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September 12, 2004
Why I choose to be ‘Undercover’..

by Bint Abdul Khaliq

“Excuse me,I’m just curious , why do you wear that?” I stopped in mid-turn and faced the lady at the cellphone counter at Woolworths. ‘THAT’ of course referring to my Niqab. For a second I was caught off-guard.I have been asked this question many times before by non-muslims. “Its for protection..” I mananged to stumble out.Inwardly I gave myself a little shake-you can do better than that! That must have sounded so lame! So I used the example of a jewel and pointed out that something so valuable wouldn’t be just left out for all to see,you would cover it up to protect it.She nodded her head as if she understood and I knew what was coming next.. “ Do you have to wear it because you are married?” I told her no,I’m not married and both her eyebrows shot up. “So how are you going to get married??” If I had to compile a FAQ,this would be one of them.I explained it to her. “But you might be hiding a lot of beauty under there?”she quipped.
“But that’s the point!” I told her. “I don’t want to be judged by my LOOKS,I want to be judged by WHO I AM.” When I left her she seemed to understand.At least I hope she did.

This incident once again reminded me how misunderstood Islam is,especially about why we Muslim females have to cover up.It is seen as a stigma of oppression.Forced on us by our oppressive husbands who wish to impede us from being liberated…

What IS the ‘liberation’ of woman all about? We hear it all the time: Woman need to be ‘free’. They need to release themselves from the cruelty of ‘oppression’. But what is the yardstick for deciding whether a female is oppressed or not? You cannot judge something if there is no standard to judge by.In today’s western societies, this yardstick very much seems to be the length of a woman’s skirt…The sister who is covered under the Burqa in Afghanistan in ‘oppressed’,but the one who poses naked for millions to see is tasting the fruits of ‘liberation’? It makes me sick! If that is freedom,then it comes at a cost,and that cost is her Haya! Her Modesty.

Narrated Abu Huraira (R.A)
The Prophet said, "Faith (Belief) consists of more than sixty branches.And Haya is a part of faith."

Hazrat Abu Hurairah narrates that the Holy Prophet (SWAS) said, “Modesty is part of Imaan and Imaan is in paradise and obscenity is part of hard-heartiness is in hell."(Ahmad, Tirmizi )

"Verily! Allah is Hayaa (modest, bashful) & Sitteer (i.e. the One Who Shields - from disobedient acts). He loves Hayaa (i.e. He loves for one to practice modesty and bashfulness) and Siter (shielding; covering)." [Collected by Abu Dawud; An-Nissa’ee; Al-Baihaqee; Ahmad; & in Saheeh An-Nissa’ee]

Hazrat Ibn Mas'ood reports that the Holy Prophet said, "Verily, amongst the words people have obtained from the sayings of the past prophets is that when you are immodest (unashamed) then do whatever you desire."(Ibn Majah)

Women are sacred in Islam. The amount of respect that Islam accords to us females, would turn a woman of any other faith green with envy,if she only understood what respect meant.That leads us to the question: What is respect? To receive respect we have to respect ourselves.We have to value this body of ours that ALLAH has blessed us with.We have to realize that we aren’t cheap playthings for any male to gaze at .We are worth much more than that.

I feel inferior when I am judged by my looks, the type of clothing that I wear, the amount of skin that I am showing off. Infact, I feel down right oppressed when judged by those standards! The woman who feels that to feel respected,she needs to live up to the disgusting standards of the west-is actually a slave.She has no freedom.She is trapped in this cruel prison of insecurities,of demoralization ,of unsatisfaction.She loses her self respect by constantly putting herself down and comparing herself to others.And yet she tries , desperate to be noticed-to feel RESPECTED.

Let us use the illustration of a beautiful bird, which boasts exquisite feathers but it’s internal organs are not in order ,it would die.On the other hand, if it’s inner body was perfect but externally it had no feathers or wings it would not survive either. Similarly, total spiritual perfection cannot be complete by just the inner or the outer purification alone.It goes hand in hand.It often happens that people think that their outer dress does not matter as long as ‘their heart is clean’.On the other extreme,it means nothing if a sister is dressed in full hijaab and niqaab if she is not protecting herself from impure thoughts and her inner self is corrupted.Again,it works hand in hand.

I know that it is not easy,living in western societies.We are bombarded by immorality at every turn.Open any magazine or newspaper-You will have to see it. Driving home and if your gaze happens to fall on the billboards surrounding you-you will have see to it.Innocently checking your e- mail,you will have to see it.Immorality stares us in the face. Subconciously we are being programmed. We are being told the way to dress.We are being told what makes a successful,liberated woman: looks,make-up,perfect figures and skimpy clothing. And the markets are BOOMING…we are falling into their traps,and some businessmen are out there rubbing their hands in glee!

