Muslim Women in the West

The wearing of a veil, which is the preferred dress code, results in extreme discrimination for Muslim women in the West, unlike other countries. According to a research by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Amnesty International (OICAI), Islamophobia has increased significantly in the US and the UK as a result of recent terrorist acts. As a result, a lot of Westerners link terrorism and the veil. In other cases, women who cover their faces are seen as primitive, irrational, and subjugated (Britannica Academic). Because of this prejudice and unfavorable stereotypes, Muslim women are more likely to experience mental abuse and low self-esteem. What kind of discrimination the Muslim women might be experiencing in the West due to practice of veiling?

Why is it worth examining?

Will it help clarify general misconceptions?

Evidently, many people from the West do not understand the significance of the Islamic veil. Muslims have a unique dressing code, which originates from the teachings of the Quran. Unlike other people, it is compulsory for Muslim women to cover all their body parts when in public, they can only expose the face and hands. Hence, the veil helps in covering the hair, neck, and parts of the face. The clothing aims at limiting the females from exposing their sexuality to the public. From the Islamic teachings, ladies have to behave respectful, especially to matters relating to their bodies and sexuality. Besides, the veil conserves their dignity while identifying their religion. Thus, the study will show that several misconceptions of female oppression are not related to the Islamic veil.

Will it offer decision-makers a new way of thinking about the problem?

Apparently, many decision makers fail to identify evidence that can link the Muslim women to their dressing code. Thus, by answering ‘Will it offer decision-makers a new way of thinking about the problem? It will be possible to offer adequate information that can lead to effective decisions, which can change the perception of the Western nations on the nature of the ladies. For instance, using evidence from the Quran will enable many leaders in the West to understand that wearing Islamic veil does not oppress girls but raises their dignity. Besides, it will be easy to convince feminist groups that Islamic religion does not infringe any human rights by recommending females to cover all parts of their body except the face.

Will it provide information that is lacking? Why do we need this information?

Many people lack relevant information on the Islamic veil. For instance, some citizens from the US and the UK believe that the veil is a dressing code used by the terrorist groups. The fact that most of the terrorists cover their body parts does not imply the dressing code is recommended by the Islamic religion to attack other people. Besides, most of the terrorists are men, who do not have to cover their heads according to the Islamic teachings (Mamdani 766). In fact, Islamic groups fight for their rights and freedom, particularly when oppressed or subjected to male domination. Unfortunately, many people lack access to such information, hence continue to develop negative perceptions against Islamic veil. For this reason, the information is necessary to educate more people, end stereotyping and enable the Western nations to respect dressing code used by the Muslim women.


Different countries have conflicting cultures and customs pertaining to the use of Islamic veil. For instance, western countries have different perceptions on ladies who wear hijab. All people nowadays treat the veil as a conflicting metaphor equally involved in the discourse on women and Islam (Anabel 15). Moreover, it appears that more females decide to wear the Islamic veil in the Western world. Thus, there is a need to comprehend and depict their motives, to find out why they choose the Islamic dressing code. It is also important to understand why many people think that they are made to do that .Their exist several studies which have attempted to present complex and different definition of veil in Muslim girls. Individual Muslim unlike a group of Muslims makes sound decision regarding the usage of hijab. Therefore, the comparison will help to identify the influence of peer pressure on the use of the veil at any given time.

Apparently, the veil has become a point of sharp criticism for the increased spread of Islam in some of the western nations (Abu –Odeh 30). Besides, the administrative atmosphere is warmed by concepts such as “the war on terror’ where Islam, once perceived as overseas beliefs, has become a piece of the Western to which it poses a danger. Cultural arguments between some Muslims and Western countries resulted in a contradictory image of Muslims. Terrorism in the name of Islam has become a common topic in contemporary world, in the procedure creating horror among the usual Western non-Muslim community that leads to further misconceptions and stereotypes (Haddad 255). Furthermore, it is creating panic and frustration among Muslims who live in the West. Many of them have acquired the citizenship of the countries in the West, as the children of the first epoch of migrants constitute an entirely new circle, which belongs to the in the western region. Indeed, Islamic veil attracts much criticism and stereotyping against Muslim women .Thus, discussing the importance of the clothing can change the perception of many people towards the dressing code (Mamdani 768).

Existing Stereotypes on Islamic Veil in the West

Some people think that Islamic ladies are forced to wear the veil as a means of isolating themselves. A group that opposed Islamic veil, commonly known as Muslim feminists, are observed in the work of Mernissi, who sees the root of veiling as intersecting with the reorganization of space. He says that the “veil reveals a collective fantasy of the Muslim community: to make girls disappear, to eliminate them from communal life and to highlight their illegal position on the male territory using a mask” (Mernissi in al-Hibri 189).

