A response to Asra Nomani and Hala Arafa


Keziah Ridgeway responds to Asra Nomani and Hala Arafa’s piece: As Muslim women, we actually ask you not to wear the ‘hijab’ in the name of interfaith solidarity


Dear Asra and Hala,

I need to share some things with you about my experience as a Modern Muslim woman, but before I do let me state this: America is as Muslim as apple pie. That’s right I said it.

So let me school you and our fellow Americans on why I’ve stated the above. Bear with me.

As long as there have been Europeans in the Americas, there have been Muslims. There [are] even theories that Abu Bakari a Malian King came ashore on a coastal city in Brazil in the early 1400’s. This would be well before Columbus…Columbused the Americas.

In addition, a large majority of African slaves who were brought to these shores were also Muslim. Unfortunately, like their non-Muslim counterparts, they were forced to adopt a new religion, replace their culture, customs, and language in order to be the ideal slave.

Remarkably, despite the brutal white washing of Africans bought to America, the culture and religious practices endured. While more research is being conducted to unearth these historical connections, the famous case of Yarrow Mamout can be held as an example.

So to[o] is the case of Phoebe, wife of Bilal Mohamed. Bilal, an African who was enslaved on the island of Sopelo could read Arabic and maintained his Islamic faith. His wife Phoebe, who wore a head veil, gave her children Arabic names. Their beliefs would go on to play a pivotal role in the development of Geechee culture on this same island. In fact, descendants from Sopelo with the surname Baily trace the derivative of the name to Bilal.

All of the above was written to say, Islam has always been present within the Americas due to the enslavement and forced migration of African Slaves. As such, it does not come as a surprise that one of the largest racial groups of Muslims in America are African Americans.

What is disheartening but not surprising is the lack of attention and platform given to African American Muslims and in particular Black Muslim Women. In mainstream media both in written and visual mediums, we are bombarded insatiably with images of Muslim Americans who do not present an accurate depiction of Muslim demographics in this country.

And this matters. Even more so than ever before because Muslims are under attack and if it’s one thing that Black Americans are familiar with, it’s the terrorizing and traumatizing of Black Bodies. So we do have a unique perspective to share. We can’t be easily othered because our roots have been planted here and we aren’t going anywhere.

So when I read an article written by two women disparaging hijab, who claim to speak on behalf of all modern Mainstream Muslim Women I get angry. I get it though. You come from immigrant backgrounds where maybe many you know were forced, shamed, or pressured into wearing the Khimar. That sort of trauma can leave a lasting impression. It has certainly led you to make misguided judgements and declarations about covering in Islam that are simply not true. At the very least you should be an ally for women who choose to cover.

Asra and Hala, I stand with you and support your decision to not wear Khimar, but I must vehemently deny your willingness to speak on my behalf. We do not share the same experiences as Muslim women, therefore you do not represent me.

I am an African American Muslim Woman convert. My lineage is firmly planted in the soil that was tilled by my ancestors, this soil that soaked up their blood and their tears, this soil that held their scraps of Quranic verses that they wrote down in secret.

I chose Khimar. It was a welcomed change from my previous years of short shorts, miniskirts, and tank tops. I believe in modesty, I believe in Khimar. As a modern Muslim woman (Educated, Mother of Four, Teacher, and Former Fashion Blogger) I find comfort and value in covering my hair and my form. I’m not oppressed, and I don’t need to be saved.

But, more importantly, I stand in solidarity with women like Dr. Larycia Hawkins who stood in solidarity with Muslim women like me. What they are doing takes courage and really does highlight their strong faith and belief in sisterhood. It is the stuff that real womanism/feminism is made of and you two could learn a thing or two from them.


  • Devil's advocate says:

    They ‘disparaged’ Hijab? The article of theirs is purely from a political/religious analysis standpoint. There was nothing disparaging.

    You are being an ‘uncle tom’ when you say you don’t need to be saved. What about other women. Are you speaking on all of their behalf? Are you saying there doesn’t exist one woman who is being forced and needs saving?

    Why would the race of these authors matter? Why does you being black and them being Indian or Egyptian matter when none of their points have anything to do with race? They are purely about religion and politics and what according to them is fallacious and Islamically incorrect propaganda.

    What you choose to wear is irrelevant. What people are being coerced and forced to wear and it’s Islamic correctness matters, which is what the article discusses.

