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Lady Gaga’s New Low: Why “Burqa Swag” Needs to STOP

Lady Gaga’s New Low: Why “Burqa Swag” Needs to STOP

| On 12, Aug 2013

Lady Gaga has evidently plummeted to new lows with the leak of her new track Burqa. While her appropriation of the burqa pre-dates the leak, the song has proven to be yet another degrading, exotification of Muslim women enforcing the “saviour” attitude that is so popular in the West, which views Muslim women of all nationalities as outsiders who need to be liberated from their supposed perpetual prison.

As a Muslim living in North America, I couldn’t function in just a hijab, the most covert of the Muslim garbs. People threw rocks at me, asked me ignorant/offensive questions like why I chose to subject myself to an “inherently patriarchal religion,” called me a terrorist, and so many more incidences I can’t even keep track. Yet it’s totally cool to play dress-up with hair and face coverings as long as it doesn’t have anything to do with an actual Muslim? Newsflash: It’s not a costume for you to wear, it’s not another one of your attention-seeking meat/frog dresses, it’s a symbol of my religion NOT a fashion statement. 

Burqa

 While it hasn’t been officially confirmed that Burqa is a leak from her upcoming album, Lady Gaga was reportedly posting on littlemonsters.com requesting fans report links to the track because it was an unfinished demo. She also tweeted a reference to the song in October:

Tweet from Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga isn’t the only one unable to comprehend how offensive appropriating someone’s cultural/religious custom is. Soon after the leak, Twitter was flooded with fans posting pictures of themselves with towels, blankets and shirts wrapped around their faces with the hashtag #burqaswag:

Adam Abboud, one of the many voices within the Muslim community condemning Lady Gaga and her fans, created the tumblr Racist Little Monsters in response to #burqaswag. “Essentially, the blog and the format it follows responds to Lady Gaga and her numerous non-Muslim Gaga fans that chose to drape themselves catering to fetish and pop culture without understanding the political and social consequences of doing so.” Adam also emphasized the undertones of violence stemming from within Lady Gaga’s burqa controversy:

“Lady Gaga’s obsession with the burqa is not coincidental regarding the current foreign policy of the United States; her co-opting of the burqa feeds into a consuming Western stomach, hungry for images of oppressed Muslim women that need saving. These constructions function within the current framework of the war on terror, and produce complicit populations that allow occupation and war in the name of feminism. Historically, images of draped women helped justify occupations like those of Iraq and Afghanistan after the wars were branded as missions to liberate Muslim women.”

My last Feminspire piece was about exactly that — the result of occupations like Iraq and Afghanistan, which, as Adam also pointed out, has “ironically devastated the status of women.” Despite all that has been said about the song, there was one line that didn’t make me want to vomit all over my laptop: “I’m not a wandering slave I am a woman of choice, my veil is protection for the gorgeousness of my face.” The sexualization of Muslim women can be viewed as an attempt to have Muslim women recognized as powerful, independent women — women who are inherently sexual, just like non-Muslim women are perceived to be.

That’s a major stretch however, and Ilana Alazzeh, a prominent voice in the Muslim feminist community, disagrees with this perspective: “Muslim women can speak for themselves. This is white savior syndrome; we need allies to help raise our collective voices, not capitalize on oppressing them.” Ilana’s point about capitalizing on the oppressive image of Muslim women is extremely important, considering that Lady Gaga is profiting from appropriating Muslim garb: from the degrading trend pioneered by her fans consisting of a game of dress-up where adorning Muslim garb is seen as some sort of hilarious joke, and from exotifying and sexualizing Muslim women in the song itself. Ilana continues:

“The sexualization comes from this need to colonize Muslim women and their wombs — to invade and purify. It’s why the Western man hates the hijab and covering, because it’s an overt way of saying ‘My body is for me’ and ‘I’ll choose you if I want you,’ which is reversing the gaze in such a way that women are typically inaccessible. Liberating Muslim women from hijab/burqa is a centuries old concept and it was one of the reasons why Europe colonized the Middle East, or so they say. So, sexualizing a woman in burqa/hijab is the easiest way to demean, dehumanize, and take away power from women who only want to share their sexuality with a few, or just don’t want to be defined by their sexuality at all. It will sell, and it will seem rebellious. It’s not like rap, which comes from the streets speaking from the heart, and debunks the status quo; this type of music is about reinforcing the status quo. It’s about non-Muslim women capitalizing on speaking for and over Muslim women’s voices.”

