updated 20 Oct 2013, 08:12
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Sun, Oct 20, 2013
The Jakarta Post
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Muslim women reject fatwa on hairstyles
by Indra Harsaputra

Muslim women in Surabaya, East Java, have flatly rejected a fatwa recently issued by local clerics, who said women changing the color and form of their hair using the rebonding technique is haram (forbidden under Islam).

“Hair coloring and straightening are just a matter of fashion, and have nothing to do with one’s level faith,” university student Ulfa Damayanti, 19, told The Jakarta Post on the weekend, after undergoing a rebonding treatment at a stylist in Surabaya.

Ulfa said she would continue visiting the hair stylist every three months, to have her hair done, something she has been doing for the last five years.

Ulfa had her parents’ permision to have her hair cut, she said.

Last week, a problem-solving forum of leaders of Islamic boarding schools for female students, from across Java and Madura islands, issued an edict stating it is haram for Muslim women to color and change the form of their hair.

During the meeting, held Thursday at Lirboyo Islamic boarding school in Kediri, East Java, the clerics argued that hair straightening could invite immoral acts if the intention was only to change physical appearance.

The forum also banned women from working as ojek (motorcycle taxi) drivers or from using ojek services to go to certain places or to pass quiet areas because it could incite immoral acts.

Riding on an ojek could bring women into contact with the male ojek drivers’ skin, and expose aurat (parts of the body that must not be exposed).

Ulfa said rebonding had nothing to do with the causes and effects of immoral acts.

Citing an example she pointed to rape cases allegedly committed by Muslim teacher As’ad Syukur Fauzanni of Kedung Rukem, Surabaya, involving 17 of his own female students in 2008.

“Even a few months ago, a santri [Islamic boarding school student] in Surabaya raped his fellow female santri at an Islamic boarding school. This means immoral acts can just occur anywhere,” Ulfa said.

Separately, housewife Ida Ayu Rohmana, 34, voiced a similar objection.

“I’m also an obedient Muslim, but I’m proud to know a woman who works as an ojek driver. I see it as proof that today’s women are much more capable of doing manly jobs,” she said.

“If ulema ban women from working as ojek drivers and then the women have to earn a living by working as prostitutes or by stealing, what will they say?” Ida asked.

Ida, who goes to the market to shop everyday on an ojek also said she would continue using this form of transport since she considered it safer than riding a motorcycle on her own. “I’m afraid of being robbed if I take a motorcycle on my own. Once a woman was murdered like that.”

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