Since appearing on Channel 4′s, 4thought I have been flooded with emails, tweets, Facebook messages and comments and I am highly appreciative and honored to have received every single one. First of all thank you for taking time out to let me know your views on my filming for Channel 4 (both the positive feedback and the criticism) and secondly I would love to reply to each one but simply time and my work commitments do not allow me to. So I decided to write a quick blog. Im glad this video has created such a heated debate as I had already assumed the topic of modesty/Hijab still remains to be a controversial one and I had wanted people to discuss this so we can iron out some misconceptions surrounding Hijab and create some sort of dialogue.
Regarding my filming. The filming took around 30mins to an hour long, yet the final production was only 1 min and 56sec (so you can imagine how this was edited down). I had mentioned allot of points which unfortunately did not make it to the final edit. I had mentioned what the Quran has said about HIjab (mentioning the specific verses and quotations). I also mentioned that the Quran tells men FIRST to cover up and guard their modesty then refers to the females (So the responsibility falls on both). I spoke about how guarding your modesty applies BOTH for men and women and when both parties guard their modesty then we would have a decent society. I spoke about modesty NOT only being about the physical but also the social and one can not coexist without the other. Theres no point covering up if your actions and behavior is not respectful and vice versa. I spoke about how God is beautiful and he loves beauty. I spoke about fashion and how we Muslim woman are not alienated from the fashion of this world. In fact we still shop in your popular retail stores e.g River Island, TopShop, Zara, John Lewis etc… But theres a time and place where we wear it. I spoke about how we should all respect one another. I spoke about the virgin Mary and how she has been my role model and inspiration in life both in the way I dress and in my conduct. I spoke about us integrating within society and that the hijab does not limit me in communicating and interacting within society. I spoke about the niqab and that I personally DO NOT agree with wearing the niqab in Britain as it creates a barrier between us and the British society and within my research I have found that my religion advises me not to wear the niqab if it creates more attraction and attention to ones self. I spoke about why I wear the hijab, the benefits I have found in wearing it. I spoke about how rape, adultery happens in the east too not only the west and the reasons for it. Yet all of which did not make it in the final cut and my content and speech was edited down to what you all watched on TV.
Regarding my comment on the woman in the street. Before I went to film for Channel 4, the producers had watched the shows I had presented for the TV channel I work for (Channel Sky 842). They had also read some blogs I had written online so their questions were very specific and geared towards that. One question was “You had wrote a blog about walking on the street on a hot summers day, could you just narrate that”. They were referring to this blog post: http://zahraalalawi.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/its-summer-where-is-your-hijab-2/
To answer this I narrated what I had written. If you take some time out to read the blog I had written in May 2012 you would see I was referring to Muslim woman who cover up. It was not centered around the Non-Muslim I had seen on the street. But only a sentence or two of the story was put in. I personally believe Hijab is a beautiful thing and I am proud of wearing it and not afraid of showing it. People will always make assumptions of their own understanding of what they think I mean, but that just portrays the diversity in our society and thats the beauty of it. I have many very close non Muslim friends from different backgrounds and cultures which I can say are the closest to me. I believe despite our differences we can all coexist and live in harmony with one another. I certainly do not claim to be more honorable or modest then other women. Sometimes because I talk with so much passion and conviction people may think otherwise, but I am really a down to earth person who respects everyones right to dress and act as they please.
This is not the first time I appear on mainstream television and i have had previously appeared on Channel 4, BBC and on other shows and programs which have been broadcasted on mainstream channels. I have also been presenting shows on Sky Channel 842 for 3 years now and been giving speeches/lectures and appearing in public for over 6 years. I fully understand that when one comes in public they open themselves up for criticism and public opinion and i personally do not mind as I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion. Its called freedom of speech. I believe strongly in what I preach and am not weak enough to express it. I have seen great benefits in wearing the Hijab and it has helped me alot in the path I have chosen to take and the career I have chosen. I will continue with my public service and speaking out with what I believe is the truth.
So did anything good come out of this video? Yes its opened up the floor for discussion. Its allowed everyone to express their opinion on what they feel modesty equals to. Its allowed me to see what people think of modesty and covering up and its allowed others to see my views. Its allowed me to get my voice out to a wider audience. Perhaps the video did not fully portray what I wanted to say but it has certainly raised a question mark. And those who wish to know more would go on to research my interviews/work and will find out what I really believe in covering up and the headscarf and the reasons why I do. Surprisingly already I have received many emails from people wanting to know more about the headscarf and my views on Hijab and with that I think its all worth it.
I would like to thank all those who commented on the video and expressed their opinions. I would like to thank Channel 4 for their generous hospitality while I was at the studio and their fantastic work. Its a beautiful world we live in and if everyone saw the positives to every situation and respect one another we would all live in peace and harmony amongst each other. Peace to you all.