What is Oppressive About Iranian/Saudi Hijab Requirements?

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?

A: Uh…

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.?

A: Uh…

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…?

A: Uh…

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.

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What always comes to my mind regarding issues like these is that you cannot force people to follow certain Sharia laws. Yes, the constitution of a Muslim country should be based on Sharia, however when it comes to personal issues on should have the agency to choose. I’m sorry if my point is religiously invalid, but every other person quotes that ayah of the Quran which says let there be no compulsion in religion.
Also, I do not have words to thank you for launching this platform. I hope you make it more interactive. It is actually mentally exhausting to convince yourself that Islam is practical, perfect etc (especially being a woman) when you’re faced with new questions every now and then. That is when you realize how easy it is to slip and simply decide not to follow religion. And to be very honest we do not have access to scholars to be able to clear our misconceptions and get answers. May Allah puts lots of barakah in your work and bless you always. Thanks a lot.

The Muslim Theist

Okay so should someone have the “personal choice” and agency to walk around stark naked in public, with kids around?

Who is defining what is a “personal choice” and what infringes on the public domain? How you dress and express in public certainly seems to be within the public domain.


Whether or not personal rulings should be enforced by an Islamic government is irrelevant here. A person wears clothing for the purpose of displaying him/herself to other people. Therefore, by definition, clothing is a societal affair that everyone bears the burden/benefit from, not just one person. The analogy for this is marriage: Homosexual marriage cannot be tolerated in an Islamic society because marriage, in so many ways, is an institution founded on social interactions, and is not restricted to personal dispensations.


The ayah you quoted applies to Non-Muslims. You need to check its sabab for nuzul and how the salaf and scholars understood it. Letting people do whatever they want to in their homes is what every person is free of but when you bring that in public, even the basic things like pooping becomes haram when somebody does in front of everybody. As hijab is mandated by the Shariah, the obligatory rulings must be abided by and enforced in public.

The Muslim Theist

“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.”

I disagree. If you look at what their forefathers were doing, they were dressing significantly more modestly and actually looked more like Muslims (see Victorian England, or babooshka’s of Eastern Europe).

Their dress is the expression of an ideology – the ideology of sexual liberation and hedonism. Indulge in your cardinal desires and get stuck in the hedonic treadmill. That is the true way to “pursue happiness.”

That is why they are so disturbed with they see people not doing this. The very existence of modest, Muslim women challenges their foundational beliefs about how they should orient their life and their entire being. “You mean hedonism is not the way to happiness? How dare you! Now I must either destroy you, ridicule you, belittle you, or else rethink my entire life purpose.”

This is also why they are trying to force their way of life (deen) upon others. But I do agree with you, that on the slightest of examinations the idea of hedonism (which is essentially what “freedom” amounts to) falls apart. The firmest foundations are those that stem from our Beloved Creator, tabaraaka wa ta’aalah.

Ahmed Rouas

Covering face and wearing glooves ( with black colours in both priestly dictator regimes in Saudi monarchy and war criminal regime in Iran) have absolutely nothing to do with Islam..but have everything to do with brduin customs and retroactive traditions. No where in the Qur’an do we find this blind fanaticism toward women. The Irony though is that many of the misled Muslims out there condemn ISIS’s understanding and interpretation of Islam however, they are strongly adherent to the same interpretation that they hold about “Hijab”.
When will these misled brothers and sisters realize that ISIS is a direct product of the same blind hardline and fanatical understanding of Islam.
When shall they realize that most reverts are victims of one-sided monomial view of Fiqh..which was heavily financed by Saudi regime for a long time..Shiekh Souhaib Webb spoke about this tragedy.

Abdaal Ahmad

Have some humbleness you ignorant disgrace covering the face has been the way of the wives of the prophet and every believing women as told in the Quran insurah Ahzab, sahaba like Abdullah bin Umar RA and IBn Abbas who were on of the most knowledgable in the Quran also hold the same view, Imam Malik,Shafi,Ahmad All hold the view of face covering, what would an ignorant internet warrior like you know about the religious rulings? Why is the worlds biggest fashion industtry that of make up if the face isnt awra??

Kavuma Muhammad Abasi

Bro I think you are spewing more ignorance than you would like to come off as knowledgeable. Have you even read 24:31, 33:53 or 33:59. Or you are you are just regurgitating the common verbal diarrhoea excreted by liberals and others.

Shame upon you. You need to do better than that.


>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

I’m sorry, but any tradition that is practiced solely because it is a tradition is inherently evil and should be abolished. Any practice of your ancestors that does not have a real tangible benefit or justification is wrong by default.

My biggest concerns with the hijab are twofold. First that it is compulsory for a specific set of people. Male muslims have no such restrictions. There are no rules in place limiting men from exposing, say, their arm muscles or strong jawlines. Are not muslim men constantly tempting women to think lustful thoughts and anger Allah? Rules must be applied fairly and without prejudice or they stop being rules and start being oppression.

Secondly, the justifications I hear muslim men making for why women must remain covered. One of the most common is that if women are allowed to go around uncovered, men will be unable to stop themselves from raping them. That shows a weakness of the muslim male, not the female. If you need clothing to restrict muslim men from sinning and violating the most basic laws, then muslim men should be required to wear straitjackets at all times when in public. I would further argue that any man incapable of restraining himself in the presence of an uncovered or barely covered woman is not truly a man at all, but rather an unclean beast with no place in reasonable society. If they do not respect women as people, regardless of covering, they themselves are not people.


“One of the most common [reasons given for hijab by Muslims] is that if women are allowed to go around uncovered, men will be unable to stop themselves from raping them.”

