In a recent article, Jumana Ghunaimat, the editor of the Jordanian daily Al-Ghad, came out against the practice in some Jordanian institutions and private businesses to compel women - both Muslim and non-Muslim - to wear the hijab. Ghunaimat argued that forcing women to wear the hijab is just as wrong as prohibiting them from doing so, as is done in some Western countries. She claimed further that the decision whether to wear the hijab or not is a personal one that should be taken by each woman based on her inclinations and beliefs. She stressed that she herself would refuse to comply with such a rule, since freedom is not a matter for bargaining.
Jumana Ghunaimat (image: Twitter.com/Jumanaghunaimat)
Below are excerpts from the article:
"There is a private university [in Jordan] that denies entry to women not wearing a hijab. Students who do not [usually] wear one are required to don a head covering while on campus if they want to complete their studies. In a long conversation [I had] with a student who does not wear a hijab off campus, she told me that she is forced to submit to the university's requirement, otherwise she would not be able to complete her studies.
"Another example is the attempt of a Jordanian bank to impose a specific dress [code on its employees, which includes] a hijab for the female clerks, including those who are not Muslim! This is a practice that negates [the existence of] the other, and has very serious repercussions and implications.
"The question to be asked is how we, as Muslims, can criticize the West for banning the hijab in schools, universities and sometimes also in workplacesÔÇª while we do the exact same thing, only in the opposite direction. There is no difference between the two cases: in the first case, the woman is required to forgo the hijab by force of a decision, and in the second, she is compelled to wear it by force of a decision! I do not know how we can accuse the world of violating the freedom of Muslims and attacking their privacy while we allow ourselves to behave in precisely the same manner!
"I could understand the university administration taking such a decision if it were part of a religious educational facility such as Al-Azhar. But we are talking of a private university that charges thousands of dinars for awarding academic degrees... Had the university been located in a house of worship, this decision would have been logical, [but it is not]. This behavior has only one meaning: [it implies] a narrow view of the goals of Islam and of women. What is the point of students wearing a head covering if they remove the minute they leave campus? What is the point of imposing a head covering upon them if it is not part of their personal [behavior] and beliefs?!
"Another point has to do with students who are not Muslim [but] who want to know more about our religion. Do we have the right to impose our beliefs upon them just because they decided to study at a specific university?
"This article should not be taken to imply that I oppose the hijab. I [simply] believe that this issue is a matter of [personal] liberties and beliefs, not coercion, irrespective of whether we are talking of wearing the hijab or removing itÔÇª
With the spread of the radical ideology that thinks nothing of murdering women, or even worse, selling them on the slave markets, we must to act sensibly and reasonably in handling women's issues, so that we do not resemble the radicals, even unwittingly.
"Frankly, had I been in place of these women who are put to the test, I would not have agreed [to wear the hijab]. For liberties cannot be granted [only] partly and are not a matter for bargaining - not even for the sake of obtaining an academic degree or a job."
 Al-Ghad (Jordan), July 11, 2015.