Examining A Woman’s Right To Choose

Hello everyone it’s Zainab here, welcome or welcome back to the blog! So, this post is going to be a bit more of a serious tone, as I want to write about the mainstream uproar regarding a woman’s right to choose. This was sparked after incidents in Iran to do with Mahsa Amini, but a woman’s right to choose is not restricted to one country. Globally, women are lacking this right and this has been happening for years. So today, I want to look into this situation (sort of using the recent situation in Iran as a case study) and sharing my thoughts. Let’s jump into it!

What Is Happening in Iran?

Incase you are unaware of what has been happening in Iran, it all began on the 16th of September when a woman named Mahsa Amini died while in custody of Iran’s mortality police. The mortality police are Iran’s Islamic religious police (known as guidance patrol) who detained Mahsa for not complying with government hijab (headcovering) standards. The cause of her death while she was arrested is unclear and controversial – some say she had a medical problem while others say she had been a victim of police brutality.

This sparked global protests against Iran’s laws regarding hijab. Many woman have been burning their hijabs or cutting of their hair in solidarity. This has resulted in further lives being lost as security forces tried to combat their protests.

So far, nothing has changed yet.

How Is This Restricting A Woman’s Right To Choose

As I stated previously, the cause of Mahsa’s death is unknown. But, this becomes irrelevant because she shouldn’t have been in their custody anyway, because she had the right to choose how she dressed. And it was not respected.

Of course, I am fully aware that Iran is a theocracy and Islamic state – and a lot of Muslim women see hijab and modestly dressing as compulsory in Islam and choose to practice this anyway. But, not all Muslim women do, and that’s up to them, and it’s completely against Islam to force the hijab or any other practices on anyone. It’s up to the woman herself to decide whether she wants to wear hijab or not.

So, the Iranian government are not only forcing Muslim women, but also force non muslims and people who aren’t their citizens to wear hijab everywhere. Nowadays, people are a lot more respectful, and most people would dress modestly or wear a scarf if they’re going to a mosque or a religious gathering; out of respect. And people do this out of respect for many different practices worldwide. We’ve seen many women do this in the past when visiting Islamic or religious countries out of their own free will.

But forcing women to wear it is wrong, and forcing them to wear it everywhere is even worse. Because, ultimately, it’s a woman’s choice where she wants to wear hijab or not.

The Other Side Of Choice

This entire post is examining choice. We’ve spoken a lot about the right to choose not to wear hijab, but what about the right to choose the hijab? There has been a substantial amount of media attention regarding Iran and other countries that enforce hijab, and rightly so, I fully support this. However, there are countries that ban the hijab – and the women who want to wear it aren’t given enough attention and support.

This is where I urge you to please ask yourself, am I really supporting a woman’s right to choice and freedom, or is this an agenda against Islam and hijab?

A really powerful video I saw on Instagram breaking down the idea of choice working both ways!

One of the countries contributing to this is France. Back in April 2011, France passed a law to ban face veils (such as burqas and niqabs). At the time, this did not include hijabs – until 10 years later in April 2021 the French Senate voted to ban the hijab for girls under the age of 18 and not allow mothers with hijabs to accompany their children on school trips. This was only a bill (proposed law), and honestly I’m not sure if it’s come into effect yet (maybe someone knows and can tell me!) There was not as much media coverage for this, but on social media the phrase #HandsOffMyHijab started widely circulating

India has also contributed, one of their states, Karnataka banned the hijab for students in their classrooms. This created huge controversy, and very recently was taken to court. So far, the decision has been split with no idea on what the final verdict could be (this could change in the next few days).

One of the key things to note, particularly from these 2 countries, is that this ban is affecting the younger generation the most. How can countries deprive women of their right to choose, when we want to be able to assure the next generation that they have this – but now people in our generation can’t? This does so much more than just affecting one generation, it has a knock on effect!

