The Hijab as a Metaphor for Otherness and the Creation of an Ineffable “Third Space”

Abstract

Why have debates around the Muslim hijab become increasingly acrimonious? Islamophobia has led to the rise of far-right groups, with calls in Europe and the US for banning headscarves and minarets on mosques. In India, sectarian violence continues unabated since 1947, with hate speech becoming progressively overt. The first half of this paper examines why the Muslim hijab has become the lone metaphor for debates about identity formation, to the exclusion of veiling prevalent in other religious and cultural contexts. How would Muslim migrant writers find these debates helpful for their situation in their countries, whether original or adoptive? How can marginalized writers resist discrimination and exclusion from mainstream life? The second half of this paper focuses on the belief in the transformative power of Sufism that the Turkish-German writer Zafer Şenocak shares with the mystics Yunus Emre and Jalaluddin Rumi, and the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. For Şenocak, Sufism allows a religiosity that is not only compatible with, but also perceivable in sensuous experience. Sufism thus serves as a “third space,” a term defined by the renowned culture critic Homi Bhabha as an ambiguous, ineffable area that develops when two or more individuals/cultures interact.

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  • 19 October 2019

    Following the publication of this article [1], it came to my attention that I unintentionally neglected to acknowledge the following sources. The transcript of the interview with the 50-year-old woman and her relatives was previously published in my book [2].

  • 19 October 2019

    Following the publication of this article [1], it came to my attention that I unintentionally neglected to acknowledge the following sources. The transcript of the interview with the 50-year-old woman and her relatives was previously published in my book [2].

Notes

  1. 1.

    To name a few: Ahmed 1992 and 2011; Esposito 2003; Fernea 1998; Göle 1996; Heath 2008; Kandiyoti 1988; Mernissi 1987 and 1994; Moghissi 2000; Najmabadi 2005; Oestreich 2004; Wierschke 1996, Wadud 1999 and 2006.

  2. 2.

    Ibid, 152.

  3. 3.

    Ibid, 152.

  4. 4.

    All translations from German into English are the author’s, unless otherwise indicated.

  5. 5.

    Şenocak, Zafer. Zungenentfernung. Aus der Quarantänestation. Munich: Babel-Verlag Bülent Tulay, 2001, 39.

  6. 6.

    (Ich stieg auf einen Baum,

    wurde zu seinem Stamm.

    Vögel überflogen mich.

    An ihren Flügeln meine Blätter.)

  7. 7.

    http://quotesnack.com/rumi/out-beyond-ideas-of-wrongdoing-and-rightdoing-there-is-a-field-ill-meet-you-there/ (Accessed: February 2009)

  8. 8.

    Judith Butler (2009) explains her use of the emotive adjectives ‘grievable’ and ‘ungrievable’ as follows: “To say that a life is precarious requires not only that a life be apprehended as a life, but also that precariousness be an aspect of what is apprehended in what is living.” (Butler:13)

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Correspondence to Kamakshi P. Murti.

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Murti, K.P. The Hijab as a Metaphor for Otherness and the Creation of an Ineffable “Third Space”. DHARM 1, 269–285 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42240-019-00022-5

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Keywords

  • Hijab
  • Sufism
  • Third space
  • Ineffable
  • Otherness