COVERING UP AND SPEAKING UP! A RHETORICAL ANALYSIS OF HIJABI NARRATIVES

Shahreen Mat Nayan

Abstract

In the debate concerning the state of women in Muslim societies, scholarly literature on the hijab or the Muslim dress code is often relayed by observers and not by those who enact the religious obligation. Post 9-11 and recent developments on both the local and global stage have heightened the focus on Islam and its followers. Hate, Islamaphobic, and extremist rhetoric have unfortunately overwhelmed the moderates. This state of exigency needs to be addressed. Focusing on Muslim women and the hijab, this paper attempts to address the hegemonic discourse on the dress code while bringing to the fore the narratives on hijab from personal conversations as well as texts from the media. Using bell hook's enactment as a rhetorical option and standpoint theory as a theoretical framework, this study seeks to contribute to existing literature by highlighting the voices of moderate, conscious, and practicing Muslim women who offer their views on the hijab. In expressing their faith and their practice of hijab, the women indirectly contribute to the act of da'wah while demonstrating their agency. Conversations with the women in this study revealed that the act of hijab for them correlates with the notion of agency, emancipation, and self-reward.

 

Keywords: Standpoint Theory; Enactment; Rhetoric; Narratives; Malaysian Women - hijabis.

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