Erdogan’s Partial Lifting Of Turkey’s Oppressive Hijab Ban Should Not Be A Cause Of Praise For Turkey’s Secular Democratic System That Continues To Oppress It’s Women
Erdogan’s Partial Lifting of Turkey’s Oppressive Hijab Ban Should not be a Cause of Praise for Turkey’s Secular Democratic System that Continues to Oppress its Women
On September 30, 2013, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced his democratization package. One of the most important changes in the package was the partial lifting of the oppressive headscarf ban from public servants in public institutions to which Muslim women have been subjected to for decades. The Prime Minister gave the following explanation: ‘‘We remove the ban on headscarves in public institutions by changing the clothing regulations. The By-Law on the attire of personnel working in public institutions and organizations included restrictive provisions for both male and female officers. These limitations violated the freedom of thought and faith, right to employment, and included discrimination. Those who have to wear formal suits, including members of Turkish Armed Forces, Security General Directorate as well as judges and prosecutors, are excluded.” The ban therefore remains in force on those in the army, police, and judiciary.
Some may feel that this is a cause of praise and appreciation for Turkey’s secular democratic system. However, it must be remembered that it was under the secular system that such a ban was implemented in the first place, and it was under the democratic system that it remained in force for years in Turkey and under which thousands of Muslim women had to fight to fulfil their basic Islamic obligation. It is under this same secular democratic system that the Islamic dress continues to be banned from various sectors of Turkish society, and under this same system that hijab and niqab bans have been passed in France, Belgium, Italy and other Western secular states. So how can this partial lifting of the ban of the Islamic headscarf ever be viewed as a cause of celebration over the secular democratic system?
If democracy was ever to be a useful system to provide for Muslim women, would thousands of women be forced to go out to the streets and fight for their rights? Democracy is a system which is completely interpreted and applied according to the minds of those who hold power, and therefore a system with absolutely no reliability nor consistency. If it is possible to commit much oppression against Muslim women in the name of democracy, who guarantees then that democracy will not be re-interpreted by future politicians in order to withdraw again these same basic rights given to women? If democracy possesses the basic structure to provide justice for humanity, then are the Muslim women living outside of Turkey, in the temples of democracy in France, Belgium, Russia, Canada, and many other Western states where Islamic dress-code bans are in force, not part of humanity? For under such secular democratic states, Muslim women and girls have been denied access to a good education, work, healthcare, and even the ability to move freely within their societies for simply wishing to practice their deeply held religious beliefs; their rights having been clearly judged as irrelevant and insignificant.
Moreover, it must be understood that the democratization package is, as its name reflects, not aiming at complying with the Order of Allah (swt), for it continues to prohibit women serving in the Turkish Armed Forces, in the Police and the judiciary system from fulfilling their Islamic obligation of dressing according to Allah’s command. In addition, with exception of the Imam Hatip High Schools (Islamic High Schools) the headscarf for the Islamically mature girls continues to be banned in all other schools. If this democratic package embodies justice, why is this justice not also valid for these women and girls? This again shows that democracy is a human system based on man-made laws and as such it stands in sharp contrast to Allah’s system and will continue to be hostile to it always. Furthermore, women in democratic Turkey continue to face epidemic levels of violence as well as economic exploitation within their society, as well as suffering from high rates of poverty and economic hardship – problems that remain unsolved for millions of women worldwide under their secular democratic system. Therefore, presenting the partial lifting of the hijab ban through this democratic package as if it has removed the oppression from Muslim women in Turkey and as an ex-gratia blessing for Muslims is both deceptive and delusional! Indeed, anything other than the full implementation of Islam will always result in the oppression of women and men, for Allah (swt) says,
((وَمَن لَّمۡ يَحۡڪُم بِمَآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ فَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلظَّـٰلِمُونَ))
“Whoever does not rule according to what Allah has revealed, they are the oppressors.” [TMQ Al-Maida: 45]
Democratic Turkey after all, even under the AKP that has Islamic roots, remains a state where women who wish to fulfill their Islamic obligation of Amr-i bil ma’ruf and nahyi ‘anil munkar (commanding what Allah has commanded and forbidding what Allah has forbidden) and who call for the establishment of the system of Allah, the Khilafah continue to face persecution and imprisonment. Neither they, nor their husbands, brothers, fathers or sons benefit from this democratization package. Hizb ut Tahrir, which is a global non-violent political Islamic party that works to resume Islam as a complete way of life through the establishment of the Khilafah is still not permitted to operate legally under Turkey’s democratic structure. Its members are still arrested on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization even though their only weapons are their voices and words calling for the full implementation of Islam.
