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Colonial Remains That Influence Modern Western Discourses of the Hijab

An Interpretation of the Hijab’s Symbolic Meaning:

Perspectives of Islamic Scholars and the Colonial Remains That

Influence Modern Western Discourses


Contemporary debates surrounding women in Islam and الحجاب, the hijab or the veil often revolve around a homogenized view that groups an entire community under one single definition. In addition, it is concerning to see the absence of debates from those who are targeted. Every so often, observations made with respect to women in Islam form part of the Western narrative with tints of “otherness” and hints of “inferiority”[1] that demonstrate a Eurocentric-inherited, us-versus-them European binarism. Moreso, broadly stated conclusions leave aside a wide-ranging multilayer of cultural and religious backgrounds. In other words, discourses over the hijab and Muslim women carry cultural generalizations that divert its cultural-religious-personal meanings aside to sustain political rhetoric. However, debates that objectivize women who subscribe to a specific symbolic meaning in the hijab are not as contemporary as common belief suggests.

The purpose of this essay aims to first show how the interconnectivity, sub-contexts, and broad range of signified symbolisms demonstrate that, even within Islam, the hijab as such is and has been bounded by interpretation throughout history. On this path, I assert that the historical accounts on the ‘veil’ can carry incorrect translations and cultural misinterpretation. Second, and to support this proposal, I underline core positions from various Islamic legal schools (i.e., Hanafi and Maliki) on the view of the hijab, as well as how they go about evaluating different texts to arrive at a legal conclusion and whether or not there is إجماع, [2]ijmā or consensus.[3] On the latter, I underline that the absence of a single position on the symbolic aspects of the hijab (cultural, religious, or else) as well as wide range of statements from Islamic rulings, clearly denote the diversity within the Muslim faith. As a final point, I reflect on the intersectionality between the symbolic and the historic to conclude that history of colonization, particularly from the eighteen-century European imperialist expansion in Egypt, had shaped primordial assumptions, essentialization, and symbolic representations of the hijab today. To uphold this claim, I outline key historical events from Laila Ahmed’s books A Quiet Revolution and Women and Gender in Islam that offer a comprehensive examination of Western rhetoric on the hijab that still today remains a result of colonialist impact. Briefly put, what we are experiencing in today’s discourses are the remains of colonialism.

As our contemporary usage of the word hijab to refer to a veil used by a great number of Muslim women is misleading, it is imperative to, as a quick reference to the reader, clarify the term الحجاب, the hijab. At the same time this will later serve as a foundational starting point when attempting to understand rulings from various Islamic legal schools. By underlining categories and subcategories of words that suffer the iterations of history, one can recognize the vast and complex endeavour this entails, as seeking for one answer seems futile. Linguistically speaking, hijab refers to a barrier past which one cannot see. The Qur’an uses this word in a few contexts, including describing “the physical barrier between the people of hellfire and paradise”[4] as well as the metaphysical barrier that distinguishes between the hearts of the believers and the disbelievers: “…our hearts are under veils from that to which you invite us, and in our ears is a deafness, and between us and you is a screen.”[5] Other references to hijab include the exclusive mandate upon the wives of the Prophet Mohammed to maintain a physical barrier[6] between themselves and non-related men: “And when you ask them [his wives] for anything you want, ask them from before a veil [screen].”[7] Thus, while scriptural mentions of hijab refer to a partition, nowadays hijab is most translated as “headscarf,” a clear example of an ‘iteration’[8] where its use and meaning changes due to cultural influxes. One key example can be found in today’s legislations attempting to regulate what it is called ‘a religious symbol.’

