By Absolute truth
By Laura El Alam (a wife and mother of five in Southern California. She is a writer for London-based SISTERS Magazine andAboutislam and was previously a columnist for InFocus News. She embraced Islam in 2000.)
“Creators should have nothing to do with Islamic fashion,” asserted Pierre Bergé, co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent in an interview with radio station Europe 1. “Designers are there to make women more beautiful, to give them their freedom, not to collaborate with this dictatorship which imposes this abominable thing by which we hide women and make them live a hidden life.”
The “abominable thing” Bergé is referring to — modest Islamic women’s clothing — has recently been appropriated by major designers including DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, and Marks & Spencer. Fashion brands are gradually recognizing that they have a lucrative, untapped market in Muslim consumers and are producing clothes to satisfy that profitable niche. From full-body swimsuits and ankle-length dresses to abâyas and headscarves, the fashion world is starting to incorporate loose and modest garments that are a major departure from the typical sexy runway fashions. But not everyone is happy about it.
In her April 14, 2016 article “What Freedom Looks Like” for the New York Times, author Vanessa Friedman explores the backlash that is coming from some people in France’s fashion industry and government. Referring to Pierre Bergé, Friedman writes, “He … implied that the designers were exploiting a misogynist system that, for financial gain, forces women to hide their bodies.”
Laurence Rossignol, the French minister for women’s rights, jumped into the fashion fray. In an interview with BFTV, she likened modest clothing to a prison: “What’s at stake is social control over women’s bodies,” she said in an interview on the French news network. “When brands invest in this Islamic garment market, they are shirking their responsibilities and are promoting women’s bodies being locked up.”
Rossignol then infamously compared Muslim women to “negroes” who supported slavery, causing a global uproar and accusations of racism. She later recanted that particular part of her statement.
Reading the statements of these two French public figures, I am torn between derision and disgust. On one hand, I wonder how they cannot see the irony of their statements. Bergé laments a “misogynist system that, for financial gain, forces women to hide their bodies,” but apparently fails to see any problem with a high-profit fashion industry that has, for centuries, persuaded women to reveal their bodies in order to serve as sex objects, sell clothes, and entice the male gaze. When Rossignol decries “social control over women’s bodies,” doesn’t she see how women’s bodies have been controlled in various ways throughout Western history? Isn’t banning the headscarf in French schools an example of “social control?” Isn’t requiring all swimmers in French pools to wear tiny, tight, and extremely revealing swimsuits another example?
On the other hand, I am disgusted with Bergé’s and Rossignol’s depressing and incorrect depiction of Muslim women. The image they are associating with a Muslim woman is of an uneducated, voiceless, oppressed person who has no say in her wardrobe or her life choices. Haven’t they observed the countless Muslim women doctors, professors, engineers, intellectuals, businesswomen, and highly educated and talented women who choose to cover? Don’t they see the millions of empowered Muslim women around the world who have the “freedom” to uncover in their country of residence if they wish, and yet often willingly embrace a modest wardrobe?
Unlike Bergé and Rossignol, I view all women as intelligent beings with free will and intellect. I do not think they are so easily duped or forced into dressing or acting certain ways. Even when the runway models are waif thin and wearing extremely revealing clothing, Western non-Muslim women can still choose to dress however they wish. I would not, as Bergé does, define them as “forced” to do things. And although the fashion industry has been criticized widely for creating and perpetuating unrealistic ideals of beauty, I still would not describe Western women as being “locked up” by the shackles of fashion. They have a choice and a mind, should they choose to use them.
What about Muslim women? Do we have any choice in our clothing? Are we, as Rossignol said, “consenting slaves”? Are our long dresses, tunics, and abayas truly a prison for us? Do we need to be liberated by the likes of Bergé and Rossignol?
First, if the opponents of Islamic clothing bothered to ask Muslim women their opinion, they would learn something that might surprise them: the vast majority of Muslim women who dress modestly do it willingly and for one reason: to please their Creator.
“Yes, but what if their husband or father or government is forcing them to cover?” someone is bound to argue. To that question I would reply, “A Muslim woman’s duty to cover is mandated by her Creator. Regardless of what others in her life might do or say, dressing modestly is an act of obedience to Allah. Some women might indeed be exploited or mistreated by individuals or governments, but any oppression of women is un-Islamic.”
