Laughter is the Best Medicine

What does the Quran really say about a Muslim woman’s hijab? | Samina Ali | TEDxUniversityofNevada

Reviewer: Peter van de Ven I’m going to take you back
in time, 1400 years, to the city of Medina, Saudi Arabia. To a time when Prophet Mouhammed
was given the task of finding a solution to women in the city
being attacked and molested. The situation was this: It was around the year 600 AD, long before the modern convenience, of plumbing. When a woman awoke
in the middle of the night with the urge to relieve herself, she would have to walk out, past the outskirts of the city,
and into the wild by herself, for privacy. Believe it or not, a group of men actually began
to see an opportunity in women’s nightly tracks, and started to linger
at the outskirts of the city – their identities hidden
in the dark, watching. If a woman walked by, and she happened to be wearing a jilbab, which was a garment like a coat, the men knew to leave her alone. A jilbab of centuries ago
was a status symbol, like a Burberry trench or a Chanel jacket. It announced that the woman was free, and a free woman
was protected by her clan. She would have no problems
speaking out against the attacker and identifying him. But if the woman walking out at night
wasn’t wearing a jilbab, if she happened to be dressed
a bit more freely, then the men knew she was a slave, and they attacked her. Concerned members of the community
brought the situation to the Prophet, and like so many other social,
political, and familial issues that Muhammed faced
during his Prophethood, he turned this particular
matter over to God, and a verse was revealed for the Quran, the Muslim holy book. “O Prophet,” it reads, “tell your wives, your daughters,
and the women of the believers to draw upon themselves their garments. This is better, so that they
not be known and molested.” Basically, the verse advises
that all women dress similarly, so that they can’t be
picked out from one another, zeroed in on, and attacked. Now, on the surface, this may seem like a relatively
easy solution to the problem, but turns out it wasn’t. The early Muslim community was tribal,
and so deeply entrenched in social status, and the idea that a slave
would look like a free woman, that was almost insulting. And then there was
the matter of practicality. How would a slave do her work? How would she function,
if her body was constricted by a coat? How would she cook, clean, fetch water? In the end, the early
Muslim scholars ruled that a woman’s way of dress
should be based on two considerations: a woman’s function in society – her role, what we might consider her job – and the society’s specific customs. Or, in another way: when in Rome. Muslims like to take historical rulings
and apply them to the modern era. So, let’s do that. A woman’s way of dress
should be based on custom and function. So, what does that mean for
a Muslim woman living in America today, for someone like me? First, it means that I have a function,
a role in society, a contribution that I can make. Second, it means that while I’m making that contribution, and living in a society
where veiling is not the custom, and where, in fact, if I veil
it might actually lead to harassment, then wearing what is the custom, such as a dress, a pair of jeans
or even yoga pants, is not only acceptable, it’s recommended. But wait, could that be right? After all, haven’t we all come to assume that a Muslim woman must veil, that veiling is
a requirement of her faith? There is even a term that we’ve all come to associate
with the Muslim woman’s veil, an Arabic term
that we’ve all heard use, whether or not we’ve been aware of it: “Hijab.” So, maybe I missed it. Maybe the requirement that a woman veil
is in a different part of the Quran. For those of you who don’t know,
the Quran consists of 114 chapters, each chapter is written out
in verses, like poetry. There are more
than 6,000 verses in the Quran. Out of the 6,000 plus verses, three refer to how a woman should dress. The first is the verse
I’ve already told you about. The second is a verse that directly
speaks to the Prophet’s wives, asking that they begin to dress
a bit more modestly because of their role,
their function in society as his wives. And the third verse
is similar to the first, in that it was revealed in direct response
to a historical situation. Early records show that the custom, the fashion during the pre-Islamic era, was for women to wear a scarf
on the head, called a khimar, which would be tucked behind the ears
and allowed to flow behind the back. In the front, a woman wore
a tight vest or a bodice, which she left open exposing her breasts – sort of like the images
you’ve seen in Game of Thrones. (Laughter) When Islam spread through
the Arabian Peninsula, a verse was sent down asking
that women use this scarf, or any other garment, to cover the breasts. And that’s it. That’s basically all there is in the Quran
concerning how a woman should dress. Turns out, God doesn’t give a bullet point
of all the parts on a woman’s body that he wants hidden from view. And in fact, it might be argued,
and it is argued, I cannot stress enough that it is argued
by many Muslim scholars that the reason these verses
were left intentionally vague is so that a woman could choose
for herself how to dress according to her specific culture and the progression of time. And that the term “hijab,” guess what? It’s not in any of these three verses. In fact, it’s nowhere in the Quran,
directly meaning a woman’s veil. That’s not to say that the word
doesn’t appear in the Quran because it does appear. But when it appears,
it’s actually used correctly, to mean a barrier or a divide. Such as the barrier or divide that exists
between us humans and the divine, or between believers and non-believers. Or it means a barrier,
like a physical screen, that men during Muhammad’s time
were asked to stand behind when speaking to his wives. Or it means the seclusion,
the separation that Mary sought when she was giving birth to Jesus. That separation and seclusion, that means hijab; that physical screen, that means hijab; that barrier, that divide, that means hijab. Hijab doesn’t mean a woman’s veil. And yet, isn’t it strange
that what the term actually means, being screened off, divided away,
barred, separated out, these are the very terms
that come to our minds when we think of a Muslim woman? Why shouldn’t they? We have all seen the way some Muslim women
are treated around the world: if she attempts to go to school, she’s shot in the head; if she attempts to drive a car, she’s jailed; if she attempts to take part in the political uprisings
happening in her own country, to be heard, to be counted, she is publicly assaulted. Forget about hiding out in the dark
at the outskirts of the city, some men now feel comfortable enough
to assault a woman on the sidewalk, for the world to see. And they don’t care
to hide their identities, they’re more interested
in making international headlines. They’re too busy making videos
and uploading them onto YouTube, bragging about what they’ve done. Why don’t they care
to hide their crimes? They don’t feel like
they’ve committed any crimes. It’s the women
who’ve committed the crimes. It’s the women who got
these funny ideas in their heads, ideas that actually
led them out of the house, led them into society, believing that they
can make a contribution, and we all know, honorable women, they stay at home; honorable women stay invisible. Just as it was the custom
for honorable women to do during the Prophet’s time. Is that true? 1400 years ago is long before feminism. Were women locked away
behind doors, screened off by veils? Well, it turns out
that the Prophet’s first wife was what we would define today as a CEO. She was a successful merchant whose caravan equaled the caravans
of all the other traders put together. She essentially headed up
a successful import-export company. When she hired Muhammed to work for her, she was so taken with his honesty that eventually she proposed. (Laughter) I’m not sure how many women
feel comfortable proposing marriage to a man today. And Muhammad’s second wife? She was no slacker either. She rode into battle
on the back of a camel, which is equivalent to a woman
riding into battle today inside of a Humvee or a tank. And what of the other women? Early records show that women
demanded to be included in the Islamic revolution
taking place around the Prophet. One woman became famous as a general when she led her army of men
into battle and crushed a rebellion. Men and women freely associated
with one another, exchanged gifts. It was custom for a woman
to select her own husband and propose. And when things didn’t work out, to initiate divorce. Women even loudly debated
with the Prophet himself. Seems to me that if fundamentalists want to return
current Muslim society to 680 AD, it might be a huge step forward. (Laughter) Progress. (Applause) But we still have to answer
an important question. If not from Islamic history,
and if not from the Quran, how is it that we, in the modern era, have come to associate
Muslim women with hijab? With being separated out from society, secluded and isolated, barred from the most basic human rights? I hope it’s not any surprise to you
that this isn’t by accident. For the past few decades, the very people
who have been given the important task of reading and interpreting the Quran in a variety of different
Muslim communities, certain clerics have been
inserting a certain meaning into those three verses concerning women. For instance that verse
I told you about earlier: “O Prophet, tell your wives,
your daughters, and the women of the believers
to draw upon themselves their garments, this is better, so that they
not be known and molested.” Some clerics, not all, some clerics have added a few words to that, so that in certain
translations of the Quran, that verse reads like this: “O Prophet, tell your wives,
your daughters, and the women of the believers,
to draw upon themselves their garments, parentheses, a garment is a veil that covers the entire head and the face, the neck and the breast
all the way down to the ankles and all the way to the wrists. Everything on a woman’s body
is covered except for one eye because she must see where she is headed, and the hands must be covered in gloves. Because, of course, there was certainly a lot of gloves
back in the desert of Saudi Arabia. (Laughter) Etc., etc., etc., etc.,
on, and on, and on, end of parentheses, so that she not be known and molested.” And what these so-called clerics have concluded based
on these types of insertions is that a woman only has one function. To understand what that function is, all you have to do is read
some of the fatwas or legal rulings that these so-called clerics
have actually gone ahead and issued. Let me give you a sampling. A woman need only finish elementary school before she gets married. Which puts her, what,
at the ripe old age of 11, 12 years old? A woman cannot fulfill
her spiritual obligations to God until she first fulfills
her physical obligations to her husband. If he desires her while she sits
on the mount of a camel, she should submit. Islam has forbidden a woman
from wearing a bra because bras lift up
and make a woman appear younger, and this is calculated deception. My personal favorite: if a man has an ulcer excreting puss, from the top of his head
to the bottom of his feet, and she licked it for him, she would still not fulfill
what she owes him. What these and the many other rulings
just like it concerning women boil down to is this: The best of women,
the most honorable among them is uneducated, and so powerless, not very different from a slave. So, she remains at home
without complaint, without a bra. (Laughter) Ready and available at all times
to satisfy his every whim, even if it’s to lick his entire body; satisfying him whenever he calls, whether it’s in his bed
or on the mount of a camel. Does this sound like God’s will to you? Does this sound like scripture? Or does this sound strangely,
uncomfortably erotic, like the worst kind of misogynist fantasy? Are these so-called clerics, and the fundamentalists
and extremists who support them, truly purifying Islam from within, bringing it back to its intended form? Or are these men
no different from those men standing out in the dark
at the outskirts of the city, eager to prey upon a woman? Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “What does the Quran really say about a Muslim woman’s hijab? | Samina Ali | TEDxUniversityofNevada

  1. Hijab is same in Christianity & Islam.
    Some woman cannot follow it. It's Ok!
    But problem is they come up with a new story, for the sake of cheap fame.

  2. It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that he said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “ There will be years of deceit upon the people, in which the liar will be believed and the true one will be lied. ? .. He said: «Petty man speaks in the public». ?
    Yes this is happening now when such a women has who understands the religion to her own desires. Soon she will see say it is o.k to have a boyfriend in islam. Indeed she falls into the category "the petty man"

  3. conflicting…..yet one message should be clear "guard your honor as a women". Do so accordingly, if one day that efforts fail then think back to yourself.

  4. So what happens when Sharia is brought in, the culture is changed through force of law, and woman are forced to wear what the law says under pain of death?
    You didnt cover this part.

  5. Her eloquence is unmatched, and she confirms most of what I think about all religious scriptures. She should be a professor. I see a lot of extensive research with reference to back it up and a presentation skill that translates into digestible information.

  6. Thank you Samina for your brave educational and opening meaning and original truth. Thankfully many people now have freedom to speak out from previous oppression to expose these things.
    It is sad that personal opinions and the personal interpretations can skew and change the meaning of holy scriptures to fit themselves and obscure agendas to control societies and cultures. This is observed among all religions.

  7. Who is she to say that ??? Don’t explain the Quran from your head okay and the problem is people are believing her 🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️any half of the comments are from anther religion …يسمعون كلام الله ثم يوحرفونه والله تخلف وشئ يحزن

  8. WHY do so many people begin their talk with "So?" It's like they are continuing after a pause, instead of starting a speech. It should be a rule at TED: "NO SO!"

  9. Incredible! One of the best ted talks I’ve heard. Thank you for sharing this, I learned a lot. ❤️

  10. Sad how the Muslim women in the comments have been so easily persuaded to believe this to be the truth. Muslim women please be careful and seek more knowledge about this issue please

  11. TED talks share ideas and opinions only. Some 'facts' she shared don't even seem to come from reliable sources. There are many misconceptions about Islam today, I'm just sad that the people who got the chance to clear the misconceptions don't take the opportunity to show the beauty of our religion but instead allows an audience to laugh at it all the while quoting her own ideas instead of presenting more factual arguments from reliable sources like Quran and authentic Hadith.

  12. Such a nice presentation! But I’m sorry to say that she got the whole concept of hijab wrong. The rulings are so specific and clear in Islam that there’s no chance to make mistakes. It doesn’t change over time or on anyone’s personalised interpretation.

  13. She is not knowledgeable of Quran and sunnah she does not even say pbuh or saw after our prophets name (saw) either not a muslim or misguided

  14. She read Quran with no Common sense.. So read this Verse…
    Surah An-Noor 31
    And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.

  15. She has tried excellently well, but I want her to relate her understanding of hijab in quran to an understanding of solat and ablution and quran. The hadith will reveal the best understanding. You need to research more about this hijab of a thing ma. I salute you for what you have done ma.

  16. I’m gonna be honest here, it seems like she’s searching for religious loopholes to justify not wearing the hijab. All the scholars have agreed that it’s mandatory for women to wear it (as it has already been stated in the Quran). And for anyone who says “well all the scholars are insecure men” then give me an example of a female scholar who says wearing the hijab is optional.

  17. Why are there clergymen changing scripture? That’s where the problem lies. I’m so glad to understand the culture a little more. Fantastic talk!

  18. Quraan alone cannot be the only source of our understanding and interpretation of Islam rulings. Otherwise Allah wouldn't have sent a messenger.. Allah ordered us in the Quran itself to obey Allah and obey the messenger and said in the Quraan follow the messenger if you want Allah to love you.. Salah (prayer) is not described in the Quraan..does that mean everyone has the right to interpret how we should pray according to their own understanding?
    Some of the things that you are saying are correct because it's about non authentic narrative about the prophet but we have to be very careful with what she says because she's mixing up right with wrong and indirectly leads to dismissal of Sunnah and the prophet teachings

  19. Samina Ali sounds like she lives in the US of A and is therefore very influenced by the western culture . The hadith has been written by a man and Mohammed ( saw ) , the last and final messenger of Allah only obeyed what He instructed him to do . The message was sent through Angel Gibrael ( Gabreal ) to the Prophet ( pbuh ) and the scribe noted it down , since Mohammed was illitrate . It's as simple as that and no false interpretations and debates can change this fact . So , women like Samina are free to do what they want , even be feminists , who are anti male , but please don't justify what you are doing with lies , because in the end truth is always triumphant !

  20. I SO support this, and I'm not even Muslim. This is one of the best talks I've ever heard. Ms. Ali so eloquently stated what many of us had never been taught about Islam and the Quran. You can't argue with facts.

  21. Healing needs to happen. Breaking down of fears. Allowance for expression of freedom. Good constructive form of conflict resolution need to happen within self, families, communities, and societies. Respect for how individuals choose to live their lives from within and outward

  22. …// .. No matter how hard one tries to candy coat fascism, the stink remains relentless. She should thank the secular, free and democratic west for all she has….that actually includes all Muslims everywhere. .. period.
    Statistics show that around 11 Christians are killed everyday for their beliefs. Most killings occurs in Muslim majority countries:
    Afghanistan, an Islamic state by constitution, the country does not permit any faith other than Islam to exist (you'll be killed for practicing Christianity).
    Somalia: Estimates suggest that 99 percent of Somalis are Muslims, and any minority religions are heavily persecuted. Christians with a Muslim background as high-value targets by Islamic militant groups like al-Shabab —often killed on the spot when discovered.
    Libya: Libyan converts to Christianity face abuse and violence for their decision to follow Christ.
    Pakistan: Under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws, Christians continue to live in daily fear they will be accused of blasphemy—which can carry a death sentence. The most well-known example of these laws is the case of Asia Bibi.
    Sudan has been ruled as an Islamic state by the authoritarian government of President al-Bashir since 1989. Under his charge, the country offers limited rights for religious minorities and places heavy restrictions on freedom of speech or press.
    Eritrea: During the 2019 World Watch List reporting period, government security forces conducted many house-to-house raids and imprisoned hundreds of Christians in inhumane conditions, including small shipping containers in scorching heat.
    Yemen (civil war): Christians are suffering from the general humanitarian crisis in the country, but Yemeni Christians are additionally vulnerable since emergency relief is mostly distributed through Islamic organizations and local mosques, which are allegedly discriminating against all who are not considered to be pious Muslims.
    Iran: Christians are forbidden from sharing their faith with non-Christians. Therefore, church services in Persian, the national language, are not allowed. Converts from Islam undergo persecution from the government; if they attend an underground house church, they face the constant threat of arrest. Iranian society is governed by Islamic law, which means the rights and job possibilities for Christians are heavily restricted. Baha'i faith however, is treated the worst in Iran. -that's all.

  23. Here comes the another woman with incomplete knowledge of Islam however willing to speak about Islam. 😂 lol. How manipulative woman she is😈

  24. good explanation with some miss coating of Fatwas & also the sayings of some clerics, which have noting to do with reality, meanings of Qura'an is better understood by the Arab ladies, (wives of Prophet SAWS) then 1400 hundred yer later by Sister Samina Ali, i suggest please refer to those explanations of Qura'an (Ayesha RA Like) as it's reveled on them of their language, thanks.

  25. Just because her voice is soothing… Her words are buttery smoothe… Does not mean she is entirely right plus the battle of Prophet (SAWW) 's second wife should not be addressed at all… She needs to read more…

  26. The issue that needs to be addressed more by activists IS TO TEACH YOUR SONS WHAT IS RIGHT AND WRONG! They keep addressing the wrongs of men but no initiative to raise better sons… None! There are countless number of rules and guidelines regarding raising your sons, regarding HOW MEN MUST BE AND LIVE IN A SOCIETY… I think when talking about true women rights in Islam , one cannot just leave it on how women should be but ALSO HOW MEN MUST BE …

  27. The thing about dressing must be addressed for both genders… Plus if a woman likes wearing hijab or a dress that covers her from head to toe, let her be… LET HER BE!

  28. I am a British woman and I am utterly appalled at the treatment of Muslim women. I was driven to send an email to the Iranian Embassy earlier this month when I read of the young football loving woman, who, following imprisonment and dreadful treatment by the barbaric law enforcers in that country, committed suicide by setting fire to herself. Yup, Muhammad must be real proud of you men.

  29. I really hope Muslim women who wants to follow the Quran and the Sunnah don't listen to this lady.!! May Allah protect us and save us from the misleaders…

  30. لايوجد ترابط في كلمات الجمل وهي تتكلم بدون دليل علمي وهي تبالغ فيكلامها لكي ترضى اليهود والنصارى لن تضى عنك اليهود والنصارى حتى تتبع ملتهم او دينهم

  31. Rubbish…and lies …in Islam we take our religion from oulama ( scholars ) …so cut the lie .u don't want to wear it ? Let's it be ,but saying its not a doctrine u play with fire lady …Islam is not like Christianity or Judaism,,we not change our book or it's interpretation…

  32. The Qur'aan and the Sunnah go hand in hand, you can't just look at what is said in the Qur'aan and ignore what the Prophet said. You must obey the teachings in both. It doesn't matter that the ruling was established in an older time, wearing the hijab and jilbaab is still relevant, the laws that applied then still apply today, the hijab still and will serve its purpose and that is:
    to preserve a woman's modesty
    to remove the external causes of lustful looks [24:30]
    to maintain her honour and dignity
    to safeguard the foundation of family in the society
    to be recognized as Muslim in the society and prevent being abused [33:59]

    The hijab is a Muslim woman's identity as well as a form of protection.

  33. Sorry…but I"m not buying the solution to blame it on the woman for the way she is dressed. This prophet must have misunderstood. The message should have been directed to and about the men who were doing the attacking and sought resolution at their actions.

  34. Just another person who doesn't know about islam. She is completely misguiding the audience and she's doesn't know what she talking about. Your voice is good but you need a better source in order to understand the teachings and the way how and why islamic woman dressed. Don't spread negetivity about islam..

  35. all the informations mentionned are correct. except that all verses written in quran were explained by the prophet pbuh in actions or speeches = SUNNAH .

    HIJAB or JILBAB are just terms .. what is important is that women should be covered properly ( not the face and the golves) and every woman has the right to choose which is apropriate to her.

  36. You are simply reasoning out so that you wont`t be judge, stop motivating others to be like you, in case you missed out, SUNNAH is also a part of Islamic Religion.

  37. I kept on wondering and agreeing with her questions one by one, basically what she said is what we Muslim womans experiencing right now, something that we gone through every single day. Sometimes I wonder is a sin to be having a woman like body for a woman herself. Powerful talk 😘

  38. She's trying hard to make everyone embraced the choice of she & others made for not wearing hijab & that is totally nothing wrong with it. She denied the religion's rule by blending a little bit history & quran here & there so its sound true & rational therefore others will say hijab is the fashion's choice not the mandatory.

  39. So many people saying she is not speaking the truth or is not qualified to interpret quran. Yet so many of them seem to speak broken English, which leads me to question if they understood full meaning.

  40. Why did I bring an uneducated woman to talk about Islam and Muslim women….. Why don't u bring a real one to talk about that and give the real explanations…. Like zaker naik……

  41. this woman is a lier the hijab is something every Muslim woman should wear it, it was not just called hijab in the Quran it was called other names as well and the prophet was the person who also instructed women to wear that as a protection to them

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