About Two Ways of Seeing Hijabi

Gigi Hadid’s bold eye makeup accentuated every three dimensional embellishment heavily adorned the head veil she worn for the first ever cover of Vogue Arabia. Although it was not as sensational as surreal picture of Rihanna in Harper’s Bazaar Arabia July 2014 wearing glittered black hooded dress by Michael Chinco which cover her up from head to toe (plus a mask in matching tone) yet showcasing her curvaceous body, this front page of the Vogue Arabia March 2017, about which photographer Inez & Vinoodh successfully radiate the opulence of Arabian cultural heritage, somehow provoked a stronger call to reflect not specifically about Arabian women but on how all women around the world holding values originated from the Arabian history a.k.a Islam live against the contemporary global situation where stigma of terrorism exists.

Rihanna in Harper’s Bazaar Arabia July 2014

The Veiled Citizens
Meeting all the aesthetic depiction of so called exotic, as fully grasped as the term utilized in orientalism, Gigi’s photograph for Vogue Arabia’s first cover seems intended more to challenge such notion or even re-inject the term with new meaning by which exotic labeling become something to be celebrated rather than ashamed of. For the magazine editorial team, it is all about “reorienting perceptions” as written in the cover. Since this literal utterance were produced by a fashion magazine, of course it had to include a thorough endeavor in examining sartorial mores of respective area which unavoidably touch upon the issue of head veil either in profane cultural context or religious one worldwide known as hijab. By its unique identity, Vogue Arabia carries unique significance to Muslim women globally.

Whether realizing that or not, Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz the first Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Arabia apparently had a vision to alter how the world conceives various values of the petrodollar regions, including about the clothing code of conduct. Once to the The New York Times, the successful Saudi woman said “there are major misunderstandings around modest dressing too. I have a responsibility to tackle those issues, through a fashion lens of course.” Unfortunately her entire point of view about the magazine appeared not go hand in hand with the publisher’s interest. After overseeing only two volumes, she exited the magazine. In a statement published by Business of Fashion regarding the news, she wrote “I stand behind my values and vision for Vogue Arabia and I refused to compromise when I felt the publisher’s approach conflicted with the values which underpin our readers and the role of the Editor-in-Chief in meeting those values in a truly authentic way.”

Never be less shocking than the announcement of her finished role as Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Arabia was her personal Instagram post around that time. On 12 April 2017, @deenathe1st uploaded a photo by Irving Penn entitled Veiled Mystery of Morocco. Accompanying that picture of two persons wholly wrapped by garments which was printed on Vogue US in early 70s, she typed “There is us, then there is how we are perceived #somethingsneverchange”. Apart from what actually happened in her professional case, the expression of this former leader of Vogue Arabia counts on how people related with Arabian culture – including non-Arabian Muslims – feel treated as citizen of “veiled” civilization. If someone like Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz who does not wear hijab could experience that kind of feeling, then what about all hijabi women throughout countries?

Instagram Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz at 12 April 2017

Contradicting the statement of reorienting perceptions by its cover line, the partially veiled Gigi in first Vogue Arabia cover might in turn be taken by many people as affirmation on association between Arabian realm and all its related phenomenons such as hijab with “veiled” mentality.

Rejecting Hijab VS Rejecting Stereotype
“She said I needed to take it off because I was oppressed,” Irham Ehsan, a media and communications student at Greenwich Uniersity back at 2014, in The Huffington Post shared her inconvenient story about one time inside a supermarket a middle-aged woman confronted her for wearing hijab. We all realize that numbers of people across continents shares opinion with that middle-aged woman, but maybe only few of us know that some Muslims also belong to the group. Yes, they stand in opposition with hijab and further argue that the practice of covering certain parts of body has no place in Islam. Leila Ahmed’s Reinventing The Veil featured in the Financial Times several years ago serves a good exposition about how hijab rejection was even historically favored widely in the Arabian world at decades. To begin her writing, the professor of Harvard Divinity School provided this first three paragraphs:

“I grew up in Cairo, Egypt. Through the decades of my childhood and youth – the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s – the veil was a rarity not only at home but in many Arab and Muslim-majority cities. In fact, when Albert Hourani, the Oxford historian, surveyed the Arab world in the mid-1950s, he predicted that the veil would soon be a thing of the past.

