Archive for the ‘hijab’ Category

Am I my image?

June 18, 2007

…., originally uploaded by asiya2.

I recently discovered that a photograph of myself(or the top of my head) that I had published on this blog, had been saved as a favourite by someone on Flickr. So I went and checked out their account and found that my image was one of just hundreds of pictures of women in hijab. Then, to my dismay, I discovered that the person was into bondage and discipline, there were also photos of gagged and restrained women. Obviously this person sees hijab as a kind of fetish, ah such irony! So I was horrified and blocked them from my flickr and removed my photo from their site. But the whole experience has left me wondering about the nature of photographic images.

 

Initially, I was ready to delete my entire flickr account and even stop blogging. But then I thought about it again and reminded myself that it was just an image, photographs are not real, although we sometimes give them far too much reverence. For years I didn’t put photographs up in my house because of the traditional fiqh ruling that images should not be displayed. We only have to look to most dictatorships to see the role that images play in state propoganda, there is wisdom in this fiqh perspective I think. But on a personal level, I think it comes down to intention. We just have to maintain an awareness that images are just reflections, they are not real and they have no inherent power of their own. We should not invest too much in them. It’s interesting that when most people are asked what item they would rescue from their house if it was burning, they reply, their photo album. It is as if memories can’t exist without the visual reminder, tangible evidence that the event actually happened. Someone that I am close to wants to document everything “special”, if something funny or beautiful happens and it is not recorded, then it is a major dissapointment, a lost opportunity. To me, it seems like a removal of the event from ‘reality’, into the realm of ‘ideas’. Once a memory it is more special than it was when it actually happened.

 

In Islam we are encouraged to live in the present. It is in the ‘now’ that closeness to God is most possible because we are less veiled by all the mirages of our “selves”, our memories, precious and feared, our hopes and dreams. So perhaps part of the wisdom of the prohibition of images was not just the danger of the image itself being worshipped, but the more subtle danger of what the image represents forming clouds upon our capacity to be receptive. We become absorbed in our created world.

 

I have to say that I am fascinated by photography and embarrassingly, I love to see photos of myself! But it’s not an expression of vanity, it’s because I feel disassociated from my own image. It’s a kind of detatched fascination. I know that a reflection of my physical self is just that, it is not me. It just interests me to try and see what other people see, how I am from outside myself. But of course, this is impossible, I cannot be an observer of myself.

 

I don’t think I would be comfortable with posting photograps of myself if I wasn’t a hijab wearer. It is a barrier that I need, it does enable me to have ownership of my body, because whatever you imagine, you perverse individual who stole my image, it remains entirely that, your imagination. And your imaginings have no bearing on me. I have control over my physicality and it is not yours for the taking. Actually I’d like to thank you, because you have reminded me of why I wear hijab in the first place.

 

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