‘There’s no shame in wearing a hijab’

Published: September 16, 2012
Urooj Nasir receives a shield from the first lady. PHOTO: RIAZ AHMED

Urooj Nasir receives a shield from the first lady. PHOTO: RIAZ AHMED


Nusrat Pervaiz Ashraf, the prime minister’s wife, on Saturday urged Muslim women to wear a hijab, saying that wearing one would not hold them back from achieving their goals.

She was addressing a Hijab Conference organised by the Women and Family Commission (WFC) of the Jamaat-i-Islami in connection with the International Hijab Day.

Ashraf said that Islam ensures protection of women and teaches that they be respected.

Women, she said, could do what they wanted as long as they respect the “limits set by Islam”. “They [women] should wear the hijab to prove to the world that it protects them and does not become a hurdle in their progress,” she added.

The first lady called modesty “women’s ornament” and hijab “the guardian of this ornament”. Ashraf said in the west, women had ‘humiliated’ themselves by choosing to expose their skin while Pakistani women had proven they were better than them by choosing the hijab.

She urged women to strengthen the ‘family unit’, which she said was central to Islamic teachings. She regretted that Pakistani women were starting to forget how important family and hijab were. “The institution of family cannot be preserved without protecting modesty,” Ashraf said.

She called Fatima Jinnah and Benazir Bhutto “role models” for Pakistani women. They, she said, had strengthened the identity of Pakistani women by choosing to wear a dupatta.

She then thanked the organisers for arranging the conference.

Ashraf also presented token awards to Marwa al Sherbini (an Egyptian woman who was killed in 2009 in a German court by a man she had testified against), Yvonne Ridley (a British war correspondent who converted to Islam in 2003), Maryam Jameelah (another convert to Islam and a scholar) and Aafia Siddiqui. The awards were received by girls.

Honorary hijab shields were given to Musarrat Misbah (a beautician and charity worker), Khanum Tayyaba Bukhari (a scholar), Sarah Chaudhry (a former actress), Urooj Nasir (a TV presenter), Dr Kausar Firdous (former army captain) and Shehnaz Leghari (a pilot).

At the end, WFC president Samia Raheel Qazi presented the first lady, the governor’s wife Musarrat Latif Khosa and Ghazala Saad Rafique, the wife of PML-N leader Khwaja Saad Rafique with honorary shields.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (56)

  • varuag
    Sep 16, 2012 - 11:25AM

    The world has always been torn between the two extremes of liberal and conservative, but essentially the gap is widening. Each side probably reacts to the other and gets further away from the center. In a world so hopelessly divided we have phenomenon of Hijab Conference and Slutwalks both taking place in different parts of the world. What does one make of this ?


  • Saadia
    Sep 16, 2012 - 11:33AM

    Arabian style hijab is today’s trend in Pakistan. We are people with identity complex that’s why we are proud of arabian style hijab, otherwise Chador looks far decent and covers better than hijab.


  • dpd
    Sep 16, 2012 - 12:09PM

    Nor is there shame in not wearing one!


  • Zalim Singh
    Sep 16, 2012 - 1:27PM

    suit yourself


  • Rabia
    Sep 16, 2012 - 1:39PM

    Chador,Hijab,the idea is the same,although the hijab is less fiddly which is why people wear it, probably. I don’t think either is necessary, and certainly, there is no shame in wearing it. Or in not wearing it.


  • Awans
    Sep 16, 2012 - 1:55PM

    Ashraf said in the west, women had ‘humiliated’ themselves by choosing to expose their skin while Pakistani women had proven they were better than them by choosing the hijab.
    This means that women are enemies of women as they are stating that anyone not wearing a hijab is degrading themselves. In other Words Hijabi Women have all respect while others have dont???. My mother never wore a Hijab but if some person will ever see her with a bad eye then either he or i will be alive and my respect for her never ceases. In the villages of North Punjab there is no Concept of Hijab but we respect our Women and all women around to Death.. these Women should stop deciding the Morality based on HIjab.I am sick of these self righteous women who think they are the best and others are worst. What is wrong with Ordinary Dupatta???. Where in Islam the Word Burqa or Hijab is ever used???.Recommend

  • user
    Sep 16, 2012 - 1:57PM

    People in ‘Arabia’ have been wearing hijaab for the longest time ever. It is way of life, women wear in school, colleges, work.. etc in all walks off life. and never once have we engaged in these petty debates on how to wear it or label those who do or don’t.
    Only in Pakistan do people have the time in engage in these time wasting activities and show complete lack of intolerance for anyone who does not have similiar views.
    Islam and its beliefs have been around since a very long time, I dont why I am always made to feel that in Pakistan, people act that it is like some new found religion and its just being discovered, even in its most basic aspects of covering yourself up or praying.