Pointing out that Muslim women cover in various ways in order to avoid being sexualized epitomizes exactly why the song alone is offensive. Muslim women who choose to cover, whether it be a hijab, niqab or burqa, do so in order to avoid the superficial prison built within patriarchal culture where women are only worth their sexual value. The song attempts to strip Muslim women of this rejection of the male gaze, completely ignoring the outcry of Muslim women who demand not to be sexualized. The lyrics “Do you wanna see me naked, lover? Do you wanna peak underneath the cover?” are extremely invasive to the female Muslim community, forcing Muslim women to be fetishized and exotified against their will.

Pop star Selena Gomez was also recently called out for her appropriation of Indian culture. Selena’s appropriation, while offensive, still doesn’t quite match up to what Lady Gaga is doing. While Selena Gomez appropriated certain cultural characteristics like Indian dance and fashion for her video, Lady Gaga took it one step further and made sweeping statements against the voices of actual Muslim woman.

Then there’s M.I.A., another musician who depicted a different culture in the music video for her song Bad Girls. However, her song made a tribute to Arab culture, and it had great (although at times controversial) reception from the Muslim feminist community. M.I.A. depicts Arab culture — hated and demonized by Western media — as the exciting and unique culture it actually is.

M.I.A. includes Muslim women wearing niqabs/hijabs in her video, yet it is entirely different from Lady Gaga sporting it as a costume. For one, M.I.A. is a woman of colour, herself othered by Western society like Muslim women are. Secondly, M.I.A.’s video was in solidarity with the Women to Drive movement, a criticism of the fact Saudi women are denied the right to drive, rural areas being the only exception. M.I.A. lent her voice and political activism to Muslim women instead of screaming against them.

Ilana commented on this contrast, “When M.I.A. wore the niqab, she got a lot of hate. When Lady Gaga tosses around the burqa it seems ‘radical.’ M.I.A. has a history of not saying things for a buck and being raw and true to her background, lyrics and culture. It’s not her culture, true, but there are a lot of Desis in the Middle East, especially Sri Lankans — their nationality is synonymous with servant in many parts of the Arab world, but M.I.A is not above capitalizing on being raw and on the edge with embracing the Arab — the hated Arab. For better or for worse, her culture — Sri Lankan culture — is tied with Arab culture. The song Burqa is simply an anthem of colonization.”

Writer Dina Dabbous also analyzed Bad Girls in defense of the criticism it was receiving, “If she’s being accused of stereotyping, then she’s turning the oriental fantasy on its head when she has Arabian women dressed in khaki styled — though still Arabian — dress or gear, toting guns and strutting their stuff with a swagger unknown to the conservative female society that has women closed off from the male gaze. M.I.A’s girls are a far-cry from the harem-veiled subversive mysterious women of the oriental fantasy in their floaty feminine veils.” Dina’s point further emphasizes the difference between M.I.A.’s Bad Girls and Lady Gaga’s Burqa, as Lady Gaga simply reinforced the oriental fantasy that Dina is referring to.

Outside of Lady Gaga’s appropriation, the burqa itself is a touchy subject even among Muslims, as many deem it to be oppressive while others assert that it’s a choice. The burqa cannot be viewed entirely as a choice or entirely as a symbol of oppression; the politics surrounding the burqa are not that black-and-white. It would be more precise to acknowledge that while in some places it symbolizes oppression — like the blue burqa above that is the signature of Taliban reign in Afghanistan — it is also a symbol of freedom from patriarchal culture and the male gaze.

However, discussing one side of the burqa debate does not have to come at the cost of the other — can we not just address that it symbolizes both oppression and choice? It’s fair to say, given the content of the song Burqa, that Lady Gaga is entirely clueless to these discussions of the burqa within Muslim cultures and communities. She is only deprecating the burqa and what it symbolizes for both sides, screaming over the voices of the Muslim women who don’t want to be sexualized and against the voices of Muslim women who live in oppressive environments where the burqa is a physical symbol of that oppression.

So, Lady Gaga and fans, STOP appropriating the cultural/religious garb of Muslim women, and stop thinking you are some sort of ally to the Muslim feminist community by sticking in one lyric about being a woman of choice. Better yet, just eliminate the song off of the album altogether, because every second it continues to be promoted you are trivializing the voices of Muslim women everywhere.

Written by McKayla Reilly
Eat with her, tweet with her, or contact her!

  • Charmlessblur

    On the one hand, yes, I can definitely see how the song is offensive. Gaga is making money off of a touchy subject. HOWEVER, I’ve been listening to her for years and the thing I’ve always loved about her is her empowering lyrics. Sure, they are sexy sometimes, but she’s definitely all about just being who you are and being allowed to say what you’d like (even if the way she makes her statements is outrageous). This is just Gaga doing what she always does…I mean, she sexualized Jesus on her last album…it certainly comes as no shock where she’s going now.

