About Me

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Hijab: Why Some Wear it and Some Don't

In Malaysia, which is predominantly Muslim, some women wear the hijab, a head scarf that shows the face but covers the hair, ears and neck. And some do not. A new documentary, “Siapa Aku?” or “Who Am I?” by Norhayati Kaprawi, a young Muslim woman, explores the reasons why.
“I am passionate about women’s issues,” says Ms. Norhayati, who herself once wore the hijab but no longer does. Her first documentary, “Mencari Kartika” (“In Search of Kartika”), told the story of Kartika Shukarno, a young Malaysian Muslim woman sentenced by a religious court to six strokes of the cane and a fine for drinking beer in a hotel bar. A day before the caning was due to be carried out last April, the sentence was commuted to community service.
In her new documentary, Ms. Norhayati interviews Muslim women — young and old, urban and rural — in Malaysia, as well as religious scholars and celebrities in Kuala Lumpur and Indonesia about the hijab, also called the tudung.
The pressure to wear one is a dominant theme: “I think this conformity is the most dominating factor on why women in Malaysia wear a tudung,” Shamsul Amri Bahruddin, director of the Institute of Ethnic Studies at the National University of Malaysia, tells Ms. Norhhayati, adding that those who don’t can expect to hear from the lady next door every day, saying “you will go to hell or your hair will be burnt in hell.” Often, he adds, the women don’t understand the Quranic verses surrounding the reason for the hijab.
Indeed, at times it seems wearing it has little to do with religion. Nik Aziz Nik Hassan, former head of the Dakwa (missionary) department at National University of Malaysia, tells Ms. Norhayati, “In the late 1960s, Nik Mohamad Salleh, the son of a Kelantanese mufti (Islamic scholar)… was really against the imposition of tudung on Malay women. However he was not against the wearing of tudung. It is up to women’s own taste and style…. He opposed the claim that women who do not wear tudung are not faithful Muslims and are un-Islamic.”
“This documentary is not aimed at discouraging Muslim women from wearing the hijab,” says Ms. Norhayati, who adds, “This issue is so big…the hijab issue has been there for years.”
The 50-minute film, which is in the local Malay language with English subtitles, presents scenes of Muslim women wearing the hijab at weddings and scenes of Muslim women dancing without the hijab, with their hair showing. There’s also one scene of Muslim men wearing the hijab — as a sales gimmick. They are hijab sellers on Kuala Lumpur’s famous Masjid Jamek street.
“I want to see the response, especially from the Muslim community,” says Ms. Norhayati. She talked to Scene about wearing the hijab and why she turned the issue into a film.
Q. Why did you do this documentary?
A. I decided to do this story because I am inspired by this trend: women taking off their hijab…. People will have an idea of what is actually going on in a Muslim woman’s life. They just see women wearing tudung and that’s it. But what happened? Why do they wear it? What are the challenges they face?
I know a lot of women wear it out of pressure. Especially in schools, they say it is compulsory.  The amount of pressure and harrassment the women go through …these voices, their voices are never highlighted. The women themselves are too afraid to talk about it in public.
The documentary also gives the history of the hijab phenomenon in Malaysia. When did the hijab become popular in Malaysia? Who popularized it? What organization popularized it? And how much of it is actually about religion?
Q.  Does Islam say it is compulsory to wear the hijab?
A. Opinions differ. Most mainstream ulemas (Muslim scholars) generally will say it iswajib (compulsory). I am highlighting [in the documentary that] there are actually differences of opinion, which I do believe  the mainstream media, especially the Malay print and TV, will never highlight. The difference [in opinion] is between the ulemas. In the 1950s, there was an ulema from the state of Kelantan, Nik Mohamad Salleh, who studied in Mecca. He was against the imposition of tudung on Muslim women…. Now the mainstream ulemas view that sort of opinion as  un-Islamic.
Q. You did not interview any ulemas in Malaysia for this documentary. Why?
A.  If anybody can tell me, “You can interview this ulema,” I will go.  I have asked around.
Where are the progressive ulemas?  That is why for this documentary I had to go to Jakarta.  Of course, there are many conservatives in Indonesia as well. But at least there are moderate voices as well as well as progressive voices.  Whereas in Malaysia, where are the progressive voices?
Q. You don’t wear the hijab. Why?
A. I used to wear the hijab. I wore it when I was 14 and I took it off in my 30s. I wore it because at that time…from what I read, I said, this is what a Muslim girl or woman should do, [it was the] right thing to do…. But as the years went by, I felt something was not right, especially when I was 17 years old.  I was already wearing tudung but a friend of mine did not wear the tudung. Almost every day boys [at a co-educational school] would put notes in her table insinuating she will go to hell for exposing her hair. She felt so pressured finally she wore [one]. It left me thinking: How come boys can do whatever they like, can wear whatever they like, yet they feel this higher ground, this higher moral authority to pressure girls?
Q.  How did your family react to that?
A. They did not comment.  I don’t know if they said anything behind my back. One of my sisters wore the hijab when she was working in the civil service. She was pressured to wear it. Once home, she took it off.
Q. What conclusions can you draw from the various interviews?
A. From this documentary, one of the main things that is quite obvious is that it seems the ulemas, their accomplishment is forcing women to wear hijab through whatever ways, either through mental pressure or emotional pressure. From my interviews they have not managed to educate the Muslim women about why they should cover up. [The women] don’t even know the verse in the Koran which says you must cover up. [The ulemas] don’t emphasize education…. You wear or you go to hell. It’s like a command.

source: WSJ 

On being an introvert

I came across this today 10 Myths about Introverts, when reading it a lot it made sense to me. I was told by my teacher in middle school that I was an introvert. But what does that mean? Am I programmed to be like this or can I change myself? Well actually introverts and extroverts are the way they are because of the way their brains functions and has to do with Dopamine.
it turns out that Introverts are people who are over-sensitive to Dopamine, so too much external stimulation overdoses and exhausts them. Conversely, Extroverts can’t get enough Dopamine, and they require Adrenaline for their brains to create it. Extroverts also have a shorter pathway and less blood-flow to the brain. The messages of an Extrovert’s nervous system mostly bypass the Broca’s area in the frontal lobe, which is where a large portion of contemplation takes place.

So if I am the way I am it's because of the way my brain was programmed. When people told me to stop thinking too much and stop being shy, well it wasn't my fault, God made me this way!

Here are the 10 myths about introverts:

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.