Hourani’s prophecy, made in an article called The Vanishing Veil: A Challenge to the Old Order, would prove spectacularly wrong, but his piece is nevertheless a gem because it so perfectly captures the ethos of that era. Already the veil was becoming less and less common in my own country, and, as Hourani explains, it was fast disappearing in other “advanced Arab countries”, such as Syria, Iraq and Jordan as well. An unveiling movement had begun to sweep across the Arab world, gaining momentum with the spread of education.

In those days, we shared all of Hourani’s views and assumptions, including the connections he made between unveiling, “advancement” and education (and between veiling and “backwardness”). We believed the veil was merely a cultural habit, of no relevance to Islam or to religious piety. Even deeply devout women did not wear a hijab. Being unveiled simply seemed the modern “advanced” way of being Muslim.”

In the following parts, Leila Ahmed asserted her discomfort in seeing multiplication of hijabi women in her own home country as well as in USA since 1980s. She analyzed it was Islamism (the political form of Islam) in the 1970s as the initial cause of hijab resurrection. In Egypt, that decade was characterized by violence and intellectual repression. At the end, Ahmed called for herself a reassessment, through interviewing some hijabi women of twenty first century, on what the meaning to wear hijab in this contemporary age is. Surely as time flies, a lot of phenomenons might be reinterpreted in different angles (In The Guardian, Karen Armstrong gave historical account of how hijab in the past were also related with political statement), but what I need to present here is the point about how hijab can be and have been viewed by Muslims themselves as a form of oppression.

A Shia Muslim author, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, wrote article As a Muslim Woman, I See the Veil as a Rejection of Progressive Values for The Guardian in 2015. There she mentioned names of Muslim scholars who voiced hijab as an oppressive tool too, such as Fatema Mernissi who released Beyond The Veil (1975) and Nawal El Saadawi with The Hidden Face of Eve (1975). Let the name Asra Q. Nomani added in the list with her pieces in The Washington Post and The New York Times spoke likewise. A main concern from Muslims like them who challenge the practice of wearing hijab is directed toward inquiry on whether the word “Hijab” in Quran necessarily imply sartorial meaning and thus refer to specific set of rules of covering body parts with fabric; and as thorough as they examined it, the answer is No. The more restrictive interpretations on “Hijab” usage in some verses are pronounced as repressive tools (mostly appraised as patriarchal) to control society in general and women in particular.

Given this fact of variation of Muslim’s interpretations that denounce hijab in Islam, should it be concluded that, in the name of anti-oppression, hijab refusal is legitimate? This question can lead into feminism discussion about woman’s body which appears very tricky and slippery. Debate of objectification and liberty applied to both woman’s nakedness as well as her covering. For the sake of keeping consideration that voluntary religious believers are part of life diversity, I rather want to exercise whether the “generic” notion of anti-oppression itself in this case is a genuine aspiration or possibly foreshadowed by any parasitic belief which grow consciously or unconsciously. To do that, let us build an understanding on what oppression means, by which we could attest whether we apply the conception consistently or not. Or to put it in specific context, assuming that Islam really impose women to wear hijab, what does constitute this rule so that categorized as oppression?

First, for the verb “Oppress” to operate in that respective significance, the victim must be presumed to have freedom. The rest is about power exercise by the executing agent toward the victim’s freedom which result on extermination of victim’s freedom to perform functions, regardless of the execution method and victim’s mental state i.e with agent’s/enforcer’s coercion = involuntary victim (causing repressed feeling); without agent’s/enforcer’s coercion = voluntary victim (may causing satisfaction). Within this meaning of oppression, women who follow the rule to wear hijab by his own will is still classified as oppressed victim since their freedom to expose some body parts is exterminated through the order/authority of holy scripture or God’s words. The question: Isn’t it the nature of (probably all) religion, is it? Why do Islam believers got all the spotlight?