    • bintalshamsa

      Being able to say what you’d like is part and parcel of white privilege. People of color know that we have never been able to expect to just say whatever we want without suffering serious consequences. Lady Gaga is in no danger of being beaten on the streets for wearing a burqa. She doesn’t have to worry about whether she’ll be denied housing or employment or even entrance into government buildings because of what she wears. THAT is what Muslim wearers of the burqa have to face. She’s just engaging in cultural appropriation as another one of her tired fashion stunts. What she does isn’t outrageous. When she does something, it’s considered amazing, fantastic, edgy. When Muslim women wear the burqa, suddenly it becomes outrageous, intolerable, a sign of supposedly anti-American sympathy for terrorists. See the difference?

      • Charmlessblur

        I specifically stated that I could see why it’s offensive…it is! However, I’m saying I think her intentions are misunderstood. Her statements ARE outrageous. Of course there are people who take it too far…people who idolize her every move…that’s just part of being a celebrity (I wouldn’t go so far as to say white privilege…it’s more celebrity privilege). Lady Gaga doesn’t have to worry about being denied housing or employment because she’s lady Gaga…not because she’s white. It seems my response has angered you, and it’s not that I don’t mean to see your side. I do in the best way that I can (though I know it’s not the same as I’m not a Muslim woman). I have to say, neither I nor anyone I associate with finds a Muslim woman in a burqa outrageous. I find it to be pretty normal…I live in a primarily Muslim community, actually. Anyway…my point wasn’t that I think it’s not offensive. I do see what you’re saying…all I’m saying is that I don’t necessarily think she INTENDS to make people feel this way.

      • Charmlessblur

        I just wanted to add, I don’t mean to make anyone feel bad or oppress or offend or do or say anything that causes any harm…I’m not defending what she’s doing. I hope that is clear. I am not the type who believes in supporting something that hurts others…no matter their color or religion or what have you. People are people and, hopefully someday, that is all we will be viewed as. Of course, John Lennon called it “Imagine” and not “Someday” for a reason…

      • Charmlessblur

        Yes, I do see the difference. I think you misunderstood my point. I don’t mean to defend Gaga…it is grossly ignorant what she is doing. I just think that, in her ignorance, she creates a statement that she most likely doesn’t intend, that’s all. I definitely don’t condone it, on any level.

  • Evelyn

    Thank you so much for saying this. There is nothing more annoying than the savior attitude. It seems like no matter where I go these days (in terms of the internet), there will always be someone telling me I’m oppressed/brainwashed and that all they want to do is help me. Bullshit. You want to be the savior. If you wanted to help, you would include Muslim women in to feminism without objecting to it because of their “oppressed” status or “other-ing” them for dressing differently than you.

    • Andre4000

      Good points all.

  • Jane

    Stefani germanata (Sp)? Makes money being sensationalist. If she doesn’t have a new sector of society to offend people she isn’t getting publicity. The only thing your commentary does is give her what she is aiming for…publicity, in my opinion. But I think your expression and personal opinion is great for discourse.

  • marilynxmonster

    Sometimes I wish I could wear a burqa, and it’s all thanks to the American male who can’t keep his mouth shut about my body parts.

    • Ahmed Ali Shah

      Just do it and shut them up! You don’t have to be a muslim in order to dress in a modest manner. I think most orthodox Christian women dress in the same way that muslims do. Gaga isn’t doing it for the modesty though, she’s just an attention wh***.

    • braininstead

      are u really so full of yourself?

      • marilynxmonster

        Are you really so mentally inept that that’s the conclusion you’ve drawn?
        Whoops! My bad! I guess I must have just imagined all those catcalls and unwanted touches out in public.
        Here, please take this late-to-the-party favor dildo and go fuck yourself.

  • Ahmed Ali Shah

    I hope that you return home safe and sound. Enough innocent people have died due to pointless politics and greed. The common people should not have to suffer due to the materialistic agendas of the elite.

  • Ashraf

    There is a HUGE difference between using hate language, assaulting, harassing, or discriminating against someone as opposed to being insensitive to their beliefs. In principle, nobody should have to approach another’s practices with the same concern for sanctity.

  • red pazuzu

    She wore a meat suit last year in protest if somethung so?

  • Joe

    She must be a Salafi convert because even going on a Quranic literalist basis there’s no rationale to cover the face or otherwise the entirety of the head.
    The niqab and burqa have no place even in strict “live by literalist” interpretations of Islam and are essentially tools used by the hated Taliban and the Wahhabis/Salafis/Takfiris, who are the worst sort of people and also intensely disliked in that part of the world.