This democratization package is therefore nothing more than a poisoned pill which Turkey’s Muslim population is being forced to swallow, serving the idea of personal freedom while putting obedience to Allah (swt) on the back burner. The partial lifting of the hijab ban follows the “10 Million Signatures for Headscarf” campaign initiated at the beginning of 2013 and the campaign of civil disobedience carried out with the support of the Confederation of Public Servants Trade Union Memur-Sen since March this year. The aim therefore of passing such laws is to cynically infuse Muslims with the belief that their rights and Islamic practices can be secured through the democratic process and system and that there is no need for Allah (swt)’s system of ruling to be implemented for them to live good Islamic lives or to organize the affairs of their state. However, you cannot hide the sun with mud! The distinction between the perfect and sublime system of Allah in protecting and guaranteeing the tenets of Islam and in organizing the affairs of mankind, to the flawed, corrupt secular democratic system that has caused untold misery for women and men, Muslims and non-Muslims alike is like comparing light to darkness. Allah (swt) says,
((وَمَا يَسۡتَوِى ٱلۡأَعۡمَىٰ وَٱلۡبَصِيرُ (١٩) وَلَا ٱلظُّلُمَـٰتُ وَلَا ٱلنُّورُ (٢٠) وَلَا ٱلظِّلُّ وَلَا ٱلۡحَرُورُ (٢١) وَمَا يَسۡتَوِى ٱلۡأَحۡيَآءُ وَلَا ٱلۡأَمۡوَٲتُۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُسۡمِعُ مَن يَشَآءُۖ وَمَآ أَنتَ بِمُسۡمِعٍ۬ مَّن فِى ٱلۡقُبُورِ (٢٢) إِنۡ أَنتَ إِلَّا نَذِيرٌ))
“Not equal are the blind and the seeing. Nor are the darkness and the light. Nor are the shade and the heat. And not equal are the living and the dead. Indeed, Allaah causes to hear whom he wills, but you cannot make hear those in the graves. You [O Muhammad] are not but a warner.” [TMQ Fatir: 19-23]
Furthermore, this democratization package does not provide any solution to the torture, injustice, oppression, and slaughter that Muslim women face across the globe as in Burma, Afghanistan, Palestine, Kashmir, Central Asia, Pakistan, Somalia, and in Syria (Turkey’s neighbour) that is an obligation for this Ummah and any state that truly represents Islam to address. Rather, the corrupt nationalistic principles of Turkey continue to be preserved in the country – principles that cause its leadership to turn their back on Muslims from other states in their most desperate time of need, viewing them as people from a foreign nation rather than as brothers and sisters in Islam, and failing to lift a finger to stop their bloodshed and remove their suffering.
Therefore, no matter how many more democracy packages are to come, this system will never be capable of being a system which removes the oppression from the daughters of this Ummah, or that enables them to live by all their Islamic obligations and according to all the Commands of their Creator (swt). Democracy will never be a system that gives life to this Ummah, or can solve the problems of mankind. Furthermore, throwing crumbs to the Muslims of Turkey cannot appease their desire for true Islamic change or to quell their anger over inaction in protecting the sacred blood of their Ummah.
The way of solving the Muslim woman’s and all people’s problems is not leading through Democracy but through Islam. Indeed, Rasulillah (saw) informed us about the arrival of such treacherous non-Islamic systems and of how we should respond it. He (saw) said,
ألا إن رحى الإسلام دائرة فدوروا مع الكتاب حيث دار، ألا إن الكتاب والسلطان سيفترقان فلا تفارقوا الكتاب، ألا إنه سيكون عليكم أمراء يقضون لأنفسهم ما لا يقضون لكم إن عصيتموهم قتلوكم وإن أطعتموهم أضلوكم، قالوا: يا رسول الله كيف نصنع؟ قال: كما صنع أصحاب عيسى ابن مريم نشروا بالمناشير وحملوا على الخشب، موت في طاعة الله خير من حياة في معصية الله.
