Headline: Iranian (or Saudi) women call on Western tourists to violate hijab law to fight against oppression.
Question: What is oppressive about the hijab law?
Answer: It is oppressive because women can’t wear whatever they want. They don’t have the ability to choose.
Q: But is there any country in the world that allows people to wear whatever they want, i.e., unlimited choice?
A: Yes, Western countries of course!
Q: In these Western countries, can a person walk around in public with his genitals exposed?
A: Well no.
Q: So would requiring him to cover himself be oppressive according to your definition of oppression? Wouldn’t this mean that, in these countries, a person can’t always choose?
A: No, because exposing one’s genitals violates principles of decency and civility. It’s very different from exposing one’s hair.
Q: Who decided that exposing one particular area of the body (genitalia) violates decency and civility and exposing another part of the body (hair) is perfectly acceptable?
A: Uh, that’s just what is normal.
Q: Who decided that? What is that based on? Where does such an idea even come from?
Q: Are you not aware of the hundreds of cultures and societies past and present that draw the lines differently, that have different conceptions of nudity, that have different standards of decency, etc.?
Q: Do you have any principled basis to appeal to, to at least try to justify why Western standards should be the default around the world, even in places like Iran or Saudi or Afghanistan or…?
You see, Muslims standards of public dress are based on Divine commands. What we believe should or should not be covered comes from what Allah has commanded, and insofar as we believe in Allah, we follow that guidance and strive to understand the larger cosmic significance and wisdom of those commands. Others might not believe in any of this, but at least Muslims have some reasoning that follows from higher principles.
But the Western standards of dress imposed on all are based on nothing more than cultural norms, and cultural norms have no principled basis. They ultimately boil down to, “This is just what we do,” or “This is what we found our forefathers doing and we just follow them because that’s what is comfortable.” There’s nothing more to it.
Yet, they are so confident and so militant when it comes to their views on dress, views that are ultimately based on nothing. But our views are based on the firmest foundation, yet we easily cave and throw it away for the sake of meaningless cliches about “choice” and “freedom,” cliches that fall apart with the slightest bit of scrutiny.
NB: The above does not constitute “the reason” a Muslimah should wear hijab. It is, rather, the response to a very specific and very common argument made against Islam and Muslim societies, namely that they are oppressive, irrational, and do not respect the freedom of choice.