    • Paven Hoven says:

      dear writer. next time i recommend reading the article and then responding. you missed or purposely missed the point. no one was trying to speak for you, much less deprive you of your clinging victimization. therefore you proceeded to school no one and make somewhat of a fool of yourself.

  • The deep history of Muslims in America is exactly what Asra and Hala needed to be reminded of.

    Asra and Hala’s argument in simple terms: ALL women who wear hijab = suppressive ideology of Iran/Saudi Arabia/Afghanistan/ISIS = bad:
    “As Americans, we believe in freedom of religion. But we need to clarify to those in universities, the media and discussion forums that in exploring the “hijab,” they are not exploring Islam, but rather the ideology of political Islam as practiced by the mullahs, or clerics, of Iran and Saudi Arabia, the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic State.”

    That is why they call for a rejection of any public support for Muslims’ choice to wear the headscarf.

    What they forgot, or chose to ignore, is that Islam is diverse and spans history, place and time. A single piece of clothing does not have one single meaning for billions of people. The fact that they completely ignored America’s Muslim history is exactly why it was relevant for Keziah to mention in the response. They claim that Islam is foreign, brought by immigrants like them, claiming to be “mainstream Muslim women, born in Egypt and India” and thus speak for all Muslims who wear hijab. They then argue to cease support for anyone who wears it, forgetting that American Muslims were part of America long before. Also, they forgot that Islam, the same Islam in which women chose to wear hijab, was a fundamental influence in the Civil Rights Movement against slavery and oppression! Yet they still brashly lump everyone in one category, equating a piece of clothing with “one and only accepted face of Islam.”

    • This was actually a perfect response, I couldn’t have said it any better. Thank you for this!

      • Mike Clarke says:

        Angel’s Advocate is completely wrong where she says “They then argue to cease support for anyone who wears it.” Asra and Hala support your decision to wear it: “The new Muslim Reform Movement, a global network of leaders, advocating for human rights, peace and secular governance, supports the right of Muslim women to wear — or not wear — the headscarf.”

        Keziah, you say “I stand with you and support your decision to not wear Khimar.” Do you really? As they wrote: “Today, in the 21st century, most mosques around the world, including in the United States, deny us, as Muslim women, our Islamic right to pray without a headscarf, discriminating against us by refusing us entry if we don’t cover our hair.”

        Will you stand up at the mosque and defend non-hijabi women the right to enter and pray? Will you invite Asra and Hala to come and pray at your mosque, uncovered?

        • Thanks for your feedback Mike: I should clarify that while Asra and Hala don’t argue to make ‘hijab’ illegal, they do very explicitly request people to cease public support for hijab:

          “Last week, high school girls at Vernon Hills High School … It disturbed us to see the image of the girls in scarves.”

          Conclusion: “Please do this instead: do not wear a headscarf in “solidarity”…”

          Instead of arguing *for* support for women’s right to dress how she likes, they argue *against* support for hijab, only continuing the trend of denying a women her intellectual capacity to choose her dress.

          With regards to dress codes, at churches, mosques, schools, and workplaces, typically some level of dress code is expected. Would you go to an office workplace with beach shorts or even sandals? You know that this in no way takes away from your right to wear shorts and sandals outside work. Likewise, every school has a dress code, but all differ on what that is. Is it bad to require girls to cover their shoulders? Should all schools cease to require a certain skirt length? If it’s subjective, then there’s nothing inherently wrong if some schools choose to require the hair to be covered as well. It’s funny because normally, we’re used to men having the stricter dress code than women here in North America.

          You referenced: “most mosques around the world, including in the United States, deny us, as Muslim women, our Islamic right to pray without a headscarf, discriminating against us by refusing us entry if we don’t cover our hair.”

          From my experience, this quote seems unfounded and unlikely. For all the mosques I’ve visited across Canada, I myself have walked in without hijab with no problem. I’ve seen women pray with half of their hair showing. No problem. Skinny jeans? No comments. No barred entry. There’s no guard or usher. There’s no apparent dress code. There’s no sign “you must wear hijab prior to entry”. People of other faiths visit these masjids and don’t cover their hair.
          In fact it seems so absurd because most mosques don’t have the budget to afford dress code enforcement as claimed, even if they wanted to!

