PM
 
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The problem is that in Islam there is nowhere that says outright "hair must be covered," let alone "face must be." It is the vast majority's accepted interpretation of the verses dealing with covering (hair, that is), however there is a minority interpretation which disagrees with the current understanding of what the named garments were, what they were being called to cover, what the prophet's explanation of those verses meant, etc. So it can be a question of interpretational differences, not just ones of degrees of observance.
That is a very good point too

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#40 of 44 Old 01-13-2009, 04:54 PM
 
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I hear that - and that is also the case for us - where there are different interpretations of a sentence. HOwever, usually there is one interpretation that is most widely accepted and then followed. Occasionally there are more interpretations that are followed - for example with hair covering: one says that all the hair must be covered, another says all but a tefach (approx. the width of a fist). Therefore there are woomen out there who will let their bangs show or the first bit above where the bangs would be. But again, I think that the women who are most observant would not be the ones with their bangs showing.

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#41 of 44 Old 01-13-2009, 05:18 PM
 
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But again, I think that the women who are most observant would not be the ones with their bangs showing.
Why though? If they are completely observing what they believe the text to entirely mean ... I don't know. It just sort of sounds to me like mixing up being strictly observant with being behaviorally strict. Like severity=observance.
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#42 of 44 Old 01-13-2009, 09:13 PM
 
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Our Orthodox rebbetzin holds with a tefach. There are Lubavitchers in our community who cover their hair completely. I wouldn't say that she is LESS observant than them. Just differently so.

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#43 of 44 Old 01-13-2009, 10:41 PM
 
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Sara, I meant no offense - can you help me describe it better?

Rivka, mommy to 3 big boys and a set of b/g twins
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#44 of 44 Old 01-13-2009, 11:10 PM
 
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Rivka, no offense taken.

I think it's a lot like our Muslim friends have been saying. Especially with Judaism, interpretations are given LOTS of weight. They differ according to community and whose rabbinic authority you subscribe to.

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