Sabina left a comment with some questions on my post “The Veil: A Critique” that I decided to answer in a separate post so as to preserve the conversation of Islam as a religion vs. the west as a society on that particular post. In other words, go ahead and bait here 😉
This is Sabina’s comment translated:
I have a few questions which I’d like for you to answer, if you believe they are (?).
I haven’t yet decided if I will wear hijab or not. At the moment I’m leaning towards the idea that I will, but your posts sound convincing and I respect women who have after searching and reasoning decided that hijab is not their religious obligation. Still, something is not clear to me. If you do not wear hijab, do you wear it when you pray. If you don’t wear it at home when you pray, do you wear it when you go to the mosque? If you don’t wear it when you go to the mosque, how do you feel?
If you want, answer in English, I simply didn’t feel like translating this 🙂 .
Yes, I do wear a scarf when I pray, even at home. However, the reason I wear a scarf during prayer is purely out of tradition and ritual, od mali nogu (since little feet) so to speak. I think without a scarf I would feel out of my element and would be distracted from prayers but that’s not to say that if I had to that I wouldn’t get over it.
As far as wearing one in the mosque, I guess that really depends on which mosque it is. Here in the US we have mosques which have separate areas for praying and separate areas for social events – in these types of mosques often I won’t wear a scarf but do find myself wearing one out of respect for a community’s traditions and rituals on occassion and quite honestly .. sometimes, sometimes I enjoy wearing a scarf but on most occasions by the end of the event I’ll find myself feeling suffocated by the way it is drawn under my chin, itchy, tugging at my hair somewhere and feeling awkwardly hot.
In Bosnia, where mosques are usually one big prayer area – I would put my scarf on before walking into the mosque. Again, this is out of ritual traditions and not based on any research that I have done.
Yes, I know of one hadith that states that a woman’s prayers are not heard without her scarf. The hadith is not from the Sahih collection and I know that many of the hadiths from the collection it is derived from are questionable. I’m not a scholar but I can not with any reasoning skills nor any personal experiences come to accept this hadith as the truth.
First off, if such is the case then woman is not created as an equal but yet as an imperfection that is only complete once it covers its hair. No longer is the woman the god-fearing, devoted servant of Allah but rather it is this piece of cloth that makes her so.
Second, if it is stated over and over again in the Quran that men and women are created equal but most importantly equal believers then the addition of a scarf no longer makes her an equal believer before Allah and I can’t accept that god would create an imperfection. The thought that god would need to not only strive but not achieve instead of absolutely create is unimaginable to me.
Third, if her prayers are only heard while her hair is covered that would mean that not only would women have to cover their hair during prayers and while they are out of their homes (for which different reasons are given for covering the hair) that would mean that she would have to cover her hair at all times, in her home and during sleep as no plea nor dua would be heard by Allah. As a mother, as a woman who has found herself in different situations making duas and pleas for herself, for her hurt child, for her loved ones I’d like to think that those pleas and duas were heard and answered. Am I so suseptible to a piece of cloth that the absence of one at any given time would have to place my safety, my children’s safety, my loved ones safety into the hands of a capable male who then possesses additional favors from Allah?
There are many things that we do that come from Hadiths, that we know how to do through the actions of our beloved Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) and his sunnah that we know we must do through the Quran but that are not explained in the Quran. Wudu (the ritual ablution) and every prayer and its rakas are the best examples. I don’t find myself questioning every aspect of everything that we do and in all honesty there are traditions, cultural practices that I enjoy that some may find to be a form of shirk. For example, Hamdi and I were discussing Bosnian traditions on a thread at Umar Lee’s site. I argue that many Bosnian cultural traditions are claimed to be ‘unIslamic’ and that certain groups would erase those traditions altogether. There are points that Hamdi and I do agree on such as gatanje (fortune telling) and I for one am guilty of knowing how to read how the beans have fallen, decipher the coffee grains, analyze the cards that have been drawn and ughhhh I’ve got some pretty freaky ouija board stories (zvanje duha) but those things were a favorite childhood pastime of so many Bosnian teens and while it was all out of fun and none of it taken seriously on my part .. I do understand where the problem lies with those actions .. they are putting trust into something other than Allah.
However, when it comes to Ajvatovci – a centuries back Imam making 40 day prayers for water upon a droughted population and a rock splitting in two and providing that water upon the completion of his prayers Mystic Saint has a better explanation here – a now celebrated occasion by Bosnian Muslims. I do not see that as shirk. Some may argue that we as humans have made a saint out of a man but that’s not the way I see it nor is it the way that Bosnians see it. It is Allah’s mercy that is celebrated. It is a day that celebrates the power of prayer and devotion to Allah, a day that motivates people to renew their faith in Allah, that inspires them to prayer.
So, I do cherish traditions and understand that those traditions can draw us closer to Allah. I also understand that traditions can be unIslamic, against Islam’s very nature so I do find myself questioning things when they seem contrary to everything Islam stands for in my heart. I ask myself a few questions – am I hurting myself, is this practice worship of something other than Allah, is my following this tradition assisting in hurting others.
When it comes down to it, wearing the scarf outside of home doesn’t hurt me. I see it as obeying the commands of other than Allah’s absolute commands and I see it as assisting in the hurting of others. The latter is a complex argument that maybe I will get into in another post at another time.
Up until now, I’ve always thought that wearing the scarf during prayer and in mosque, neither hurt me nor anyone else nor did it assist in hurting another but, Sabina, your questions and Hamdi’s arguments in regards to shirk have me wondering. Am I actually hurting others with my acceptance of a tradition that may have no basis in Islam? Is this practice actually a form of shirk? Are we passing off powers to an inate object, this piece of material?
So, to conclude, while I am wearing it now during my prayers and in the mosque – I now have to find the basis for why as I’m no longer confident that I’m not hurting anyone else with this practice.
Links, people, links! I need links, references to books, scholars, articles emailed to me .. go ahead drive me crazy with info and arguments and discussion (just forgive me if I’m not commenting here – I still do read all of the comments through email.)