  • Awans
    Sep 16, 2012 - 2:14PM

    In my village I never saw any women wearing a full body veil as Women are Farmers and they work side by side with their men. But We never heard any rape cases compared to cities and the reason is that Our Family values are stronger enough to tell all the men what our boundaries are and what Constitutes Respect. A woman working in a farm and in fields can never wear Hijab or Burqa because of Intense heat but that Women never degrades herself like Self Righteous women are stating. My Grandmother was a Farmer as well. She did her best to raise her kids and she never wore Hijab but it does not mean she degraded herself and no Women have the right to give sweeping statements like these. I urge Jamaat e Islami and all Pro Hijab Women to kindly visit fields in Punjab where Poor women are Working. Work side by side with them and then Wear full body veil as for them you are respectable while women working hared in scorching sun are exposing their skin have a moral Problem. This Thinking is Simply sick and nothing else.


  • TruthNFacts
    Sep 16, 2012 - 2:48PM

    @Awans: You are right in the analysis. JI and other mindsets do not represent the rural women at all, which constitute a very large portion of our population. Hijab and burqa and other similar issues are a product of middle urban class who never witnessed the life of female farm workers in different rural areas of Pakistan. These women never speak about the betterment of working conditions of females working class.


  • Vigilant
    Sep 16, 2012 - 2:49PM

    “She called Fatima Jinnah and Benazir Bhutto “role models” for Pakistani women. They, she said, had strengthened the identity of Pakistani women by choosing to wear a dupatta”

    Why Arab style hijabs??? shawal is much better & our identity


  • Aheelam
    Sep 16, 2012 - 3:23PM

    ET has some obsession wid hejab ,thats why it has to publish something related to Hejab ATLEAST once in every week!


  • Sep 16, 2012 - 3:50PM


    I think you’ve completely missed the point of the SlutWalk movement. It’s not about urging women to dress provocatively. It’s to raise awareness that a woman who chooses not to dress conservatively is not asking to be sexually harassed or raped.

    This is in contrast to the hijab campaign, which is built around dictating women what they should wear. And shaming as “immodest”, those who refuse to comply with this dress code.


  • salman
    Sep 16, 2012 - 4:01PM

    It’s better not to wear it because I really don’t think God cares about what you are wearing but rather how you are as a person.


  • Parvez
    Sep 16, 2012 - 4:13PM

    Islam also teaches honesty, tolerance for others, abhors hypocrisy, teaches cleanliness among a lot of other sound principles but these are not so easily visible but much more valuable than wearing a hijab. But then to each his own.


  • Sep 16, 2012 - 5:23PM

    Many hindu women also cover their head, but we dont advertise it. Nor do the arabs, but why are you advertising it?


  • s
    Sep 16, 2012 - 6:02PM

    Very happy to read this. We have too much vulgariry going on these days. Need proper measures to control vulgarity not just women but men also.


  • S
    Sep 16, 2012 - 6:05PM

    very happy to read this. We need proper measures to control vulgarity, not just women but men also.

    Also we have other issues doesnt mean we should let this one flourish. Corruption, terrorism needs to be resolved but that doesnt mean we can ignore this.


  • Realist
    Sep 16, 2012 - 6:23PM

    Mostly young women in Pakistan today wear hijab for fashion. They combine hijab with tight jeans and a tight t-shirt. It’s in no way permissible in our religion. Hiding head won’t protect a woman, who wears jeans and shirt with it.

    I in no way agree with Ashraf who claims that it will protect the women. I, rather suggest to own our own culture and start wearing dupatta. Hijab is Arab culture. Following Arab is not Islam. Stay in your culture and be a true Muslim.


  • Srini
    Sep 16, 2012 - 6:25PM

    If God (if one exists) created both man and woman, why would He (or She) intend woman to cover up in a sack. It would have been easier to make them like a sack, instead of asking them to wear one on top. The whole concept of clothes is a human made one, as we have developed “Shame” as we evolved. So wear whatever is comfortable to you without worrying about God. If you consider the size of the universe, we are nothing but a speck of dust. How will it matter if one dust particle (humans) is covering itself with another dust particle (clothes) of a particular kind or not. Please use your brain!


  • Rabia
    Sep 16, 2012 - 6:29PM

    very very true


  • kaalchakra
    Sep 16, 2012 - 7:06PM

    We may differ about the leadership her husband provides, but here is a first lady all Pakistanis can be proud of. She is a role model for all Pakistani women. May Allah help all Pakistani women attend this conference in the future and wear hijab.

    Mr Patil

    With all due respect, how long will it take for Hindus like you to understand that Islam is nothing like Hinduism? Kindly, you go your way and let Muslims go theirs. Thank you.


  • Vikram
    Sep 16, 2012 - 7:18PM

    @salman: I agree with Salman.

    Yesterday there was an article/news in Tribune, which mentioned Prostitution is multi billion rupees business in Pakistan. Yesterday there was also some write up about a 19 year old Muslim girl who has been forced into prostitution by a Muslim woman. After making good money from this girl, she sold her to 3 men for Rs 200000. Girl is being raped by these 3 men. The girl’s family has been trying to get the girl back for last few years. Police and courts have done nothing. I guess Madam is providing FREE sex and money to police officials and judges.


  • A. Nabi Baloch
    Sep 16, 2012 - 7:19PM

    Prime minister’s wife should be promoting the PPP policy of not getting religion involved in politics not vice versa.


  • Vikram
    Sep 16, 2012 - 7:26PM

    They [women] should wear the hijab to prove to the world that it protects them

    Protects them from what, I guess protects from MUSLIM men

    In USA most women don’t wear any Hijab and no one bothers them.
    In Muslim countries women even in burqa get pinched, groped, sexually harassed by Muslim men. It just shows it is Muslim men who are the problem and not wearing the hijab.


  • Vikram
    Sep 16, 2012 - 7:37PM

    this picture is anti-Islamic. Why these women are smiling. This may disturb many Muslim men looking at this picture.

    Just think a girl wearing Hijab and smiling at men, that will send a wrong signal.

    4 women in picture. Two older women believe they have to cover everything, Ms Ashraf is not even covering her hair properly. Pakistan foreign minister uses her hair to enhance her looks. Fourth girl is using a decorated hijab. I think according to burqa women wearing women the other two are not hijabi women.


  • Sep 16, 2012 - 7:40PM

    What she is trying to say is that all Muslim men are rogues who kidnap or rape if a woman is found without a hijab. Hijab is good for all plump and stomach filled high class ladies who teach culture to poor women who work in fields, factories and who are more worried about feeding their children and old family members.


  • Saleem
    Sep 16, 2012 - 7:50PM

    There is of course no shame in looting public money and mis using power. No shame in hypocrisy either!


  • Tahir
    Sep 16, 2012 - 7:56PM

    This is really funny and stupid at the same time.

    No wonder this nation is full of complexes.

    At times people would go into inferiority complex upon seeing some Arabs and/or Turks. They secretly wish they would have been born in Arabs/Turks, but not here.

    And then most of them would start feeling “superior” on the “holier than you” grounds. They would go shamelessly to Western countries to get a nationality, a good education, a decent job and to live life in a peaceful environment. And in the end they would start puking on people of western countries.

    No wonder things here get to the point of stupidity.

    One can clearly see that this first lady here is definitely complexed. At one time she copies an Arab style. And then she feels superior apparently by comparing up with western ladies, as in her point of view they are stupid for showing “skin”.

    Such people certainly need psychotherapy on a macro scale.


  • N. Khan
    Sep 16, 2012 - 8:43PM

    Why does this ‘International Hijab Day’ even exist? One does not need such days to honor something like hijab, those smart enough would know the importance of it and cover themselves up straight away, and if your faith’s strong, nothing will ever hold you back! I’ve been covering my head for as long as i remember and never had to face a ‘feeling backward’ problem because of it, infact it makes you feel strong and secure. Alhamdulillah!