Canada’s closest and most recent reference that directly involves the hijab can be found in Quebec’s Bill 21, which targets the removal of religious symbols as a crusade to maintain a grasp on what politics infer as “secularism,” which it appears to symbolize a firm position toward identity that could be weakened by (let us say) diversity. The proposed legislation in Quebec requests that the “…secular public sphere is inspired [but not mirrored] by the French laïcité”[9] and is mired in a long history of debates and regulations that deeply explore “identity contestations in a setting where majority and minority populations experience identity insecurity.”[10] Despite the vast diversity within this province, the presence of religious minorities represent a non-authentic identity for the majority of Quebecois (up to 74 per cent)[11] that see Indigenous Spirituality, atheism, Islam, and various “other traditions as a threat to the maintenance of a cohesive social fabric.”[12] One of the many roots for which Quebec, or better said its political representatives, clench this position to the historic relations with the Catholic Church; Quebec’s ties to the Catholic Church date back to the founding of the province. Although a comprehensive analysis of this relationship goes beyond the focus of this essay, “we can assert that Quebec was first founded as a Catholic colony”[13] with the burden that carries struggles of the tremendous influence of the Church over governmental affairs. In other words, Quebec’s remains of colonial times carry a dualism between emancipation and identity.

The above exemplifies one of the premises of this essay, which is that today’s discourses are deeply rooted in colonial times and as such puts a solid ‘veil’ on multiculturalism and diversity. Furthermore, positions from the majority on what constitutes as ‘identity’ is leaving minorities relegated as ‘the other,’ which only contributes to the us-versus-them binary. One can observe that Bill 21 may be a symbolic act, a way for Quebecers to further “break free from an oppressive legacy and constitutively assert their identity”[14] when it is asserted that “we suffered enough from the Catholic Church, we don’t want any religion to dominate us again.”[15] This rhetoric, carrying the remains of apparent trauma from colonial times, ignores cosmopolitan twenty-first century diversity. There are two important issues that arise from this political battle affecting a sector of the population that has been ignored from all debates, and one is the role of the scholars. By forcing teachers to remove their cultural, religious, personal garments (i.e., hijab), children, in their formative years of education (K-12), do not perceive the diversity from within their classrooms as it is observed in real life. In short, a new generation of future adults will not see how a classroom experience and diversity can be extrapolated ‘out there.’ Is not this the foundational purpose of primary education? On a positive side, students have been supportive of “reassigned teacher[s] for wearing hijab in classrooms,”[16] which stresses the point of view from the actual classroom and their participants. As per feminist groups opposing women choosing to wear their hijab, I question how individuals could experience true emancipation if their opportunities to act on their religious conscience is denied. Moreover, would women’s rights truly be advanced if Muslim women were not allowed to practice traditional forms of veiling? In other words, if intellectual development and the acquisition of knowledge were indeed important goals for women, then “the rational recommendation would be to pursue the increased schooling, not indirectly ending veiling so that women could associate with men.”[17]

The hijab, from the Western rhetoric, continues to represent a threat to women and their right to emancipation, ignoring the broad range of symbolic meanings that exists within the spectrum of the شريعة إسلامية, shariah 'Islamiyah, or Islamic law, which is also a non-unified concept under a single source. Different positions, rulings, understanding, and points of view let us discern the diversity of the opinions within the Islamic verdicts. A fundamental problem rests on the possibility that a Western judge may provide rulings without proper knowledge and said rulings may not fit the right outcome due to misinterpretation. Likewise, a non-expert in Islamic law can openly assume an interpretation based on literal observations, just as the pick-and-choose practice observed from radicalized groups using the Christian Bible, to foster further antagonistic discourses that get blown out.

The absence of a single, unified book of law within Islam, similar to the Western system of law as we know it, is a critical component of this essay that aims to stress how Western assumptions or definitions of what the hijab is appears one-sided. The primordial developments of the shariah (law) take us to pre-colonial times where there were two crucial features, in addition to the already mentioned, that are ascribed to Islamic rulings. The first is that contingency in shariah texts “was traditionally well tied to عرف, ‘urf or custom, which is an essential ingredient in particular histories of the shariah.”[18] The second is that legal conclusion or rulings are tied to إجماعijmā or consensus, a major principle of Islamic jurisprudence according to which the universal agreement of the community becomes a positive source of law. It is essential to keep ‘urf and ijmā in mind when analysing the role of Islamic law in rulings such as dress code (for women and men). There is a wide range of postulates toward the use of the hijab by women in Islam and there is no doubt that “culture plays a role in the development and application of Islamic law”[19] and that the early Muslims inherited uses and customs that shaped rules of law. In a few words, Arabs, centuries prior to Islamic injunctions on dress, had inherited from Eastern communities many practices such as covering their head out of modesty and respect. This ‘urf (custom) such as the use of hijab is not something uniquely Islamic; rather, nearly 400 years prior to Islam, the Christian writer Tertullian exhorted unmarried Christian ‘virgins’ to cover their faces:

Arabia’s heathen females will be your judges, who cover not only the head, but the face also, so entirely, that they are content, with one eye free, to enjoy rather half the light than to prostitute the entire face. A female would rather see than be seen.[20]

The above exposes that “women living in the Arabian Peninsula did likewise.”[21] Furthermore, veiling “was apparently not introduced into Arabia by the Prophet Muhammad but already existed among higher classes in towns”[22] and, to the surprise of many, “the use of hijab is nowhere explicitly prescribed in the Qur’an.”[23] According to Dr. Leila Ahmed, the winner of the Graw Meyer Award in Religion and scholar of Islam as well as issues of gender, race, and class in the Middle East, the phrase “[she] took ‘the veil’ is used in the Hadith[24] to mean that a woman became Muhammad’s wife; this suggests that for some time after Muhammad’s death, when the material incorporated into the Hadith was circulated, veiling and seclusion were still considered peculiar to Muhammad’s wives.”[25]It is believed that guidance for covering the entire body, except for the hands, feet, and face, is found in the Hadith, which were developed over some three centuries after the death of the Prophet Mohammed. In addition, and “despite some several indications in the Hadith as to what dress standard is considered to be ‘acceptable’ for women, there is no universal agreement on this among Muslims.”[26] It is very important to stress ‘acceptable’ behind the use of the hijab as it falls into the category of ‘recommended’ and not ‘mandatory.’

As underlined earlier, the absence of a single position on motivating aspects of the hijab (cultural, religious, or else) as well as the wide range of statements from Islamic rulings, denote the diversity within the Muslim ‘circle of faith.’[27] There are three fundamental sources all jurists turn to address a legal dilemma. First is the Qur’an, as the foremost primary foundation in Islam because it has been definitively established.[28] Under that premise, although “a Qur’anic verse may give [them] a clear command, the way in which a command is applied may be open to interpretation;”[29] this is an important point in comprehending the wide-ranging scale of views. When a debate over a verse in the Qur’anic سوُرَة Surah, or chapter/section occurs, and there is room for further interpretation based on a verse alone, legal scholars turn to the second primary source text in Islamic law: السنة the Sunnah,[30] closely translated as ‘habitual practice’ of the Prophet Muhammad. Simply put, the primary way for Muslim jurists and scholars to understand a Qur’anic verse is through the Sunnah as it is an authoritative precedent of the Prophet. This is viewed as his tacit approval of his companions’ actions; the key here is the preservation of the Prophet’s legacy. Furthermore, many verses in the Qur’an can only be understood after crosschecking the Sunnah. With this in mind, it is fundamentally essential to underline how Islamic schools of law interpret Muslim women and the hijab. Positions on the view of the hijab by legal authorities on the matter place historical precedents in forthcoming rulings or legal conclusions.

The Hanafi, Maliki, Hambali, and Shafi’i مذهبي, madhhabi or “schools of law,”[31]are the four major schools of Islamic legal reasoning that mark a vast influence in today’s rulings within Islamic jurisprudence. These Islamic schools, named after its leading interpreter, struggled to interpret the few Qur’anic verses on women’s dress and to name with certainty those body parts that were to be veiled. The Hanafi School[32] is one of the four major schools of Sunni Islamic legal reasoning, and one of the most prevalent in Muslim-majority societies, with followers in about one-third of them. The Maliki School, formerly “the ancient school of the city of Medina, was open to قياسْ, qiyās or analogical reasoning, and applied إستحسان, istihsan or juristic discretion, to ensure beneficial legal outcomes.”[33] On the subject of hijab and women, most of Hanafis as well as Maliki jurists understood that “the entire woman’s body, except for the face and hands, had to be covered.”[34] In juxtaposition to the Hanafi’s and Maliki’s, the Hambali School, known especially for “its role in the codification of early theological doctrine,”[35] and the Shafi’i School, which focused on the authority of divine law-giving and human speculation regarding the law; both as “the most conservative of the four schools.”[36] The Hambali’s and the Shafi’i’s ruling on Muslim women’s clothing required them to cover their entire body, including their face and hands. Clothing is part of the cultural product as well as religious and moral requirements without denying عرف, ‘urf, custom of society and “classical scholars did not fully sanction the notion that free women must cover their faces.”[37] It is worth noting that “accepting the Sunnah as an essential source of Islamic law was not uncontested”[38] during the first two centuries of Islam.