    It’s also worth noting that these people are guilty of turning especially the Middle Eastern region into the homogenous, “everyone covers or wears a burqa all the time” (hardly), completely monolithic mass.
    It’s insulting in regards to the sociopolitical complexities of the different countries, and to the history of the region, to say “the burqa is the primary societal symbol, and it is being appropriated”.

  • ziad

    I feel so silly to bother with you but at the same time i feel guilty to leave you lost in the wild. Religion i. Never the cause. Religion doesnt make trouble. People make trouble. Religion is a way of life and you choose to follow or ignore. If you have respect for other peoples belief then you wont have a problem. If you cant respect one person , how can you be trusted to respect anyone else. Even your friends shouldnt trust you because if you can hurt one person , you can hurt anyone. Like a thief, if you rob a stranger , theres a good chance you will rob your own mother. Theres no difference. Humans are all the same. Im muslim. Sorry if anyone got upset but that wasnt my intention.

  • Jessi

    I agree, just delete this song altogether.

  • mizz

    The burqa (not hijab) IS a means of sexually repressing women, it’s not about modesty but anonymity. I would have thought that was a known fact. The burqa is not related to religion, but culture, and a culture that enforces the idea that women are second-tier citizens.

    While this is another Gaga stunt, she is looking to provoke and this article is taking the bait. It’s important, however, to make the distinction between religion and culture — and I see no religious insult in her actions.

  • Ambygj

    Although I completely agree with this article in terms of fighting the cultural appropriation Lady Gaga is exhibiting with this burqa fad, calling it racist is inaccurate and detracts from the fight. Cultural appropriation, white-washing, westernization, even discrimination arguments can be made for what she has done, but racism? What she has done is not racist as the burqa is a type of dress within Islam, which is a religion, not a race.

  • Janice

    its funny how you criticise Gaga in here, and having read the post fully and then watched the MIA video i find it hard to agree with you views! MIA’s video is just as offensive, so what if she is part of a movement for women to drive, i think women everywhere are! Just the way gaga is against meat! get your facts right! Also i agree Gaga, is taking it a step to far here

  • Burqa

    Why is religion so untouchable? Actually, should call out Islam specifically since the media couldn’t care less about the fashionable anti-christ symbol and the hippy jesus imagery. You assume Lady Gaga has labelled herself a spokesperson for Islam by making a reference: she hasn’t. And you can’t claim she’s representing when you go on to say “Muslim women who choose to cover” and become a representative yourself. No, instead you have some kind of opinion and choose to share it, as she is doing. For the people who are “soooo offended” – are you literally for real? The way I see it, if you’re genuinely going to claim nobody has the right to question or discuss your religion you should be completely free from judgement yourself. And please don’t tell me you are… or fool yourself that you are.

    Appropriating also is quickly become a ridiculously non-term because of articles like this one. Essentially, to be free from this label which has become horrible, you must not breathe or do anything outside of your own culture. I wont make my pasta tonight because I don’t want to cook it bad and misappropriate the Italians.

  • Vampramara

    I think its the psychology of it all. People don’t trust what they cannot see. It bothers people when people can’t see facial expression or how and what they are thinking. I know for me as an American woman who doesn’t know much about the culture of the Muslim world would feel awkward and find it difficult to communicate to another woman who I cannot see and read. I think it comes down to the fear of the unknown in that sense. I think of Americans wearing sunglasses and how some older people might feel offended and untrustworthy of someone wearing sunglasses while they are communicating to them.

  • Daniel

    I think the point is that anybody has the right to do/say anything they want (within certain murder and abuse restricted bounds of course) and anybody has the right to be offended by anything they want. Now, taking in to account that it is an inevitability that someone, somewhere will be offended by roughly 100% of what is said ever, one can conclude that roughly 0% of anything that can ever be said is non-offensive. In conclusion, there are two logical choices the world could make, never, ever say anything, or say things, and accept the fact that for some reason, people get angry when certain words are in sequence. I rather like the second choice better. Maybe the focus should be on professing and trying to explain your point of view, instead of calling pop stars “whores” and “skanks” because they aren’t afraid to display their sexuality (which sounds distinctly anti feminist to me anyway). Here, take this example “haha, you look stupid in a burqa.” Does that hurt? Why does that hurt? It didn’t do you any harm. Try saying something degrading about my masculinity and see how I react, I’ll even give you a free shot, I’m a white 19 year old male who goes to a liberal arts college and I used to be in special ed because of adhd and disgraphia. Go on, offend me, I’ll give you an example of turning the other cheek, you religious fools.