  • Mehreen
    Sep 16, 2012 - 8:52PM

    as some wise person rightly said, “Nazar teri gandi aur pardah karun mein ?”:DRecommend

  • Azad
    Sep 16, 2012 - 9:03PM

    Hijab is an alien custom . It has nothing to do with religion. People in the world at times want to emphasize their identity by their external appearance and dress . Nothing wrong in it. The problem comes when people want to make a political statement in public asserting their identity. It can attract good and bad feelings depending on how the rest of the population perceives the group. I am not sure as to how showing of hair or hiding hair in public can be equated with modesty, adherence to religion or assertion of female sexuality . Kemal Attaturk equated removal of veil as progress. After many years of failure of his secular successors we have come full circle with introduction of female headgear. This was a counteraction to failure of the secular successors in the polity and sign of protest.In Pakistan with failure of state institutions it seems that there is a movement to assert symbols than substance


  • F Khan
    Sep 16, 2012 - 9:09PM

    If you are pious, God fearing, God loving then why would you feel shame in covering your head ..in representing yourself as a muslim through not only your actions but your clothes too.. on the other hand there is no jabar in our deen. This decision should be left on the woman to decide for herself. We can only spread the words of Allah(swt) and his Prophet(pbuh) we can’t implement because the best thing is we will all go in our own seperate graves. SHUKAR ALHAMDULILAH


  • Sep 16, 2012 - 9:22PM

    Interesting thing is the first lady doesn’t wear any abaya or hijab…wow…Recommend

  • Mandeep Vaid
    Sep 16, 2012 - 9:27PM

    in the absence of hijab in the eyes wearing a hijab is absolutely non-sense………educating the eye and the other senses is all about!


  • Sidewinder
    Sep 16, 2012 - 9:42PM

    women ,in the long run are lagging behind men(no sexist statement but a fact)for they have always tried to remain in good books of men.this is more true with the women of third world.they have not been able to conceptualize their independent existence,and always end up rotating around men.perhaps they are brought up in such a way where they are unable to see their own meaning of existence.
    the motive behind, what this women is babbling is also a male driven agenda,to appease status quo forces of society.instead of asking the males to restrict themselves,these women prefer to restrict themselves,in a false hope of remaining safe from the preying eyes and win some appreciation from their menfolk.things become ugly when they start heaping garbage upon those women who choose not to wear their prescription of honor and safety.


  • Sara
    Sep 16, 2012 - 9:50PM

    No shame in NOT wearing the hijab. Anyway, we are Pakistanis and a dupatta is better than Arab style Niqab!


  • Aheelam
    Sep 16, 2012 - 10:26PM

    Ohkaaaaaay..i thought covering one’s head is a private matter!


  • casim
    Sep 16, 2012 - 10:50PM

    now we will talk about Hijab & Shalwar Kameez ? is this going to resolve our problems ? liberals & conservatives should let us live our life! Its an entirely personal choice whether to wear a hijab or not!


    Sep 16, 2012 - 11:21PM

    Wearing is a matter of choice in certain cultures. It has nothing to do with Islam. Ahkamat is ” don’t cover ur face, keep your hands and feet bare. If Hijab becomes security risk then it has to be discarded or relaxed when full or half of the face is covered under the pretense of Islam. If you are Hijabi then live in your country why travel to western countries where bikni clad bay deen women are roaming in the streets.


  • S K Afridi
    Sep 16, 2012 - 11:29PM

    Wearing hijab adds to your beauty, gives you the Muslim identity, a unique touch to your personality. Wearing hijab should be a matter of pride.


  • Sep 16, 2012 - 11:34PM

    Whatever women wish to wear or not wear is their business but why advertise it?


  • Fayaz
    Sep 17, 2012 - 12:28AM

    Arabisation of Pakistan in full swing!! What is wrong with our own culture.


  • nomi
    Sep 17, 2012 - 12:37AM

    Why is this even an issue now? Why not before? Pakistani women in the 50s, 60, 70s were far more progressive and modest and there was no issue.

    Why is that crime against women is increasing with increasing hijab? In Egypt 83% women were harassed in a country where women cover completely mostly. Why?

    Improve law and order and develop respect for women. A typical Shalwar Qameez and a dupatta should be respected by all.

    Everyone should be modest, but it does not mean we should adopt a culture of other countries.


  • varuag
    Sep 17, 2012 - 1:20AM

    @Loneliberal PK:
    I know the origin as well as the evolution of Slutwalk movement. The thing is both ultimately awareness is raised through shock-effect. I understand the nature of Slutwalk in developed nations but in subcontinental nations most who turn up are the bored elite who are jobless on weekends or worse still the gawking loafers. And if someone really wants provocation then perhaps there are more radical fringe movements like Femen (Ukraine). I wanted to compare the two only in the context that dressing is utilized to convey something apparently more deep. Indirectly its about pushing the boundaries of society and freedom in the developed world and societal diktats being shoveled down the throats in developing world.