          What there is is a culturally common dress, one that will actually differ from country to country. However, if a local makes a rude comment to someone who does not conform to their idea of proper, this is unfortunate and crude behavior, but in no way constitutes an institutional “refusal of entry.” This actually applies to women covering more or less. Women wearing niqab can and do face the same kind of comments where the norm is to wear hijab only.

          • Mike Clarke says:

            I’m still waiting for Keziah to invite Hala and Asra to come worship uncovered at her own mosque, with her support.

            I noticed that the Al-Aqsa Islamic Academy where Keziah taught requires girls to wear the hijab; it is NOT a choice. At the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Virginia where Asra has done pray-ins to protest gender segregation, they do list, even for visitors, the following dress code: “Women cover their crowning beauty, the hair. Women could wear a hat or scarf that covers the hair.” http://www.daralhijrah.net/ns/?page_id=237 As you say, some level of dress code could be expected in multiple venues, from work to school, but you are not supporting a woman (or girl’s) right to choose, to wear or NOT wear the hijab, while still being considered a faithful Muslim, if they MUST wear it in order to attend a Muslim academy or pray at a mosque. To me, it doesn’t matter if a mosque has hired security enforcers or just have intimidating fellow attenders; a religious organization is nothing if not the community and culture that it establishes, cultivates, and allows within its doors, and is responsible for whether women are treated respectfully by fellow attenders regardless of head covering.

            Again, you say, “Instead of arguing *for* support for women’s right to dress how she likes, they argue *against* support for hijab, only continuing the trend of denying a women her intellectual capacity to choose her dress.”

            This is absolutely wrong. You are distorting what they said and putting words in their mouth that they did not say. They are not DENYING anyone anything. They said in no uncertain terms that they support a woman’s right to choose what she wears, as would anyone who believes in liberal values and freedom. That does not mean they have to agree with the symbolism and values associated with the hijab. In the same way that the Constitution supports the freedom to own and display a confederate flag or any other symbol, a free society supports the right to choose and to express yourself however you like; but a confederate flag still represents institutional slavery and racism, and so many Americans will speak out loudly against that symbolism. That is not DENYING anyone their right to own or display a Confederate flag. In order to defend someone’s Constitutional right to own and fly a Confederate flag without their being physically attacked, I do not need to own and fly one myself or repeat falsehoods about how a Confederate flag only represents wonderful things about Southern identity and is not racist at all. Just as you have misunderstood this, there is a significant lack of understanding of these principles of free expression amongst all of those who have been criticizing Asra and Hala’s article (and defaming them personally), as well as among the Muslim community and interfaith allies in general – hence the significant need for their Muslim Reform Movement: http://aifdemocracy.org/declaration-of-the-muslim-reform-movement-signed-by-aifd-december-4-2015/

            What Asra and Hala are saying is that many of these interfaith do-gooders are unwittingly propagating a symbol of gender oppression and Islamist ideology when they don it themselves and encourage non-Muslim schoolchildren to wear it also. Asra and Hala also make a cogent theological argument as to why the hijab should have nothing to do with Islam, which Keziah and all of the other critics apparently are completely unable to rebut, and so do not address at all in their responses.

          • Nina says:

            in addition to what Mike said, I would also like to add that any place having a dress code isn’t the issue, it’s dress code based on gender that is the issue. Sure business and schools have dress codes and we accept that but if/when those dress codes are based on a person’s inherent characteristics, such as sex/gender/race then we challenge them. So the examples you gave are not comparable at all to this issue since the same standard does not apply to all people. Making it discriminatory.

        • I’m not going to refute their arguments about hijab because it has been addressed MANY times already. The majority of Muslim scholars have ruled on the necessity of khimar in regards to Muslim women’s dress.

          Again, anywhere you go, a job or school is going to have dress codes. Yes, I taught at Al Aqsa Islamic Academy and part of the uniform was a scarf. The girls were free to take it off when school was over. When I attended my high school, we had to wear uniforms, we hated it and it I had it my way, I would not have worn it. However, those were the rules, and I was sure to abide by them.

          Also, I’ve had Muslim women enter into my mosque with no hijab on and they weren’t crucified or attacked. Women however, are suppose to cover their hair when it’s time for prayer and while no one will stop them from doing so, should they show up and pray without it, they certainly will have to discuss/defend their actions when they were done.

          • Mike Clarke says:

            Thank you Keziah for your answer – while you didn’t specifically address inviting Asra and Hala to your mosque to pray uncovered, it appears that you would not in fact support their freedom to do so. Enough said about who is taking away a woman’s right to choose her own manner of dress (and worship). Angel’s Advocate, do you have anything to say about that?

            Then you say: “I’m not going to refute their arguments about hijab because it has been addressed MANY times already. The majority of Muslim scholars have ruled on the necessity of khimar in regards to Muslim women’s dress.”

            That’s a dodge if I’ve ever heard one. It also makes me think of where Angel’s Advocate says, “What [Asra and Hala] forgot, or chose to ignore, is that Islam is diverse and spans history, place and time. A single piece of clothing does not have one single meaning for billions of people.” Whereas you, Keziah, are saying there is only one correct and unchanging interpretation of the need for women’s head coverings based on “the majority of Muslim scholars” (uncited). This is the essence of the Islamist approach to religion that Asra and Hala are pushing back against.

          • Mike Clarke says:

            Michele Tariq nailed it. Keziah says in her article that she “chose” Khimar, but in the comments says that it is unquestionably required based on what “the majority of Muslim scholars” have already determined. Perhaps she chose Islam, as a convert, but if she views Khimar/hijab as obligatory, as do other posters like Elmi, Eihab, and Aishah, then ***it’s NOT actually a choice of what to wear***, it’s a choice of being a Muslim or not. If she were to change her mind as to her religion then she would be an apostate, which she and others also likely believe (based on consensus of Muslim scholars) is a religious crime punishable by death. ***Nor is it a choice of what to wear*** for the schoolgirls she taught, unless they would like to be suspended or expelled. ***Nor is it a choice of what to wear*** for women in her mosque, unless they would like to be harassed and have to “defend their actions” afterwards. Why should a woman have to DEFEND her choice of clothing? Keziah self-rightously says she and Larycia Hawkins are “the stuff that real womanism/feminism is made of” – while simultaneously saying that individual Muslim women should not actually get to practice ijtihad, think critically and decide for themselves whether they believe the hijab is required in Islam. Methinks she doesn’t know what feminism IS. Meanwhile she jumps on the passing self-reference by Asra and Hala to themselves as “mainstream” Muslim women from India and Egypt, and again self-righteously distorts this as if Asra and Hala were presuming to speak for all (now capitalized) “Mainstream Muslim Women.” Asra and Hala were speaking for themselves, and as reformers speaking about what they think should be modern (mainstream) Islamic values (while acknowledging that conservative, political Islam has been poisoning the well for decades now).

            Take this article by Arshia Malik: http://nation.com.pk/blogs/24-Dec-2015/it-s-hard-to-accept-hijab-as-a-symbol-of-liberation-in-free-societies-when-millions-are-oppressed

            “It is my experience and looking at the motivations of hijabis I have known, even as some of us are making the assertion that the hijab is an instrument of oppression of women in Muslim society, a number of hijabi women, supported by Western feminists, are defending the hijab as a matter of a woman’s freedom to choose what she wears. On the surface, that seems a reasonable assertion. However, ***these women are not defending the freedom of clothing choice of women.*** These are women who are in agreement about the position of women with the men who bully women about the Hijab. What is in question is not the freedom to choose to wear the hijab but the freedom for a woman to choose the position in Muslim society for themselves that the imams and the mullahs decree. That’s a right they have, but in pretending that it’s about the freedom of choice of clothing, they contribute to the firmness of the mullah’s decree and so assist in denying space and freedom to those women who would prefer to reject the hijab and the oppression it represents. ***The ‘freedom to wear what I choose’ argument is in fact an insidious dynamic of women sustaining the mullah directed patriarchal order of Muslim society, and treating those women who reject it as enemies of the correct and proper order of Muslim society.***” (asterisks added for emphasis are mine)

            Sound familiar Keziah, Aishah, Tammy? Arshia is talking about you in that paragraph.

          • Tammy Soumas says:

            You dont have a clue what you are talking about. Also Arshia, Asra and Hala are not qualified in Arabic or in Islamic studies. Both of which are sciences on their own. Arshia’s qualifications are that shes a blogger and avid book collector. Hala and Asra are journalists with degrees in English and or Journalism. I consider myself a practicing Muslim although there are many people far more pious than me and I still wont ask them for advice. When I need religious advice I ask the people that have degrees and/or PHD’s in Islamic studies. So you can go ahead and name every Tom, Dick and Harry till the cows come home but unless they are qualified in Islam they can use their opinion for toilet paper because thats how much its worth.

