It is not just an item of clothing it is a costume and a message

As I waited in line at the post office yesterday my eye was caught by a poster on the wall. At first?glance, it appeared to show a Muslim family. The mother in a head scarf and flowing robes, the father with tea towel like headgear and a thick beard and the child sleeping peacefully swaddled in fabric that only showed his face. Then it hit me. It was a nativity calendar and the family depicted was the first ever Christian family.

I then reflected on how Christians no longer dress in historical Arab clothing but that many Muslims still wear it even if they are not Arabs and were born in Indonesia or India or another non-Arab country.Even Muslim families where the men dress in western clothes they often grow unfashionable historical style beards and the women continue to wear the historical headscarves from hundreds of years ago. A clear example of this is these two New Zealand converts to Islam. The man grew?a beard and the woman covered herself with a head scarf.

Here in New Zealand just last week, the New Zealand herald ran an article featuring two New Zealand converts.

Here in New Zealand just last week, the New Zealand herald ran an article featuring two New Zealand converts.

Imagine if Christian women today were expected to follow the modesty standards of Christian women from the far distant past. We westerners have moved on. If we are Christian it is an evolved Christianity that has changed with the times. We no longer dress how we did in 1914 let alone the 1820’s. Clothing back then was restrictive and often uncomfortable. It certainly is not suited to modern day life. Additionally, mainstream Christians do not telegraph their Christianity to the world by how they dress.

Fashion 1914

Fashion 1914

 

1819 fashion plate

1819 fashion plate

Our civilisation has moved on and how we dress reflects the fact that women today have equality and freedom. They also need clothing suited to the modern lifestyle.Only fundamentalist religions inside Western society require women to dress like women from the past. Their clothing is a costume that sets them apart from other members of Western society. It is a statement that they are different and do not share our values.

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Stuff.co.nz620 ? 348Search by image Women and girls in a Gloriavale choir perform a song written in the community.

Radio New Zealand620 ? 413Search by image Muslim women from Hamilton's Mosque:

Radio New Zealand620 ? 413Search by image
Muslim women from Hamilton’s Mosque:

The clothing we wear makes a statement to the public about who we are and what our values are and what group we belong to. Refusing to adopt western dress in the West can be interpreted as a rejection of western culture and values. When I was a high school teacher I worked with a teacher who was born in India. We had a cultural day so she wore a sari which she looked gorgeous in. I asked her if she ever wore it in public but she laughed and said that she might wear it to an Indian wedding but that she was a New Zealander now so she dressed like one. She also pointed out that the Sari was ideal for the heat of India not the cold of Wellington where we both lived back then.

If Muslims truely want to assimilate and integrate into New Zealand society then one of the best things they can do is to stop dressing like Arabs from hundreds of years ago. They need to shave their beards and put their religious costumes in the back of the closet. The year is 2016 not 1620 and how they dress should reflect that. Not only do their beards and head scarfs make them look like extras from an Indiana Jones movie they also create the perception that their religion is backwards and unevolved.

People at Gloriavale have made it clear that they do not want to be part of New Zealand society as a whole but want to exist separately from us and apart. Muslims who wear beards and Arab robes and headscarves are sending us the exact same message. We are separate from you. We are apart from you. Your values are not our values. We reject your way of life. I suspect that the reason so many New Zealand Muslims do not adopt western dress is because that is exactly the message they want to send out to their fellow New Zealanders. Not only do they reject our values, they want us to join their religious club and adopt the religious costumes that they use so effectively to set themselves apart from the rest of society.

 

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