    That is precisely why Slutwalks in Delhi are a aberration because its jumping too many steps at once. Eve-teasing is a serious problem as is rape and to raise awareness about freedom is probably down in the pecking order when safety concerns are not yet addressed.

    Absolutely love your name by the way, though I still hope there are many lonely people who share your liberal views……..


  • Adnan
    Sep 17, 2012 - 9:28AM

    Our example and ideal is the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and His family. The teachings of the Quran and the ahadith of Rasool Ullah (PBUH) are our guiding priniciples which explicitly urge us to be modest both outwardly and inwardly. This is in no way implies that women cant work or enjoy their lives; though the meaning of enjoyment must be clearly known as per muslim belief.
    In any case, when has immodesty ever given anyone inner peace.


  • xoya
    Sep 17, 2012 - 11:11AM

    so true


  • xoya
    Sep 17, 2012 - 11:17AM

    @S K Afridi:
    if its a Matter of pride .Men should also wear Hijab


  • Pradeep
    Sep 17, 2012 - 3:31PM

    While Hijab is (possibly, though I am not sure) mandatory in Islam, then so is it for men to cover up to their knees (based on my limited understanding of Islamic requirements), but Saudi football teams play in shorts! I think the problem is really not with Hijab but the fact that the rule is one-sided (in favor of men).

    Also there have been arguments that liberates women. That is just illogical. At the very best it is freedom of choice.


  • J T
    Sep 17, 2012 - 5:42PM

    When you think of the logic behind wearing hijab, it basically rests on the assumption that men in general are hormonally charged, raving, compulsive lechers; while the ones that do practice self-control are a miniscule minority. The concept by definition also condones the idea that a woman is solely responsible for any sexual aggression that she might face. Maybe its time we realize that there’s no pride in propagating such blatantly medieval views.


  • Mirza
    Sep 17, 2012 - 9:53PM

    100% of my previous post was censored. However, I am trying again with a short version.
    One fails to understand why PM’s wife is towing the line of JI? The PM is elected on PPP ticket and is representing the secular coalition not rightwing extremist agenda. The PPP central working committee should send him a show cause notice to rein in his wife and not behave like the other rightwing remnants of Gen Zia. What would be the difference between PPP and JI or other rightwing parties?Recommend

  • naseem
    Sep 18, 2012 - 10:14AM

    @Undhyu Patil:this is not just private matter.this relates to our religion, Islam.if it is just private matter why west is so apposing it?why in germany,marwa was killed in court?think about it. Recommend

  • Muhammad Yaqub
    Sep 18, 2012 - 12:19PM

    Islam advocates covering of the head and bosom. The tents being worn nowadays is absolutely Un-Islamic. Also the Holy Quran asks both men and women to lower their glances. If women cover their face and eyes, they do not LOWER their gaze ! As afr as men are concerned, there is no such thing as covering their knees.


  • Pradeep
    Sep 18, 2012 - 2:34PM

    @Muhammad Yaqub:
    Then the law is one sided for recommending only women on how they dress.


  • Anthony
    Sep 23, 2012 - 4:32PM

    Two out of the 4 ladies’ faces are veiled. I’m sure, the unveiled ones are more important than other. Let say if all of them would have been veiled, how could anybody identify, who is offering shield to whom in the photograph. In some circumstances even men wear that accoutrement, in cases of bank robberies, or other terrorist attacks. It won’t be fair, even for police to ask a lady to show her face indeed!Recommend

  • insider
    Oct 5, 2012 - 1:27AM

    With all due respect, people need to take it easy on the “arab style hijab” rhetoric. Islam is a universal religion. We take good things from all parts of this land of Allah and leave the bad. Look at the end and not the mean. The objective is to cover and the word hijab stands for that. Does it matter which style it is? Don’t mix nationality/race with Islam. Yes, a parda/chadar is great but unfortunately, many women do not wear it properly.

    Secondly, the absurd comment that Saudi soccer players uncover to knees hence hijab is a restriction on women only. Men and women are equal in the eyes of Allah SWT, not the same. Paradise does not make distinction between a male and a female.. it only makes distinction based on one’s piety.

    Thirdly, men need to take it easy here. This is an issue for women. Why all of a sudden, men from both sides jump in to “liberate” women.


  • insider
    Oct 5, 2012 - 1:29AM

    It’s pretty sad you say that. You are speaking of the very barriers that Islam came to eliminate. There is no difference between an arab or a non-arab in the eyes of Allah.


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