The Overarching Message Of All Of This

I think the key message to take away from all these situations is that every woman deserves the right to choose what they practice, what they believe and what they wear. The most vital part being that choice works both ways. Please remember this! For me, I am stating very clearly that I am against the force and the ban. It’s frustrating to me that countries are doing this – I hope one day we can live in a world where everyone truly has freedom and choice.

Sources/Links

Death Of Mahsa Amini Wikipedia

Islamic Religious Police Wikipedia

Barron’s Article on The Morality Police

Is Hijab A Choice Or Forced by Courting The Law

Al Jazeera on The French Hijab Ban

All Jazeera on The Split Decision About Hijabs In India


If you’ve read all of this, thank you for reading! I know this situation began over a month ago but I really wanted to gather my thoughts and do the right research before writing about this. If you want to have conversations about this, do feel free to comment.

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23 thoughts on “Examining A Woman’s Right To Choose

  1. Mayim

    Especially in this instance, and with this example I definitely agree with you Zainab. This issue hasn’t come up to me much, I believe that bans on things like hijabs that are apart of religion should be optional. Some can choose to wear in out of their own free will, some may still want to wear it. No one should be forced to not wear something like a hijab or be forced TO wear it either. Have a great day 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • Zainab

        I completely understand where you’re coming from!

        And of course it’s okay to suggest to Muslim women, and I agree it is compulsory. And most women make the choice to wear it. But forcing women who haven’t made the choice to wear it yet, against their will isn’t the best idea. Wouldn’t you rather they do it for the sake of God and because they love God rather than them doing it without choice and because they’ve been forced?

        But of course I do understand where you’re coming from! We may have differing opinions, but that’s okay – thank you for sharing :))

        Like

  2. Zahra Sanoj

    I’m really glad you wrote about this! I also had done a similar post and I think your in-depth explanation was really well done! People and media sometimes represent this as them fighting against Islam but they’re really fighting for their right to choose

    Liked by 1 person

  3. beautifulthoughtsin

    I’ve heard about this instance and it’s all over the newspapers here!
    But I think no one can better recount such situation except the people who’ve experienced it or seen someone experience it around them!
    Are you from Iran or staying there right now?
    But yes, power to you for expressing your thoughts openly here!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zainab

      Hi!
      No, I’m not from Iran so of course I have no say whatsoever on what’s going on internally in the country right now from a personal experience.
      Are you from Iran? I’d love to hear your thoughts if you are able to! Thanks for sharing your views, I definitely want to try and do an interview with a women’s rights activist sometime about this – hopefully one from Iran so we can get a personal experience. So I hear you! ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Alina

    I agree with what you said. I remember reading Zahra’s post about it and it said something along the lines of this as well. The Instagram post was gold. “I never needed you” was, on a lighter notes, epic lol. I’m glad you pointed out India and France because just because they aren’t trending right now or no in the news, doesn’t mean their actions have changed. Overall, an amazing post and glad you spoke about it from a neutral pov.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zainab

      Thank you so much for reading Alina, I’m glad you agree! Thank you so much for the feedback – yeah I think it’s important to acknowledge all the facts but still realising what this means and the fact that choice works both ways!

      Like

  5. tawheedsidq

    The hijab in itself is neutral and how it is perceived entirely subjective. It can be liberating or oppressive depending on the context. One woman’s experience does not define another’s.
    A convert may find safety in the hijab. A girl raised in an oppressively strict Muslim household may toss it at the first opportunity as a symbol of her subjugation.
    I personally don’t feel oppressed wearing it.
    I started wearing the hijab as a teenager despite my mother’s opposition, as I felt safer from the lecherous male gaze and felt I needed to obey Allah, after attending dome lectures by Khurram Murad and realizing it was obligatory. My mother never did. I see it as a connection to Allah, a part of an Identity I CHOSE.
    I did debate taking it off. This was at a time I was deeply disgusted by the toxicity experienced during long term repeated interactions with “deeni” women. I didn’t want to look like them at all.
    In short, it is up to the individual to choose. A piece of cloth does not necessarily determine the piety or freedom of a person.

    Liked by 1 person

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