The Hijab Debate – My Take


I have been meaning to write about this for some time, but I did not get around to it until now. Election day 2015 (October 19th).

Thoughout the long campaign leading up to this day, this issue (unfortunately) has been  near the front of the line when it comes to all those being discussed. At least in right wing circles.

It all surrounded Zunera Ishaq, a women who postponed her citizenship ceremony because she felt it unfair that she was being legally forced to remove her Hijab to participate in the ceremony. She fought it in both the federal courts and the court of public opinion, and she won both, for the most part. She has since gone though the ceremony (with the Hijab) and is now a Canadian citizen.

When it comes to this issue, I have to admit that I have changed sides. Which is why this entry was born.

Over the last few months to a year, I have (due to a glut of spare time) learned a lot of information on the topic of religion, though podcasts. One of the more interesting ones I have heard was an episode of Aron Ra’s RAMAN podcast, which featured an ex-muslim women named Rabab Khaja, who was fortunate enough to escape to the west from her home country (hear her story in the link below).

One of the more interesting parts of that conversation involved the Hijab (this conversation starts around 31:25). After studying into her culture more, Rabab discovered that this was a bedouin cultural phenomenon that was being spread as Islamic culture. And not only that, the veil/Hijab was not ordained by God (her way of interpreting it at the time, still being a believer), but was merely a stipulation added by clerics later. After learning this, she threw her Hijab in the trash.

When it comes to Zunera Ishaq and the Canadian Hijab Debate, I have to admit that at first, this interview had a lot to do with my initial reaction to the contraversy. I seen not only a sign of the suffrage of women in the Muslim world, but also an unnecessary tradition.

But given much needed further examination, I realized that to be a stupid reason. And possibly intrusive on Zunera’s freedom of religion right as a Canadian. Though I like to think I have a bit more background information than most to make a contribution to this debate, forcing that standard is still, forcing my opinion on another.

And so we have to stick to the real criticisms of allowing the Hijab, the main of which I heard was identity. Can you be sure that the correct person is taking the oath of citizenship under the veil?

The answer to that question is yes. Because though the veil is worn during the ceremony, beforehand (as was the case with Zunera Ishaq) a customs official confirms her identity. As such, the only problem with allowing the veil in a citizenship ceremony is easily remidied. Thereby proving this as the biggest non-issue in the 2015 election campaign cycle.

I hope that Zunera (and others like her) eventually get the curiosity to do some research into their long unquestioned beliefs. Hopefully (like Rabab Khaja) they will realize that they were deceived. But none the less, it has to be a personal journey.

The western secularists can do what they can to try and steer the faithful to these facts. But the choice has to be made on a personal level. Any attempt at forcing these values is only going to breed contempt, which is antithethetical to proper communication of our message.

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