Wednesday, 23 August 2017
The Hijab is a Recent Phenomenon
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The first photograph is our previous mufti, Habib Syed Esa Semait with his wife. And on the right, are some of the people from Kampung Radin Mas, including many of our religious luminaries and community leaders.
Until the 1950 and 1960s, the majority of the women did not wear the hijab. They included the wives of our scholars, and women who were recognised asatidzah themselves. In the 1950s, the United States experienced an economic boom brought about by the Baby Boomer generation and society changed and became more open and less conservative. American fashion began to sweep the world, and this as the era that gave us the bikini, named after Bikini Atoll, where atomic and hydrogen bomb tests were held. Al-Azhar changed the fatwa on the hijab then to what we are familiar with now in response to this. They panicked.
In the 1970s, Saudi Arabia became a major player in the oil market and a major voice in the cartel, OPEC. This is the beginning of Wahhabi “da’wah” and the corruption of the ummah. This was also the decade of the Iranian Revolution and Islamism as a political philosophy proliferated. The hijab is less about modesty as it is the symbol of Muslim political pushback against the West.
Suddenly, we had people coming back from the University of Madina all covered up; the Malay selendang was no longer enough. And when their parents asked them about it, these children told them they knew Islam better than their parents, better than the generations of the Muslims and scholars who came before. And this is where we are now in Singapore. The hijab is a political symbol and a fashion accessory. It is not a barometer of piety or religious adherence.