What does the Quran really say about a Muslim woman’s hijab? | Samina Ali | TEDxUniversityofNevada

What does the Quran really say about a Muslim woman’s hijab? | Samina Ali | TEDxUniversityofNevada


Reviewer: Peter van de Ven I’m going to take you back
in time, 1400 years, to the city of Medina, Saudi Arabia. To a time when Prophet Mouhammed
was given the task of finding a solution to women in the city
being attacked and molested. The situation was this: It was around the year 600 AD, long before the modern convenience, of plumbing. When a woman awoke
in the middle of the night with the urge to relieve herself, she would have to walk out, past the outskirts of the city,
and into the wild by herself, for privacy. Believe it or not, a group of men actually began
to see an opportunity in women’s nightly tracks, and started to linger
at the outskirts of the city – their identities hidden
in the dark, watching. If a woman walked by, and she happened to be wearing a jilbab, which was a garment like a coat, the men knew to leave her alone. A jilbab of centuries ago
was a status symbol, like a Burberry trench or a Chanel jacket. It announced that the woman was free, and a free woman
was protected by her clan. She would have no problems
speaking out against the attacker and identifying him. But if the woman walking out at night
wasn’t wearing a jilbab, if she happened to be dressed
a bit more freely, then the men knew she was a slave, and they attacked her. Concerned members of the community
brought the situation to the Prophet, and like so many other social,
political, and familial issues that Muhammed faced
during his Prophethood, he turned this particular
matter over to God, and a verse was revealed for the Quran, the Muslim holy book. “O Prophet,” it reads, “tell your wives, your daughters,
and the women of the believers to draw upon themselves their garments. This is better, so that they
not be known and molested.” Basically, the verse advises
that all women dress similarly, so that they can’t be
picked out from one another, zeroed in on, and attacked. Now, on the surface, this may seem like a relatively
easy solution to the problem, but turns out it wasn’t. The early Muslim community was tribal,
and so deeply entrenched in social status, and the idea that a slave
would look like a free woman, that was almost insulting. And then there was
the matter of practicality. How would a slave do her work? How would she function,
if her body was constricted by a coat? How would she cook, clean, fetch water? In the end, the early
Muslim scholars ruled that a woman’s way of dress
should be based on two considerations: a woman’s function in society – her role, what we might consider her job – and the society’s specific customs. Or, in another way: when in Rome. Muslims like to take historical rulings
and apply them to the modern era. So, let’s do that. A woman’s way of dress
should be based on custom and function. So, what does that mean for
a Muslim woman living in America today, for someone like me? First, it means that I have a function,
a role in society, a contribution that I can make. Second, it means that while I’m making that contribution, and living in a society
where veiling is not the custom, and where, in fact, if I veil
it might actually lead to harassment, then wearing what is the custom, such as a dress, a pair of jeans
or even yoga pants, is not only acceptable, it’s recommended. But wait, could that be right? After all, haven’t we all come to assume that a Muslim woman must veil, that veiling is
a requirement of her faith? There is even a term that we’ve all come to associate
with the Muslim woman’s veil, an Arabic term
that we’ve all heard use, whether or not we’ve been aware of it: “Hijab.” So, maybe I missed it. Maybe the requirement that a woman veil
is in a different part of the Quran. For those of you who don’t know,
the Quran consists of 114 chapters, each chapter is written out
in verses, like poetry. There are more
than 6,000 verses in the Quran. Out of the 6,000 plus verses, three refer to how a woman should dress. The first is the verse
I’ve already told you about. The second is a verse that directly
speaks to the Prophet’s wives, asking that they begin to dress
a bit more modestly because of their role,
their function in society as his wives. And the third verse
is similar to the first, in that it was revealed in direct response
to a historical situation. Early records show that the custom, the fashion during the pre-Islamic era, was for women to wear a scarf
on the head, called a khimar, which would be tucked behind the ears
and allowed to flow behind the back. In the front, a woman wore
a tight vest or a bodice, which she left open exposing her breasts – sort of like the images
you’ve seen in Game of Thrones. (Laughter) When Islam spread through
the Arabian Peninsula, a verse was sent down asking
that women use this scarf, or any other garment, to cover the breasts. And that’s it. That’s basically all there is in the Quran
concerning how a woman should dress. Turns out, God doesn’t give a bullet point
of all the parts on a woman’s body that he wants hidden from view. And in fact, it might be argued,
and it is argued, I cannot stress enough that it is argued
by many Muslim scholars that the reason these verses
were left intentionally vague is so that a woman could choose
for herself how to dress according to her specific culture and the progression of time. And that the term “hijab,” guess what? It’s not in any of these three verses. In fact, it’s nowhere in the Quran,
directly meaning a woman’s veil. That’s not to say that the word
doesn’t appear in the Quran because it does appear. But when it appears,
it’s actually used correctly, to mean a barrier or a divide. Such as the barrier or divide that exists
between us humans and the divine, or between believers and non-believers. Or it means a barrier,
like a physical screen, that men during Muhammad’s time
were asked to stand behind when speaking to his wives. Or it means the seclusion,
the separation that Mary sought when she was giving birth to Jesus. That separation and seclusion, that means hijab; that physical screen, that means hijab; that barrier, that divide, that means hijab. Hijab doesn’t mean a woman’s veil. And yet, isn’t it strange
