By Faraz Omar
If “oppression” didn’t work, it’s a “health hazard.” Yes, the old talk about how Hijab can cause vitamin D deficiency in women has resurfaced. As science gets political, “facts” are derived from preformed conclusions. The “truth” that researchers arrive at nowadays depends on who is funding the research.
So time and again Muslim women in the West have been told that their wearing of Hijab is causing vitamin D deficiency, as “proven” by research, which was no more than a study revealing such a deficiency in Asian or Arab women. Studies however have also shown something else: 54% of black and 42% of white childbearing women in the Northern US were found with insufficient vitamin D levels.
Unless it is believed that such a large percentage of North Americans are good Hijabis who cover themselves up completely, the accusation falls flat.
Dr. Abdul Majid Katme of the Islamic Medical Association in Britain said, “This is a common fallacy among the people of the West. It is a medical fact that diet is the main cause of vitamin D deficiency among some Asians, and not lack of exposure to the sun. We Muslims who live in the East and Asia are exposed to the sun all the time and our houses, yards and private gardens are full of sunshine.” (Q-News, 1995)
Vitamin D is important and Allah has so perfectly made our body that it produces the vitamin automatically when exposed to sufficient sunlight. Normally one would receive enough exposure even while staying at home by just standing by the window or in the balcony – with or without Hijab. In fact, Hijab has nothing to do with it because exposure to sun doesn’t mean every part of the body must be exposed.
Mona Salama, an Egyptian nutritionist and pediatrician, was asked in an online Q&A session on Islamonline.net (2007) on the issue of Hijab and sunlight. She replied:
“Alhamdulliah (that we are) Muslimat (Muslim women) and that we wear Hijab. Besides protecting us from bad looks and immodest people, Hijab also protects our skin from the damages of ultraviolet rays. Overexposure to sunlight causes more than 90 percent of all premature aging (sagging, bagging, wrinkling, scaly skin) and 90 percent of all skin cancers. “Ultraviolet rays cause skin damage and weaken the skin structure by diminishing production of elastin and collagen, the two important substances that keep skin firm, youthful and wrinkle-free.
“There are three main types of UV rays (UVA, UVB and UVC). The truth is we need the sun’s UVB rays as it triggers our supply of vitamin D which in turn regulates Calcium. This gives us stronger bones and disease protection. But it only takes 10 minutes of sun exposure to manufacture a month’s worth of vitamin D, and the Hijab can by no means block this benefit. It’s easy to get the necessary amount simply by taking a short walk at lunchtime with your Hijab or simply stand in the balcony, also with your Hijab, for 10 minutes.”
For Muslims, the natural scientific benefits that come with following our Creator’s laws is not the reason for following Islam. We follow Allah’s laws in full obedience and submission to our Creator – out of our will and love. Allah praised the believers who say: “We hear, and we obey. (We seek) Your Forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the return (of all).” (Qur’an, 2:285)
He also instructs us: “It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed in a plain error.” (Qur’an, 33:36)
Whether we come to know of the benefit of a particular injunction or not, we submit to the divine laws because of our firm belief in the truthfulness of Qur’an as the Word of God and Islam as the Religion of God. This belief is not blind, but based on solid evidences and indisputable facts that are more than sufficient for mankind to believe in His message. – SG