    • Ahmed Ali Shah

      I have plenty of friends who go to liberal arts colleges, I don’t see anything wrong with that, do you? Also, ADHD and Disgraphia are medical issues that you have absolutely no control over, so you can’t be blamed for being affected in a negative manner due to them. Lady Gaga on the other hand, can control herself when it comes to doing random publicity stunts such as this one. Also, why did you include “white” in your description of yourself? Do you find it to be something that one should be ashamed about, even though you have no say in the matter, just like the medical issues you referred to earlier? Women are losing respect nowadays because of groups like Femen, which consist of women who would rather use their boobs instead of their brains to get a point across, pretty ironic if you ask me. Muslim women have been taking part in wars, running businesses and taking part in politics ever since the time of the Prophet (pbuh). The first woman to be martyred for Islam was a woman, the greatest scholar of Islam was a woman, one of the first captains of the Muslim navy was a woman; just because women are commanded by Allah (swt) to dress modestly doesn’t mean that they are oppressed. It actually prevents them from being objectified as they are valued for their intellect and not their beauty when interacting with society at large. Gaga’s sexualisation of the concept of the hijab goes against everything it stands for, which is the main issue here. We already know that she likes to display her sexuality, we’ve been noticing for as long as she’s been around (unfortunately). Behavior such as this is corrupting an entire generation of girls who think that they’ll be appreciated by men if they go about and flaunt their bodies in such a manner, which is very far from the truth. Even if they do get appreciated by men for doing so, it won’t be the kind of men any woman would want to be in a long term relationship with.

      • regimeoftruth

        I appreciate women who dress in a sexually provocative fashion as much for their capacity for free thought as for their kindness in dressing a certain way because it pleases men like me. I am a kind, intelligent, free spirited gentleman, and it would be reasonable for any woman to want to be in a relationship with me.

    • shockshock

      So expressions of racism and prejudice are perfectly acceptable?

  • Daniel

    A higher percentage of intelligent people (i’m speaking of scientists) who do good things for the world are atheist, actually, it’s a statistic, sorry to be a downer.

    • http://defiantflower.blogspot.com/ Aminah

      prove it.

    • shockshock

      Correlation does not equal causation. Could it be that the majority of atheist scientists you’re referring to come from privileged environments with the best education systems in the world? Moreover that many countries outside of these Western environments are set back centuries because of colonization from Western countries that people of privilege continue to benefit from? Were there studies conducted on religious beliefs in underprivileged societies with control groups including people from similar social, racial, caste and economic backgrounds that indicate the results you claim? I didn’t think so.

  • Zoya Haroon

    Great article. Feminspire is getting better every day!

  • http://defiantflower.blogspot.com/ Aminah

    yes she has the right to sing whatever song she wants and wear whatever she wants. You are right. However, people also have the right to disagree with it/her, to speak out against it, to protest, boycott or shame it … free speech is a two way street right? Just because she has a right to do it does not negate my right to speak against it. Also having a right to do it does not mean you must do it. Just because it is permissible does not make it wise.

  • http://defiantflower.blogspot.com/ Aminah

    so ok … if you find it so hard to respect religious people & you have shown that clearly to be true. And you then think it is ok to disrespect them … how are you any different than any other radical fundamentalist who finds it hard to respect the “other” …. you are the same.

  • http://defiantflower.blogspot.com/ Aminah

    I challenge you to actually study the thing you claim to hate so much. Go study it in depth. Go study it from the source itself, not from your own point of view but from learned scholars in those particular faiths. Once you have done that and educated yourself then and only then can you legitimately hate them. Until you do that you are just spewing ignorant hatred for something you know nothing about.

    • Rubaya Binte Siraj

      Question

      Assalamu Alaykum.Why does Allah SWT tell us to be stern against the disbelievers in 48:29 and 5:54?Jazakallah Khayr

      Answer

      All
      perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that
      there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.

      A
      requirement of loving Allaah is loving those whom Allaah loves and
      hating those whom Allaah hates, and being an ally of those of whom
      Allaah is an ally and being an enemy of those of whom Allaah is an
      enemy. Indeed, Allaah told us in the Quran that he does not love the
      disbelievers and that He is their enemy. He also said that they are His
      enemies and the enemies of His Messengers. Allaah says (what means): {…then indeed, Allaah does not like the disbelievers.} [Quran 3:32], {Indeed, He does not like the disbelievers.} [Quran 30:45], {…then indeed, Allaah is an enemy to the disbelievers.} [Quran 2:98]

      It
      is not possible for sincere love of Allaah and love of Allaah’s enemies
      or enmity to Allaah’s allies to converge in the heart of a servant. It
      is for this reason that the Prophet said: “The
      strongest bonds of faith are allegiance for the sake of Allaah, enmity
      for the sake of Allaah, love for the sake of Allaah and hate for the
      sake of Allaah.” [At-Tabaraani - Al-Albaani graded it Saheeh (sound)]

      The Prophet also said: “Whoever loves for the sake of Allaah and hates for the sake of Allaah, he has indeed reached the level of complete faith.” [Abu Dawood - Al-Albaani graded it Saheeh (sound)]

      Hence,
      a believer in principal loves Allaah, and loving others is subsequent
      to it. So if we believe that Allaah loves a person, we love him even if
      he is of distant relation, and if we believe that Allaah hates a person,
      we hate him even if he is a close relative.

