By Raghd Al Shar
Achieving peace in this century can be problematic, with all the media depicting Islam as a terrorist religion. My art project was inspired by some events that started happening in the US since 9/11. Feminists typically advocate or support the rights and equality of women, being a feminist and believing in women’s rights can be hard in today’s world since everyone who sees Islam and women think that most of the women are oppressed or forced to be maids for their husbands, being a good wife and a good mother to their children is interpreted as lacking all their civil rights and have no identities. Women all over the world have gone through many different mental and psychological abuse when it comes to their religion, oppression is one of the many words that women wearing “Hijab” (scarf to cover their heads) go through in their everyday life especially in western countries. The word "Hijab" comes from the Arabic word "hajaba" meaning to hide from view or conceal. In the present time, the context of Hijab is the modest covering of a Muslim woman. The question now is what is the extent of the covering? Why do Muslim women have to cover their heads? This question is one which is asked by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. For many women it is the truest test of being a Muslim. The question of Hijab for Muslim women has been a controversy for centuries and will probably continue for many more. A middle line position is taken by some who claim that the instructions are vague and open to individual discretion depending on the situation. The wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) were required to cover their faces so that men would not think of them in sexual terms since they were the "Mothers of the Believers," but this requirement was not extended to other women. Why are Muslim women oppressed when they are equals to the Christian nuns?
A common misconception is that Muslim women are the only ones who cover their hair. It may be true that Islam is the only religion in which most women follow its directives to cover the hair, but it is not the only religion to have such directives. The explicit purpose of the Christian woman's head covering, as stated by Paul, is that it is a sign of man's authority over woman. The explicit purpose of Islamic hijab is modesty. Strange how so many Westerners think that the purpose of hijab is a symbol of male authority. Maybe they know that that's what it is in their own religion (Christianity) so they assume that Islam must be the same. The Christian woman is to cover her head whenever she is praying, whether it be at the church service or just personal prayer at home. This may mean that if she is not praying at home, she is uncovered around male guests who are not related to her; or if she is praying at home, that she is covered around her own husband and family. If any more proof were needed than Paul's own words that the Christian head covering is not about modesty, this must certainly be it. This puts hijab in a whole new perspective, Non-Muslim women who feel that hijab is a sign of oppression for the Muslim female should read the above and then read the Quran. Furthermore, if Allah meant for the hijab to be a sign of male authority, the Quran would be as unambiguous about it as Paul is in the Bible. Isn't this difference the kind of entity that attracted you to Islam in the first place? It is particularly interesting to look at the case of Christianity, since Christianity is the predominant religion in the West, who are often the first to criticize Islam because of the hijab (modest dress, including head covering).
The portrait that I drew itself explains what I am trying to say, both religions have the same obligation, so why misinterpret one but not the other? I chose to draw on a paper canvas and use a drawing pencil and I sketched one Muslim women wearing the Hijab and on the right I sketched a Christian nun. To show the similarities that both these women are covering their heads and full body but only displaying their hands and face. After I finished with the shading I used color pencils to give the portrait some life with bright colors meanwhile not losing the main idea for the Christina nun’s clothes (black and white or black and grey…etc). The Muslim lady has her eyes closed which resembles praying to God, while I portrayed the Christian nun with her eyes open but her hands across each other and holding a cross while also praying.
The Feminist artists sought to create a dialogue between the viewer and the artwork through the inclusion of women's perspective. Art was not merely an object for aesthetic admiration, but could also incite the viewer to question the social and political landscape, and through this questioning, possibly affect the world and incite change toward equality.
· Marina Abramovic - Pioneer of Performance Art, I am are going to start this list with one of the biggest names on the contemporary art scene. Marina Abramovic is a New York based performance artist whose work explores the relationship between the performer and the audience, limitations of the body and the vast possibilities of the mind. With a highly lucrative career, which spans over four decades, Abramovic has been rightfully described as the pioneer of performance art.
· Cindy Sherman - Highly Provocative, is a renowned American contemporary artist, photographer and film director, best known for her conceptual portraits that raise challenging questions about the role and representation of women in modern society.