IN ARTISTIC EXPRESSION
The former British diplomat, the late Hasan le Gai Eaton رحمه الله said,
. . . that while Muslims will sagely nod in agreement when you state the ignorance, hypocrisy and fanaticism do exist in the Muslim world, they usually assume that they themselves are not guilty.
A music video is a visual artistic rendition of an artist’s words.
Yet, the following three videos by Muslim singers/rappers depict covered (I use the term loosely) Muslim women by revealing a deeply misconstrued image in terms of dress code and demeanour, under the fallacy of artistic expression.
I will not be sharing the artists’ names and song titles because they are not germane to the theme. The focus is not on the songs or personalities. It is their mutual misconception about the hijâb.
#1: A PROVOCATIVE STANCE
I had the displeasure of watching a video by an Arab singer showing women fully attired in white with their eyes exposed dancing somewhat provocatively.
For Muslim viewers, you would think the spectacle would anger many.
There was not a peep from Muslims, a blatant case of double standards, now a norm. If a non-Muslim produced such a video, add to it, a “Westerner”, a riot might have ensued.
Ponder that for a moment.
#2: SENSUALISING MODESTY
In 2012, I came across a programme on Aljazeera English interviewing an activist and rapper on social injustices.
Although most of what he said was relevant, it struck me as odd how he described fully covered women who appear in his music video dancing,
. . . make the statement that women in this situation are extremely powerful, extremely grateful, extremely beautiful, extremely sensual . . .
A rather peculiar word to describe fully covered Muslim women.
Is this the way Muslim women can appear powerful, grateful and beautiful?
#3: SIMPLY COOL
The hip image of Muslim women seems to be the craze as seen in a music video where three young women in headscarves were grooving to the beat.
This is coming from a European group renowned for its unique and eclectic imprint in the music industry, whose 2005 album highlighted numerous crucial issues, one being the Muslim identity.
For the sake of clarity, a headscarf is a piece of cloth covering the head that may or may not include the hair (fully), neck and/or chest region and worn for fashionable, cultural, traditional or religious purposes. The young women in the video were donning headscarves, which is not to be mistaken for the hijâb as they were not practising it let alone upholding it.
JUXTAPOSING VIDEOS AND PRACTISES
A paradox at best: a Muslim woman cannot reveal her body but drawing attention to it by dressing inappropriately and dancing is acceptable.
Her hair is covered, what is the harm?
Hijâb has been disrespectfully and arrogantly reduced to hair covering – and with some, not even fully.
In one hand, we defend what the hijâb signifies, and in the other, do not uphold it; and we cannot, when majority of us do not even know what it means and what it entails or even care enough to find out.
Inadvertently, or not, these videos distort the image of fully covered Muslim women.
And sadly, it is only going to get (disgracefully) worse as time ticks on – not just with music videos.
These artists – and those similar – are in the public eye and, to some, are role models and representatives of the message they portray.
I ask: do we expect non-Muslims to respect the hijâb when we Muslims do not? What do the many already ignorant about it, not counting numerous Muslims, draw from such videos?
Videos of this nature are just as much to blame in warping the veiled woman’s image.
As a side note, it will be interesting to know if any of the Muslim musicians and the likes prayed Istikhâra Prayer for THE ULTIMATE GUIDANCE by asking for it from ALLÂH ﷻ, for ALL decision-making, before EVERY deed, in ALL areas of life, even before deciding to become musicians, sharing lyrics and albums, or making music videos – especially those who claim they are spreading the message of Islâm via songs. Even more so, when considering how much time, energy, effort and money goes into producing them, and their role in the ummah.
DILEMMA IN IDENTITY
The first music video is by a Muslim from the Arab Peninsula whose country claims to uphold “Islamic” ways; the second, two out of the three members are “Western” Muslims whose ethnicities are from Muslim-populated countries; and the third, an American who embraced Islâm. Although the artists’ backgrounds are different, their concept of the hijâb is not.