      Here,
      it should be noted that this is only regarding love for the sake of
      religion. As for loving a disbeliever not for the sake of his religion
      but for the sake of kinship, marital or business relations, or for
      the sake of knowledge or benefit that he provides to others, this is a
      natural love from instinct and human nature. This kind of love is not
      forbidden, but it must be associated with hate and dissociation for the
      sake of religion.

      This
      is in terms of the inner self or the actions of the heart. As regards
      manifested practical behavior, it must be governed by the guidelines of
      Islam. In origin, the relationship between a Muslim and non-belligerent
      non-Muslims is based on kindness and justice, and preaching the truth as
      much as possible. Hating them does not mean not being kind to them or
      being unjust with them. Allaah says (what means): {Allaah
      does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion
      and do not expel you from your homes — from being righteous toward them
      and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allaah loves those who act
      justly.} [Quran 60:8] For more benefit, kindly refer to Fatwa 198585.

      This
      practical behavior does not run counter to hating them for the sake of
      Allaah, because they disbelieved in Him and denied His right, which is
      the greatest and most deserving of all rights.

      It
      should be noted here that being stern with the disbelievers as
      mentioned in the two verses that you stated in the question, does not
      contradict being kind and just towards them, because that does not mean
      oppressing them or violating their legitimate rights. Rather, the way
      Muslims treat non-Muslims should be based on the Muslim’s feeling proud
      of his religion and not humiliating himself before unbelievers. Dr. Abdul Kareem Zaydaan said in his book Usool Ad-Da’wah, commenting on the verse: {…powerful against the disbelievers…} [Quran 5:54]: “This is like the verse: {Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers,…}
      [Quran 48:29]. That is to say that he [a Muslim] is not to be degraded,
      or succumb, or does not feel belittled neither in their presence nor in
      their absence, not outwardly and not inwardly. He is strong against
      them in the same manner he is gentle to the believers.” [End of quote]

      On the other hand, the Tafseer al-Waseet, supervised by the Islamic Research Academy in al-Azhar University, reads: “The Prophet and his Companions
      were described as being stern against the disbelievers in order to
      eliminate the disbelievers’ hopes that the Prophet would flatter them or
      abandon or renounce some of what was revealed to him for their sake.
      Indeed, Allaah commanded His Prophet in another verse to be harsh with unbelievers. Allaah says (what means): {O Prophet, strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them…} [Quran 66:9] Allaah also described him as merciful to the believers. Allaah says (what means): {There
      has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous
      to him is what you suffer; [he is] concerned over you [i.e. your
      guidance] and to the believers is kind and merciful.} [Quran 9:128]…The harshness of the Prophet
      and his Companions against the disbelievers is when they meet in
      battle, specifically that they are determined and steadfast. Allaah
      promised the believers one of two good things, either martyrdom and
      death for the sake of Allaah, or achieving victory. As regards living
      with non-belligerent disbelievers, a Muslim should beware of them
      because they spare no efforts in plotting to harm Muslims. Indeed,
      Allaah said the truth as He says (what means): {O
      you who have believed, do not take as intimates those other than
      yourselves [i.e. believers], for they will not spare you [any] ruin.
      They wish you would have hardship…} [Quran 3:118] But this does not prevent being good neighbors with them, and being righteous and just with them.” [End of quote]

      There
      is no doubt that treating non-Muslims in this way of balancing kindness
      and justice to them and strength and sternness may lead them to reflect
      on Islam and search for the truth about it. As-Sa’di said in his Tafseer: “Harshness
      and severity with the enemies of Allaah are matters that bring a
      servant closer to Allaah. He is one with his Lord in His displeasure
      with them. Harshness toward the enemies of Allaah does not prevent
      calling to the religion of Islam in the best manner. One should balance
      between harshness and severity with them and gentleness in calling them
      to Allaah. Indeed, both matters are in their interest and the benefit
      therefrom goes back to them.” [End of quote]

      For more benefit, please refer to Fatwa 88293.

      Allaah Knows best.

      -www.islamweb.com

      Did I mention that an ideal Muslim should behave well with his or her slave, so that they see the “light of Islam”? So if your slaves are blind to that light, they don’t deserve your kindness?