          • Mike Clarke says:

            I’m sorry, Tammy, you are so very wrong. It’s a logical fallacy to say that someone doesn’t have the proper credentials and therefore their argument doesn’t need to be considered; or vice versa, that their argument is valid, simply because they have a PhD or are otherwise considered an authority. If that were the case, you might as well go follow Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and join ISIS; he has a PhD in Islamic Studies from Baghdad University.

            Further, Islamic Studies is not a science; theology and religion are the opposite of science. One does not need to be “qualified” to form one’s own opinions about religion or spirituality; or to read and interpret the religious texts. One does not have to personally be fluent in Arabic with an archaic vocabulary, or in the case of the Bible, in ancient Greek, in order to properly understand things; that’s why we have interpreters, etymologists, etc. These are not books of ancient magic and spells that you have to spend years at wizard school to master; that place is called Hogwart’s and it lives within the Harry Potter series, a work of fiction.

            The approach you are taking to religion is authoritarian, simplistic, and pedantic. The fact that so many other Muslims take this approach is why Islam has, over the past few decades, become infected with extremist theologies from Iran and Saudi Arabia. All of the Muslims working to reform the religion are attempting to bring back independent and critical thinking to Islamic practice – which will be the only way to possibly recover and further inoculate the religion from totalitarian, extremist ideologies.

            Extremist ideologies arise because of failures in moral reasoning, critical thinking, epistemology, and logic. I.e. people have “faith” without thinking for themselves and taking responsibility for themselves. Don’t fall into that trap. Just because some folks with PhDs in Islamic Studies say that Muslim women are obligated to wear the hijab doesn’t mean that the hijab is not actually being used to repress and control women. If your religion is morally wrong, take some responsibility for it, and reform it.

          • Tammy Soumas says:

            Well I strongly disagree with you Mike. On the contrary it is a fallacy to take these womens opinions because they are not informed and they are heavily influenced by their experiences. The reason that is a problem is because they are painting everyone with the same brush. My experience with Islam has mostly been positive and the times that it hasnt, it was due to people that are in actuality cultural Muslims and not Muslims in the real Islam. Prophet Muhammad taught moderation in faith and advised his followers to follow the middle path and avoid extremism in either direction. These women are extremists of one and Baghdadi the other.
            On your assertion that religion has nothing to do with science, there too you are mistaken. The Koran is filled with science you just have to bother to read it. It is ridiculous to say that you do not need to have studied Islam or be fluent in Koranic Arabic in order to consider yourself an authority but then go on to say we have etymologists and interpreters. Also even if you are an etymologist AND an interpreter of Arabic, you would still need to have an education in Islamic studies in order to explain what meaning was intended in the Koran.
            On the contrary you are the one taking a simplistic, pedantic view from the other extreme. Secularists have been trying for hundreds of years now to suppress religion of any kind and it seems that that is the place where you are coming from. Extremist Islam or Christianity or Judaism etc is such a small percentage that if it wasnt for the extreme actions of their followers they would be unknown. They do not represent the mainstream anything.
            Extremist ideologies might begin in the circumstances you state but they wouldnt flourish if people were educated and exposed to the real world. I did not say that women are not forced to do many things against their will, including wearing niqab or hijab, but its not the majority of Muslims. And trying to dictate what women can wear or not, IS extremist.
            Its not the religion that is the problem, its what people have done in the name of religion that is the problem.

          • Mike Clarke says:

            “The Koran is filled with science you just have to bother to read it.”
            Whoa. And to say that there is no clash of civilizations… what you call “science” is coming from about 650 A.D. and is full of the supernatural. Hard to have a fruitful conversation with anyone whose understanding of the modern world is so crippled, so I think I will end with this post.