that what the term actually means, being screened off, divided away,
barred, separated out, these are the very terms
that come to our minds when we think of a Muslim woman? Why shouldn’t they? We have all seen the way some Muslim women
are treated around the world: if she attempts to go to school, she’s shot in the head; if she attempts to drive a car, she’s jailed; if she attempts to take part in the political uprisings
happening in her own country, to be heard, to be counted, she is publicly assaulted. Forget about hiding out in the dark
at the outskirts of the city, some men now feel comfortable enough
to assault a woman on the sidewalk, for the world to see. And they don’t care
to hide their identities, they’re more interested
in making international headlines. They’re too busy making videos
and uploading them onto YouTube, bragging about what they’ve done. Why don’t they care
to hide their crimes? They don’t feel like
they’ve committed any crimes. It’s the women
who’ve committed the crimes. It’s the women who got
these funny ideas in their heads, ideas that actually
led them out of the house, led them into society, believing that they
can make a contribution, and we all know, honorable women, they stay at home; honorable women stay invisible. Just as it was the custom
for honorable women to do during the Prophet’s time. Is that true? 1400 years ago is long before feminism. Were women locked away
behind doors, screened off by veils? Well, it turns out
that the Prophet’s first wife was what we would define today as a CEO. She was a successful merchant whose caravan equaled the caravans
of all the other traders put together. She essentially headed up
a successful import-export company. When she hired Muhammed to work for her, she was so taken with his honesty that eventually she proposed. (Laughter) I’m not sure how many women
feel comfortable proposing marriage to a man today. And Muhammad’s second wife? She was no slacker either. She rode into battle
on the back of a camel, which is equivalent to a woman
riding into battle today inside of a Humvee or a tank. And what of the other women? Early records show that women
demanded to be included in the Islamic revolution
taking place around the Prophet. One woman became famous as a general when she led her army of men
into battle and crushed a rebellion. Men and women freely associated
with one another, exchanged gifts. It was custom for a woman
to select her own husband and propose. And when things didn’t work out, to initiate divorce. Women even loudly debated
with the Prophet himself. Seems to me that if fundamentalists want to return
current Muslim society to 680 AD, it might be a huge step forward. (Laughter) Progress. (Applause) But we still have to answer
an important question. If not from Islamic history,
and if not from the Quran, how is it that we, in the modern era, have come to associate
Muslim women with hijab? With being separated out from society, secluded and isolated, barred from the most basic human rights? I hope it’s not any surprise to you
that this isn’t by accident. For the past few decades, the very people
who have been given the important task of reading and interpreting the Quran in a variety of different
Muslim communities, certain clerics have been
inserting a certain meaning into those three verses concerning women. For instance that verse
I told you about earlier: “O Prophet, tell your wives,
your daughters, and the women of the believers
to draw upon themselves their garments, this is better, so that they
not be known and molested.” Some clerics, not all, some clerics have added a few words to that, so that in certain
translations of the Quran, that verse reads like this: “O Prophet, tell your wives,
your daughters, and the women of the believers,
to draw upon themselves their garments, parentheses, a garment is a veil that covers the entire head and the face, the neck and the breast
all the way down to the ankles and all the way to the wrists. Everything on a woman’s body
is covered except for one eye because she must see where she is headed, and the hands must be covered in gloves. Because, of course, there was certainly a lot of gloves
back in the desert of Saudi Arabia. (Laughter) Etc., etc., etc., etc.,
on, and on, and on, end of parentheses, so that she not be known and molested.” And what these so-called clerics have concluded based
on these types of insertions is that a woman only has one function. To understand what that function is, all you have to do is read
some of the fatwas or legal rulings that these so-called clerics
have actually gone ahead and issued. Let me give you a sampling. A woman need only finish elementary school before she gets married. Which puts her, what,
at the ripe old age of 11, 12 years old? A woman cannot fulfill
her spiritual obligations to God until she first fulfills
her physical obligations to her husband. If he desires her while she sits
on the mount of a camel, she should submit. Islam has forbidden a woman
from wearing a bra because bras lift up
and make a woman appear younger, and this is calculated deception. My personal favorite: if a man has an ulcer excreting puss, from the top of his head
to the bottom of his feet, and she licked it for him, she would still not fulfill
what she owes him. What these and the many other rulings
just like it concerning women boil down to is this: The best of women,
the most honorable among them is uneducated, and so powerless, not very different from a slave. So, she remains at home
without complaint, without a bra. (Laughter) Ready and available at all times
to satisfy his every whim, even if it’s to lick his entire body; satisfying him whenever he calls, whether it’s in his bed
or on the mount of a camel. Does this sound like God’s will to you? Does this sound like scripture? Or does this sound strangely,
uncomfortably erotic, like the worst kind of misogynist fantasy? Are these so-called clerics, and the fundamentalists
and extremists who support them, truly purifying Islam from within, bringing it back to its intended form? Or are these men
no different from those men standing out in the dark
at the outskirts of the city, eager to prey upon a woman? Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “What does the Quran really say about a Muslim woman’s hijab? | Samina Ali | TEDxUniversityofNevada

