Friday, 30 May 2008

Women in Black 4 - UK

Thursday's Women in Black on BBC 2 was filmed right here in the UK. You can watch it for 6 more days here, or here's a short clip:

I had mixed feelings about this episode, but I don't have time to go into too much detail. There are a few things which did stick out for me though.

Amani visited Anila Baig, who is a writer for the Sun newspaper. Now for those of you not from the UK, let's just say that the Sun isn't exactly the most well-respected newspaper in this country. When asked about why she stopped wearing hijab, Anila's reply was that she 'had bigger things to be worrying about than covering her hair'. Huh? Since when did wearing hijab prevent anyone from paying attention to the more important issues in life? Had she said that she felt that she was not ready to wear it or not confident enough to keep it on, I would have understood. But her reply has simply sent out the message that hijab is unnecessary. You can read more about Anila in this article from 2004.

Two of the girls who were interviewed spoke to Amani about why the wear the abaya rather than salwar kameez. They felt that in salwar kameez, they were identified as Pakistani first, and then Muslim. They said that they wanted the opposite to happen - to be identified as Muslims first. But then they also admit that they are sometimes mistaken for Arabs when wearing abaya, but that they don't mind that. Is anyone sensing a contradiction here?

In the UK, as soon as you wear hijab on your head, you are pretty much identified as Muslim, no matter what else you are wearing. Secondly, people can often tell from your colouring what part of world you come from, so honestly I don't see how wearing abaya is identifying them as Muslim, when hijab is already doing that!

One woman who did seem to be making sense was the Pakistani ambassador. Even though she does not wear hijab herself, she said that the issue was a personal one for each woman to decide, and that it shouldn't be blown out of proportion. It's simply a personal choice.

Towards the end of the programme, Amani attends a fashion show by Yasmin Safri of Arabian Nites. I thought the abayas she designed were beautiful! Check out her website to see more, or read about her here.

Here are some stills from the show:

Hijabis shopping in Primark. What did you think of their style?

Yasmin Safri:

The fashion show:


hani said...

I love her designs. Anyway, just wanted to share a video ( a headwrap. Just thinks it looks cool. :)

pink_marshmallow said...

asalam alaikum sisters

i was a little dissapointed at the fact shes in the uk, going to a few reverts would have given another angle on the hijabi.

but i was just astounded at the sister from the sun and her choice to stop wearing it. it was a very confusing programme this week, and im sure the non muslim publice viewers would have been like huh what.

lets see how she gets on in amsterdam and i cant wait to see the moroccan wedding, as its been a few years since i have been to one. im still waiting for mine lol, have not had my moroccan party yet inshallah in the summer this year.

fi aminallah

Aaliyah said...

I also disagreed with something Anila Baig said, she said that Pakistanis look at Arabs as better muslims as they can speak Arabic. She also said that Pakistanis see anything that comes from the Arab world as "authentic" (?!?!?!). AS a Pakistani myself I can say that I do not hold these views. Being a good muslim has nothing to do with where you come from. I agree that this was a confusing programme...


kristinsdottir said...

On the Primark shopping photo, I LOVE the look of the girl on the left, with the scarf oomphed and twisted around her neck. Unorthodox but still hijab, right, if I understand it correctly?

Best wishes from Oregon! Great blog!

Ruba said...

I must saythat some of the hijab style are not islamic,I mean since when it is okay for a women to show her neck?
ofcourse there are some great styles and oclors that cover the neck ..but come on girls lets not let emotions rule us;Prophet Muhammad PBUH said her face and palms are to appear only the rest is awra(which includes her neck)

Anonymous said...

the primark girlies were the only good thing about this prog and the abaya designer, all the rest was very confused, the sun person said her religion was being dragged through the mud well she hasnt helped that much with that aspect has she? the bengali girl needs help, the speed dating scene was weird i dunno i expected more out of this since its in the uk she should have interviewed some converts because there are so many who have so much good to say, next weeks prog looks a bit too confused too,

eternal peace said...

i love the arabian nites collection mashaAllah the sis has done well, i visited her boutique in whitechapel london and her scarves and abayas are beautiful though they can be expensive though, i'm just waiting for an occassion now so i can buy one lol

Jasmine said...