            “And trying to dictate what women can wear or not, IS extremist.”
            I agree; unfortunately it’s you, Keziah, Aishah, Elmi, Eihab, and the like who are trying to dictate this. Case in point, your quote:
            “And if someone doesnt like going to the mosque to pray because they dont like being told to wear a hijab, they can pray at home but even there they have to wear while praying.”
            I.e., you are an extremist.
            I’ll repeat one last time – Asra and Hala clearly defended the right for women to wear, or not wear, the hijab (anywhere, anytime, praying or not), while all of you said it’s obligatory in Islam. I haven’t seen anyone anywhere, online or offline, since this original piece came out by Asra and Hala, saying that we should ban the hijab – not even Donald Trump has said that. They criticized the symbolism of the hijab (the same way we criticize the Confederate flag without calling for it to be banned), but the reaction from conservative Muslims and hijabis has been as if Asra and Hala were trying to tear the hijab from their heads.

            “Its not the religion that is the problem, its what people have done in the name of religion that is the problem.” Religion is an abstraction; Islam amounts to what people who read the Quran and identify as Muslim believe and do. So I suppose I don’t disagree with this statement; what people do because of misguided religious beliefs is the problem and that’s why I encourage reform.

            “Please tell us what are American values that are incompatible with Muslim values.”

            Most of them are embodied in the First Amendment to the Constitution:
            – American value: Free exercise of religion | traditional Muslim value: fidelity to Islam, to the extent that apostates are severely punished
            – American value: Freedom of speech and the press – even speech that we find offensive like the KKK | traditional Muslim value: reverence to the extent that blasphemy is punished and there is the desire to ban “offensive” speech, e.g. cartoons of the Prophet or desecrating the Quran
            – American value: Secular government and judiciary, with laws able to be changed by democratic processes | traditional Muslim value: state religion and Islamic jurisprudence (sharia) based on the unchanging Quran and Sunnah.

            And with that, I leave you to hopefully, someday, unravel yourself from the world of blind faith and submission to “learned” authorities, along with the defense of oppressive, anachronistic religious trappings, into the light of a spirituality that cherishes individual rights and modern moral reasoning.

  • MT says:

    As an American convert who has both worn and then removed the scarf over the last 25 years, I can relate to both articles. After removing my scarf about 10 years ago, I found that there was no longer a place for me within the Muslim community. I grow tired of every definition of Muslim women being viewed through the lens of the “hijab”. While I have defended and fought for the rights of my Muslim sisters to wear the scarf, unfortunately, within my own Muslim community, no one is addressing the fact that the young girls in our Islamic schools, as well as any Muslim teacher who wishes to teach or be employed there, is REQUIRED to wear a hijab. So while we ask America to give us the freedom to wear hijab, we are not equally appalled at forcing girls and women to wear them in order to participate fully in our communities. While I often find myself at odds with Asra Nomani, on this issue I do agree. Let us stop reducing ourselves to what we choose to wear and move on to more important issues. Let us not be hypocrites in demanding the right to choose our attire and then ignoring the issue of mandating it in our community spaces.
    I also agree that the narrative of African American Muslims is often missing, as a white female American convert, I can tell you that we also feel overlooked.

    • Aishah says:

      Islam is simple. There is no compulsion. Wear it, dont wear it. At the end of the day, we all die and will stand before our Lord and be accountable for our actions, hidden and exposed. I can relate to the history in the original article from the african slave being some of the original muslims in this land. What people overlook is the Polish, Bosnian and other European muslims settling here and establishing mosque and schools reestablishing and refreshing the seed of practice. I find that being a 2nd generation orthodox Muslim, we are overlooked and our opinions are discarded by the ‘arab’ perspective. Lets not be politically correct, call it what it is. It is the culture of pakistan, arabia, Afghanistan and other places where the extreme lies in womens issues. Don’t confuse your culture and how it practised with Islam. There is a vast difference. Islam has rules. Follow them or not. It is required to have wudhu before prayer. It is required when engaged in prayer to cover the hair. Take it off when you are done if that is your wish. Have we become so full of self that the simple things have to be debated and argued? Quran says let muslim be with muslim, and believers be with believers. What seperates us? Practice. Please read surah kafirun. It sums up most “religious” confusion beautifully. Salaam

  • Jash says:

    I don’t understand how the hijab makes any difference. The salient points are that Mohammed owned black slaves and the sharia he established set the stage for 28 million African slaves to be taken by North African and Middle East Muslims as chattel. By contrast, less than half a million African slaves ended up in the United States. Converting to the religion of an unapologetic slaver makes absolutely no sense.

    • Tammy Soumas says:

      So it was the Muslims fault that there was slavery in the US? Please show us the evidence instead of stating your hateful opinions.