Besides, do people seriously think that non-Muslim women are free from oppression, coercion, and control? What about uniforms that require women to show their legs, arms, and chests to look appealing for customers? What about egotistical husbands who want their wives to look like “arm candy” at all times? What about mothers who constantly pressure their daughters to lose weight, wear makeup, and squeeze into the latest styles so that they can find a husband, thrive socially, or be a “credit” to their parents? Aren’t these females victims, too?”
So let’s look at a realistic view of Muslim women. Of course, there are some Muslimahs who choose not to cover at all, and their freedom of choice is obvious. The majority of Muslim women who do dress modestly do so with their eyes wide open. Their goals are the noblest ones possible: To please their Creator and to earn Paradise. By covering their bodies, they are eschewing public opinion, pop culture, and a superficial understanding of beauty. They are refusing to exhibit their attractiveness or to sell their bodies. Their faith tells them that their worth is not based on their outward appearance, but on their character and morals. Their inner beauty (the most important one) is apparent in their actions and manners, and their outward beauty is revealed on their own terms, only to those who can be entrusted with it. That is empowerment, not prison.
Bergé and Rossignol would like to cast themselves as super heroes whose noble task is to liberate the poor Muslim women who are living what Bergé calls “a hidden life.” What, I would ask them, is wrong with a hidden life? Should everything be made public? Aren’t there certain things that even French people would like to keep private? Why should women’s bodies and beauty be expected to be on display for other’s enjoyment? Are men entitled to that? If, theoretically, all women started dressing modestly, who, exactly, would find that disappointing? Is this whole issue really about women’s feelings and empowerment, or about men’s insistence on keeping them half undressed?
If a woman chooses to cover her own body in compliance with her faith, isn’t that her right, her freedom?
It comes down to a matter of semantics, in a way. What some people call an “abominable thing,” others call “modesty.” What some call “locked up” others call “liberated.” Even the very first word of Bergé’s quote proves that he has a completely different mindset from a Muslim. He uses the term “creators” to describe designers like himself. It is their duty, asserts Bergé, to “make women more beautiful and to give them their freedom.” What a lofty goal for mere mortals with a flair for design!
Muslims, of course, have a completely different definition of “Creator.” We live our life to please the One Creator, Allah, and our beauty and freedom are gifts from Him and contingent upon Him. No miniskirt or makeup can make us beautiful if we are rotten on the inside. No politicians or fashionistas can free us if our hearts are slaves to a false god. Therein lies the crux of the matter and why Bergé and Rossegnol will never see why our freedom and our power are in the very garments they abhor.
The west has commonly drawn a stereotype image of Muslim women clad from head to toe in a black veil and abaya. They are deemed as voiceless, meek figures that do not have any rights or the power to stand up for what they believe in. On the contrary, there is no religion other than Islam which gives women such an exalted position, her true rights and complete respect. As a matter of fact, the first woman of Islam, Hazrat Khadjia (RA) was a business woman herself and the most beloved wife of Holy Prophet (PBUH) in whose life, he never married anyone else. Some rights of women prescribed by Holy Prophet (PBUH) over 1400 years ago are as follows:
Read More Info: Women in Islam
In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most merciful.
'Salam, brothers and sisters. I have a (somewhat) important question. This might probably seem a bit foolish to ask, but it's been nagging me in the back of my mind. A few days ago, I was browsing around and i came to a Facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Say-NO-to-Football-Football-is-Haram-in-Islam/144140479011054. The page states that football is Haram in Islam, and it's description states the reasons:
"10 reason why Football is haraam
the world cup is haraam for many reasons. but since 10 is an important and serious number; id give you ten reasons. they are:
1. men displaying their awrah (hedhun laigen oriyaamun, as our beloved mullahs would/should put it). behaving in ways which can provoke sexual desires of women and gay men. immodesty.
... 2. supporting kafir nations like the evil america and portugese!?! this is unacceptable. imitating the kuffaar is common during worldcups. wearing their jerseys, flags and copying their hairstyles. then there are the vuvuzelas. obviously it is not really a 'musical' instrument, but it is part of south african kafir culture and made in kafir communist china!