One can observe two keen factors when ruling over a particular matter within Islamic law. The first of such is the affiliation with the Qur’an as a direct revelation from God; the second is linked to preservation of the legacy of the Prophet Muhammad, both deeply intertwined toward the authority in law. In other words, the Prophet’s Sunnah, or the body of traditional, social, and legal custom and practice of the Islamic community and major source of Islamic law, “has thus proven an essential resource for explain and supplementing the Qur’anic message.”[39] Among Western readers, when a usual question such as, ‘What does Islam say about…?’ is asked, the general approach is followed by a reference from the Qur’an. However, “a Western [earnest] researcher writing about the dress habits of [i.e. Egyptian] Muslim women would inform us that wearing the headscarf is not an injunction from the Qur’an.”[40] Briefly stressed, in Islam, the Qur’an is not a source of law “and many precepts of Islamic theology are never mentioned in the holy book.”[41] So, the reader may ponder what type of tools the Muslim scholars managed to develop to ensure the authenticity of the authority of the Sunnah. Simply put, the scholar developed what it is referred as إسناد isnād, ‘support,’ or the chain of transmission through which a scholar traced the text back to the Prophet:

The isnād is part of the religion – if not for the isnād, whoever wanted could say whatever they wanted. For the Muslim scholarly class, tracing the isnād of a text back to Muhammad is to follow one’s genealogy of sacred knowledge back to its source. It is a medium of connection to the Prophet, ‘the beloved of God,’ and a link to the scholarly titans of the past.[42]

For over a thousand years, the seekers of knowledge (Muslim students) have traveled from city to city in the Muslim world to hear master scholars recite and to receive their permission to transmit them to be incorporated into the living isnād tradition. So, after all of the above, where it seems clear is that the wide range of statements from Islamic rulings denote the diversity within the Muslim faith. Hence, two remaining questions arise: why all the controversy about a simple veil within the Western debates? What’s more, why is this important? My answer to those questions rests on the close link to the colonial past. I find that the intersectionality between the wide range of symbolic meanings behind the hijab and colonization, particularly from the eighteenth-century European imperialist expansion in Egypt, are embedded in modern discourses on what the hijab represents nowadays. To put it briefly, I question the modern discourses that essentialize the symbolic representation of the hijab, such as religious, inherited from the European colonial expansions of the late 1700s.

It is widely accepted in scholarly literature that “the study of Islam, specifically, Islamic law, is tied to the European colonial project.”[43] What’s more, in the postcolonial context, “the persistence of legal Orientalism continues to shape scholarly engagement with Islamic law and sustain the conclusions and methodological assertion of early scholars of Orientalism.”[44] Broadly speaking, it may be agreed that, “prior the seventeenth century, Western ideas about Islam came as a result of accounts (tales) from travelers and crusaders “augmented by the deductions of clerics from their readings of poorly understood Arabic texts.”[45] In addition, it is essential to stress that those travelers were male merchants or scholars who had very limited contact with the Muslim women of societies they visited; the possibility to gain knowledge to what the hijab meant for women, as well as its usage, was close to zero. More so, the limited views from Westerners on women in Islam came as a result of their interactions with other male merchants from cities to which they shared business, never from women, unless the business involved a woman in charge. Nonetheless, those cases were unusual. In the end, as only men represented a native perspective, they therefore gave the male point of view on a subject discussed. As Dr. Leila Ahmed sums up:

