Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Freedom to Go Topless

The Freedom to Go Topless I remembered reading this a few years ago and found it again. It says the hijab is a relatively recent addition to Islam, not something they've been required to wear forever.

Perhaps it is worth recalling at this point that radical Islam's obsession with women's hair is a new phenomenon. Mussa Sadr, an Iranian mullah who won the leadership of the Shiite community in Lebanon, invented this form of hijab in the early 1970s. The first neo-hijabs appeared in Iran in 1977 as a symbol of Islamist opposition to the Shah.

By 1979 when the mullahs seized power the number of women wearing it had multiplied by the thousands, recalling sequences from Hitchcock's thriller "The Birds."

In 1981, Abol-Hassan Bani-Sadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic, announced that scientific research had shown that women's hair emitted rays that drove men insane. To protect the public, the new regime passed special legislation in 1982 making the new form of hijab mandatory for all females aged above six, regardless of religious faith. Violating the hijab code is punishable by 100 lashes of the cane and six months imprisonment.

So by the mid-1980s a form of hijab never seen in Islam before the 1970s had become standard headgear for millions of Muslim women all over the world, including Europe and North America. Many younger Muslims women, especially Western converts, were duped into believing that the neo-hijab was an essential part of the Islamic faith.

Muslim women, like women in all societies, had covered their head with a variety of gears over the centuries. These had such names as rusari, ruband, chaqchur, maqne'a, and picheh among others. All had tribal, ethnic and generally folkloric origins and were never specifically associated with religion. In Senegal, Muslim women wore a colorful headgear but went topless.

Muslim women anywhere in the world could easily check the fraudulent nature of the neo-Islamist hijab by leafing through their own family albums. They will not find the picture of a single female ancestor of theirs who wore the cursed headgear now imposed upon them as an absolute "must" of Islam.

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