20 December 2009

Hijab in Christianity

I have studied traditional clothing from around the world but I was particularly interested in the use of head scarves worn by the women in many European countries. I bring this topic up because, living in America, I find it important to look at the similarities between the East and West and between Islam and Christianity in order for us to better coexist.

After researching this topic more, I discovered that there is a passage in the Bible which suggests that women cover their heads.

Here is the passage from the Bible:

I Corinthians 11:2-16.
2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as if her head were haven. 6 For if a woman will not be covered, then let her be shorn! But since it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 7 For indeed a man ought not to cover his head, being the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 For this reason the woman should have authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 In any case, woman is not independent of man, nor man of woman, in the Lord; 12 for as woman is [created] from man, so man is now [born] through woman. And all things are from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.

Putting the obvious sexism aside, it is interesting to think about what happen to this tradition. Many Christians cast this passage aside saying that the practice of covering your head is an ancient custom which has "gone out of style" and is no longer applicable. It is also hard for many modern women in Christianity to accept this passage since it implies that the head covering is a symbol of man's power over women (see verse 10 in the passage above).

What I am wondering about is why the Jewish and Christian traditions of head covering went "out of style" where as in Islam, tradition and adherence to the Koran has been able to last this long. Is it possible that it could be due to the Middle East's isolation from the developed world for so long?

I hope no one take offense to this post, it is not a reflection of my beliefs, I am just proposing a topic of discussion and I would like to hear what others feel about this.

Here is an interesting website which discusses many Christian women's modern interpretation of the above passage: Head Covering Today

Here is another interesting website which analysis each verse in the above passage: Women's Headcovering in the Bible