3. people watching football even when it is prayer time. just like music is haraam for being an 'idle waste of time'. a friend told me there were only two rows in their neighbourgood Masjid when the game was on. i told him even those few people could problyy be the hardcore supporters of some team praying for victory.
4. too much female skin. there are the football fan chicks and cheerleading gals - flashing once in a while. yeah, this is the only time you get to see a naked boob on maldivian national television. and therez the waka waka song. it is straight from hell. what moves. what the shakira! masha Allah! i mean, naoozbillah.
5. people waste a lot of money buying TVs,sound systems (to 'listen' to worldcup yeah), setting up screens, decorating rooms,buying airtel dish (which is also haraam for showing christian channels),buying a lot of food,buying calendars, books,stickers...etc. such waste of money are always haraam.
6. media and some local companies have started betting on these games in the name of sms lucky draw quiz. more haraam activities.
7. people stay late to watch football. its a cause for being late for work, and sometimes causes you to miss dhamunamaadhu and fajr prayer. and staying up late for such an evil activity and missing prayers because of that is totally unacceptable. it is leading you astray. haraam again.
8. mixing of men and women at the football stadium and places (public screens and even rooms) where people watch the matches. we can hear women laughing and screaming too.calling out names of football players. astaghfirullah.
9. the world cup is sponsored by greedy kafir capitalist corporations who probably have connections with the freemasons and all. you are helping them. boycott worldcup and boycott cocacola too.
10. it does not follow the saudi fatwa on rules for halal football."
Now, I was in between vaguely amused and mildly confused by these statements, so I decided to share this with you. Additionally, this page is a small one and hasn't been active since 2012, but nevertheless, does this hold a shred of truth? I'm a huge football fan and would love some feedback. Thanks in advance.
“WOMEN ARE COMPLICATED”
or so they say...
The number one most complicated matter in regards to women is the Fiqh of Women.
But it doesn’t have to be.
In a step towards empowering Muslim women and uncomplicating matters surrounding them, AlMaghrib Institute is introducing a well-deserved and long-awaited seminar dedicated to the Muslim Woman.
COMPLICATED? A-Z of Women’s Modern Fiqh
Taught by none other than AlMaghrib’s Vice President,
SHAYKH WALEED BASYOUNI
A SINGLE-WEEKEND-DEGREE SEMINAR
What the course content will cover:
1. Public speaking
2. Socialization and interaction with the community
3. Niqaab and Hijaab
4. Beautification and modesty (hayaa)
5. Character and etiquette
6. Menstruation and purification
7. Leading in Salaah and making the Adhaan
8. Following the Janazah and visiting the graves
9. Zakah and Sadaqah
10. Polygamy, marriage and divorce
11. And many more…
Why should a man take this class?
1. Content is related in the MODERN context
2. Key to understanding women and appreciating what they face
3. Handle Fiqh issues in an Islamic and wise way
4. Gain the complete view as a student of knowledge
University of Westminster
Little Titchfield Street Campus
Little Titchfield Street
London W1W 7BY
January 31st, February 1st & 2nd 2014
ENROLL NOW: www.almaghrib.org/london
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/almaghriblondon
Follow on Instagram: qabeelatalshams
Headscarved women new targets of anti-Islam groups
23 June 2013 /EMRE DEMİR, PARIS
Headscarved Muslim women are increasingly becoming targets of persons with Islamophobic sentiments in France, with the number of racist attacks against them rising dramatically in the last two months, according to observers in the country.
Several of the attacks on headscarved women covered by the media in the last two months took place in Argenteuil, a suburb in northwestern Paris. The representatives of Muslim organizations in France are deeply concerned that these incidents are linked.
They highlight that new extreme right-wing organizations in France such as Bloc Identitaire and Riposte Laique are gaining in popularity among young people by carrying out anti-Islamic attacks. Evaluating the recent attacks targeting Muslim headscarved women in France to Sunday’s Zaman, Raphael Liogier -- an academic from the faculty of political science at the University of Provence, Aix-Marseille I -- said Islamophobia has been replaced by paranoia.
Liogier, the author of “The Islamization Myth,” said: “We can no longer talk about Islamophobia. If we were in a situation of phobia, it would not lead to acting out but just to rejection. Therefore, we cannot define these incidents as the results of a phobia, but paranoia. In the case of a phobia, you can be in rejection or fear. However, we observe more aggressive actions against ‘the other’ in these incidents. Such incidents were not the case before 2003 or 2004.”