      And don’t get me started on the female right hand possessions. I won’t be able to pray, thinking what will happen to me if I became one and someone points me out lines from the Holy Quran about how a man is blameless if he doesn’t protect his private parts from her?

  • http://defiantflower.blogspot.com/ Aminah

    it does not matter what you think or Islam or Muslims. It does not matter what color you are or what religion you believe or do not believe in. What matters is that you have respect for everyone, and their beliefs. You do not NEED to be hateful and offensive to people to get a point across.

    • me

      why must we not criticise others beliefs, no one says that we cannot criticise the beliefs of the scientist or the historian

  • confused S

    Thank you @7c12ec4196d77963a32c8f36280f91cc:disqus and @killertofu88:disqus for the perspective.

  • Khadija

    Here is the thing on Gaga. She flaunts creepy, weird fettish sexual imagas of herself and her dancers that offend the average Red White and Blue guy next door. Most avarage Joe’s would not go near her, ya know, the fear factor. Her fans are Marilyn Manson, vampire warewolf enthusiasts. She is controversial, artistic, musically talanted, sci-fi and yes an attention who***. She has created an outrageous character with uncencored tastes. She has a defined group of fans that follow her; “little monsters”. She is just doing her disco schtick. Ironically, this has opened up discussion for people who would not have the occasion or interest to make commentary on Islam or Gaga had she not lit a fire with a burqa. You can bet she will take what ever is in the world and comment on it with music, costume, stage props and dance and she is laughing all the way to the bank~and the joke is on us. Don’t like it, don’t buy it. But please keep up the discussion, because in my opinion, that is a sign of a healthy interaction and potential learning experience for all~ self included, wheather Lady Gaga is in the picture or not.
    Peace be upon all of the profits and the peaceful people.

  • shockshock

    Do you speak Arabic? Are you able to verify that this is exactly what the text says in Arabic as well as the context in which it was said?

    • Rubaya Binte Siraj

      Are you a psychic? Can you read Lady Gaga’s mind and see her intentions behind the video? It’s definitely not a good one. So, all those English translators of Arabic language are wrong. Well the ayahs of the Holy Quran doesn’t include all the revelation given to the Prophet (SAW). So, how come this particular sentence got included (which according to you is for that time), in a book that is a guidance for people until the Judgement Day?

  • me

    Islam is a religion not a race, she may be being religiously insensitive but not racist. I have often seen this happen, why can we not have an open honest conversation about religion without individuals pointing either the ‘white saviour’ or racist finger

  • LetMeLive

    Come on!. Please don’t always compare the extremes. Is theren’t any descent dressing other than Hijab/Niqab/Burqa to protect your modesty?

  • Andre4000

    But is the burqa really a symbol of Islam or just an extreme version of it? The hair needs to be covered in Islam, yes, but the entire face? At that point, it does look like a prison.

  • Andre4000

    That’s what I’m saying! Cover the hair, fine — but the whole face?

  • Catarina

    You say burqa it is also a symbol of freedom from patriarchal culture and the male gaze. That is a point i have never think about it. However, I wonder: how the need to be covered so you won’t be treated like a sexual object is, actually, freedom? I think it is more emancipatory if we fight for the idea that we can dress whatever we want without being treated like an object. Also, the ideia that we have to cover ourself to overcome the male gaze, gives the impression that men have a “natural” will/tendency to treat you like a sexual object, and so, women are the one that need to control themselves, covering her bodies. In that sense, you are already putting the men as the “subject” and the women as the object.

    • regimeoftruth

      You have my blanket permission to look at me as an object any time you want. While doing so, feel free to try to understand my point of view, rather than treat me and others like me as if we’re some kind of alien overlords, smug in our position of unbreakable power, using our eye-beams to slowly suck out your soul. It makes me sick to watch lying, hypocritical men tell women what they want to hear and then scoff at the inanity of the sensitive-feminist-man gimmick they’ve so successfully deployed. The male gaze is as much a tool of oppression as any other tool, ability, or source of information; when it lies in the hands of an oppressor, it will be used to oppress. If I look at you, desire to have you, take in the visual information you project out into a public space, make a reasonable, studied guess as to what you want most in life, and then sincerely offer you that, and myself, am I evil?

  • bouahaha

    The term cultural appropiation has become so misleading lately. Although I completely agree with your condemnation of Gaga’s use of the the burqa, I have to say I disagree when you say M.I.A has more of a right to use it because of her skin color. Culture is not a building with different apartment blocks where some people are denied access to certain things because of their race/background. Culture is a vast open field where everyone should have access to everything and there is constant, fluid, interaction of ideas/images/and symbols between different people of different backgrounds. The art of colonial Latin America is a great example for the value of this: Indigenous people, Spaniards, black people and even Asians (Filipinos) all took from each others cultural backgrounds to create one of the most unique styles in history. If the use of certain elements had been denied to certain people because of their race, none of it would exist.