Think about premarital sex considered as sin for the Muslims as well as the Christians. What does this teaching do? It eradicates the freedom to enjoy sex before marriage. Churches are legitimate symbol of that sexual oppression. Should it be destroyed? Should all Christians be prohibited to carry their bible in public space? Celibacy seems even stricter. Should the Pope and the priests and nuns who committed celibacy take off their habit clothing which symbolize that Catholic church oppressive discipline? (Look how people tweeting about Nun-Hijabi comparison when armed France policemen force a woman in Nice to remove her burkini following its ban there as reported by The Huffington Post in 2016) Should it be applied too to the Jews wearer of Bekishe coat symbolizing adherence to the rules of eating only kosher that obviously violate the freedom to eat any edible food among other series of rule of everything? And what should Hindu the Buddhist monks do for their robes for their clothing reflect total oppression to any desires in order to achieve moksha and nirvana?

The New Yorker 30 July 2007 Cover – Girls Will Be Girls By Anita Kunz

Seeing those examples, we might immediately realize that similar oppressive practices applied in religions. Jews are also forbidden to have premarital sexual relation. Muslims must choose halal cooking. The reasons behind the restrictions might differ one another though. Vegetarianism within monastery of Buddhism and Hinduism is of course another different kind of eating principle which might have different foundation between the two or even among its own schools. So does with the purpose of celibacy in both beliefs and in Catholic priest’s vow. Sartorial issues is not an exception. Nevertheless essentially all are formulated in a way that involve sacrifice; a conform to oppression in one or another form. Undoubtedly, some appear too irrational. If you feel it is incomprehensible to sacrifice some body parts to be covered or sacrifice of not eating the non-kosher or non-halal, take a look at the epicenter of Christianity. What is weirder than a God sacrifice Itself through crucifixion in order to fix the relationship with human as believed by Christians in the figure of Jesus?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…” This is the part of John 3:16 in Bible (KJV). Love and devotion are key words for the basis of sacrifice in some religions. To sacrifice is to manifest the love toward God as a response of God’s love for human (Surprisingly, how “close” the relation between love and religion can also be found inside our brain. A research published in journal Social Neuroscience in 2016 led by Jeffrey Anderson, an associate professor of radiology at University of Utah School of Medicine, discovered that spiritually religious experience activates the brain reward circuits in much the same way love experience does – as similar as music, gambling, and sex does too). Further, the religious sacrifice also conveys other idea that either complement or substitute the love and devotion matter. It is the good.

A Buddhist is unlikely to do set of religious practices to embody love and devotion toward highest divine deity such as YHWH in Judaism or Holy Trinity in Christianity/Catholicism or Allah in Islam simply because there is no such entity in Buddhism teaching (Hinduism ultimate reality is the impersonal Brahman yet some interpret that its manifestation in Trimurti Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva take form of personal holy deities. So depending on different interpretations and approaches, Hindus could or could not articulate such love and devotion toward divine deity). Instead of performing the function of love and devotion for God, Buddhists exercise various stages of sacrificing desires based on the teaching of Siddhārtha Gautama to achieve the good, to be enlightened, to have the ultimate wisdom about life and reality that will bring a person out of suffering or dukkha realm caused by ignorance for desires.

Meanwhile a Christian man may sacrifice his flesh lust, which include lust for adultery even only in imagination (“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28), as a demonstration of his love and devotion to Jesus and his teaching, as well as a means to understand the true dignity of human as God’s creation, and a path to divine redemption. Congruent with previous examples, when a Muslim woman intentionally sacrifice some of her body parts to be covered by hijab (assuming the woman belief the sartorial interpretation is a correct interpretation of word “Hijab” in Quran), it is indeed the implementation of her love and devotion to Allah and holy words in Quran, and process of learning a conception of good which set her detached from the banal and corrupt mainstream beauty standard plus lead her to higher purpose of life (Featured in Metro.co.uk, Nazma Khan the founder of World Hijab Day is one of hijabi women who explain her experience and reason of wearing hijab).

