Freedom of What to Wear

Hijab — some know what it is exactly, and the others cannot even distinguish it from burqa, khimar or chador. Hijab is a headscarf and burqa is a garment that covers whole body of Muslimah (Muslim woman). In fact, there are many kind of these garments like niqab, burqa, khimar, chador, abaya and so on, but I am going to write about hijab here. Hijab only covers woman’s head while niqab, chador and abaya completely cover their bodies. According to Qur’an, women should cover their bodies except faces and hands in front of other people. You can show your body above chest and below knees in front of your children, other women and relatives. Incidentally, in front of your husband, you can wear whatever — of course Channel No. 5 is no problem. It is said that these garment shows modesty. Moreover, these garments help people to avoid strong sunlight since Arabia peninsula, where Islam was born, has hot and dry climate. Men have garments to protect their bodies from sunlight such as turban in turn.

In France, hijab has been banned in public school because the French government strictly separate religion and politics and hijabs can be related to religion. Furthermore, some people consider them as a symbol of women oppression. However, French Republic Government was established based upon freedom, equality and brotherhood. How about the freedom of wearing clothes? You cannot wear hijab, niqab and so on in public space in France. If the French Government regards wearing hijabs as compulsion, isn’t banning wearing them also compulsion? It seems that they call the situation “equal” in which only Muslimah have no rights of wearing their clothes although most of them voluntarily want to wear hijabs and niqabs. In addition, I think separation of religion and politics can be expanded into education scene. Female students wearing hijabs are made to decide whether they precede religion or education. Moreover, it can be easily related to freedom of religion, however, Jacques Chirac, former president of France, established “Law on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols in schools” in order to get approval rating of the Right Wing and the Centre. It was a decision which was made too easily although it was conspicuous that the law would disturb and confuse Muslims. Last but not least, there seems no brotherhood. There is nothing but hate against Islam caused by antipathy against immigrants from North Africa. I would argue that France should be true to its own original idea.

Ironically, they excluded hijab so that women would not be excluded. I see no point there, excluding hijab means excluding women wearing hijabs, too. The French Government should have educated people to prevent them from misunderstanding Muslimah instead of banning hijab. Even now, it is easily guessed that they know nothing about hijab, the real meaning of wearing it and original status of women in Islam. To my surprise, they continue to believe that women are oppressed in Islam. People saying it tend to mix Islam and culture of a part of tribes. For example, Pakistan is known as low status of women in the world. But this situation is caused by custom of each tribe, not Islam. Concerning Saudi Arabia, many people in the other Islamic countries think they are too strict, and some people also even think they distort Qur’an.

The number of Islamphobic people is too high in Europe and North America. It clearly indicates that ignorance produce misunderstanding. People should rightly appreciate something from other religions and culture, e.g. Japanese whaling is misunderstood by some people from out of Japan as well. Western people, Christians in majority, think domesticated animals like cows, pigs and chickens were created by God to feed people. But in Shintoism and Buddhism, the main religions in Japan, regard animals are equal to humans. Western people think that God did not create whales with intending being eaten by humans. But to Japanese, they are all the same. Japanese people have respected all the animals and even apotheosized and worshiped them. There are many shrines sacred to whales in Taiji, Wakayama prefecture and many other places in Japan while there are many shrines sacred to bulls and cows in Okayama prefecture and other places. Western people think Japanese people waste whales’ lives; however, the reverse is true. Japanese have made use of all whale’s bodies even bones so that we never wasted blessings of the nature. Meanwhile, some Western people tend to think we can kill and eat domesticated animals as many as we want because they are made to be eaten by us. This difference between two perspectives is caused by different sense of value.

Therefore, you should not press your common sense in understanding another culture. Actually, your “common sense” may be not so common from the viewpoint of the other world. Hijab is Muslimah’s choice, not the others’ one. We cannot judge people by only using our own sense of value. After 9.11, everything has changed. “All the Muslims are terrorists,” “jihad is ‘holy war’ to convert people to Islam,” “Islamists try to conquer the world.” It is funny that no one reminded Crusades. They massacred Muslim men, women and children from 11th century to 15th century. And Westerners think only Muslims are terrorists. Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and other religions sometimes require women headscarves for their “modesty,” but only Islamic headscarves “oppress” women.

Some Muslimah do not wear hijab or something. Again, hijab is Muslimah’s choice. Additionally, many Muslimah make up their face, and wear some beautiful jewellery under their hijabs or burqas. They are not oppressed, they absolutely enjoy their fashion. Then what is the freedom, why do they have no rights to wear their beloved clothes? I never agree with anti-hijab, that is, anti-freedom laws. Actually, there are many fashion shows of hijabi women, and they are beautiful enough to express so attractive fashion that they are liked by all.

In conclusion, banning hijabs at public school is extravagance of restraint on freedom. The government should give people selection of what to wear and should not confuse religious customs with tribal customs. Besides, it should educate the nation about culture differences more such as your common sense may not always other people’s common sense.


Thank you for reading until the end. About whaling in Japan, please read another reflections titled “Spirit of Japanese” to get further information. In fact, there are so many things I would like you to know about Japanese whaling, thank you again.

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