Salaams and thanks for keeping us updated, Hayah. I didn't like this episode as much as the others, I think featuring a few reverts would have been nice as that gives the hijab debate a whole new slant. I do wonder why Amani took her hijab off, and why as a woman who doesn't wear hijab and consciously decided to stop the practise of veiling wants to make a show about hijabi fashion. Very interesting, but nice to see that the BBC has a programme on such a subject! 5 years ago you would never have thought so. At least she didn't give the world the 411 on muslim women and bikini waxes this time though..

MomTo5 said...

beautiful Abayas at Arabian Nites

keep up the good work!


Anonymous said...

I was absolutely disappointed with pretty much most of this show- as a muslim I felt like I was being disgraced! I mean this programme is aired in the UK to all cultures and I felt helpless that I could not defend my faith- me and my muslim sisters were being stereotyped to fit the 'picture' of the so called British muslims from the show! I am an asian, so what! I don't think it was in any way necessary for the lady in the kitchen to say 'asians think arabs are correct', or british asian muslims date, british asian muslims are open and talk about taboo subjects, what asians are u referring to? Please by Allah do not include me in it! It has completely given off the wrong vibe about asian muslims! Also Abaya is an islamic dress- and not exclusively made for 'arab' women...... like it says in Islam no race is superior, but divisions between muslims are sometimes created by muslims themselves, so how then do people expect us to unite?! Please forgive me for my outburst, I do not mean to cause offence to anyone, but I was offended. Allah knows best. Fi Aman Illah.

aishah said...

well.... i think that this episode waz quite gud- mainly because it showed a range of views- that is not all muslims think the same. Which is what i think the show is trying to do.

Alixianna said...

I like the last few pictures.

Meryem said...


I'm so jealous of you (forgive me;) I would love to watch these tv-show ... it seems to be good!but because I live in austria, I can only watch this short-films :(
there is some policy, that you can't watch it outside the uk!
for whatever reasons ... I thought, we're in the EU ... anyway.
does anybody know, if they make a dvd out of it ;))

Anonymous said...

Anila Baig from The Sun is clearly living in her own little made-up world and generalises HER problems as the problems of all South Asian women. Since when did Pakistanis see Arabs as "idealistic"?? I live in a big South Asian community in London, even bigger than hers, and I haven't come across not even one South Asian who aspires to become like Arabs or put Arabs on a higher rank - if any difference is recognised of Arabs by South Asians, it's usually negative and that even happens quite rarely!

For most South Asian women, covering hair or not on a daily basis depends on personal choice, not culture or religion. In South Asia, you'll hardly find a woman who covers her hair - it's not a natural part of South Asian culture. There are women who cover their hair when they're whlist in the UK, but not when they're in South Asia which I find hypocritical especially when they criticise women for not covering their hair. South Asian clothes, such as sarees, lenghas and salwar kameez (i.e. kurta pyjama) are sometimes very revealing... and it is permitted! Even whilst South Asian women pray, some only partially cover their hair... it culture and it's neither right nor wrong! Not all muslims are the same - it varies between culture and individual preferences.

Anila is really ignorant, but I'm not surprised, she works for The Sun after all!

Off the topic: I think the term "Asian" is used too much out of context in this programme. In North America, Asians usually refers to East and South-East Asians, whereas in the UK, Asians refers to only South Asians. However, some Arabs, such as Saudi Arabians, Iranians, Iraqis etc, are also Asians as well - geographically, they are South-West Asians.

