Caryle Murphy, Yasir Qadhi, and the Headscarf

Yasir Qadhi relates a telephone interview he had with Caryle Murphy of the Washington Post:

Caryle Murphy: When are Muslims going to fully integrate into American society?

Yasir Qadhi: What makes you think Muslims are not integrated into American society?

Caryle Murphy: Well, when Muslim women don’t have to cover their hair.

Yasir Qadhi: You mean to tell me that the Amish in Pennsylvania and orthodox Jews are not fully integrated into American society because they also cover their hair?

Caryle Murphy: No, that’s not what I meant.

Muslim Apple: Well, what exactly did you mean?

You can ask Ms. Murphy what she meant here. How terribly disappointing for the Washington Post’s regular religion contributor that integration in her mind for Muslim women in America stops at the headscarf. Hijab = backward, clinging to foreign customs, and isolationist. No hjiab = progressive and full integration into the American experience. Sad.

Caryle Murphy Responds 

Video: Yasir Qadhi – Perfect Justice: Debunking the Male Bias Myth


  1. You hit the nail right on the head sister.

    I am so tired of being told that I don’t have to wear that ‘thing on my head’ in America.

    Because it is the land of the free, I am free to wear what I like.

    I am not public property, so excuse me if I don’t reveal myself.

    People like Murphy always bother me.

    Hope your Ramadan is going well!

    Wa Salaam

  2. Alhamdulillah, I believe I am gaining in energy and spiritual purification as this month progresses.

    Jack Straw’s comments about the wearing of niqab harming communication and integration would probably resonate with Caryle Murphy.

    The only objection I can see that people have to Muslim women wearing the hijab/niqab is that they themselves are made uncomfortable by reminders of the religiosity which is missing from their own lives or that they are simply voyeurs themselves.

    It’s kind of like people who object to others speaking in their native language only because the person objecting doesn’t understand it and feels self-concious thinking, “what if they are talking about me?”

  3. Course, her silly example aside, the question still stands. Do you feel assimilated? I would bet the answer is, usually, yes, sometimes no, sometimes, hell, no.

  4. A better question is, do you feel assimilated Bill? Why should anyone think that a Muslim woman who desires to wear what she wants to is somehow less American or assimilated than say an orthodox Jew or the Amish or a goth or a nun?

    Among the ideas emphasized in public school was the idea that in America people are free to practice their beliefs and have ideas which are contrary to the majority and these things are protected under the First Amendment. And we learned that the honorable position from the secular American/western point of view is that of Voltaire that I may not agree with what you are saying but I will defend until death your right to say it. Or re-phrased I might not like your clothing but I will defend until death your right to wear it.

    But now, we see the hypocrisy of those who claim to believe in these supposedly modern western secular ideas in that they are among those who wish to prevent Muslims and only Muslims from implementing their religious beliefs just because they are “different”. And to mask this deceit and bigotry they say that our clothing  choices harm “communication” and “integration”.

    It seems to me that exercising the First Amendment to practice one’s religious beliefs without fear of government intervention is as American as “muslim” apple pie.

  5. I’m a muslim, but I don’t live in the US.

    Personally, I think in the US, the Hijab would reverse the whole reason it’s worn for to the opposite. Muslim women wear hijab to hide from greedy sexual looks of men. Well, in the US, the majority of women do not cover their hair, so muslim women, by wearing hijab, are being looked at by men more than that if they don’t wear it. The reason is the woman being different in that clothing, so the whole reason it’s worn is not only unapplied, but even reversed, as such woman would be harassed, hated, and discriminated against. So what does she gain now?

    Islam is the religion of peace and hard-working, not the religion of ‘covering your women all up’! However, I don’t mean by that, that hair-covering for women in the muslim nations is not favorable; it is, but I regard it as not being important as being a faithful and an honest person, for instance.

    I strongly do not support muslim women covering their hair in the US, western cultures, and any other nation where the majority of women do not cover their hair.

  6. I think there is alot of mythology that Muslim apologists have come up with in often feeble attempts to explain the tenets of Islam.

    I pray, fast, give zakah, have the intention to go for hajj, wear hijab, etc. because Allah and His Messenger sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam commanded it. This is enough for me.

    Someone may say that they feel more alert and are better able to worship Allah if they don’t fast or get up for fajr prayer yet that doesn’t change the fact that it is obligatory to perform those acts of worship. The same with hijab.

    Women regardless of what they wear attract attention from men. Perhaps we should stop praying, fasting, memorizing Quran, eating halal meat, building masajid, change our names, and begin drinking, eating pork, and engaging in zina because the majority of the people in non-Muslim countries do not adhere to Islamic customs?

  7. Women regardless of what they wear attract attention from men.

    You said it. So a hijab won’t change anything; it only adds a racist move which is not that necessary in a country where most women do not cover their hair, and hair is most likely not an object of glamour as other parts of the body.

    Perhaps we should stop praying, fasting, memorizing Quran, eating halal meat, building masajid, change our names, and begin drinking, eating pork, and engaging in zina because the majority of the people in non-Muslim countries do not adhere to Islamic customs?

    Well, I didn’t mean that. Allah has given us minds to think with. And our prophet PBUH has advised us to think, and he stated there are things that might not be applicable in a certain place or time. You want to compare women in a tribal society around 1500 years ago with current women in a civilized country? There are things that cannot be modified for muslims; salat, zakat, hajj,..etc — but I think there are other things that are not as important; in fact, it’s driving us – muslims – backwards, not because of the act itself, but because of not being understood by non-muslims, in a time where we could change the whole point of view of wersterns about us by just working hard and being productive figures in our community.