  • hollyvanvoast

    I’m pretty happy that FEMEN turned out to be as weird and out of it rationally as I always thought they were.

  • modgun

    I was totally weirded out by the song. I just can’t feel comfortable with it.

    I am glad you touched on the fact that it is not always a choice. While I understand that some women choose to wear the niqab, I do think it is insane to say that every woman who does so has a choice to do so. I don’t know if I fully agree with the statement that to wear one is an escape from a patriarchal culture. I think it represents a patriarchal culture. Men and women are both judged for their appearances. I judge men’s attractiveness all the time. That doesn’t mean I should be able to hire them because of it or yell rude things at them on the street because of it, etc. Just as men should not be socialized to believe it is okay to do that. There isn’t some ‘inherent’ patriarchy. In an equal society, women would be able to show their faces and not have to worry that men will make horrible comments to them or degrade them sexually. Men should be socialized from birth to regard women as human beings.

  • modgun

    Consider this. My (North American) society doesn’t “force” me to be ashamed of my sexual experience in any sort of legal way. For example, I am not punished by law if I brag about the number of men I’ve slept with. At the same time, I am made to feel like shit about it by practically everyone, because the social norm is that women should be more sexually modest than men. I hate that, and to me it feels like a prison. I am sure there are some Muslim women who feel similarly imprisoned by the societal norms for women within their culture, even if they are not enforced by law. It’s not that every woman feels that way, just as not every woman in my society feels imprisoned by the societal norms here. But the point is just because it isn’t “forced” upon people in some official sense doesn’t just clear-cut mean that it is always a “choice.” It’s far more complicated than that.

  • Holly13

    This article would be a lot more convincing if the Lady Gaga song mentioned WAS actually opting for burqa-liberation and burqa use only in fashion. Since the song claims that “I’m not a wandering slave, I am a woman of choice”, and since the singer has made various comments in the effect of Muslim women’s rights, it seems more like she’s siding with the “burqa’s are a legal right and religious choice” argument. While I don’t agree with the use of sexual themes in the same, religiously-driven song, I also don’t agree with huge assumptions on song meaning or singer belief based in nothing. Lady Gaga certainly hasn’t stated her opinion in an admirable way, but it also isn’t the opinion or spin I think the article seems to place upon it.

    • regimeoftruth

      I think it’s an admirable way. Who are you to say it isn’t? What, specifically, do you think is less than admirable about it? It seems to me that you are just criticizing her for combining religion and sexuality because “religion is clean and sex is dirty.”

  • regimeoftruth

    I can’t be the only one who’s heard you say it’s offensive to appropriate someone’s religion and disagrees. Lighten up. Your religion actually is oppressive to women, religious minorities, and free thought in general, but I’m glad you’re happy with it. I’m not asking you to stop your shrill whining about the ways other people interact with your primitivist cult… I just recommend you stop acting surprised.

  • regimeoftruth

    What’s wrong with only considering the good bits and throwing out the bad bits? I think that’s exactly what we should do with religion. The most useful thing to start by throwing out might be the supernatural (e.g. God), but I think I will in fact love my neighbor, consider the lily, take the harder path, count my sufferings as a blessing, honor my father and mother (when appropriate), do unto others as I would have them do unto me (and take into account their tastes in the doing when I don’t find their tastes to be fascistic and oppressive or, more rarely, offensive), lead others as their servant, suffer the little children, love my enemies, and occasionally (and only when it’s unavoidable) come not in peace but with a sword.

  • regimeoftruth

    “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”
    -Charles Caleb Colton

  • JohnnySmith0

    This is more of an unfortunate effect of the disastrous U.S. foreign policy “War on Terror” started by Bush administration more than anything. Lady Gaga is an artist, she is only absorbing and reflecting all the madness and propaganda started by and surrounding her country that is all about demonizing the Muslims.

  • JohnnySmith0

    Yes well… she has done the same thing with catholic nuns. It’s obvious that she is intending to offend (but she probably didn’t try to go too far with the Burqa).

  • Rubaya Binte Siraj

    “It’s why the Western man hates the hijab and covering, because it’s an
    overt way of saying ‘My body is for me’ and ‘I’ll choose you if I want
    you,’ which is reversing the gaze in such a way that women are typically
    inaccessible.” So basically, the person who said this is saying that those who don’t cover are always “accessible” and their “No.” actually means “Yes.”? Is that very feminspiring?