Here the upside-down reasoning on understanding of oppression and liberation in religion operates. In religions, just like what I have just articulated, to sacrifice the freedom to A, B, C is to have/attain the freedom from Z, Y, X. This mechanism might lead into different kind of the highest destination of every religion though. Not like Christianity/Catholicism and Islam that employ eternal reward-punishment system of heaven-hell, Buddhism’s Nirvana is the ultimate reality of living the righteous wisdom itself which save a person from suffering realm. Hinduism’s Moksha is somewhat more “metaphysical” as it is not only being free from suffering realm caused by ignorance for desires but also a metaphysical merge between our atman (soul) and the Brahman (Supreme Self). In Judaism, the concept of Olam Ha Ba, Gan Eden, and Sheol to Gehinnom are interpreted variously and even some scholars imply there is no Judaism concept of heaven-hell.

After all, one particular formulation about living the right life in religions includes the act joining the invitation to oppress the self on A, B, C in order to liberate the self from Z, Y, X. In the case of one’s religious life, oppression and liberation is two sides of a coin. The practice of fasting in many religions is another clear example of that system. Oppressing the self to not doing things (mostly related with desire for indulgence or evil intention) is the way to reveal precious insight that self is not desire itself so that self must be able to be the master and control desire and not be enslaved by it. In turns, the self will be liberated from the ignorance that lead into unrighteous life, either followed by after-life consequence or not. So by considering this understanding of the raison d’être de la religion, about how liberation and oppression relates in religions, should the Prime Minister of France Manuel Valls be too sure on his own thought about enslavement function of burkini? As reported by The New York Times in an article last year, he support burkini ban in some coastal regions in France because he think it is a form of enslavement.

Want you buy this idea of oppression for higher liberation offered by religions? It is OK if you do not want to and you may still perceive religion believers as oppressed people and encourage them to leave their religions and remove their attribute that symbolize oppression (though promoting a bill about it is different case which must be discussed separately). Yet the questions: will you oppose the oppressed Muslim only? Should not all the oppressed religion believers be opposed? Or to put it radically and consistently, should not you oppose all the oppressive religions themselves? Realizing that in some parts of the western world, the “oppressed” non-Islam religion believers do not receive the same intensity of spotlight regarding their religious attribute as much as their Islam fellows, then what is actually working behind the hijab-allergic phenomenon of our time? There is no better method to answer this question other than by hearing it right from the person who object it.

“…ostentatious clothing which refers to an allegiance to terrorist movements which are at war with us,” said head of municipal services of Cannes Paris, Thierry Migoule, about burkini as written by Time in August 2016. The same article also revealed that Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, reckon burkini as symbol of Islamic extremism. Let no one ever forget every lost soul, injured victims, destruction, horror, and fear caused by Islam extremist attacks in France and all over the world. Prior (and subsequent) to each support and condemnation toward burkini ban in about 30 coastal regions in France last year were horrifying terrorist attacks. A 86 years old priest was killed during a mass in 26 July 2016 in Normandy by two terrorists. ISIS claimed responsibility. More than 80 people were killed by Mohamed Lahouaiej who drove a big cargo truck to the crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice in 14 July 2016.

These are just few examples of terrors which can be traced back even to early 1985 when Marks & Spencer Paris were bomb (this was attributed to militant Shi’a Islamist Hezbollah). Recently in Barcelona, Spain, a 22 years old Younes Abouyaaqoub drove a van into pedestrians which led into a chaos. Up until this article is written, there are 16 people died because of that attack on 17 August 2017. Members of militant Sunni Islamist Al-Qaeda hijacked four airlines which two of them crashing the twin tower of World Trade Center during the fourth day of New York Fashion Week S/S’12 in 11 September 2001. In total (including the attack on the Pentagon), almost 3.000 people were killed and more than 6.000 others were injured by the terror. This was a new historical chapter of human civilization where Islamic terrorists earned their spotlight in international stage and sparks their influence ever since.