    I think that such things as Hijab, apparently false well-written religious speeches about lame things, feeling very self-conscious because of being muslim, have lead to the retreat of the muslim nation. You can prove to the world you’re a muslim not by wearing a hijab, but by being a real muslim as we know it.

  8. Allah subhanahu wa ta ala has not promised us a life with no struggles in this world. I read a survey a long time ago that in America the majority of Muslim women do not observe hijab. Hijab is much more than a head scarf, it’s a way of being.

    Among my companions that wear hijab, it is more beloved to us than any discomfort we may experience from the weather or from the people. And we will fight and struggle against anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim who tries to decide for us that we should not wear it. Our position is simple, if a person doesn’t want to observe hijab no one is going to force them and if a person wants to observe it no one can deny them this right.

    Living here in America, I can tell you from my own experience that hijab has just as many if not more benefits than you seem to perceive the negatives.

  9. “[the prophet pbuh] stated there are things that might not be applicable in a certain place or time.”

    where do you get this idea from? from my understanding, this is an idea not from islam. Allah says in quran: “This day I have completed your religion for you, completed My Favor upon you and have selected for your Way of Life, Al-Islam” [Holy Quran, 5:3].

    Allah sent Muhammad pbuh as the final messenger, from his time until the day of judgement, and nowhere have i ever seen a ayah or hadith saying go ahead and change the religion when it becomes inconvenient, uncomfortable, misunderstood, old fashioned, etc. sure some issues come up now that didn’t then, like cars, computers, etc, but these are not fundamentals of our religion, but issues that people with knowledge can evaluate and make rulings on, and of course there are quite a number of varying opinions. but the fundamentals of belief, creed, law, etc. are very clear. life may be much more modern here in the states than 7th century arabia, but people are still people, our natures are the same, our infants still come out just as the infants then and there did.

    and hijab is not something that can be dismissed as less important than any other command of Allah, and indeed, hijab is a clear command. see 24:31 and many saheeh hadith.

    on a personal note, when i was wearing only hijab in the states, men would still talk to me. a different sort of man than talks to women in miniskirts, but sure they would still talk, ask about islam, and find something to compliment. once i started wearing niqaab, this changed. men will still ask about islam sometimes (like the checkers at the grocery store, for example), but they see i’m clearly off-limits for them. it *is* a barrier, this is the whole point! it cuts off the road that leads to sin. it’s like why a non-mahram man and woman cannot be alone together. it’s not that this alone is something so awful, but because it leads to haram. and it doesn’t just cut it off from the man’s side either. it’s a constant reminder to me, “a way of being” to live up to.

  10. As-Salaam ‘Alaykum
    Ramadan Karim

    Is integration not compatible with the proclaimation of freedom of religion in the U.S. constitution.

    Gabriel Hernandez.

  11. Wa salaam alaykum Gabriel and Ramadan Mubarak,

    Bill is an ok guy. He’s polite, seems to have an open-mind, is able to tolerate differences, and he likes The Boondocks comicstrip. And unlike O’Reilly, I have never seen him interrupt anyone.

    On the point about integration, the discussion always seemed framed in what “other people” have to do to integrate into the dominant society and culture. Yet, real integration is a two-way street and involves give and take from both the majority and the minority.

  12. asalamu alaykum everyone i just wanted to say that it is prescribed on muslim women to cover because allah, the almighty ordered us to. frankly i feel comfortable wearing hijab and am glad to observe it.i also wear nikab and i live in america .you wuld probably think wowo!impossible, but reallly it is a choice that i chose.i cover when i leave my house saying hasbiallahu wa nimal wakil.i have never been attacked or questioned about the way i cover by the way jack straw is just a mushrik he doesnt know what he is talking about.may allah guide him to islam.

  13. I just came across this blog, and thought I should comment on Br. Haisook’s comments. First, I don’t think its fair or even legit to talk about women of “tribal” society, and “civilized” society in the fashion that places this civilized society morally, or productively better. Also how is wearing a hijab makes someone less productive or hard-working, as you have implied? That line of reasoning is incorrect, and falsely creates this image where hijab impedes progress.

  14. AsSalaamu Alaikum,

    The struggle for freedom of relgion presses on. Many in the western world see the Hijab as a threat and would rather fashion it into some sick convoluted press of what they see Islam should be likeor worse. And then they’ll go on to try to change the 5 pillars. Allah has made our religion easy for us. Do not allow such integration into American or Western society stop you from being muslim. They would love for us to forget our morals and believe that this is the all and be all. In my opinion that’s the skinny. The theme or make up, though very good with many of the achievements and freedoms in America, would rather control your mind to make it such that you take it as your God or as the link to your God rather than follow Islam.

    A deceased American comedian once compared life to a roller coaster ride. Look that up if you can. America and Carlyle Murphy’s opinion of integration is no more than an illusion, a long rollercoaster ride to the death that admission to such a lengthy waste of time would cause you to forget what was truly important. That some would die and kill for,the ride, rather than accept the truth, that it’s just a ride.

    It maybe I’ve been on too long, I see it for what it

    AsSalaamu Alaikum

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