By the eighteenth century the Western narrative of women in Islam, which was drawn from such sources, incorporated elements that certainly bore a resemblance to the bold external features of the Islamic patterns of male dominance, but at the same time it (1) often misconstrued the specific content and meaning of the customs described and (2) assumed and represented the Islam practiced in Islamic societies in the periods in which the Europeans encountered and then in some degree or other dominated those societies to be the only possible interpretation of the religion.[46]

The previous fits into the European colonial presence in Africa, where three factors explain the view of the women in Islam, the hijab included, as ‘otherness,’ ‘backward,’ and contrary to modernity. First, Victorian womanhood and the portrayal of their image in a society with airs of superiority (Euro-centric), which ipso facto legitimated cultural, economic, racial, and religious superiority. Second, “the emergent anthropology–and other sciences of man–simultaneously served the dominant androcentric order in another and internal project of domination.”[47] By using simple extrapolation, a casual reader can assume that the colonialized women were not only seeing as inferior culturally but also racially. Also, the Victorian colonial paternalistic establishment, self-appropriated as champions of modernity, did not hesitate in undergoing an entrepreneur-like crusade to free Muslim women from such a repressive symbol (hijab) and to embrace modernity as in “Christianity, which respects women while Islam degrades them.”[48] In short, colonial patriarchs, and feminists alike, all assumed their self-imposed right to denounce native ways, and the veil represented a specific underdevelopment. So, a rhetorical question arises: How much of all this narrative has changed since the late eighteenth century?

Discourses from colonizers, as well as European scholars who supported them, on segregation and veiling are “grounded under the presumption that veiling and seclusion were customs that impose a huge barrier the nation and its advance;”[49] their view of the hijab does not seem to appear the result of reasoned analysis but rather the internalization and reiterations of colonialist perspectives. Thus, the practices, ideas, and assumptions could be grounded in an “earlier generation’s acceptance of the beliefs and prejudices of European imperialist societies and their inner land-scape,”[50] but nevertheless I still cannot accept the reasoning that takes the personal responsibility toward self-enlightenment and growth to instead use an outside agent, such as society, to blame for what is supposed to be an individual responsibility toward prejudices and injustices committed. It is noteworthy to stress that movements toward unveiling began “during colonial times” … “in Western nineteenth-century global dominance where views supersede local meanings of the hijab.”[51] and not in pre-colonialist Middle Eastern notions of the meaning of the hijab. In other words, the Middle Eastern notions of the meaning of the veil, rooted in Islamic, Christian, and Jewish local significance were not an issue until the Europeans interceded. The long process of using the hijab as a symbolic meaning for women’s oppression, backwardness, otherness, and inferior figures that extended to the view of Islam as a threat to modernity initially occurred because the Western rhetorical self-centred European discourse that in the end “trumped and came to profoundly overlay the veil’s prior indigenous meanings of proper hierarchy and separation.”[52]

The tendency to give the hijab a monolithic meaning, such as religious, ignores important factors stemming from women in Islam that include their conscious and unconscious decisions for wearing a hijab. Clothing for Muslim women, or anyone to an extent, is either conscious or unconscious; the choice could become a thought, or the unthought action toward a choice. In short, the unthinkable that is embedded within us cannot explain whether the choice implies a symbolic offer, political meaning, fashion, culture, self-identification, rebellion, submission, pride, ancestry, sense of belonging, equality, security, and the count goes on.[53] We ought to consider, as stressed at the beginning of the essay, that contemporary debates often do not include the representatives being targeted to offer their standpoint; debates such as the Quebec’s Bill 21 and its pretend secularization of the public sphere. The whole symbol, the whole symbolic aspect of the hijab hidden under the Bill 21 appears “to satisfy a majority seeking for Muslim women to agree to take off their hijabs.”[54] The European scholarly sources Leila Ahmed highlights in her two books, A Quiet Revolution and Women and Gender in Islam, conclusively proves the lineal and consistent narrative from the West grounded in a worldview “that assumed the way forward for Arab societies lay in following the path of progress forged by the West,”[55] which implied leaving behind indigenous practices that did not match the advanced norms and practices of modernity and the West.

