Unfortunately, everything Muslims today say and write about hijab is polluted with distortions and misconceptions that occlude the meaning, purpose, and significance of the veil. The responses to Asra Nomani’s dumb essay made me shake my head almost as much as the Nomani essay itself.
The stark reality is the hijab cannot be defended by feminism. The hijab has nothing to do with “women’s liberation” or “women’s choice” or “women’s empowerment” or “objectification,” or any of these modern philosophical concepts that are not only external to the Islamic worldview but were historically defined in opposition to the Islamic worldview as a means to attack it. (To read more about that history, check out Joseph Massad’s Islam in Liberalism.)
See, when someone like Nomani says we should reject orthodox Islam because orthodox Islam is not compatible with feminism, our response should NOT be some strained attempt to show how Islam is indeed feminist and all Muslims are feminists and the Quran is feminist, etc., etc., ad nauseam. Our response ought to be to ask, why should anyone care about feminism? followed by a thorough intellectual critique of feminism, showing what a base, destructive, inconsistent, and incoherent philosophy it really is and how, despite its claim to further the interests of women, it actually undermines those interests and has done immeasurable damage to the female condition and the human condition in our times. That would be a principled response… but it would be politically incorrect, I guess, so never mind. Wouldn’t want to offend anyone.