  1. تغسير من كيسك الايه الي فيها كلام واضح عن الحجاب ولاداعي ان يذكر امر الحجاب خمسين مره كي نتحجب فنحن لسنا بحمير او حيوانات نحن بشر نفهم ولو ذكرت مره واحده المهم انها ذكرت ايه الحجاب وانتي لاتفهمين في لغه القران وفي سبب النزول كله من كيسك

  2. Just to give you another point of view: it is true that there are traces of men in history who tried to give more power to themselves and used women for it. But the hijab is not (the only) part of it. To believe that one talk from a woman you probably barely know about and who isn't either a historian nor a theologian is 100% accurate and is the only truth, is the same thing 'fundamentalists', 'extremists' and so on do. They just try to listen to stuff that makes them validate their existing opinions. If you really want to have an opinion on the hijab, I recommend to listen to people inside the 'pro Hijab' community, too.
    I don't think that women wearing a hijab for over 1400 years (freely choosing to do so) and taking harassments etc. into account is something that happened out of nothing – as Mrs Ali tries to put it.

    (P.S. getting harassed is – by the way – not the problem of a 'hijabi', but rather the one who gets offended by it — so no reason to not wear the hijab in Western society…)

  3. the clerics of Islam sound much like the early christian writers and how they rewrote passages and interpret same as opposed to what Jesus actually taught…

  4. And Muhammad also said the majority of people in the hellfire would be women. He also angered his wives when he impregnated Maria the Copt. He also married his adopted son’s wife. Stop this ridiculous propaganda! He was NOT some advocate for women’s rights!

  5. She is correct on most of it. She also made some false statements, disrespectfully, Don't know why.
    However
    Hijab is not a Muslims thing, Way long ago its first a Hindustani Thing. Royal Hindu and Maharaja's families always Covered. Most Women Cover in Hindustan and Hindustan's are Not Arabs or Middle Eastern. Initial Hindustan (Pakistan India Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka) However today Hindu converted Muslims new generation refuse to call them self Hindustani's But that does not change the Fact. Hence India kept the entitlement of Hindustan. Hindu Women Cover in many parts of India still today.

  6. Speaking about hijab and Quran would be more arguable if you would have put this points infront of scholars and not the random people who dont know anytbing about the Quran or Hijab

  7. That was powerful, inspiring and clarifying. Thank you Samina for sharing your knowledge in such a strong speech.

  8. It's not that deep. It's up to the woman according to the Quran. It's literally in the Bible too. I was interested in Christianity so I picked up the bible and read it like any other book. Look at the authentic scriptures to learn about the authentic religion. Nonetheless, excellent job sister. The Quran is not a book of do's and dont's or else it will be endless. The first word revealed from Allah upon the Prophet Muhamad Peace Be Upon Him was "Iqra" which is Arabic for "Read." (:

  9. The Quran is the words of God and not Mohammed's discoveries or thoughts. I found this talk offensive rather than informative.