Donna Karan Spring/Summer 2002. The show was scheduled on 13 Sept 2001 in New York Fashion Week. Because of 9/11 tragedy, it was rescheduled for 20 Sept 2001 in London Fashion Week. (Image: Livingly)

Nonetheless it is not only about what those groups have done to many countries that frighten people, but also about what people know on how they govern their own territories. A young guy named Samer (pseudonym), a member of an anti-ISIS activist group Al-Sharqiya 24 who live in Raqqa Syria, described in his diary how terrible to live there under ISIS control. “His decapitated head was on the ground. I couldn’t stand up; my legs just wouldn’t hold me. I can’t get this image out of my mind,” Samer recalled his experience in seeing a beheading execution toward two citizens. With the help of intermediaries, his diary was able to be sent to the world, translated into English, and then published in a book The Raqqa Diaries: Escape from Islamic State by Samer (2017). The world also has heard similar stories about Taliban in Afghanistan or other terrorist organizations in different areas. Those scenes of Islamic terrorists do not only success to make people become aware of their existence but also to beware of them.

Let us not deny that they are not the only source of the wide perturbation on Islamic extremism. We too should admit how the feeling is created by countries (some of them are wealthy Arabian nations that seem very “welcome” by western world) which adopts Sharia as state legal system. Atefah Sahaaleh, a 16 years old Iranian girl, was sentenced to death on charge of committing extramarital sex or crimes against chastity. In August 2004, she was hanged in public (the execution regarded as controversial because in 1995 Iran’s government promised to stop executing individual under 18 years old. BBC2 in 2006 aired producer Monica Garnsey’s investigation about it). In the end of 2015, a verdict for capital punishment by stoning to death was sentenced to a Sri Lankan woman who worked as domestic helper in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in allegation of adultery. Through intervention of Government of Sri Lanka, the court reduced the punishment into three-year jail term.

Three elements can be mentioned about those cases. The first two are violence and cruelty. The third is coercion upon religious practice (as Sharia is adopted as the state/group legal system). These three are what we conceive about Islamic terrorism or even what we imagine about how far Islam as religion itself could potentially manifest into. So as those regimes also comply with sartorial rules within the teaching (in regard of certain interpretations), some others who observe them derive or affirm – consciously or unconsciously – a stereotype image of anyone wearing a range of clothing of their kinds (I said “affirm” because perhaps Muslim stereotyping is formed by more complex phenomenon, just like black racism in America. In The Atlantic article in 2014 entitled How Racism Invented Race in America, Ta-Nehisi Coates referred to St. Clair Drake’s Black Folk Here and There in which he wrote about how black Racism in America is a product of slave trade or seizure of power instead of people’s perception about the “nature” of black people).

Having this understanding, it is understandable why someone could be that “allergic” when seeing burka or niqab or even modern hijab or other type of veiling related to Islam. It is because they associate (either because of becoming the witness or victim) the specific styling with violence, cruelty, and coercive application of Sharia done by Islamic terrorist organizations or strict Islamic countries. When the conception of oppressed hijabi women arise from the failure to reason about oppressing-liberating mechanism in Islam as religious teaching, and the phenomenon of “exclusively” judging Muslim as oppressed believer is caused by the failure of identifying oppressing-liberating mechanism in many other religions; the association of the Islamic veil with violence, cruelty, and coercion is tailored upon (or at least strengthen by) real facts of how many Muslims commit to those three elements, either belong to Islamic terrorism groups or strict Islamic Countries supporters.

