Does The Hijab Belong to Islam Only?
The Hijab is not only “very Islamic” but also “very Jewish.” Calls for the wearing of the hijab is not only contained in the Koran but also in the Jewish Talmud that predates the Koran by centuries. Therefore it is not strange to see members of the Jewish community also wear the hijab.
The photograph below is only a little example of how a group of women belonging to the Lev Tahor Jewish sect in Canada (in Ontario and in Quebec) are seen wearing “Islamic dress”, oh excuse me, “Jewish dress” rather. Look more carefully and see how these Jewish sisters appear similar to our own Muslim ukhti (sister.) Lev Tahor, which in Hebrew means “sacred heart,” is an ultra orthodox Jewish sect led by Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans who strongly opposes Zionism and the Israeli annexation of Palestine.
In their daily life, followers of this sect are also living a very simple life, far from worldly luxury. It is a religious practice that reminds me of the Amish Christian community and the Old Mnemonites Order in the United States.
A number of orthodox Jewish groups sees the wearing of the Hijab as a “Divine calling” that all jews have to abide to. Bruria Keren, a leader and figure of orthodox Jewish religion in Israel, has claimed that the origin of the Hijab tradition is Jewish and therefore anyone else wearing the hijab are just imitating Jews. He also is calling on all Jewish women to wear the hijab, not only as a mere response to the “Divine call” but also as a symbol of modesty as well as to assure protection from the possibility of harassment or crimes against women.
There is also another Jewish sect in Israel, known as Burqa Heredi, that is even more stricter when it concern the donning of the hijab. While the female members of the Lev Tabor still leave their face uncovered, those belonging to the Burqa Heredi also cover the entire face with a veil known as the frumka, just as with the niqab in Saudi Arabia. Because if the extreme dress code, a number of media calls them the “Jewish Taliban.”
A number of figures from this Jewish sect, such as Rabbi Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss said that the use of such a dress code was to uphold the “Jewish sharia” while at the same time returning Jewish teachings to the original version as in the Talmud, which says that the wear of the hijab is a symbol of modesty for women. It is interesting to point out that just as the Lev Tabor sect, the Burqa Heredi also opposes Zionism and Israeli violence in Palestine.
However, if we really look into it, there is a fundamental difference between the “Jewish Hijab” and the “Muslim Hijab.” The Jewish version is very simple and far from any notion of luxury, The Hijab wearers among Muslims, especially in large cities, are fashionable and often, luxurious too. If the call for the donning of the hijab, be it in the Jewish fate or in Islam holds to the basic premise that it is to symbolize modesty, wouldn’t it be a deviation of the teachings to use the hijab to show off the latest fashion, design and dresses? If the intention is to comply with
Islamic teaching, the donning of the hijab by many have in fact adopted practices that are far from the norms, and values of Islam and also the “moral message” carried in the Koran.
Sumanto Al Qurtuby, a Muslim intellectual
Bahasa Indonesia version of this article has been published in Islami.co as a part of Wahid Foundation's Media Syndication Program.