It appears for Muslims to express themselves artistically, and to fit in by swaying to the standards others dictate, relinquishing certain practises is necessary, thus shedding the Muslim identity, supposedly to adjust with the “new” times.
As a Muslim woman upholding the hijâb, these videos are insulting on two levels: to be depicted as sensual and – it inflames every fibre of my being – to see how far we have deviated and twisted the meaning of hijâb to correspond with our lifestyles.
I loathe how we Muslims are selectively choosing how to interpret the hijâb, just so we justify our deeds.
What we are doing instead is embarrassingly disclosing our ignorance and disrespect of the Arabic language, The Holy Qur’ân and Aĥadeeth, with our actions – and lack of.
There is a fundamental – and gross – misunderstanding concerning the hijâb.
Silence here makes us connivers.
We Muslims seem complacent with the mistreatment of the hijâb and condone it because we are the ones responsible for it.
Wrong deeds by Muslims should ire us before those of non-Muslims; otherwise, we are purely hypocrites dissembling as Muslims.
I am a British and “Western” Muslim. I was born and bred in the UK, so I know the never-ending struggles “Western” Muslims face, be they personal or social. I was in London when the 7/7 bombing occurred, and I know first-hand what it is like to be mistreated physically and verbally, and to be refused service(s).
It is part of our test.
I also know though how much our upbringing, surroundings and experiences shape our identities, clarify our resilience and define our character.
However we decide to express ourselves, it is not to be at the detriment of our beliefs as Muslims.
The CHOICE is ours to make.
If one part of our identity we are to uphold with utmost sacredness, it is meant to be as a Muslim. Doing so will solidify who we are, and we will be walking examples rather than “talking ones”.
Let our artistic expressions be what will please ALLÂH ﷻ and be our means of reward until our last breath and after we return to HIM ﷻ.
Let it be one mean of waqf: a reflective, conscious, conscientious and beneficial charitable deed and applied knowledge, with clearly defined intention, solely for ALLÂH ﷻ.
Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri رضي الله عنه narrated The Prophet ﷺ said,
‘You will certainly follow the ways of those who came before you hand span by hand span, cubit by cubit, to the extent that if they entered the hole of a uromastyx [spiny-tailed lizard], you will enter it too.’ We said, ‘O Messenger of Allâh, do you mean the Jews and Christians?’ He said, ‘Who else?’
A Veiled Chick’s Outbursts comprise writings of a more personal nature about my experiences or issues that exasperate me be it something I heard, read, watched, witnessed or observed. It is my way of letting off some steam, my incensed breathings.
It seems mankind never gets it quite right. But I can appreciate that at the very least you let it go in a positive light without causing harm to anyone.
First time I started to wear hijab I was 18 and that was because everyone else around me wore it, I did that for “one day only” lelasef and couldn’t continue. Second and last time was four years after the first time, I was older and I felt ready as it is a commitment to God and I was prepared and actually happy to take that move, I’m one of those who believe it is fard (obligation) but at one time I couldn’t fulfill that fard and it was a burden but when I was ready I did Alhamdillah.
Still, I’m struggling between how I dress to match my hijab and my commitment to Allah and still be “happy” with how I look when I go out. However, we have majority of women and young girls wearing hijab but I think if we raise a question like ‘why do you wear it?’ Or ‘what hijab represents to you?’ We will find lots of “interesting” answers.
Thanks Rabab for the article.
As-Salâmu ‘Alaykum Lovely Shaimaa,
The biggest (and laziest) mistake Muslims continuously make is associating the hijâb with the headscarf/head piece – which is one of the reasons why it’s not being upheld. The first fundamental, foundational and crucial element to understanding what the hijâb actually means is to understand what it entails.
Jazâki Allâhu Khairan for your honest comment Shaimaa.
Alaykum El-Salam Rabab,
You are completely right, it is upholding hijab.