Monday, April 05, 2010

Allah said it, I believe it, that settles it. Or does it?

In 1994 I taught a dedicated Muslim woman who came to class every day in a hijab. I never so much as commented on her clothing. She was covered head to foot in the middle of the summer in Phoenix, Arizona. Later on that same year I had another student who was also a Muslim, from Iran. I told her about my previous student, and she told me that Muhammad taught that women should wear the hijab in order not to draw attention to themselves. However, in our culture, wearing a hijab would have the opposite effect, it would draw attention to herself. So, for the very reason that Muhammad gave for wearing the hijab, she would not wear one.

I think this illustrates a basic difference in the way revealed texts are interpreted. But which of these do you think was most faithful to Islam?

Looks like I covered this in '08, see the link.


Dan Lower said...

Seems like both were making a good-faith effort to be faithful to the intent of the text, at least.

Maybe it's like that story about two monks who pass a prostitute. One looks at her, the other looks away. Which one does the right thing?

Both, because one looks on with compassion, the other looks away to avoid weakness of the flesh. Neither necessarily has done the wrong thing.

Anonymous said...

It depends how you interpret "not drawing attention to oneself". Is it attention as a member of society? Then the hijab should go away in a society where the hijab is not common. Is it attention of a sexual nature and they should conceil themselves? Then a hijab is beneficial.

Anonymous said...

Bob Prokop writing:

Well. The title says, "Allah said it", but within the text it says "Muhammed taught". Sounds like a classic case of what Jesus was talking about in Matthew, when he said (quoting Isaiah)that they "taught as doctrines the precepts of men".

Victor Reppert said...

As you know, what Muhammad taught was supposedly dictated by the Angel Gabriel and considered to have come directly from God. They really have a stronger doctrine of inerrancy that even Christian fundamentalists.