Who are our role models? Hollywood and Bollywood stars? Supermodels? Kuffar who are paid millions to commit zina for all to see and enjoy.For that’s what it boils down to.If their looks were taken away,if they weren’t prepared to act so shamelessly ,if their natural,God given modesty came between them and their careers-They would be sacked faster than you can say they “Lights..camera..action!” and the next money hungry,beautiful woman would not hesitate to grab the opportunity at any cost and would do anything to please.It’s sad.

If I choose to cover myself,that does not make me weak.It strengthens my identity as a Muslim Woman and reminds me to be modest at all times.It protects me from many sins that otherwise I might have been tempted by shaaitaan to fall into. For example, I would not be seen dead near a Cinema or a nightclub or some other fitna-filled place while I am dressed in full Islamic attire. I don’t have to be suffering everyday by painfully spending hours of preening before I feel I am of a socially acceptable appearance. I don’t have to subject myself to undue stress since I have much more chance of escaping the swinging pendulum of the fashion industry and the desires of the male population. Islam has given me rights and it has given me rules.If I abide by them, I am promised a content,happy life in this temporary world and I am promised the unimaginable,uncomparable pleasure of the everlasting Akhirah.I am happy to be seen as a Muslim Woman who chooses to veil herself by choice. I am not oppressed and I am not uneducated but I am respected.I have been given freedom by my creator ALLAH TA’ALA who knows what is best for me and what will harm me,after all-HE created me.

And that is why I choose to be ‘Undercover’.

of and relating to...
Justoju said

Preach sista!

on September 12, 2004 4:53 PM
Rami said

Asalaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wabarkatu,

Masha Allah this is a very good article. I wonder if you wouldn't mind submitting it to Adbusters magazine as an editorial. They usually include pieces about this very issue in their magazine but it is always as artwork or photgraphy.

Here is the link:

Any other sisters, this would also be an opportunity for you to speak out and speak your mind.

Waslaam Warahmatullah Wabarakatu

on September 12, 2004 4:58 PM
Humyun said

Asalamlaikom, wonderful article. I wish we had more sisters with the same mindset


on September 12, 2004 5:39 PM
Faisal Akhtar said

I am proposing some cool nicknames for sister Bint Abdul Khaliq after this article.

Bint Abdul Khaliq
aka Undercover Sister
aka Ninja Lady.

That second one I actually learned from a non-muslim who was trying to insult sisters who cover (obviously he was hiding behind the internet otherwise he would have heard it from me). I say, "that is exactly what they are". The sisters who cover are warriors of this ummah (ninjas are warriors) and I doubt there is any more open declaration of Islam than the niqab. Excellent article sister.

on September 12, 2004 5:45 PM
Justoju said

hmmm, I just checked out the Adbusters link. I never knew this thing existed! Its an awesome initiative.

on September 12, 2004 6:37 PM
Justoju said

And I give my vote to Undercover Sister.

on September 12, 2004 6:39 PM
Justoju (3 is sunnah) said

The biggest problem in this society (and a growing one in 'muslim' societies) is that women and society have left the objective standards and principles of theology and embraces a more subjective stance.
For example, in Islam we believe that we are all beautiful because Allah (SWT) has made us so and He doesnt lie. That is the objective standard by which we judge what we are. However, from the subjective point of view "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and a woman is only beautiful (and only allowed to 'feel' beautiful) if she gets positive external feedback from those that view her. The more people view her and give her positive feedback the more she can be confident that her understanding of herself as being beautiful is accurate. What a pity that a being that has been so elevated by Allah has thus reduced herself to a sniveling insecure mess.

on September 12, 2004 7:06 PM
Talal said

MashaAllah Sister, this one's a Hidaya CLASSIC.
Everyone feel free to send this out to everyone they know... truly effective stuff.

From the comments... the following was indredibly insightful, mashaAllah:
"However, from the subjective point of view "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and a woman is only beautiful (and only allowed to 'feel' beautiful) if she gets positive external feedback from those that view her. The more people view her and give her positive feedback the more she can be confident that her understanding of herself as being beautiful is accurate. What a pity that a being that has been so elevated by Allah has thus reduced herself to a sniveling insecure mess. "

on September 13, 2004 8:25 PM
sister said

Assalaamu 'alaykum

MashaAllah ukthi. This is by far one of the best pieces you've written for Hidaya.