      • Actually, the slave trade is a shared Christian- Muslim crime. While it’s true Arab Muslims sold or enslaved tens of millions of human beings, just as many African captives were enslaved by Europeans. And while over a half million African captives were brought to the U.S., many millions more ended up in other parts of the Western Hemisphere: Brazil, the Caribbean etc.

  • Sherry Khan says:

    The entire discussion of being Muslim in America is too often colored by the political and social upheavals in the Middle East and Central and South Asia. If we are going to address the problems faced by Muslims in America, then we must look at the true teachings and principles of Islamic practise and how those align with being American. Too often, Islam is conflated with political and cultural norms in the Muslim world that conflict with what Islam and America essentially stand for.

    • Aishah says:

      Unfortunately, America is based and built on racism, misogyny, bigotry and greed. The fear of Islam is the practice. And really what is that? Controlling oneself. What you eat, what you wear, what you say, how you speak, treat and deal with others. Islam is simple. Good day

      • Mike Clarke says:

        “America is based and built on racism, misogyny, bigotry and greed.”

        Despite your opinion, America has more freedoms and equality than most countries in the world, and continues to contribute to, and be a leader in, the progress of humanity. The anti-Americanism and anti-western values inherent in Islamist ideology are core to what is being discussed in Asra and Hala’s pieces; as you’ve shown in your comments, you are a defender of the hijab being obligatory, so I am not surprised to hear you espouse these views.

        In two different comments, you’ve mentioned “there is no compulsion in religion” from Quran 2:256, but conveniently leave out from the next verse: “and (as to) those who disbelieve, their guardians are Shaitans who take them out of the light into the darkness; they are the inmates of the fire, in it they shall abide.” No compulsion, but you’ll burn in hell otherwise. And, in some Muslim theocracies, in this world you’ll end up in prison or dead. Just as I’ve told Tammy – if your religion is morally wrong, take some responsibility, and change it.

        “Wear it or don’t wear it” is not the attitude of this author, Keziah. If you don’t wear it to her school or her mosque, you’ll have to answer for it.

        • Tammy Soumas says:

          You are right, America does have more equality and freedoms than many other countries however to say that America is a leader in the progress of humanity is up there with Santa Claus. The reason there is even anti American sentiment EVERYWHERE in the world (yes, its not just Muslims who think American foreign policy is wrong) is because of the US agenda to be ivolved militarily in everyone politics and countries everywhere in the world. America has been in continuous warfare over sixty years. The money that they make from selling arms, bombing infrastructure and then getting their building companies to come in to rebuild, taking other countries resources, its been going on for many years. I remember a friend of 20 years ago meeting American backpackers travelling through Europe, had Canadian flags on their packs because they knew that even in Europe Americans are not seen as the good guys. They are the aggressors.
          Extreme people come from all religions or no religions and you too are an extremist the moment you are trying to connect regular everyday middle of the road Muslims to the actions of a negligable (if not for the violence) few.
          Please tell us what are American values that are incompatible with Muslim values. I just love that phrase being thrown around with no explanation.
          Again, its not my religion that is flawed it is the extremists that claim to represent it that are flawed.
          And if someone doesnt like going to the mosque to pray because they dont like being told to wear a hijab, they can pray at home but even there they have to wear while praying.

        • NN says:

          Oh LOL and what pleasures do you think Christianity offers to the non-Christians, both here and in the hereafter?

          • Mike Clarke says:

            I wasn’t talking about Christianity; I’m not a Christian so I won’t defend the Bible either. I was responding to the frequent quoting of “no compulsion in religion” out of the context of the very next verse. I will say, however, that there is no modem day Christian equivalent to the (earthly) sharia punishment for murtadd (ex-Muslim apostates). Christians today can leave the religion at will and as publicly as they like without fear of punishment or death; you cannot say the same for many Muslims, unfortunately. It’s kind of like the mafia that way.

  • Eihab says:

    Hijab is fard (obligatory). The evidence for this is in the Quran and strong hadith, there is no disagreement among the scholars of Islam on this, there is only disagreement on whether the face should also be covered of which a minority of scholars say it should. That’s it.

    The authors of the original piece and other American Muslim women can choose to wear the hijab or not. But don’t try to pretend like it’s not a part of Islam or is some crazy radical ideology. This is the religion, God’s word, you can’t make the religion conform to your whims because you don’t like something or are deficient in something. Nobody is perfect and we are all sinners, it doesn’t make a woman a kafir if she doesn’t wear it, but to pretend like it’s not a part of the religion is just a blatant lie.

