Muslim-ize Me OR You Can End Suffering

OR: please cover up the lower part of your legs because I feel uncomfortable.

Confused? Good, I got you. There are two reasons for writing this article:

  • being asked to wear long trousers in order to not make men ‘feel uncomfortable’
  • a rising rape rate in Austria that doesn’t make me feel safe anymore in my own home country

This article doesn’t endorse any religious or political view. It doesn’t go against any religion but is meant to stir up and question a couple of views.

And no, this has nothing to do with culture.

Some say the Quran says so.

I say because men say so. Why? Because I’ve experienced it. Recently,  I’ve stayed in a Muslim country with a friend. To protect their identity, I will not get into more details. It is one of the more traditional Arab countries. You got the Ferraris and Louis Vuitton bags, but most women wear the Abaya and Sheila (headscarf). Few though are fully covered like most would associate with Saudi Arabia.

One evening, she came to me and asked me if I could wear long pants when I’m at their house because her dad and brother (age 20) ‘feel uncomfortable’. I was really shocked. It was the second day in two weeks when I was wearing a business dress that went to the knees and even had short sleeves and was covering up until the neck. All other days I was wearing long trousers and shirts that covered my shoulders. I even took on a long nightgown that her mother gave me (instead of shorts and a shirt that covered my shoulders). This is not about wearing long pants. This is about the underlying statement of ‘your appearance makes me feel uncomfortable’.

‘if people have to behave a certain way for you to be happy and if they don’t then you’re unhappy, then you’re always gonna be unhappy.’

 – Tony Robbins

A couple of thoughts:

– if I run around naked and you feel uncomfortable, I’d understand. And if I did, I would ask you BEFORE if it was ok with you.

– if I walk around in a normal business dress not showing anything ‘risky’ and you feel uncomfortable, it clearly is your problem, especially as it is something that doesn’t hurt you, does anything wrong or illegal.

– if you have a problem with somebody else’s clothes, it’s your responsibility to change the room or your mindset. But don’t put your problems on somebody else. It would never come to my mind in my whole life to ask somebody to dress in a certain way because I ‘feel uncomfortable’. Especially not in my home when you’re my guest.

– I’m a guest in your home and therefore should respect your rules. But, I don’t have to accept everything.

– if you have problems of being aroused by the way a woman looks, it is your problem, not the woman’s problem.

– the argument of a man feeling ‘uncomfortable’ by what a woman wears is the first start to the argument of a woman being responsible for somebody raping her. And this is where I really get upset and see a big need for change. Especially since this is a case of a crime that is heavily under-reported due to the extreme social stigma.

Islam is a religion that claims to value women so much but at the same time, mostly men of that belief, take away the women’s right to express themselves because they haven’t learnt to control yourself. According to many statistics, cultures which express a high value of women, such as especially islam, have the highest rates of rape. And that already without all the unreported cases which happens often due to an increased sense of shame. However, my friend was being taught that covering herself up will protect her from ‘risky’ views of men. Statistically completely incorrect. Just a simple excuse for many men.

From a very early age on, the thought of a woman having to behave to comfort a man, is being ‘indoctrinated’. And I’m using this strong word with purpose. Most women who grow up with that reason for wearing a headscarf and abaya would never dare to question it. There’s a clear difference between wanting to please your man and having to please your man because you’re forced to by a certain group of people.

I have no issues with putting on a headscarf in a mosque, I respect your 5 prayers a day and often even leave the room for that, I endure the early prayer calls at 5am that constantly wake me up but are of no single interest to me, I respect your way of eating halal food, I shake or don’t shake hands or greet in the most local way possible, I cover my shoulders and mostly wear trousers that reach at least my knee – if not long trousers. Everybody can and should believe what they want as long as it doesn’t limit or hurt anybody. And ‘limit’ is the keyword here. We can discuss religion, how you pray, what makes you believe, but don’t ever try to convince me or put your beliefs on me. It is not about me putting on trousers – don’t get me wrong here. It is about the reasoning of ‘making you feel uncomfortable’. Somebody can only make you feel uncomfortable if you have a certain behavioral expectation in mind and a certain feeling associated with it. But the other person is not responsible for that feeling. It is you.

And this is where we get to end suffering.

You’re worrying about something in the future. How’s this going to happen? Will this come together? Suffering can be worry, anger, frustration – anything that takes you out of a beautiful state.

You can end suffering.

By stop focusing on yourself and focus on something you want to serve greater on yourself. Your children, your life, your mission. […] Because the nature of the human mind is to constantly compare things.

 – Tony Robbins

Those men, that think a woman has to behave or dress a certain way for them to feel uncomfortable, are only focused on themselves and not on the best of others. If you’d focus on serving something greater than yourself, on the wellbeing of others, you will take and demand less, and give more. You will automatically work on pushing the freedom of others.

As Tony Robbins says, at any point in time in your life, you live in either of the states:

– States of suffering (anger, sad, depressed, worry)

– Beautiful states of being: it doesn’t matter what happens, you gonna find something to enjoy and appreciate. You will be truly happy.


Are you truly committed to being happy no matter what?

 – Tony Robbins


One Comment Add yours

  1. Niyaz says:

    I understand the humiliation faced by the writer. At the same time, I would like to think aloud on what might have been going through the head of the hosts in the incident…

    In Islam, males are supposed to cover at least from their navel to knees and females from their head to toe (face and palm are omitted). If the opposite sex expose more than what is instructed, then the observer has been instructed to lower their gaze.

    Considering the above stand of Islam and hosts being intense believers of the faith, I strongly believe that the word ‘uncomfortable’ did not mean a state of arousal. Just like how you would feel uncomfortable about someone running around naked, they might have felt uncomfortable about you ‘exposing’ more parts of your body than their ‘normal’ standards. Since they were at their home, they did not have an option to leave home. You are not wrong here, neither are they. Its just that right and wrong are relative w.r.t individuals, culture, gender etc.

    Here, I feel that it is a cultural misunderstanding that has lead to the situation. I would not extend this incident to larger issues; like gender inequality and increasing rape incidents etc which, without doubt, need to be curbed.

    In the article, you have also chosen to categorize women wearing abaya and hijab as oppressed; which they’re not most of the times. Majority of the females in arab countries are entitled to their opinions and many a times, these opinions are valued more than their male counterparts’ itself. And I would really like to know more about the statistics mentioned in the article, where cultures like Islam, have higher rape cases.

    You also mentioned various adjustments like prayer calls, halal food etc, that you do; these are certain things that you chose when you decided to stay in a Monarchial Islamic Country (as opposed to democratic secular countries). Realistically, the beliefs of either parties here cannot be fully exercised without limiting the others’.

    Unfortunately, suffering has been caused to both parties because of cultural disparities. Ideally, both parties shall learn from the situation, forgive each other and move on. Because, carrying hate in our minds, will limit our own self.

    How boring would have been our lives, if all of us were the same in our Thoughts, Beliefs and Culture?

    Peace Out!!

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