Stating that this anti-Muslim paranoia has intensified since 2003 when US troops invaded Iraq, Liogier said: “There were no theses claiming that Muslim people had a plan to impose their cultures on French society, or that Muslims were conducting colonialism in reverse in France before 2003. The physical attacks that veiled women have recently been exposed to are not considered by some Islamophobic authors to be the result of phobia,” but a legitimate self-defense movement against the aggression of Muslims.”
Noting that the extremist marginal groups such as Bloc Identitaire and Riposte Laique conducting recent racist attacks against veiled women in France cannot be explained with leftist or rightist ideologies, Liogier said: “Such actions have not originated from rightist or leftist ideas. They are fomenting the idea that Europe’s identity is being shattered. These groups gathered around the myth that France is being Islamicized. The rightist groups use religious and national values such as those represented by Joan of Arc to create the perception of a threat, while leftists use freedom of expression and gender equality. Such ideas can sometimes be influential on a wide range of French political parties with various political ideologies.”
French Muslims critical of government’s indifference
Critical of the lack of interest that the French government and media have shown for the racist attacks targeting veiled women in the last two months, Samy Debah -- president of the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) -- told Sunday’s Zaman that it is very embarrassing that French politicians remained silent in the face of the attacks. He added: “What is Interior Minister Manuel Valls waiting for to react against the attacks or release a statement condemning the attacks? The French government should take necessary precautions for such racist attacks against Muslims as soon as possible. According to the CCIF’s annual report released in 2012, headscarved women are targeted in 87 percent of racist attacks that Muslims are exposed to in France.”
Amar Lafsar, president of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF), a national body with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, told Sunday’s Zaman that Muslims living in France say they live in fear. “We know France is not an Islamophobic country. However, the Muslims victimized by racists should regularly inform French public officials about the attacks they experience.”
Abdallah Zekri, president of the Paris-Based Anti-Islamophobia Observatory, told Sunday’s Zaman that the number of racist attacks that Muslims experience in France has risen by 42 percent over the past year. Noting that a recent ban on burqa-like Islamic veils and discussions over halal meat in France played a great part in the widespread trend of racist attacks against veiled Muslim women in the country, Zekri commented: “The fact that politicians have recently increased the frequency of their provocative remarks, in which they show Muslims as targets, have also led the extremist rightist groups to intensify their attacks against the Muslims in France.”
The French ban on wearing a burqa in public was enacted in April 2011. Under the terms of the legislation, anyone wearing the headdress in public will face a 150 euro fine or be forced to take lessons in French citizenship. The act drew harsh reactions and led to debates in France when it was first adopted.
Some recent attacks targeting veiled women in France
The latest attack against a veiled woman in France took place on June 13 in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil. A pregnant Muslim woman, Leila O., was physically attacked by two men and was seriously injured. The 21-year-old, who was four months pregnant, suffered a miscarriage. The attackers first tried taking her headscarf off and later cut her hair and tore part of her clothing. After she screamed out that she was pregnant, one of the attackers started kicking her in the stomach.
A 33-year-old Turkish headscarved woman was physically assaulted by a motorcyclist while walking on the street in the French city of Reims on June 9.
A woman of North African origin was physically attacked by a man with her 1-year-old baby in Beziers on May 24. The woman was injured in the attack.
Again on May 24, Jean-Claude Boistard -- the mayor of Montsoult, a suburb in northern Paris – refused to allow a woman to enter the municipal building since she was wearing a veil. Boistard defended himself by stating that because the municipal building is a public place, no one can enter the building with religious symbols.
A 17-year-old Muslim girl, Rabia, was accosted by two persons in the street in Argenteuil on May 20. The assailants tore her veil off and assaulted her. Regarding the incident, Rabia told Le Parisien that the assailants were yelling “Dirty Arab” and “Dirty Muslim” at her.
Two men physically assaulted a 21-year-old Muslim woman in Argenteuil on May 1 and ripped her veil off. The French police raided the home of a suspected assailant who was allegedly preparing to stage an armed attack on Muslims on June 19 in Argenteuil.