By James R. Watkins
Why is Omar’s head covering offensive? Let me count the ways.
According to the Quran women are told that they must maintain modesty. In the 7th Century, Mohammed knew men and it was directed that women would be better to cover themselves so as to not tempt men. Hence, Muslim women wear head scarfs, and in more conservative Muslim countries, they are required to cover their entire body, except for the eyes, when in public.
It is not for me to define why a suggestion to have modesty turns out to be, 1200 hundred years later, a law punishable by stoning. What I can say is that if Congresswoman Ilhan Omar makes a decision to always cover her hair, I assume she is either doing so because she accepts the suggestion to be modest, or she is showing her faith to God by wearing a headscarf, thinking that Allah actually cares about her hair.
Either way, I wish to make a third point, which is this, that men are not required to “show their modesty,” but that women are, seems to show a double standard on the part of God. Men, if they are true followers of God’s will, should be able to resist the temptation of being attracted to a woman just because he sees her hair. Omar is perpetuating the idea that God is like a mortal man, concerned with material things, or has little faith that the very man he created, is unable to refrain from the temptation of a women’s hair. In both scenarios, the idea of a mandated head-scarf seems to belittle the wisdom of a Divine and Supreme Creator and Infinite Upholder of all things.
Second, that because only women are forced to wear hijabs and other body coverings because of Sharia Law, shows a belief system that is oppressive and not worthy of existence in the 21st century. God never cares about the body, only the heart; God doesn’t care about the words, only the deeds, what is in our heart. Omar knows this, all people who know God know this truth. God cares what is in our hearts.
In the last analysis, I would assert to Omar that she wears her scarf, not out of faith in Allah, but because in her heart she is reducing Islam to a fashion statement. I believe she likes wearing the scarf because it draws attention to her, especially in Western culture, she loves the attention. Therefore, her continuation of using the scarf to convey vanity goes against the very principle of modesty. Omar is mocking God, and mocking women worldwide who suffer because of the law Omar supposedly honors.
Either way, it is with great offense that she continues to behave in such a non-spiritual manner.
I see her wearing the scarf and I feel sorry for the millions of oppressed women who are punished because of oppressive laws that seem to serve men, not God. I see Omar with a color scarf and wonder if she chooses her daily vanity cloth because it matches her outfit. And mostly, I see a woman who flaunts her faith like a child who just got a new dress and wants to show everyone how pretty she looks. God is not a fashion statement.
But the greatest offense I find in Omar is her total disregard of the millions of women who continue to suffer under the very oppressive laws of Sharia she so blindly follows, and only because she lives in a country that allows her to do so without oppression.
James R. Watkins is an award-winning broadcaster, producer and author. Follow Jim @candidlyspeaking62