  10. Wow! Everyone should see and hear her and the video! She is so intelligent and did her research, about her own believes. She should be proud about herself! One of the gratest woman in the world.

  11. No woman should be forced to wear hijab we should tell them respectfully and lovingly but if they don't we have no right to force them even though it is an obligation in Islam we men need to protect ourselves and lower our gaze

  12. A woman looking and dressed like that is going to teach people about islam and represent islam to the whole world ? I think not.

  13. The fact that she thinks a god spoke to mohammed via an angel puts her in the supernatural nonsense spouting brigade.

  14. Why doesn't she give this talk dressed like that to the judiciaries in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan or Iran or the sheiks, mullahs and (cough ahem) "scholars " at Al Azhar university. Tell THEM how they have got islam all wrong. No point telling us.

  15. In the Quran it explicitly says that two women are equal to one man, husband is allowed to beat his wife, women should cover themselves, can't leave home without their husbands, and can't stare at any men, except their husbands, brothers, father and sons. So prove me wrong. And I will provide you with all the evidence from authentic Quran which you could verify. Let's see???

  16. The 23years of prophet muhammad teaching of the Quran an PBUH was denied in lessthan 18 munite Auzubillahi minalshaidani rajim.

  17. Let's cut this arrgue in the comments😃
    let me give u a new point of view…hejab covers the hair cuz the hair is one of the beauty sides of women💜so covering it keep people generly and men specialy looking at your caracter not your pretty hair😃
    this is the main reason to cover it and just ask any shekih about hejab he would tell u its basic😅
    l mean:we should take religoun from people who spent their life studing this book..not someone who needs to.say hejab is not there to get the gilt off them💜😃
    and here is an advice:don't listen to a woman talking about hejab that dosen't even cover her body"no arrgue about that"..muslims should wear wide cloth and that is the opposite of what she's wearing😃
    (İf u support my opinion plz like and replay)💚

  18. HONORABLE WOMEN PROTECT THEMSELVES, WITH A PISTOL IF NECESSARY…HONORABLE WOMEN DO NOT REQUIRE SCARVES TO BE CONSIDERED DECENT.

  19. Ok then …stay object to the socity if thats pleases you …just speak for ur self cuz socity telling u how to wear cloths while muslim woman choose the hijab freely unlike u forced to be object to the public

  20. God, all knowing, wiser than anything and all powerfull , meaning he can do anything , would have understood the problem and fixed it at the cause ie he would have made the minds of men more respectful and less entitled. Someone like Mohammed on the other hand might have advised that women should cover their bodies. So, where do you think the words in the Koran came from? A Mysoginistic man, or God?

  21. I would have suggested getting a sewer system installed or at least the use of chamber pots, but then I am not as smart as the voice in Mohammeds head . I would also have given Mohammed an allegory to use regarding the education and correction of the mens ideas ie just because the baker makes delicious and beautiful cakes and sweets and lays them all out on a table, that doesnt give you the right to steal them. If you want a cake , you have to have the consent of the shopkeeper.

  22. But, implementation is different , Islam has changed forever and now only prophet can
    reverse the goodness she spread.

  23. Haha it's so funny how the "left" are so accepting and welcoming to the muslaimic faith/tradition yet the whole culture and belief is actually based on treating women like dogs (denying education, forced marriage at an age as young as 11, mutallating women who do not obey).

  24. In China, there are currently thirty million people learning to play the piano. There are more pianos sold there than anywhere else in the world. I would guess that of that 30 million, about half are female. Clearly, the Chinese would argue that there is pleasure and much consolation to be derived from playing a musical instrument – as well as from listening to such classical music that many talented musicians in China perform.
    It's also the stuff that we take for granted when we watch modern movies at the cinema. A lot of countries in Asia on the Pacific Rim have tried to emulate the achievements of the West in the arts (and the entertainments, too). With China's population, and its drive, great talent in the field of music has been and will surely continue to be found. But perhaps original expression in an artistic field can only be fully realised today in Western societies where people can say they have (their) freedom.
    People can harp on and on about head coverings and what they signify and what they don't – but in the world of Islam, can there ever be open to all, rich and poor, the possibility of artistic expression? That would give poor Muslims an opening such that millions of Asians, for example, in the Western Pacific have gained? A possibility to dream?

