Naheed Mustafa takes an approach that could prove seminal for the Muslim women keen to avoid falling into the temptation of westernization. Indeed, one captures the contempt Naheed has for the western notions that typically face any foreigner. In her case, the situation is even compounded by a number of complexities. Foremost, she belongs to the Islam religion and also happens to be a woman. Islam has been perceived by the westerners as a frustrating religion whose culture essentially oppresses the womenfolk. In addition, the religion has been associated with terrorism activities. Naheed’s case is even more intriguing for she has been born and raised in Canada. It is, therefore, anticipated that after consuming the western notions of her ethnicity and religion, she would resort to what everyone would have resorted to in the circumstances. That is compliance to western ideals. Far from it, she proves the exact opposite by embracing the hijab. In addition, she finds what most women would rarely find in their clothing. That is, the freedom and independence of mind.
However, without necessarily casting aspersions on the philosophy she advances, one may want to interrogate the merit in her arguments. Foremost, she claims that her body should be her business and no one other than herself should be allowed to control it. This line of thought invokes in one the feeling that the other women who do not wear hijabs let others control their bodies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, common sense dictates that every woman retains the control of her body. Wearing a hijab or not does not necessarily dictate the control of one’s body. One’s control of her body is dictated by the manner in which she carries herself and the activities she engages in. This should be distinguished from what one elects to wear.
However, Naheed’s argument on the societal perception of women has merit. The society often gives more or less credit to women due to their beauty or otherwise. The sexuality of the woman continues to delay her journey towards achieving full equity. It is from this that Naheed suggests in her observation that equity is not attained when women have the right to showcase as much of their body as possible. Far from it, equality should be along the lines of character and the content of their brain.
In addition, Naheed happens to have been the victim of her own actions. She acknowledges that she attempted to do her hair and keep herself beautiful. However, she soon noticed that she had little control of her body and that all she was doing was for society. It is this that she has found relief from by her embrace of the hijab. Indeed, I do agree with this observation. The modern woman’s obsession with her appearance is often not an internal factor. Rather, the competition from the outside, to look beautiful and attractive, is what informs their action. If this is the freedom Naheed refers to, then true the hijab grants the freedom.
However, it should be appreciated that such may not deliver equality. No equality can be achieved between the genders by letting women wear the hijab. In fact, the act of wearing the hijab in itself may be the source of slavery. In that respect, it is this paper’s contention that full freedom for the woman is not attained in the embrace of the hijab as Naheed would have us believe.
Lusted, Marcia. Women’s Roles in Religion. New York: ABDO, 2010.
Mustafa, Naheed. ” My Body Is My Own Business.” Lipschutz, Gary, et al. The Canadian Writer’s Workplace. Ontario: Nelson, 2008. 373-374.
Oxford University Press. Sisters and Saints : Women and American Religion: Women and American Religion. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Scarry, Sandra and John Scarry. The Writer’s Workplace with Readings: Building College Writing Skills. New York: Cengage Learning, 2010.