“And tell the believing women”

 “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands’ fathers, or their sons or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigour, or children who know naught of women’s nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed” The Holy Quran (Al Noor:31)

Only 2 days post Ramadan, it still takes a second or two for me to register that I can now rejoice in a morning cup of tea.  As I make my way to the kitchen I can hear the TV unit blaring the familiar sound of Mehmet Ali Birand, a Turkish anchor man for one of the national TV channels of Turkey. Taking a bite out of some of the bogrek left over from the first day of Eid, my ears perk up as I  hear the hijab ban is making the latest headlines once again.

 I turn my attention to the stove which is conveniently hosting freshly brewed tea.  As I pour my tea; first the brew from the kettle and then the boiling water from the pot (Alaturko style) my mind begins to wonder to a quote I read a few years ago in TIMES magazine.  They had a spread on the various and often conflicting lifestyles of modern day Turkey. The first page had images of Istanbul’s night life scene only to be followed by an interview performed with a Turkish Muslimah who chose to wear the prescribed attire of a Muslim female, aka Hijab. I don’t remember much of the details of the article except one sentence that stood out amongst all the other words she had quoted when probed on the difficulties she faces on wearing the Hijab. She replied “A meter long material I choose to wear on my head has become such a crisis for them but are they heedless in rememberance that they will be shrouded in seven times this length and be returned to their Lord to answer the oppression committed against us”.


Many see the Hijab issue as one of huge polarity given that Turkey is home to approximately 70 million Muslims. However there are many underlying pressures which prohibit the pro Islamic party AKP from reversing the Hijab ban.

Earlier this year while I was in Medina in the Prophet (pbuh) mosque waiting for the muazins call to prayer the sister next to me began speaking to me in Arabic, I responded with my onlyarticulate Arabic sentence “ La Atta-Kalam al-laghah arbiah” which in my own thoughts translates to a dismal “No I am unfortunately unable to speak this eloquent language of Arabic which I desperately want to learn”. Knowing what the next question would be by intuition I told her “ana Turki”. What she did next was something I experienced more than once during my Umrah. She pointed to my Hijab and asked me why? Her dark eyes were inquisitive and her smile slowly faded in the midst of her face acquiring a complexion of huzn (sorrow). Her hand had moved from my Hijab on to my cheek and she repeated her question “why?”. Confidently  she assumed since I have Turkish heritage I will be able to answer her question and make it clear once and for all why the Hijab which was welcomed in every Muslim country pre-eminently  Saudi Arabia was an issue in an akin Muslim country such as Turkey? Why was it a cause of such controversy and hardship?


The language barrier only allowed me one answer and that was to request her to make dua, which she whole heartedly did as she raised her hands towards the sky and begged of our Lord who is As- Samir to allow happiness to come after sorrow for her Turkish sisters she so deeply emphasised for.


Ameen I responded in the universal language of dua while the takbeer of the Azan began to be recited for all of Medina to respond. Ameen the sister replied as I remembered the promise of Rasullulah who assures us the dua of the oppressed is unfailingly answered.






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