“Verily the grinder of Islam will continue to grind, so continue with the Quran wherever it moves (i.e. stick to the Quran). Verily the Quran and the authority (of Islam) will be separated from each other, do not leave the Quran. There will be rulers amongst you, who will allow for themselves things which they will prevent for you. If you disobey them then they will kill you. If you obey them they will misguide you. Do as the apostles of Isa ibn Maryam (as) did; they were cut by saws and hung upon wood. Being killed in obedience to Allah (swt) is better than a life of sin.“ [at-Tabarani, Mu’jam al-Kabeer, Mu’jam as-Sagheer and Shameen]
It is the Khilafah state alone, implementing a purely Islamic constitution that can guarantee a Muslim woman’s right to practice her Islamic faith and fulfill all her Islamic obligations, including her Islamic dress – the Khimar and jilbab – without harassment, fear or discrimination, for it is modeled upon the Islamic system implemented by the Prophet (saw). He (saw) banished a whole tribe, Banu Qaynuqa for defiling the Islamic dress of a Muslim woman. It is the Khilafah alone that will take with utmost seriousness the violation of the dignity of a woman or any action of violence or abuse that harms her wellbeing for it declares her honour as a valuable trust to be protected by the men of society and the state always, prescribing harsh punishments for those who harm her physically or even slander her reputation. It will mobilize its army to defend the blood and dignity of the daughters of the Ummah as in Syria and Burma and liberate them from their oppression. This is illustrated by the actions of Khalifah Muttasim who sent a huge army in response to the call for help of a single Muslim woman who was captured and humiliated by the Romans. It is the Khilafah system alone that obliges the ruler to be a guardian of the people and to therefore carry the economic burdens of women upon his back, ensuring that they enjoy lives of financial security, and carrying food to them with his own hands if they were hungry as Khalifah Umar bin Al Khattab did for a poor woman and her children in Madinah who were hungry due to poverty. And only under the Khilafah will women gain back their voices for calling for justice without being persecuted, humiliated and even arrested, for it is a state that will oblige and encourage women to be politically active, facilitating and not fighting them in their Islamic duty to account their rulers and truly valuing and embracing their political voice and opinions. This is because one of the basic obligations of being a Muslim according to Allah (swt) is:
((وَٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ وَٱلۡمُؤۡمِنَـٰتُ بَعۡضُهُمۡ أَوۡلِيَآءُ بَعۡضٍ۬ۚ يَأۡمُرُونَ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ وَيَنۡهَوۡنَ عَنِ ٱلۡمُنكَرِ))
“The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong…” [TMQ At-Tawbah: 71]
Women under the Khilafah will therefore be able to demand their rights given to them by Allah (swt) and will be honoured for this as under Khalifah Umar bin Al-Khattab (ra). When he announced after a Friday khutba that he wanted to set a limit to the marriage dowry for women, a woman stood up, raised her voice in front of the crowds of people and criticized Umar (ra)’s decision openly, saying: “Oh, Umar, are you going to limit something, which Allah gave to women by saying: ‘even if they demand camel-loads’?” Umar (ra)’s reaction was this: “Verily, this woman is right and Umar is wrong!” and he withdrew his decision.
This is all guaranteed under the Laws of Allah (swt), but only through their full implementation under the Islamic system of the Khilafah, under which the Islamic laws and God-given rights related to women and all other matters cannot be changed by those in power, and are also implemented immediately and completely rather than by step by step snail-pace change. Hence, it is only this system revealed by Allah (swt) that can ensure true justice and true and effective measures against oppression of women and the whole of mankind.
So dear sisters in Islam! We from Hizb ut-Tahrir call you to study our detailed and comprehensive books and also the draft constitution of the Khilafah that we present in order that you may understand in detail the status and rights of the woman under Islamic rule. And we call you our dear sisters, you who sincerely desire and deserve the success of this world as well as the next, to dissociate yourselves from the ideas, concepts and implementation of any non-Islamic ideology and to hold tight to the Rope of Allah (swt).
وَأَنَّ هَـٰذَا صِرَٲطِى مُسۡتَقِيمً۬ا فَٱتَّبِعُوهُۖ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُواْ ٱلسُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمۡ عَن سَبِيلِهِۦۚ ذَٲلِكُمۡ وَصَّٮٰكُم بِهِۦ لَعَلَّڪُمۡ تَتَّقُونَ
“And, [moreover], this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you that you may become righteous.” [TMQ Al-An’am: 153]
Member of The Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir