Monday, December 12, 2005

The Tudung Issue Revisited

Tudung – head scarf; head covering worn by many Muslim ladies in Malaysia.

Now that the International Islamic University tudung issue has died down, I thought - why not stroke the embers once again.

Recently my wife's cousin started wearing the tudung on her wedding day. It was purely her decision.

I read with interest an article in the NST (I can’t remember which) where the writer pointed out that wearing of the tudung became popular in Malaysia only after the Iranian revolution. Wearing the tudung took off in a big way in Malaysia only during the late 1980’s – a period some people refer to as the Islamization of Malaysia.

During an exhibition in University Malaya, there was an old black and white picture of some ladies (clerical staff) taken during the 70s. My wife recognized one of the ladies as her mother.

One of my her friends remarked “Wah! How sexy.”

According to my mother-in-law, during those days it was considered normal work attire (and it was the fashion). Everybody at work wore sleeveless shirts and skirts and none of them wore a tudung. It was definitely not considered sexy. Now, you would be hard pressed to find even a single Malay lady not wearing the tudung let alone sleeveless shirts and skirts, among the clerical staff of University Malaya. Not even among the non-Malay ladies.

I recall a friend telling me about receiving a culture shock when he finally came back home from the UK where he had stayed some 5 years studying and working. His wife didn’t wear a tudung when she left and she didn’t while she was there and now suddenly it had become an issue. Even a selendang - a loose covering, won’t do any more. Now the perfect way to wear a head covering is to wear it in such a way that not a single strand of hair should be seen.

I am not sure why, but suddenly I see that a lot of the young generation Muslim ladies do not wear the tudung. And a lot of those who used to wear it during their school and University days are no longer wearing it at work.

I guess it’s true. Culture does change. Or has it come the full circle?

10 comments:

einazani said...

There are no such thing as you wear a tudung just for the sake of you are not ready or a trend. Wearing a tudung is a must in Islam.
Well, not that i'm that pious because i do have moment to take off my tudung sometimes.
At school, sometimes it's because of the rules and friends influence.. after that, it's up to the person to continued it.

Robin said...

Thanks for the nice posting.

This was a big emotional issue in Singapore... and I cannot recall what was the conclusion of the saga.

Yes, Adam, time changes and culture does change, hopefully for better!

Anonymous said...

wear tudung ok laa.. but then change culture to cannot share toilet... this is too much oredi.
http://askforfun.blogspot.com/2005/12/toilet-only-for-muslim.html

narrowband said...

Culture does change things, and sometimes religious practices are affected too. Covering up doesn't make a person more religious or pious. If some women could engage in shameful acts while donning a tudung, I don't know what is their purpose covering up. How ironic.

madder said...

If some women could engage in shameful acts while donning a tudung, I don't know what is their purpose covering up. How ironic.

Some people just love to say this and this is reason enough to make girls reconsider about wearing a tudung. I mean it's suddenly a cliche thing to say things like "Huh, she's wearing a tudung eh? You think all tudung-wearing girls are good meh?"... who would want to wear tudungs these days, when society starts perceiving tudung wearing girls in such a way?

Plus, I don't know why should people imply that sinners shouldn't be wearing tudungs in the first place. Oh what a way to classify people! I mean are they implying that all non-tudung-wearing girls are sluts? God save their mortal souls?.... Not all tudung-wearing girls are good and not all non-tudung-wearing girls are bad. We're all humans afterall... we're all sinners one way or another...

We should learn to differentiate one sin from another.

narrowband said...

Sorry to have offended.

For the record, "their" referred to the ones who engage in shameful acts, as mentioned earlier in the same sentence. Certainly not meant to generalize.

Kervin said...

Fashion and culture changes overtime. Outside in fluences as well as domestic policy are strong forces that act as catalysts for change. Tudung wearing is one such phenomenon, most often change because they say it is a religious obligation (while others state that there is no such ruling in the Quran) while others often chose to do so in their own violation because everyone else is doing so and peer pressure is great. There are also those who wear it if it is required but once out of the work place they dress even more stunning than non tudung wearing citizens after hours. In the end it is their choice and it is fine by me but the UIA decision to make it compulsory attire for a 'religious' headgear to non religious person is clearly a violation. So who is right is it a secular dressing or is it religious?

Anonymous said...

Err.. Hi..
I got to read this blog and interested in this particular issue. I have to say, it is STATED in the Quran & Hadith that all muslim women have to cover their hair to the last strand. Since nowadays, there is too many people ignored the rules that was written by Allah SWT, most people misunderstood the real concept of it. Even some of them wear the tudung in the wrong way (you have to cover your chest also, not only your hair). I'm not here to judge people but just to say of course it is depends on the person to wear it or not, and it is true that you cannot judge them by them wearing a tudung or not, but to those that dont wear tudung, there is definitely a pay for that after we die (akhirat).

sporting said...

Dressing is very much a personal choice. While there are general universal rules about what constitutes modest dressing, there are of course variations between different cultures and religions.

We should practise tolerance and not try to impose our views on others. At the same time, we should also be aware that certain dressing might offend some people.

secular said...

If you believe you will go to hell if you don't wear tudung then wearing tudung is a religion. If you wear tudung to keep out the dust then you are doing it for practical secular reasons.

Therefore wearing tudung will always remind you of hell and stop you from enjoying yourself.

While those not wearing tudung don't want to be reminded of heaven and hell and just want to enjoy themselves.

Why tudung clad women still engage in shameful act (eh what act is that?) I suppose enjoyable acts..it is because women cannot help themselves. They too want to have fun. just some ustaz put fear of hell in them...with horror stories so they wear tudung.

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