    • Tammy Soumas says:

      Deuteronomy 13:6-9 “If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying: Let us go and worship other gods (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other, or gods of other religions), do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people.”
      Deuteronomy 17:3-5 “And he should go and worship other gods and bow down to them or to the sun or the moon or all the army of the heavens, …..and you must stone such one with stones and such one must die.”
      Chronicles 15:13 “All who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.”
      Please stop trying to explain Arabic words when you hve no clue what you are talking about. All sharia is, is basic Islamic rules, like dont steal, dont lie, dont kill etc. What are American values anyway if they are not like these basic principles?

      • Mike Clarke says:

        As I said before, I’m not Christian and don’t have to defend what the Bible says. Two wrongs don’t make a right in any case; but as I also said, nobody in Christianity today has to worry about being punished or killed for leaving the religion, even if there were some places, hundreds of years ago, when they did. I’m talking about the modern world. Right now, Islam is the only established world religion where apostasy is a crime, sometimes punished by death. Deny it all you want, but it’s true.

        Sharia includes the common law basics like not stealing and not committing murder, yes; but it also includes religious crimes like apostasy and blasphemy. As I said above, these values are in direct contraction with American values and freedoms.

        I will not stop using Arabic words. Feel free to attempt to correct me if you think I misused it; but murtadd (or plural, murtaddun) means an ex-Muslim apostate.

  • There was nothing disparaging about Asra’s article. In fact I found it very enlightening. She rightly indicts those who would use the hijab as a bludgeon to repress women.

    • Tammy Soumas says:

      Shes not hurting anyone except the women that actually wear the hijab. They have no qualifications to translate Arabic, let alone the context of the words in time and place. Also neither one of them have qualifications in Islamic studies which is a science in itself. It is just their opinions. It is quite obvious hat they are trying to make a name for themselves by any means necessary and do not care that they are victimizing already targeted visible minorities. If Bruce is allowed to become Caitlin, why cant a woman have a right to wear what she likes. And who are you people that feel you should make these decisions.

    • Aishah says:

      There is no compulsion in Islam. There is no repression in Islam. There are men who repress women. There is culture and familial obligations that may repress women. Women who are muslim accept that hijab is part of this religion. If you choose to cover, wonderful. If you don’t, wonderful. Just don’t corrupt the conversation with your personal hangups and pst hurts.

  • Elmi says:

    Well said by Eihab and Tammy Soumas. Hijab is obligatory woman’s head cover as mentioned in the Koran and in the Old Testament. I dare those I’ll-informed critics to challenge otherwise. Asra and Hala were not lost that insulting Islam (under the guise of hijab)in particular is nowadays a quick path to fame and recognition.

  • LOL, the posters above are making my point, the litmus test for Muslim women is very clear, even right here in the U.S.. While we DEMAND that the U.S. allow us our constitutional right to wear the headscarf/hijab, we will not defend the right of young girls or women within our schools and mosques to make that choice for themselves. Arguing that girls/teachers can remove their headscarves when they leave the Islamic school is like arguing that a hijabi can put her scarf back on upon leaving her job or public school. Hypocrisy at its finest.
    While many believe that paying or receiving interest is haraam, we don’t ask the brother’s to open their wallets and prove that they don’t carry interest bearing credit cards or have interest bearing mortgages on their homes before they are allowed to pray in the mosque. You can believe hijab or covering the hair is required but any other Muslim is entitled to read that same scripture and disagree about the mandate for the head/hair to be covered. The whole concept of “fashion hijab” makes this even more laughable, not sure how you consider these figure hugging, makeup wearing, turbaned fashion queens any more modest than the average un-hijab’d Muslima. To each his/her own.

  • Omar says:

    The headscarf has no place in true Islam. It is a perversion of the faith. A wicked and deceitful misinterpretation of the Holy Quran. Nomani and Arafa are very precise in their explanation of the Quranic verses. They mention the London based Egyptian scholar the late Sheikh Sir Zaki Badawi, who said that the Quran and hadith do not require the wearing of the headscarf. Badawi’s views are clearly laid out in the website http://www.headscarf.uk.com. ‘Read!’ said God to the Prophet Muhammad. So all Muslims do just that…

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