Muslim scholar Sheikh Mohamad Al Arefe caused quite a stir on social media late on Tuesday after he posted a tweet stating that it is “haram” for women to wear flamboyant hijabs and abayas.
The Saudi Arabian scholar is followed by over seventeen million people on Twitter and many of the women following him aren’t too happy with the latest “advice”… to say the least.
In his tweet Al Arefe stated that wearing embellished or flamboyant hijabs and abayas is considered “haram” in Islam because it defies their original purpose: “covering a woman’s adornments.”
“My dear daughter, follow God’s word and avoid wearing attractive abayas,” he wrote, before going on to cite a verse from the Holy Quran.
Soon after the tweet began making the rounds online, hundreds of women turned to sarcasm, hitting back at Al Arefe by tweeting out their abaya outfits.
The article goes on to praise the sarcastic replies and revel in the trollish responses.
Never – not even once – does the article trouble itself to consider the merits of Al Arefe’s post. Not that I really expect it to. Islamic legal rulings now have a value outside its primary intended audience of practicing Muslims. People value Islamic legal rulings for different reasons and for achieving different purposes. Three groups of people stand out: those who value them as guidance and salvation, those who value them as news items, and those who value them as tools for influencing public opinion. Validity and authenticity matter only for the first group; the rest really don’t care, and material that is invalid unauthentic tends to serve their purposes best. The article here clearly doesn’t fall into the first category.
UPDATE. I discussed how people value Islamic legal rulings today in my Public Understanding of Islamic Scholarship in Society piece for Tabah Foundation.