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The Obsession to Control What Women Wear Needs to Stop

In reference to this article published in NST today.

Sisters in Islam (SIS) demands that Kelantan’s Islamic Affairs and Religious Department (JAHEAIK) stops its operations to police and summon women for their clothing, and expunge those whom have been issued notices from attending counselling sessions.

The obsession to control what women wear needs to stop. Not only does this practice humiliate and degrade the value of women, the compulsive need to control what women wear implies that she is mentally, physically and spiritually defective and a danger to the moral order of society.

We are also extremely concerned that the operations carried out in Kota Baru unfairly targets Muslim women as no summons were issued to men who fail to guard their modesty by lowering their gaze as commanded by Islam [24:30]. This discrimination unfairly suggests that women are exclusively to be blamed for social and moral ills within the community.

According to the Holy Quran, discussion on how people should dress revolves around the concept of modesty. Surah Al-A’raaf 7:26 speaks of clothing to cover nakedness and clothing as a thing of beauty. The same verse also makes a point that the garment of piety (taqwa) is the best of all. Verse 31 of the same Surah goes on to caution against excessiveness where it comes to dressing well for worship.

When the two above verses are taken together, we can clearly see that while clothing is to be used to cover nakedness, no amount of material used or discarded can take priority over piety (taqwa). According to Surah Al-Hujurat 49:13, the most Nobel of humankind in the eyes of Allah are those with the best taqwa.

We urge that JAHAEIK make efforts to understand the realities of the community which they serve as a whole, as well as the systemic causes of social ills, which does not stem from how women choose to dress.

Sisters in Islam
13 May 2019