As a fellow undercover ninja, your thoughts and feelings on this topic are very close to my heart.

As with all great heros/heroines of Islaam, with great blessings, come even greater responsiblities. With such elevation by the Almighty, it becomes critical that our niyyah remains crystal clear.

May Allah 'azza wa jal purify our intentions, Ameen.

Love you for the sake of Allah ya ukthi...keep it up inshaAllah!

on September 13, 2004 9:43 PM
Hamad said

Just as this article increases the value of truth (haq) and iman in the definite rewards that await the faithful, I am thinking of how sisters are much more stronger in will to wear Niqab and Hijab, whereas brothers are overwhelmingly ignorant of their attire according to Quran and Sunnat. I have seldom seen brothers wearing even a prayer cap (sunnat) during prayers whereas they are bold/ignorant in displaying their T-Shirt logo's to Allah during prayers.

on September 14, 2004 11:14 PM
passerby said

Great article, and written with well felt fervor.

Br. Hamad, sorry about my ignorance on the issue but -

what's wrong with guys wearing T-Shirt logos when praying?
Also, isn't it true that the prayer cap isn't compulsory for men whereas the hijab is for women?

on September 15, 2004 10:35 AM
Bint Abdul Khaliq said

As Salaamu Alaikum

Whoever is reading this PLEASE make dua that I do not fall into that group of people misled by shaitaan and who are hypocritical and do not practise what they preach.Ameen!

Brother Rami JaZAKALLAH for your suggestion,InshALLAH if I get the time I will edit it and send it in.

Excellent point sister Justojou

passerby I think Brother Hamad was commenting on the Aadab that muslim males need to uphold in the Musjid-the prayer cap (Topee) is Sunnah and therefore highly encouraged,and to dicard it is to deprive onself of blessings and reward.Some Logos on T-shirts are obviously of the western culture-not disallowed but by dressing the Sunnah there will be so much more Thawab and meaning to our Salaah.Why should we settle for less?

Was SAlaam

on September 15, 2004 5:03 PM
Bint Abdul Khaliq said

Signing off
Undercover sister

on September 15, 2004 5:09 PM
Ibtisam said

I have a question, slightly related to this article. I know in NJ you have a lot of very religious muslims living there. why are you guys living in this country? The women asked about women's rights in Islaam. but they dont practice women rights in America by americans everywhere, here and in Iraq. Look what they have done in Iraq, how many of our women have been dishonored. They know that by killing us, they cannot hurt us so they dihonor our women?
What keeps you Muslims living here, is it right? to live in a place where its people are torturing and raping Muslims abroad?
I cannot stop to think. I have obviously not read the news until today and I cannot think why I am staying here or what is the glamour to stay here, anymore.
Wasalaamu Alaykum

on September 17, 2004 5:12 PM
gillette said

"why are you guys living in this country?"

because of the possibility that we can make change happen, or die trying.

on September 17, 2004 8:36 PM
Ibtisam said

Why not make changes in back home Muslim countries. Does it not make you feel guilty at all because of all the things happening, subhanallaah.

on September 17, 2004 9:52 PM
Bint Abdul Khaliq said

As Salaamu Alaikum

"I know in NJ you have a lot of very religious muslims living there. why are you guys living in this country?"

Im not sure if this question was directed at me as well because I am not from America.Just a thought on the matter though that by moving to a muslim country will it help the situation much? I respect your opinion totally sister but by living in the country that doesnt mean that you are proud of the wrong done by the government of your country.And if you are an American citizen your opinion and critisms aimed at your government will hold much more weight and affect much more change than if you are going to make in another country.Most Muslim countries today are puppet governments of the American government anyway.And lastly if all the muslims are going to leave for muslim countries-who will teach the new muslims or set examples for them? Who will establish Islam and fight for the rights of Muslims? ALLAH knows best.

By the way Sister Ibtisam congratulations on your marriage.May ALLAH keep you happy.Ameen!

WAs Salaam

on September 18, 2004 1:14 PM
Amr ibn Muhammed Gharib said

"total spiritual perfection cannot be complete by just the inner or the outer purification alone.It goes hand in hand."

subhanallaah, couldnt have put it beter myself

on September 21, 2004 11:43 AM
Nadia said

Mashallah, this was another beautiful piece Sr.Bint Abdul Khaliq. Your regular and amazing writings always inspire me to write more Mashallah. Jazakallah khair million times.

on September 21, 2004 7:00 PM
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