The Hijab has Nothing To Do with Modesty


Robert Spencer has replied at great length and depth to Robert P. George of First Things and Michael Potemra of the National Review here, but I just want to zero in on one issue.

George writes, “I admire Muslim women and all women who practice the virtue of modesty, whether they choose to cover their hair or not. There are many ways to honor modesty and practices vary culturally in perfectly legitimate ways.”

Unfortunately he is operating under a misapprehension. The Hijab and the Burka and variations of mandatory female coverings have nothing to do with modesty.

The Koranic verse that mandates covering states, “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks all over their bodies that they may thus be distinguished and not molested” (Koran 33:59)

That’s not modesty. The covering is being worn to avoid rape.

The key words here are “distinguished and not molested”. Whom are these women being distinguished from? Women who don’t cover up and can be molested. One Koranic commentator explicitly makes that very point as I discuss in Muslim Rape Culture.

This isn’t modesty. It’s repression and fear. As Robert Spencer points out, the Hijab is accompanied by repression.

Aqsa Parvez’s Muslim father choked her to death with her hijab after she refused to wear it. Amina Muse Ali was a Christian woman in Somalia whom Muslims murdered because she wasn’t wearing a hijab. Forty women were murdered in Iraq in 2007 for not wearing the hijab.

There’s an endless list of similar cases. Robert P. George might want to examine the religious freedom he is really defending.

A survey conducted in France in May 2003 found that 77 percent of girls wearing the hijab said they did so because of physical threats from Islamist groups.

We can’t dismiss a number that large as the work of a handful of extremists. And this isn’t taking place in some Third World country. It’s happening in France.

More often the girls were under orders from their fathers and uncles and brothers, and even their male classmates. For the boys, transforming a bluejeaned teen-age sister into a docile and observant “Muslim” virgin was a rite de passage into authority, the fast track to becoming a man, and more important, a Muslim man…. it was also a license for violence.

Girls who did not conform were excoriated, or chased, or beaten by fanatical young men meting out “Islamic justice.” Sometimes the girls were gang-raped. In 2002, an unveiled Muslim girl in the cite of Vitry-sur-Seine was burned alive by a boy she turned down.

Jane Kramer, Taking the Veil, New Yorker

This isn’t modesty. It has nothing in common with modesty in the Jewish and Christian traditions which is about individual character.

Islamist activists and settlers in the West have learned how to phrase their arguments to tap into the worldviews and moral codes of indigenous cultures, but it would be a mistake to confuse the argument with the reality.

The Hijab and the Burka are not voluntary and they have nothing to do with modesty. The various Islamic coverings are motivated by fear, shame and abuse.

  • Esser Agaroth

    Interesting. Nice differentiation, too.

  • Softly Bob

    The narcissist Mohammed became so suspicious of men who came into his tent to ask his advice, especially when he caught them ogling his wives.
    Out of his own sense of insecurity and jealousy, he ordered his wives to cover themselves up and then conveniently received a revelation from Allah that made it the right thing to do.
    This is where all Islamic law comes from. It comes from Mohammed’s own neuroses, perversions and character flaws.

    • james

      Actually bob hijabs and covering of woman were in Arabia long before islam. The barbaric Arabian tribes had to cover their women in fear of rival tribes taking their women.

      • A Z

        Interesting the above post was your 1st comment.

        • camp7

          informative article – thanks.

      • Softly Bob

        The tradition was already there, but Mohammed expanded on it greatly, to his advantage.

      • Spectre7075

        There was no Arabia before Islam!!!!

        • gray_man

          Actually, Arabia is hundreds of years older than islam. Islam just corrupted it, like anything else islam touches.

  • Sarah

    Re the photo above: Another blue-eyed Muslim convert that found her ideal mate?

    • Softly Bob

      One blue eye, the other one black /purple

  • Mullah Lodabullah

    The false prophet having multiple wives and daughters suggests lechery more than modesty.

  • NetStoopid

    The picture is photoshopped that’s why she has blue eyes.

    • gray_man

      Nonsense, muslim men pay a high price for blue-eyed women.
      And, of course, blue-eyed women (as well has non-blue women) pay a high price for marrying a muslim man.

      • NetStoopid

        That may be true but the photo is still photoshopped. It’s really not a big issue is it? It’s just there to illustrate the point of the article.

        • gray_man

          No, it is not a big issue that the photo was photoshopped.
          However, my comment is still true.

          • NetStoopid

            I will agree with you.

  • John Munro

    I guess acting like a man and not an animal is not accepted.

  • John Munro

    teaching woman to to protect them selves from morons should be an accepted practice

  • Babe

    In Islamic republic of Iran, women with loose Hijab are compared to public bus, everyone is allowed to ride!
    As opposed to those women who completely cover up, which are compared to a personal vehicle, which only the owner is allowed to drive!
    Seriously, just ask me to send you public posters for promoting Hijab from Iran!

    There is nothing quite as degrading and pathetic towards women as these religious ideologies created by sad mentally ill men!

    • Chavi

      It would be good to publicise these posters, if you can. Preferably with precise translation. If you start a blog or website, please let us know.

  • Spectre7075

    To hell with them!!! Let them all go back to Arabia, or wherever they came from, and live in the stone ages!!!!!

  • Esser Agaroth

    This post has been included in this week’s edition of Haveil Havalim!

    Please visit, comment, and share!

  • Jessica Harrison

    That photo is photo shoped and you have reworded that verse form the Koran

    This article is utterly rubbish and if you’re reading this I wouldn’t give it any credibility

    • gray_man

      You have no credibility to give.

      • Jessica Harrison

        The article has no credibility. What I am saying is all versions of that passage to not match the one used in this article

    • gray_man


      Sahih International

      O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.

  • Lohit

    And this started in our country to prevent our families from getting slaughtered by the descendants of the Prophet to capture the woman and rape as many times as possible.
    Seems apple does not falls far from the tree.

  •!/Stealingsugar stealingsugar

    Muslim men need to learn to keep it in their pants, that’s the problem.