This essay aimed to highlight that the essentialization of the hijab as a religious symbol, aside from being inherited from the 18th-century colonialism, has changed over time due to political, cultural, and religious settings. I reflected on the intersectionality between the symbolic and the historic to conclude that history of colonization, particularly from the eighteen-century European imperialist expansion, has shaped the primordial assumptions, essentialization, and symbolic representations of the hijab today. As stressed above, the subject of hijab and the application of customs pertaining to it involve wide-ranging factors, both legal and social. On the one hand, the Muslim juridical discussion of women’s attire did not extensively focus on specific question of hijab or appropriate Islamic dress to be worn by women in public. To a certain extent, a Muslim woman’s dress was understood to be part of Islamic etiquette and not of required Islamic behaviours. This means that in traditional Islamic law, the whole debate over clothing fell into the legal categories of appropriate Islamic عرف, ‘urf, custom of society rather than mandatory customs such as those outlined in the Five Pillars of Islam (declaration of faith, prayer, fasting during Ramadan, the sacred pilgrimage, and giving alms to the poor). Based on this research, from the perspective of early Islamic law, and in contrast to the way contemporary discourses may assume, failing to cover one’s private areas constitutes only a minor sin for Muslims, not a major sin. In brief, the use of the hijab falls under the recommended actions, not a required one under Islamic law where most of the major schools of Islamic jurisprudence do not seem to have overwhelming disparities.

Having presented the Islamic scholarly perspectives in juxtaposition to the European-colonial hegemonic interpretations, formulations, impositions, and control over Muslim colonized communities, I aimed to expose a long-lasting legacy that echoes today. Modern attempts to tag the hijab as a monolithic symbol is the result of the remains of the old colonial postulates that still resonate in the podiums of lawmaker assemblies.

