Friday, October 15, 2010

Varying degrees of nakedness

Recently I went to see a friend of mine. Usually we meet each other in a public space and my friend is someone who has decided to completely cover herself. She wears a long burka, cloak and the niqab (face covering). Although she removes the face covering and the burka in the presence of women, she still wears the long cloak. This is how people are accustomed to seeing her. When I went to see her that day at her home she was wearing a long pants and a long top and both of these items of clothing was not tight fitting. When she came out to greet me she said “I’m sorry I’m so naked”.

This was interesting, here she was, dressed quite decently and yet she felt naked and uncomfortable with me seeing her like that. This made me think, nakedness obviously means something different to each individual, based on their ideas about things and what they become accustomed to. In contrast to a woman who seems very comfortable walking in public barely covered, here was a woman who was still completely covered and she was feeling naked. It’s strange how people’s perceptions of things differ and this is why it’s always important to understand a person’s perception of things instead of simply making assumptions.

There’s something else that I think is important here, it seems that as one progresses spiritually, our perceptions of things change and so as we move on to a different stage in life, things change accordingly.  I remember times when I would walk in public without my hijab, feeling very happy and not thinking that anything was wrong. Now even the thought of leaving my home without hijab makes me feel uncomfortable and without my hijab I definitely feel naked. See how my own perceptions of nakedness have changed as well. So as we progress we begin to change our ideas and we cannot imagine ourselves the way we used to be. The clothes we previously wore seems inappropriate and flimsy and as we move on to cover ourselves up more we become uncomfortable with our old dressing habits, until eventually we reach the stage my friend has reached, where a long top and pants makes us feel like we are naked.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s all about becoming accustomed to a certain thing. A woman who has never covered herself will find it strange to see a woman who is covered and thus it will be easy for her to make judgements about it. If that same woman begins to cover herself then the opposite will occur and she will then begin to look at women who are uncovered and find that strange. So just like everything else in life, as we progress so too do our perceptions of nakedness change as well. 

 Other people will never understand the joy it gives Muslim women to cover up because they have never experienced this themselves and they have not become accustomed to it, so it will always remain something strange for them. But the adverse is true as well, because Muslim women will never understand the need to shed your clothes and walk around almost naked, and you know what, as a Muslim woman, I don’t think I’d ever want to try and understand that, because in my opinion that would be real regression.  

May The Almighty Allah guide us all and save us from all that displeases Him. May Allah guide people towards the path of righteousness Insha'Allah!


  1. Sister great post!

    However the concept of progression really bothers me. I don't think the more naked we feel the more spiritually we have the begining yes but the further we go I question this argument. This sister may ALlah bless her for anything good she does but I don't look at niqabi women and saying OH they are better than me spiritually because they hide their face.

    THis is her choice. If we went with this argument we would eventually say well someone who doesnt leave the house just in case men even glanced her direction...its not going well. AL-islam is about balance. Can we say that the man with the longest beard or the shortest shorts are greater imaan?

    We are supposed to be covered and modest. This is our responsibility as Muslims. I think covering our chests and legs and wearing hijab is bring us closer to a state of fitra and nakedness is a condition that is allowed by society acceptance. These people who are half naked well they probably wereNT (talking about US) when they were younger, but they got conditioned so there is an original understanding I think they might have on the inside. And coming to understand why they dress like that...I dont think its regression rather if we understand, the implications, the intentions we can use that as dawa in being able to argue against the condition rather than just condemning it. Sometimes the practices we try to hate and condemn...if just understand it more we can be more merciful and be able to talk to someone without offending them or turning them off. This is hard for me to do. But you have an opportunity here..thats my observation

  2. Ameen!

    Subhan'Allah, what a lovely post! Thank you sister. And I totally agree with you about people's different perceptions on "nakedness". And I also agree to the last part of your post --- for example my family and friends always comment on how much clothes I'm wearing - which for me isn't too much - and that I must feel warm in them. They simply don't understand how comfortable it is for me to cover up :) And no, I also don't understand how comfortable they feel without all those clothes...

  3. Jazakallah Khayr sister Is-za for your valuable comments.

    You make some very valid points, but I think however that you’ve misunderstood the point I was trying to make. What I am talking about is a system where women’s dress has over the years being changed, from more covered to less covered. While many people regard less covered as the progression and see it as a form of women’s liberation and freedom, I think that this is in fact a form of regression as I believe that women had more freedom when they were covered, as they were not merely regarded as sex objects. This goes for Muslim and non-Muslim women, as we know all women used to be covered in earlier stages in history. So you can easily see when you look at history, how perceptions of nakedness have changed. I was trying to illustrate how covering up actually elevates women instead of brings her down.

    I agree with you that Islam is a balanced system and do not believe that one’s clothes is a measure of piety, but I certainly admire women who have chosen to wear niqab and I wonder if I will ever have strength to do the same. I know this might be a generalization but all the women that I have met who have chosen to wear niqab has done so after having gone through her own personal spiritual journey, and I think this is more what I was trying to touch on. So it’s not that she is more spiritual because she wears niqab, but instead, it seems for me that as a result of becoming more spiritual these women have then chosen to wear niqab. Niqab cannot be regarded as a measure of spiritually, I absolutely agree with you, but in many cases (and definitely not all), it may be regarded as a result of someone reaching a higher spiritual level.

    I don't know if this brings my point across a bit better.

    Thank you for your comments and looking forward to hearing from you again.

    Stay well:)

  4. hijabrockers and rose water.

    Jazakallah khayr sisters for yor comments.

    Looking forward to hearing from you in future.

    Stay well sisters:)

  5. Thank you for clarifying sister Zarina!

    Subhnallah I couldnt agree more :) It makes me think of the concept of modesty and how I wanted to research it and there is very few materials addressing it as a valuable concept in womens dress. Most of the time whenever you read things referring to the history of fashion it mentions shorter hems or lower necklines bereft of any reference to the social implications/influences. With the way things are going now (especially with wearing tights and spandex and tank tops) I really believe one day people might just be wearing body paint outside. :(

    I pray that we all may be touched with beautiful sense of spirituality as your friend inshallah.

    Keep up the good work.

  6. Salaams, sis Zarina and Is-za...

    I can see fruitful discussion here... I like it very much. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. Only if we have more muslimahs who understand and have more concern on this 'nakedness in modern days' issue...

  7. Was-salaam Sister Ati

    You are right, we need to be having more of these disucssions, sister Is-za has brought up some valid points, and her findings when wanting to study the histor of fashion just shows the direction that "fashion" is going in. I think its especially important for young Muslimah's to understand these issues and not become victims to fashion trends and other popular understandings of beauty and fashion.

    I hope that you are doing well sister.

    Take care