Bald women, fatwas and the news
|Zan Azlee is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, New Media practitioner and lecturer. He runs Fat Bidin Media www.fatbidin.com|
JUNE 29 — What’s the big deal about going bald? Apparently, in Malaysia, it is such a huge deal that it becomes public interest and even the media starts discussing it.
The latest case involves news presenter Ras Adiba Radzi who decided to go for a crew cut in solidarity with the National Cancer Council’s Jom Botak awareness campaign.
The television station where Ras Adiba works at on a freelance basis decided to suspend her until her hair grows to an “acceptable” length.
This surprises me since the station involved is one that I have high respect for because, in my honest opinion, it is one of the more progressive ones in the country.
Not only that. It has also been reported that Ras Adiba has been receiving abuse and threats from “religious” groups claiming that she is going against Islam.
If you remember, a couple of years ago, actress Sharifah Amani, shaved her head bald for a film role and she was immediately condemned as committing a sin as well.
Be serious, people. In my understanding, nowhere in the Quran or even Hadith mentions that women are forbidden to shave their heads bald.
The most concrete Islamic ruling about women going bald happens to be a fatwa which was declared by Saudi Arabian Islamic scholar, the late Abdul al-Aziz Ibn Baz.
Then again, he was a Wahabi from Saudi Arabia. And the entire world just loves the Wahabi sect, right? (Does one follower by the name Osama Bin Laden ring a bell?)
Abdul al-Aziz Ibn Baz even issued fatwas forbidding women from driving cars and declared that the Earth is flat. How’s that for credibility?
Some say that the fatwa is based on the Hadith, which says that the Prophet Muhammad prohibited women from shaving their heads.
However, if you look at the specific Hadiths, they all narrate the Prophet Muhammad as mentioning the kind of hairstyle he recommended women to have.
What he never did was mention specifically any kind of hairstyle that was forbidden, and this includes shaving of the head, keeping a Mohawk, or growing a mullet (which should be forbidden in my opinion!).
And don’t forget the fact that fatwas are not the decree of God. Fatwas are interpretations done by man and are open to other conflicting interpretations as well as mistakes.
Some also say that women should not have hairstyles that resemble those who are kafirs, and that by shaving bald, these women are imitating kafirs. But, in Islam, the intention (nawaitu) is the foundation of every action, and I’m sure by having the right intentions, it would be okay, right?
I doubt that wanting to create awareness for cancer is similar to wanting to resemble a kafir. But then, we can’t really know an individual’s true intentions.
As for the television station which suspended Ras Adiba from presenting the news until her hair grows to an acceptable length, I doubt it had anything to do with religion.
According to news reports, the decision was made because it did not fit the look and feel of the television station.
However, I am of the opinion that superficial issues like look and feel shouldn’t be given precedence over content.
Malaysian news has placed too much importance on pretty and beautiful newscasters (so much so that royalty and VIPs look at them as potential spouses!) that it can get pretty embarrassing.
Sometimes, the journalistic skill of the newscasters can be questionable. Many of them just regurgitate whatever a producer or editor has written for them without having any editorial knowledge of their own.
I do understand that branding is important. But I just hope that people can see through the fluff and realise that the branding which involves quality content over look and feel is way more important.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.