October 20, 2006

The Sexual Politics of the new Islamic dress code

The other night I was watching the satellite TV channel "Iqra" . An Islamic channel .
Here comes a program run by a young sheikh , "modern" looking and quite paternalistic like most of them are . His topic was the Islamic dress . It was not whether women should or should not wear it , it was how they should wear it . So he invited two women dressed the "Islamic" way , loose garment , head scarf , no make up . And the pannel consisted of four young men and these two young women . So the topic was ,believe it or not , what kind of Islamic dress is really Islamic and what is not .
So our young sheikh urges young muslim women to not only dress Islamically but to also make sure that their garments are very loose , very wide , very long so as not to show any of their bodies contours .
He was arguing that some women who dress the Islamic way were not Islamic enough because our young sheikh along with his male guests could still perceive a few contours despite it all. And consequently their perceiving some bodily shadowy forms would create a "fitna "in them. An upsurge of chaotic lust. He added that these young women were naturally responsible for controlling men's lust since they, the men. were unable to do so . So he was basically saying , your Islamic dress has to be very Islamic . Do not content yourself with a headscarf and some long tunique . No go further ; wear loose garments , something very wide , so us males , would not be disturbed by the shape of your bodies . One of the very Islamically dressed young woman said :"Well, we are doing that , but our husbands still look at other women who are not veiled or dressed the same way as we are . Don't you think that men should make a little effort too ?. "The sheikh was most displeased. Here he was (indirectly) pleading in public about his (and men's) uncontrollable lust and there she was asking him to control it .

I thought to myself , is this real ? Am I dreaming here or is this really taking place ?

Why is it incumbent upon us , muslim women to protect men ? Why is the burden of upholding morality and virtue be placed only on our shoulders , and sometimes at the price of our own sexuality ? Why should we be controlled that way when the men cannot control themselves ?
And if we have such great powers at our command just by virtue of us being sexual creatures of the Feminine , should we then not have the rights that go with this power ?
And if men are so weak in the sexual area and so easily swayed by the sight of an ankle or a bit of hair or the view of some diffused body contour , and if we women have to go to such great length to protect men from their own selves , would it not be simpler and more Islamic for the men to stay at home and cover their eyes and faces ? Makes you wonder does it not ?