The stereotyping seems to be “sharpen” when such associative relation is hardly built upon attributes of other religions since information about cases of those three elements done in the name of other religions in our time are comparatively rarer than the information of masses of cases happen in the name of Islam (one little exception might be about Judaism and Jews’ attributes as some people relate the two with Israel aggressive actions on its conflict with Palestine). That is why many people produce or emphasize less concern about attributes of other religions than Islamic attributes; this is why many people assign or confirm “less harmful” judgment on Catholic nuns or Buddhist monks wearing their robe than a Muslim woman wearing hijab, although the way they dress are all somewhat peculiar to modern westernized world and symbolize its own oppressing-liberating mechanism within each teachings.

Stereotyping and prejudice work behind all of this. In our time, prejudice instantly sounds having very negative function, yet experts view it as beneficial strategy of survival for our ancestors. Steven Neuberg, professor of social psychology of Arizona State University, and Catherine Cottrell, doctoral student at the same university back then at 2005, suggested in a study published by Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that prejudice is rooted on what so called tribal psychology. According to them, tribal psychology helped human ancestors, whose survival was based on group living, to be attuned to outside groups which might addressed threats to them. Interestingly, a neuroscientific investigation of our century found that our brain mechanism of treating the threat is slightly different than ingroup-outgroup scheme.

In 2005, Journal Nature Neuroscience published the result of scientific research about race-related amygdala activity in African-American and Caucasian-American individuals. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan amygdala activity of both groups, the study by Professor Matthew D. Lieberman of University of California Los Angeles along with four other neuroscientists from the same university and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found it is not only Caucasian-American participant’s amygdala (part of brain related with fear) that respond strongly when seeing photo of African-American face, yet the African-American participant’s amygdala also respond in same intensity when seeing the their “ingroup” face photo. Both brain of white American or black American process the appearance of black people as threatening. Another investigation about racial stereotyping on white and black American showed corresponding result too. ABC’s 20/20 TV program in 2006 invited students to take Harvard University’s Implicit Association Test. They were requested to match words like “Evil” and “Wonderful” with flashes photos of white and black faces. Surprisingly, half of black participants exhibited racial stereotype against black people.

Do our amygdala respond in a same way when looking at hijabi women? Further scientific observation about this matter is very important since the consequence of being a negatively stereotyped individual would brain-wisely cost her human dignity and terrifying impact could follow. An experiment done by Professor Susan T. Fiske and Dr. Lasana T. Harris of Princeton University discovered that medial prefrontal cortex of participants’ brain, which is activated when a person is thinking about self or other people, is not activated when participants was seeing certain group of people which perceived negatively by them. In other words, the study published in journal Psychological Science in 2006 showed that the negative group of people was considered as non-human by participants’ brain; they are also those, as the study found, who trigger amygdala reaction in participants’ brain. Hijabi women was not part of groups assessed in the research so it makes us wonder how participants’ brain would react if facing the group.

A new scientific finding regarding prejudice and stereotype brings more gloomy realm of how brain process those mental states. Last year to The Guardian, Dr. Hugo Spiers, neuroscientist of University College London, explain how anterior temporal pole of research participants’ brain responded stronger to negative information about group of people in reinforcing the negative stereotype of them than to positive information about another group of people in reinforcing their positive stereotype. Meanwhile, their brain’s prefrontal cortex also reacted “harder” when having information about good things done by negative stereotyped people than bad things done by positive stereotyped people. “The negative groups become treated as more and more negative,” said Spiers. If hijabi women has been negatively stereotyped and world’s news keep being filled with negative information related with their Islamic identity without being balanced by equal number of positive information, you can by yourself conclude how the situation will affect their image on many people’s brain.