  25. Wow I always had a feeling that the hijab was too specific as JUST a scarf. I sometimes said it was just modest dress code but people don’t listen that often

  26. It is no problem (for others) she doesn't want to wear hijab. It is a small matter (for others) she makes up excuses for it. What is really wrong and sinful about her speech is that besides for not wanting to follow Allah she is trying purposefully to lead others away from Him.

  27. She presents her case well, but unfortunately that doesn't stop countries from jailing women who don't wear a hijab. I wish they could have the freedom to make their own choices and the religious rules enforced by government would stop suppressing them!

  28. Is exactly that I understand about hijab, when you learn and have more information you can understand well everything. Is important learn about history.God bless you. Thank you for this video. So interesting.

  29. This woman said Muhammad had a task of protecting women from being molested? Lol he was the one doing the molesting!!! How do they allow liars on this show??

  30. Wear what you girls want to wear? Define awrah then
    ..
    10:40 perplexed by the audience laughing on true event, the speaker aims to recognize power resides around woman of Islam back in those days yet their immediate response is like 'she must be joking'

  31. now I dont know what this women's intention was, but it's hard to believe if she's really a "Muslim"
    first of fall, she assumes that the verses are vague, as if those THREE verses are the only source of information about the hijab.
    and second, whenever she says the Prophet's name, she doesn't continue with "Salallahu Aalaiwasallam" or at least "Peace be upon him"

    Yep, I'm not convinced if she's a a Muslim

  32. Wearing yoga pants brings on the wrath of women, too. They just don't say it because their husbands are enjoying it.

  33. "Oh Prophet..tell your wives…" . This is mentioned AFTER the main verse of how to dress. She deliberately does not mention that.

  34. Of course, if our lives are in danger because of dress, we must actually return to a muslim country ,not to dress like others . If that's impossible than we can tie our hair and wear loose clothing, not yoga pants.

  35. Whatever happens to Muslim women, they will get paradise just for believing and striving . This women in pink will not, most likely.

  36. For a nonmuslim to speak on this is shameful . That whole talk does not even mention the main verse on how to cover up. She is helping those sexist clerics.

  37. I would like to point out that we, as Muslims, do not prevent our women from learning and participating in the various activities of society. On the contrary, our women have equal rights as men.

  38. She brings many arguments to the topic which in my opinion are not associated to the main topic. First Quran can't and wouldn't be changed since prophet Mohammad peace be upon himtime and if she find a resource trying to explain something based on his knowledge, that doesn't mean he or she is making a change inside the Quran, but explaining things to specially to non-arabic speaker. this is well known and commonly called "tafseer" تفسير . Quran is written in Arabic and to truly understand it, you would have to learn advance Arabic Language. The phrases she brought up at the end of her talk didn't have any reference to them and I tried to look them up and I couldn't. I wish she has referenced everything she talks about in more professional way. Now, the word in discussion is Hijab, which is truly not in Quran, the word in Quran in Jilbab جلباب which more covering when compared to Hijab. You could google the word Jilbab جلباب and you could see how it looks like. After all of that, Islam knowledge comes not only from Quran, but from Hadith, which is prophet mohammad peace be uopn him words, guidness, and actions reported by his companiond.

  39. If I’m not mistaken their prophet Muhammad had a third wife that he married when she was just like a child or am I wrong?

  40. Religion just does not make any sense to me? i mean who wrote these religious text books? no one really knows. Jewish , Catholic ,Protestant ,Muslim Quran the list goes on. I cant just read a book written hundreds of years ago and believe in any off it. To me that's the bigger question. not trying to work out if woman should wear head dress or not.

  41. To all those who are muslims and still accepting her claims as true, I would only say that please go and read the Quran by yourself. Please do not believe in anything you are told about the Quran without complete translation and references. Make sure you only believe in what you have read by yourself.

  42. The reason she was able to elaborate her point of view about Hijab is only because she did not tell the correct and complete translation.
    Actually the verses she was mentioning are too long and crystal clear about the matter of Hijab for the women of all times.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *