Tudung or No Tudung?, Head scarfs?
Tudung or No Tudung?, Head scarfs?
Nov 13 2005, 08:59 AM
Joined: 29-August 05
Veiled threat to nation building
By SHAMSUL AKMAR
IN 1997, a Year One Malay schoolgirl in Selayang came home crying. She cried because she had lied to her teacher, a deed her strict parents had said was unforgivable. But she was forgiven after she explained that she had lied to her ustazah (religious teacher) about her mother donning the tudung.
“My friend who admitted that her mother did not wear the tudung was told by the ustazah to go home and tell her mother that it was sinful not to don the tudung.
“My friend was embarrassed. When it came to my turn, I lied and said that mum wears the tudung,” she explained to her parents. The little girl who lives in Selayang was born to parents who neither opposed nor supported the wearing of the tudung.
In 2004, the girl entered secondary education in a national school also in Selayang. She was asked if she was a Malay. When she said she was, the teacher told her that it was wajib (compulsory) for her to wear the tudung.
IN A BIND: The tudung issue has persisted for years now, and is not about to come to an end anytime soon.
Her father was not satisfied and went to the school to ask if it was compulsory for his daughter to wear the tudung. And if it was, was it a directive from the Education Ministry?
The teacher said it was not compulsory and neither was there any directive from the Ministry. The matter should have ended there but the next day, the girl was scolded by another teacher and accused of being keras kepala (stubborn).
The father, tired of the whole thing, applied to transfer his daughter to an all-girl's school in Selayang where the student as well as the teacher composition was more multi-racial compared with the previous school.
The girl is now in the new school and does not seem to face much pressure to don the tudung, at least for now.
There have been other such stories shared among friends and families. It is quite baffling that such an issue could have persisted for years and is not about to come to an end anytime soon.
In fact, the tudung issue has taken numerous dimensions, twisting and turning, dragging and choking anyone that walked its path.
Hence, it was not surprising that when the International Islamic University required its female students receiving their scrolls during convocation to don the tudung or headscarves for non-Muslims, it was viewed suspiciously by the non-Malay community.
The question is whether that policy should be viewed as a religious statement or merely a specific dress code that IIU had instituted from its inception.
If it had been there from the start and made known to prospective students, then those wanting to study there would have considered whether they are comfortable with such requirements.
If the policy was introduced recently, then it must only be applied to those who were aware of it when they joined the IIU. It should not be applicable to those who entered IIU prior to the policy.
The problem in the IIU is actually the tip of the iceberg and is expected to come to public debate as it involves non-Muslims who are suspicious of the motives of the dress code.
The bigger issue is actually where the government stands on the tudung issue. It is not a government policy to impose the wearing of the tudung but some employees have taken it upon themselves to enforce it on their Muslim subordinates.
Some schoolteachers are the worst of the lot. They prey on children who have yet to determine their religious conviction.
Worst positioned are those whose parents are believers in letting their children make their own choices, neither forcing them to don the tudung nor stopping them if they wanted to.
Many of these children succumb to peer pressure and become ashamed of their parents who do not don the tudung.
The values these children learn from such circumstances are anything but noble.
And the Muslim authorities are keeping mum on the issue, hoping that it will blow over. To comment on it, either way, can result in a political disaster.
Supporting the tudung cause may result in Umno losing the support of non-Malays and less orthodox Malays, but opposing it will earn them the wrath of the Islamists. Hence, the shrouded opinions.
Shamsul Akmar is a writer and a journalist of almost two decades. He writes on political Islam, Malay politics and regional and international issues.
I was just talking to my Muslim Malay girl friend and we came up with the issue of "tudung" (headscarf). Back during my first 4 years of secondary school, the "tudung" wearing was optional. However, during the last year, all the Muslim females were made compulsary to wear a tudung on Fridays, which is the holy day. Anyway, here are my questions to you guys..
1) Do you think that all Muslim females should wear the tudung?
2) Do you think that the non-Muslim females in IIU should be wearing the tudung?
3) What is your perception on Muslim females not wearing a tudung?
Hmm, if you don't like to answer questions.. then just give me your opinion. Hehe.
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