He believes that a veil gives girls a possibility to stay in the male sphere without being seen. Some other writers elaborate this point of view in the feminist discourse. For instance, Abu Odeh investigates the pragmatic devices of the veil for Arabian Muslim females in Muslim majority contexts. According to her investigation, veiling is also used to empower ladies. It acts to avert men’s attention from them in the public places because ladies find it disturbing. The sexual remarks and harassment are not such a big problem when women are veiled unlike when they do not wear the veil. Odeh’s evidence says that veiled females in Egypt were more respected men. She claims that ladies have more voices on their side because they have a right to use female modesty to shame men (Abu-Lughod 783).

The immediate revolution in Iranian and massive attacks in United States (US) in September 2011 by terrorist group of al-Qaeda , was facilitated by dominance of Islamic in the region. The cause of such attacks may be not only be linked to the ordinary but completely wrong faith which we may preempt that strong relationship exists between Islamic fundamentalism and Islam. In reality, some Muslims do not follow all the requirements of their religion as it is expected of them in society. More eminent, differing from authentic Islamist specialist, majority of the Muslim are not committed to values of their religion.

Most Muslims believe that their religion encapsulates all individual’s social life. Muslim need both religion and politics to be integrated (Britania Academic 2). Being fundamentalists, they commonly have dual global perception. Muslims are opined that they are holistically associated with war and other satanic activities. Often, they are portried as pawns of Jewish and Masonic conspiracies in terms taken directly from the anti-Semitic literature of 20th-century Europe. Messianism, which plays a significant role in Christian, Jewish, and Shīʿite Islamic fundamentalism, is less important in the fundamentalism of the Sunni branch of Islam” (Britania Academic 2).

Lately, disputes about the necessity of regulating and traditions of Islam became widespread in the West. For instance, being dressed in clothing which covers face in public was banned in 2010 in Belgium. Besides, in Germany, almost all states forbid religiously meaningful symbols and cloth. In France, having religious symbols which can be observed by everyone was banned in state schools in 2004. Such examples evoke serious doubt concerning the commonplace liberal consumption of freedom that is so often used in Western oratory as it blurs the division into social norms and real desires.

Can one presume that these ladies are forced to wear such clothes? Different approaches can be used to ask the question as demonstrated by Abu-Lughod. For instance, “Did we expect that once free’ from the Taliban would go back’ shirts, blue jeans? Is it belly shirts and blue jeans that make us free? Are not both Islamic and Western women (and men) suffering from the tyranny of fashion? Why should it be that Muslim females are more forced into it as opposed to Western women?” (785).

It is in the context that it becomes truly justifiable to ask how representative and accurate images of Muslim females are in Western countries. As has been enquired again by Abu-Lughod, would it be representative of Westerners if Syria or Malaysia placed bikini-clad women on newspaper or magazine covers that have information on western nations? As pointed out earlier, only a small fraction of Muslim ladies wear dresses that cover them from head to toe, and such pieces of clothing are especially rare in Western countries. The same could be assumed on wearing bikinis and overly sexualized clothing in the West.

Importance of the Islamic Veil

In Western politics, the veil is the embodiment of female Muslims (Scott 21). Several countries even forbade different Muslim articles where clothing associated with Islam was represented. Scott (22), argues that the regulations are based upon two weakened assumptions concerning Islam and Muslim ladies. They think that these girls are made to put on Muslim religious clothing, and it is a way to be in safety. Besides, they assert that these practices struggle with the understanding of Western values. In addition, Vintges (283) states that Western media sources developed a visual shorthand for presenting Islam. Notably, the typical stereotype is that of the veiled woman, a character that straddles both ideals of multicultural inclusivity and the menace of radicalization as framework demands. In this practice of the veiled female as a representation, western media continue an Orientalist history in its image of Islam as Muslim girls are silenced

Several other reasons compel Muslim women to wear Hijab in the West. For instance, they seek to make their Muslim identity public and attract many followers. The ladies believe that developing a unique identity will make them proud as well as earn respect from the western nations. For instance, Nadia, who had begun to wear the hijab at the age of 16, became proud after she realized that she was from British .It was important to her not to lose her life. Her decision to wear the veil also tied into her feeling of coming from a different kind of background. Muslim were a British family, but because of Islam and their links with Pakistan, they had different values and traditions of the families of her non-Muslim friends.

Though sometimes it may be true that some ladies are coerced to wear the hijab, the West should stop arguing that it is a sign of coercion or male domination as most of the Muslim ladies wear it with pride, happiness, and conviction. Sociologically, the hijab is very significant and it signifies variety of things both socially and historically. For example, before the Europeans intervention in the Middle East, a face veil was a symbol of wealth (Abu –Odeh 30). Secondly, during the Iranian revolution in 1979, secular and religious women wore chador as a sign of support for the Shah. This shows that the hijab can be defined in different ways and commentators should be cautious while trying to impose a meaning on it. Nevertheless, hijab is not a sign of oppression as perceived by many people. Abu –Odeh (30) further condemned those trying to coerce or perpetrate violence on Muslim females to wear the veils. Finally, state policies are being set to ensure that the Muslim ladies are saved from the hijab misconception.

The veil is unique and easily identifiable because it is completely different from the western dressing code. In the US, the hijab symbolizes a break with the norm of secular fashion and hence can be seen to limit the amounts of power these ladies can access. Muslim girls are forced to find different ways to enact power for themselves; the veil itself may become a channel through these females access authority. Although women are potrayed by hijab to have control of their sexuality. Thus, apart from earning respect, the veil offers females protection from intrusion by the men. However, the state and the wider public may not acknowledge the command of using the veil because it does not relate to the existing societal norms. This demonstrates the influence of an Orientalist gaze that reduces the position of powerlessness. For the ladies in the West, there is a conditioned understanding that they are liberated, and Muslim women are not (Mamdani 768).

The Incorrect Perception of Western Feminists against the Muslim Women

Many feminists argue that liberation can only be accessed by subscribing to the Western female ideologies (Zine 14). An example of this stand was printed as an advertisement in the Vogue magazine, which compared the characters of a veiled a Muslim and Western girl. The Muslim were oppressed when the Western girl became independent. The Western lady may, however, fail to understand the independence of the woman. Notably, feminism does not occur in all cultural settings, and people have different interpretations of the veil, which could be wrong at some times (Zine 14). The genesis of the archetypal image can be traced back to the colonial period when male chauvinism was rampant and the feminist understanding of the veil ‘imperialist feminism’(Islam and Terroris 47). The advancement of women’s movements in the West during the colonial period, led to believe that the western girl is inferior as compared to others (Hoodfar 10). However, this superiority has currently been proved unjust. For example; the western girl viewed polygamy as an Arab inferiority though on their side; theras an increase in illegitimate children in the West because of cheating, a phenomenon that is less acceptable as compared to having multiple legal partners (Abu-Lughod 783).

The Western feminist believe that it is only through western ideological formations that the other cultures that they term to be backward will be saved. To implement this, they may be forcefully required to utilize the oppressive structures that were applied on them, thus bringing a feeling of secondary colonialism. A good example to illustrate this is the French feminists push to ban all headscarves in France. Ironically, ladies choose to continue wearing the scarves as well as fighting against the prohibition. The French liberation’s movement by women believe that when a veiled Muslim lady speaks about emancipation, she is deceiving herself. Due to this, there is a need for the awareness of the different power structure that the veiled Muslim to which girls subscribe.


Conclusively, from the above analysis it’s evident that women are discriminated unfairly in the West due to the Islamic veil. Apparently, Islamic veil is a religious dressing code for Muslim girls. Some of its purposes include concealing female sexuality, acting as a religious identity, promoting cultural values, earning respect and dignity, and maintaining power. Due to lack of information, western nations, including leaders and feminist groups, perceive the veil to be a sign of female oppression and submission to the men. Thus, it is illogic and unnecessary for western countries to stereotype the dressing code. Therefore, the arguments by several western feminist groups affirm that Muslim girls should continue to wear their veil in any part of the world, according to the religious teachings and cultural values.

Works Cited

Abu-Lughod, Lila. “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?” American Anthropologist, no.3, vol. 104, Sep 2002: pp.783.

Abu-Odeh, Lama. “Post- Colonial Feminism and the Veil: Thinking the Difference Feminist” Nr 43, Issues for Feminism, no.43, spring 1993: pp.26-37.

Anabel, Inge. The Making of a Salafi Muslim Woman: Paths to Conversion, Oxford University Press, 2016.

Britannica Academic. “Islamic Fundamentalism.” Britannica

Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck. “The Post-9/11 Hijab as Icon.” Sociology of Religion 68.3 (2007): 253-267. Academic Search Complete.

Hoodfar, Homa. “The Veil in Their Minds and On Our Heads: The Persistence of Colonial Images of Muslim Women.” RFFI/DRF 22.3 (n.d.): 5-18. Print.

Islam and Terroris. Digital image. World Magazine. N.p., 27 Oct. 2001:pp.46 – 57

Mamdani, Mahmood. “Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: A Political Perspective on Culture and Terrorism.” American Anthropologist, no.3, vol. 104, Sep 2002: pp.766-768.

Mernissi, Fatima. Beyond the veil, New York: Halstead Press, 1975: pp.189.

Scott, Joan Wallach. The Politics of the Veil. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2007. Print

Vintges, Karen. “Muslim Women in the Western Media: Foucault, Agency, Governmentality and Ethics.” European Journal of Women’s Studies 19.283 (2012): 283-89. Sage. Sage Publications, 25 July 2012. Web. 4 Dec. 2012.

Zine, Jasmine. “Muslim Women and the Politics of Representation.” The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, no.4: p.14.

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