As always the reality of “Islam” or any ideology for that matter, depends on the framework within which you are practicing that ideology. If you are practicing in a largely secular country, with freedom of consciousness and all that jazz, chances are, you will probably craft your own version of Islam that is quite progressive. A version where the hijab becomes a “choice” and a symbol. If you are from the Maldives however, the reality of this “choice” being not a choice at all is made apparent from how society reacts to someone removing the hijab. A choice can only truly be a choice if it goes both ways, and the Maldivian social contract is most certainly not a two way street. This is paralleled in the Maldivian constitution and mindset where everyone is “born Muslim” but no one is allowed to leave. It's 2015 and people still love claiming that the Maldives is "100%" Muslim.
Below are the 10 top rated comments on a post made by Channel News Maldives facebook page. I simply waited 24hrs and let facebook decide what was “top” or not according to their algorithms. I kept the focus narrow for my sanity as there are more than 240 comments on it already at the time of writing; the majority of which is hateful nonsense. I think these comments, the support they have garnered, and the fact that a woman’s “personal choice” is somehow worthy of making national headlines, largely speak for themselves in terms of whether or not the hijab is a “choice” in Muslim majority countries such as the Maldives; where the garment even seems to take priority over medical conditions.
At first I wasn't going to censor the names of these people, since they are so public in their bullying, but I've decided against it. I will instead censor their names as ugly and messily as possible. That will be the extent of my self inflicted bad taste.
Translation: “If you believe you will get salvation/treatment/better from doing what is forbidden by Allah, then you have reason to reflect upon/revise your faith.”
Person One: “Can you say that on the day of questioning??? That the doctor told you to take of the hijab(burugaa)?? That you started wearing a bikini because the doctor told you??”
Person Two: “That is a great point Adam Shahydhoo.”
Person One: “Asmaa, why don’t you just stop wearing clothes, is it because of the doctor that you took it off (to do something new).”
Person Two: “Yeah that will make the doctor much happier eh?”
Translation: “(I) don't know why this should be news.”
Translation: “She just claimed it was religion of the ideology of Zaeem (Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom) and wore it to get elected to her parliament seat. However (she) only does whatever she does in name only. Previously Zaeem had said he’s a religious person and bragged and boasted about it loudly. Now what.”
Translation: “It’s lucky (she) wasn’t ordered to take off her clothes.”
Translation: “Look, even if you did take of the hijab, if you aren’t outdoors 24hrs a day, why don’t you just wear it when you go outside? If you feel discomfort after you cover yourself for even such a tiny amount of time, can’t you wait when you’re outside for a small amount of time? You sound like you feel crazy for putting it on when you say stuff like that.”
Translation: “A higher authority than the doctor has commanded (the hijab) because no harm can come from it to women.”
Translation: “The authority that gives one illness is also the authority who will take it away… This is not related to the hijab… May Allah grant Asma sound thinking.. Amen.”
Because just ONE comment from the entire top 10 questioning the news worthiness of the article is kind of depressing, here is a bonus from further down the thread that sincerely asks people to leave her alone (using religious justification that still makes the hijab obligatory, but its still better than nothing). If for nothing else, it's useful to illustrate how they immediately get shut down.