As I sat in an airport one day, I noticed a family approaching the same waiting area as mine. This family was not the same as your ordinary family; the mother was completely covered, with only her eyes and hands showing. I immediately found myself wondering, being in America, the land of the free, did she choose to wear that or is it mandatory for her due to her religion. I also wondered if she knew that people were looking at her, possibly with the same question as my own.
Women have always been thought of as something that needed to be controlled in Muslim culture. Their bodies are a source of shame that must be covered during prayer and also in the public (Mir-Hosseini 2007: 3). Veiling, done by a hijab or chador, is when women either wear a headscarf to cover themselves or they wear a veil that covers their entire body, excluding her hands and eyes (Mir-Hosseini 2007: 1; Mir-Hosseini 2003: 41; Berger 1998: 93; Smith-Hefner 2007: 390-391; Brenner 1996: 674; El Guindi 1999: 6). Veiling is used as a tool for oppression. By having women veil themselves, it enforces the control by the male run and male dominated society (Mir-Hosseini 2007: 7). Also, the punishment for women appearing without a veil transitioned as the concept of veiling was addressed, transitioning from seventy-four lashes, to being arrested and held between ten days and two months for being “immodest” women and offending public morality, or fined 50,000 to 500,000 rials (Mir-Hosseini 2007: 8). The oppression of veiling is perpetuated through the thought that it is a woman’s religious duty to wear one, condemning foreigners and women in society if they refuse. Although it is a tool for oppression, there was resistance the oppression. In 1936 hijab was banned (Mir-Hosseini 2007: 9; Mir-Hosseini 2003: 42; Najmabadi 2000: 40-41; El Guindi 1999: 174), and in modern society, it is thought to be the woman’s choice if she is to wear the hijab or not, a matter that is no longer punishable by society. Resistance is primarily seen in Indonesia, where younger generations are adopting the veiling aspect of Muslim culture to show their devotion and acceptance of the culture (Brenner 1996: 676-677). They are adopting the idea but changing it so that it does not require the covering of their entire body, but mainly their hair (Smith-Hefner 2007: 391). They are also showing resistance in that they are continuing to wear hijab even though they are greatly marginalized and constantly belittled for them.
Veiling is a concept that has been a part of Muslim society since its inception. It is only recently that women have begun to resist the oppression that the veil dons on them. This paper looks to discover how the oppression, resistance, and idea of veiling is different between Iranian and Indonesian societies.
This paper looks to discuss veiling, mainly in accordance with hijab and chador, and the oppression and resistance that accompany...