Anonymous said...

as salam aleykoum
dearest sister can u help me to understand something
in the reportage it is said that there ie prejudices to wear outfits clothes which are second hand so it is forbiden for muslim to buy vintage
can u sisters give me some dalils of this new fact? i would like to know if it is true or not
jazakhallah ou kheiryan

Moon said...

i think anila needs to take a good hard look at herself. she is an insult to Islam. Wearing a hijab is a simple move that can lead to many self-betterment. she is ignorant and much more. i hate it when people try to justify their actions like that, I mean, IS THIS ISLAM SHE'S TALKING ABOUT? Seriously, it's not only terrorists, people like her, too, are HIJACKING MY RELIGION. If we're not perfect, admit it. Don't justify it with lame excuses like that.

Oh and btw, I TOTALLY don't get the "no-no" thing to vintage/second hand clothing thing. Is there really a prejudice? Seems like the show is taking a very one-sided view. I adore vintage/second hand, particularly because it is cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

p/s: i love this blog. and i wish i could watch the programme.

Anonymous said...

I also had a few problems with the programme. I don't know why it is so odd for Muslim women to go shopping in Primark! I use high street shops for all my clothes! I didn't like the example of the model wearing leggings with a dress as acceptable coverage either! I never dressed like that even before wearing a hijab.

I too would've liked to have seen some revert sisters in the programme. It might have given a more rounded picture of Muslim women living in Britain.

I really liked the abaya designs towards the end of the programme. I thought they were beautiful.

I only knew about the programme through this blog so thanks!

Anonymous said...

hayah: Who are you to say what's accepted in Islam or not??? There was culture before Islam was recognised and there will always be culture even if religion has long disappeared. And no, a Muslim woman doesn't have to wear a hijab and you can never have any more than an opinion of what makes a person a Muslim or not. Not every Muslim is Arabic, so not not every Muslim would wear Arabic clothes.

moon: Wearing a hijab won't make you a better persons - regulating your actions will!

Moon said...

anonymous: "Wearing a hijab won't make you a better persons - regulating your actions will!"

like, Duh, isn't wearing hijab a step of REGULATING YOUR ACTIONS?

Moon said...

anon: wearing hijab does not MAKE you a better person per se, I know of girls who don't wear it who are good, and of those who do that are shameful. what i meant here, is, it IS a step isn't it? plus, the way anila baig made it sound as if it wasn't necessary at all. it is something that is wajib after all, but if you aren't ready for it, ok. there is no forcefulness in Islam. but the way she justified it was sooo... hurtful?

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I swear I posted two messages here, one as recently as this morning. Anyway; yes, I agree, I also felt Anila was slightly confused - it was like she was suggesting that Muslim women are forced to wear hijabs, when it's completely one's choice. My previous message to Anon (no. 3?) was that Hayah was responding to my message about women partially covering their hair WHILST PRAYING which some South Asian women do - it's like what we understand to be "culture". I sort of agree with your culture & religion statement, however, I would never sacrifice one for the other... I wouldn't be me then.

Scarf Ace said...

i don't watch the show, but from the clip, it seems to generalize a bit too much. in the clip it said that pakistani women shudder at the thought of exposing their underarms, but as a pakistani, i see lots of pakistani girls with the sleeveless kameez trend. it seems odd that the host of the show doesn't wear hijab yet she is trying to educate the audience on it? hmm. i appreciate their intentions, but maybe they should get a hijabi to co-host the show as well ;-)

Scarf Ace said...

and except for the sequined one and a couple others, the fashion show stills were interesting, but not very practical--just like most fashion shows! LOL

Anonymous said...

What was up with the sheer leggings???? How does that make the outfit "hijab-worthy"???

That billowy-sleeved shirt she put under the purple dress wasn't even long-sleeved.

Also, the presenter really pi**ed me off with the comment about vintage clothes.

What planet is she from??

A lot of the suggestions from the clip would work for non-muslims who are trying to dress modestly.

And yes, I agree with the above poster, someone who doesn't wear hijab shouldn't be hosting a show about hijab. I mean, that's counter-intuitive, right?


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