I spent most of my life in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Syria until a few years ago. Now, living in the West, I am stunned with all misconceptions and misleading information about Islam. It seems to me that this stems from a large propaganda campaign coming from various platforms ranging from the dominant liberal media to Western Muslim scholars who have never lived in an Islamic country, but only read books published in the West. Liberals are brainwashed to view the West as the victimizers and the Muslims as the victims.
While covering all the misconceptions would require hundreds of books, I am going to only address the truth about the hijab in this article and the fallacies that are taught to ordinary people in the West about veiling, Muslim women, and the idea of victimhood.
(I have covered other truths and aspects of Islam in my memoir, Allah: A God Who Hates Women.)
Two of my own sisters have gone through the phases of wearing the hijab. I believe that the repression and domination of women in the Muslim world begins with the dress code -- wearing a scarf, or hijab; wearing wide garments, chador; and hiding the body. In other words, the religion of Islam provides the language for men to dominate women by Sharia law, which takes possession of a women’s body from the moment a girl is born.
On the surface, a wide garment, scarf, or hijab looks like a piece of cloth. But, in fact, the dominating power of this piece of cloth is extraordinary. The idea is that once I can control your body, and once I can confine your body, I basically own you.
I believe and personally witnessed that wearing a scarf and wearing a wide garment, do not have anything to do with divine religious rules, as some ignorant imams or Muslims attempt to promote. Hijab is the first crucial step to possess a woman and make her follower of Islam.
I argue that the process of enforcing the hijab on women and making it feel natural to them is carried out through several institutional and psychological steps.
The First Phase: Indoctrination
The first phase is indoctrinating the idea of hiding one's hair and body in the mind of a woman. The process of indoctrination begins from the moment a baby girl is born.
One concrete example is my sisters. They were forced to wear the hijab at the age of 8 in the schools of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Syria. So even before girls reach the age that they can make decisions, before they know right from wrong, they are indoctrinated to hide their body. From age 3 or 4, they are repeatedly told about the “nice” things that will happen to them when they wear their hijab, and how they will be a good girl and be treated as a mature girl when they hide their body.
The Second Phase: The Superficial Pleasure
I call the second phase the superficial pleasure. In most cases, the first phase is followed with connecting fake pleasure with the action; in other words, this is the phase of connecting a bad or painful action with superficial pleasure and happiness.
For instances, there are ceremonies for the little girl when she wears the hijab. These ceremonies are performed at schools and often at houses as well. Psychologically speaking, the ceremony for the wearing of the hijab is skillfully, institutionally, and systematically orchestrated in schools to make the girls feel that these actions of hiding one's body and listening to men elicit happiness.
Some Muslim women get stuck in these two phases for rest of their lives. For example, If you see some Muslim women in the West or East who wear the scarf and proudly argue and brag that they are wearing it happily and based on their own decision, they are actually unaware that they were subconsciously brainwashed from birth and that they are subconsciously confined in the aforementioned two phases. But since human beings normally are not cognizant of their subconscious thoughts that were formed while they were children, most of these women think that this is what they want.
More fundamentally, it is crucial to point out that there are also those Muslim women, particularly in the West, who get a different kind of superficial pleasure from wearing a scarf, wide garment, or hijab, even in the burning hot weather. These superficial pleasures are attention, materialistic gains, public sympathy, and a sense of victimhood. They love the attention from the liberals primarily (whether from ordinary people, authorities or media), as well as the materialist gains that follows with that.
Many Western governmental and non-governmental institutions also might prefer to hire a Muslim woman who wears a scarf over other women, or give a women wearing a hijab more bonuses because they fear being sued for discrimination.
The Third Phase: Terror
The third phase I identify as imposing terror. The moment the two phases of indoctrination and connecting superficial pleasure with the hijab and hiding the body are fulfilled, the next phase begins, which is the process of imposing terror and fear in the girl in order to fix and cement the action.
This applies to those Muslim women who wear the hijab, but don’t brag about wearing it; these women have gone through this third phase.
Suddenly, the ceremony shifts to the real depiction of Allah, Khoda (in Persian); the Muslim god created by Muslim men. Allah becomes a torturer, an oppressor and a dictator.
The society tells the girls, as they told my sisters, that if you take off your hijab, scarf, chador, etc., and if you show your hair to people, Allah or Khoda will hang you from you hair for billions of years. When you die from being hanged or when all your hair is pulled out from being hanged, Allah will make you alive again and hang you from your hair again and again. If you talk back to your husband, Allah will hang you from your tongue. Allah will repeatedly burn you if you show the shape of you body to anyone other than your husband. Allah will take everything from you in this life and afterlife. The threats go on and on. Fear of Allah’s punishment is taught to those little girls. (One of my sisters had nightmares for many years after they taught her these stories at school.)
The hijab was imposed from the beginning to show women that they are second-class citizens, that men control their bodies, that men can force them to wear whatever the men choose, that they have no freedom, that they are created by Allah only to please their men, that they can only take off their hijab in the bedroom, that they are only a sex object for their husband, that they are not allowed to communicate with other people, that they are restricted, that they are cut off from the rest of the world, etc., etc.. They become a slave of Allah and other men.
The Final Phase: Liberation, Enlightenment and Freedom.
Finally, some women pass phase three and go to the final phase by revolting. I call this phase liberation, enlightenment and freedom.
If the oppression and restrictive laws of Islam go too far, become ubiquitous and unbearable, resistance and enlightenment will occur in some women. (This scenario is more likely to happen for some women who live in a country where religion rules the state -- a theocracy such as the Islamic Republic of Iran -- and where the state imposes Sharia law. In secular countries, i.e. Western countries or those Muslim countries in which the government is mostly secular, Muslim women are more likely to become more “Islamic,” in fact. I discuss the reasons in my book.)
Those few women who rebel go against all the indoctrination imposed on them from the time of their birth, and sometimes they protest regardless of the repercussions.
This is the real truth behind covering the body and wearing the hijab, which liberals need to comprehend if they truly believe in values such as human rights, social justice, freedom and democracy.