Experience, information, concept, meaning, symbol are processed by chemi-physical neuro-system in the brain. Its capability to abstract similarity, regularity and pattern, generate inductive generalization, emotionalize, memorize, evoke memory, perform semantic construction (a good scientific paper on semantics production in brain is provided by Professor Friedemann Pulvermüller of Brain Language Laboratory, Freie Universitat Berlin, and published in journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences in 2013), and more fascinating functions has so much influence our decision, including how we categorize people as well as our self in groups, and how we act based on it consciously or unconsciously. Educated people might consciously be very careful to act or make sentences when they are involved in a situation where stereotype and prejudice could be applied; yet if they are highly intelligent enough to be called smart, their brain seems unconsciously more true to stereotypical and prejudicial formulation it made, and even quicker to construct it for many given cases.

That is what David Lick, Adam Alter, and Jonathan Freeman of New York University uncover through their experiment which is published by Journal of Experimental Biology in this year as reported by Business Insider. Nonetheless, the good news is that those smart people are also quicker to unlearn the stereotype when given its counter-information. Maybe individual with average intelligent need a little more time to unlearn stereotype in comparison with smarter one, yet the point is that our brain posses capability to do so. Further I believe we need to adopt that brain mechanism as conscious principle to live fairly among diversity of social life; just like a scientist do their job with Karl Popper’s platform of falsification. The existence of one black swan falsified the statement “all swan are white”.

As outlined by The Independent, thousands of Muslims took part in a march against terrorism after van attack in Barcelona last August. There they expressed their support for victims. For the same cause, a Muslim man stood in the city with a sign “I am Muslim, I am not a terrorist. I share hugs of love and peace” which is also translated in Catalan, Spanish, English, and French. Huffington Post reported that responding the flood disaster in Houston nowadays, Muslims turned nearby mosques area into shelters. Muslim restaurants in the community also provided free food. An Islamic Center was transformed into a donation hub in partnership with a local church. The hijabi women and Muslim guys in these scenes, altogether with countless good Muslims fellow around the world are not a single black swan to sufficiently break the stereotype formula of Muslims in general and hijabi women specifically which is consciously hold by many people.

Instead of being the symbol of Islam extremism, they with their hijab and every Islamic attribute they wear, represent a different interpretation of Quran which distinguish them from Islamic terrorists (who maybe suffer damage in ventromedial prefrontal cortex of brain that functions to critically asses beliefs and ideas – in an article, The Independent covered the study of this topic done by researchers from Northwestern University and published by journal Neuropsychologia). Every of us, human, have one brain that is prone to prejudice and stereotype. Yet it is also the same brain that is adaptive to counter-information for belief revision, that logically comes up with principle of falsification, that produces philosophy of justice, that is not unfamiliar to reckon compassion and forgiveness, that desires to live peacefully as it dreams beautifully. Recognizing what our brain capable of is recognizing the hope for every unjust stigmatization to be exterminated; and ultimately, recognizing what makes someone become human.

Now to confront our own prejudice is not only about our brain capacity, (or about facts does not fit them) but also a matter of our conscious good will.

Back to Vogue
Muslim women who reject hijab under suspicion on patriarchal power, hijabi women who believe body covering is a way of liberation, and anyone who is coerced to wear veil by Islamic nations or Islamic terrorist organizations are the proof of Islam as social entity is a continuum instead of a single final concept. Just like in other religions, interpretation is the key. Realizing the significance of hijab variably depends on diverse interpretations, it surely is misleading to function that religious veil as general symbol of certain images of Islam. Unfortunately the earth of our era is still inhabited by crowds of the misled. This is the contemporary condition and challenge faced by Muslims and particularly Muslim women today; things need to be portrayed and addressed critically by all who believe that the advancement of civilization rely on human capacity to look at every component of the world with dialectic lenses rather than fixated glasses.

Is not there any differences among the “veiled citizens”? Who are hijabi should be the next cover of Vogue Arabia? When will they land on the cover of Vogue America? All journalistic media have important role to disturb the bias portrayal of the hijabi; and fashion magazines carry special responsibility in provoking disruption aesthetically and intellectually toward it or any established sartorial semantics in our brain, by which we are driven to revise and refine our understanding on humanity.

Gigi Hadid on the cover of Vogue Arabia March 2017

 

 

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