I truly believe that the above is a nonsense and strawman. I personally, in my life, have never heard any Muslim man or woman say such a thing. The most simple reason for the hijab is that it is a commandment from God and His Messenger.

You said that if rules are not enforced uniformly on both genders, then it is oppression. Why then, as a man, am I forced to cover up MORE than women in western secular society? If I go to an office job interview in shorts or with my chest hair showing, I will not get the job. If my sister goes to the same job interview in a mini-skirt or a low-top, she will get brownie points for dressing down. Do you acknowledge that this is oppression in the West?

Men and women are different, this is why there are different clothing regulations for them in every society, including western secular society. This is why there is a “men’s clothing” section and a “women’s clothing” section in every department store in the West. As far as the parts of the body that need covering, western secular society has just got that backwards. Islam recognizes that commercial billboards will not use my (male) legs and chest to sell Coca Cola, cars, or travel websites; they will use female legs and chest and hair. So Islam turns the whole covering thing upside down. Instead of men needing to cover more and women needing to expose more, it turns it upside down.


Oh, more logical fallacies.
Daniel, you cannot use the analogy above to equate two things that are marginally different than similar.
While both deal with wear/covering, the analogy does not fit because the difference is fundamental. Let me explain:

1-The right not to have the choice of following/not a religion or any aspect of it is a HUMAN RIGHTS issue.
Nevermind the fact that the quran itself repeatedly preaches that to each himself as we will be judged individually.
2-The right to expose your genitals is NOT a basic human rights issue.

Who drew the line? Who decided what is a basic human right/not?
Pretty much the whole world unanimously.
Everyone with a working moral compass should easily tell the difference.
Still not convinced? Ask a human rights lawyer.

While I proudly am a practicing muslim that wears the hijab, I do not think anyone should be forced on it because it’s not my business. That person will be judged by God for her choice and I will be judged for mine.

So please….your analogy does not work and you commit a logical fallacy in the process.


All you did was switch out “culture” for “human rights” What are these rights? Where do they come from? Who makes them? Who decides which rights exist and which do not?

Why is not exposing your genitals a basic issue? Who decides these basic issues?

The whole world unanimously agreed? No they didn’t, the Islamic world certainly didn’t, neither did many African tribal cultures who do walk around with their genitals and butts exposed.

Nobody should be forced? Why? Should people be forced to follow the law? Or cover their genitals?

These ideas are not based on the laws of Allah, rather it is based on feelings and they change when those feelings change. Who knows maybe one day in Western society a man will be able to walk around naked with an erect penis and wave it around in public, and people like you will defend that and demand Muslim nations not force him to wear clothes.


Allahu Akbar.

the subjective conjecture of post enlightenment philosophy really did one on the ummah! we have no idea that the language and ideas we express are saturated by it. May our “moral compass” be based upon the Quran and the sunnah as taught by the Prophet peace be upon him and his companions, and not “most people”.

“And if you obey most of those in the earth, they will mislead you from the way of God. They follow but assumption” :116


So why DO you wear the hijab? You don’t believe there’s a utility to it? That Allah just commands you to do it without any practical purpose?
The modesty of men and women in dress and behaviour is of concern to the public sphere. The way we interact with each other, and appear in front of each other, directly affects the morality of the society as a whole, be it men or women. It’s not just a personal choice then is it?


If the basic human rights are decided by the “whole world” as you said, why is it changing.day by day? A basic need eg “to wear whatever you want” in public was not even there 60/70 years ago. Even in the so called “human rights decider” USA or Europe. Women were not allowed to wear dresses which would expose their knees and all…
and it was stricter before….
How come such basic needs suddenly change time to time?

Muslim Skeptic jr

Why are you uttering your intellectual vomit as if you have got some sort of legitimacy?
Certainly false! What is a human? Where did the human rights came from? According to this logic following satan ism and going around abusing Allah swt is human right.or having sex with dead chicken because human feels the need is also human right .

Muslim Skeptic jr

Why should anyone even follow a moral compass because morality will be a social construct then and masturbating in public would be perfectly fine because why should a human follow a moral code ?why not practice his choice of masturbating?

2)” right to expose expose genitals is not a human right issue” why ? Because humanity has agreed ? How do you know? Why should a law be forced on a person if he feels good about exposing his genitals ?why can’t other people take their eyes down ?

Kashmiri monotheist

“I am a muslim women and hijab shouldn’t be forced”
being muslim in an islamic state means accepting authority of Allah swt and if accept ing or rejecting something is a choice then for every choice there is a consequence.Islamic state means “land of Allah SWT and rule of Allah swt” by accepting that you already accept the Consequences of not abiding by the law…..hijab is forced on muslim women in the same way islamic law forces men to give up zina and Alcohol….


What choice is there for someone who SUPPOSEDLY surrendered his will?
We aren’t FREE nor LIBERATED, Our only choice was made in surrendering & submitting to our Lord & creator. This article raises the question:
Are they really SLAVES of Allah? or are they picking & choosing? Perhaps only pretending to be Muslims?
Where they FORCED to embrace Islam?
Anyhow SLAVERY to Allah can Only be entered by willingly submitting & Loving Him by DOING the tasks we were commanded to !!!

Haydar Nu'maan

This is exactly the argument that I had figured. We should question every single thing the west tries to assert as a normal standard.

Mohammad Talha Ansari

Consider the following hypothetical scenario:
Woman dies after being questioned by police over improper tax filing.
Protests erupt all over the world, women start burning tax documents, refuse to pay any kind of taxes and rage against the very idea of taxation. Western Liliths (10 extra points if you understand that reference. Hint: search this same website) join the protests by burning their own tax documents and demand a ban on compulsory taxes.