EndNotes [1] Leila Ahmed, Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate, 2nd ed. (New Haven, and London: Yale University Press, 2021), 149. [2] When all scholars agree, implicitly or explicitly, upon a legal ruling, the extra source of Islamic law as consensus, a major principle of Islamic jurisprudence according to which the universal agreement of the community becomes a positive source of law. [3] Daniel Brown, A New Introduction to Islam, 3rd ed. (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2017), 357. [4] The Holy Qur’an, Sūrat al-Aʿrāf, verses 44-46, 163. [5] The Holy Qur’an, Sūrat Fuṣṣilat, 522. [6] This physical varier referred to the vail often used within a household to serve as room partitions for privacy. Due to later improvements in house construction, these vails turned into what today is widely known as walls. [7] The Qur’an, Sūrat al-Aḥzāb, verse 53, 464. [8] Term first introduced into the philosophy of language through Jacques Derrida’s work; meaning the process of repeating a term or a concept and never simply produce a replica of the original usage and its intended meaning, rather obtaining a variation due to historical context that affects it. [9] Meena Sharify-Funk and Elysia Guzik, “Muslim Veiling and the Legacy of Laïcité” in Everyday Sacred: Religion in Contemporary Quebec, ed. Hillary Kaell (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2017), 188. [10] Sharify-Funk, “Muslim Veiling,” 209. [11] Morgan Lowrie, “Poll suggests support for Bill 21 provision may have dropped in Quebec,” CBC News, January 16, 2022, accessed March 24, 2022, [12] Ibid., 186-187. [13] Phil Lord, “What Is the True Purpose of Quebec's Bill 21?” (Directions: Canadian Race Relations Foundation, 1, 2020), 5. [14] Lord, “What Is the True Purpose of Quebec's Bill 21?” 2. [15] Sharify-Funk, 193. [16] Amanda Coletta, “Reassignment of Popular Teacher for Wearing a Hijab in Classroom Stirs Outrage Over Quebec Law,” The Washington Post, December 19, 2021, accessed March 20, 2022, [17] Ahmed, Women and Gender in Islam, 160. [18] Brinkley Messick, Sharia Scripts: A Historical Anthropology, 1st ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017), 30. [19] Tesneen Alkiek, “Is Hijab Religious or Cultural? How Islamic Rulings Are Formed,” in Yaqueen Institute for Islamic Research, Last modified March 25, 2021, 10. [20] “Church Fathers: On the Veiling of Virgins (Tertullian).” Accessed March 21, 2022. [21] “Hijab Hanafi,” Selfscholar. November 12, 2012. Accessed March 21, 2022. [22] Ahmed, Women and Gender in Islam, 55. [23] Ibid. [24] The Hadith are traditions concerning the practices of the early Muslim community, accepted as canonical by Sunni Muslims. [25] Ahmed, 56. [26] Anastasia Vakulenko, Islamic Veiling in Legal Discourse, 1st ed. (New York: Routledge, 2012), 4. [27] As I reject the concept of religion per se for implying homogeneity, the “circle of faith” offers a non-static, although diverse presence within a community such as this one. [28] The Qur’an has been مستنسخة, mustansikha or reproduced, massively; Muslim jurists can be certain that the text they are holding today is the same text revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. [29] Alkiek, “Is Hijab Religious or Cultural? 4. [30] The body of traditional social and legal custom and practice of the Islamic community; it is a major source of Islamic law. The normative legacy of the Prophet Mohammad is known as the Sunna; it is the lens trough which the Qur’an is interpreted and understood. In short, an interpretation to what a particular verse means. [31] The use of it here is intended to denote the different schools of Islamic legal thought with which different Muslims ally themselves. [32] Hanafi jurisprudence remains the most influential school in the world today and is used in Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. Accessed March 23, 2022. [33] Wael B. Hallaq, An Introduction to Islamic Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 31-33. [34] “Islamic Jurisprudence & Law,” Re-Orienting the Veil, The University of North Carolina, accessed March 23, 2022, [35] “Hanbali school, Definition & Facts,” Britannica, accessed March 24, 2022. [36] “Islamic Jurisprudence & Law,” 2. [37] “Hijab Hanafi,” Selfscholar. [38] Jonathan A.C. Brown, Foundations of Islam, Hadith: Muhammad's Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World, 1st ed. (London: Oneworld Publications, 2014), 151-152 [39] Brown, Foundations of Islam, Hadith, 150. [40] Brown, 3. [41] Ibid., 4. [42] Ibid. [43] Sohaira Siddiqui, “Good Scholarship / Bad Scholarship: Consequences of the Heuristic of Intersectional Islamic Studies” in Journal of the American Academy of Religion, nr. 88, (2020), 157. [44] Siddiqui, “Good Scholarship / Bad Scholarship,” 158. [45] Ahmed, 149. [46] Ibid. [47] Ibid., 151. [48] ibid., 153 [49] Ibid., 160. [50] Leila Ahmed, A Quiet Revolution: The Veil's Resurgence, from the Middle East to America, 1st ed. (New Haven, and London: Yale University Press, 2011), 43. [51] Ahmed, A Quiet Revolution, 44. [52] Ahmed, 45. [53] I had interviewed four ladies, circle of friends, and asked them about their choice for wearing their hijab; most of the details highlighted here reflect the reasons shared. [54] Sharify-Funk, 203. [55] Ahmed, 20.


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——— . Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate. 2nd ed., New Haven, and London: Yale University Press, 2021.

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Lowrie, Morgan. “Poll suggests support for Bill 21 provision may have dropped in Quebec.” CBC News. January 16, 2022. Accessed March 19, 2022.

Messick, Brinkley. Sharia Scripts: A Historical Anthropology. 1st ed., New York: Columbia University Press, 2017.

Sharify-Funk, Meena and Elysia Guzik. “Muslim Veiling and the Legacy of Laïcité.” In Everyday Sacred: Religion in Contemporary Quebec, ed. Hillary Kaell, 186-211. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2017.

Siddiqui, Sohaira. “Good Scholarship / Bad Scholarship: Consequences of the Heuristic of Intersectional Islamic Studies.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 88, (2020): 142-174.

Vakulenko, Anastasia. Islamic Veiling in Legal Discourse. 1st ed., New York: Routledge, 2012.

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