Copyright Oggbashan August 2019
The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
This is a work of fiction. The events described here are imaginary; the settings and characters are fictitious and are not intended to represent specific places or living persons.
"No, Mo. We're not wearing any Hijabs. Never!"
"But, Carol, you are my sisters now. If you don't cover your hair in public that shames my honour."
"Fuck your honour, Mo! Your mother may have married our father but he isn't Muslim and neither are we. We are your older stepsisters. You have to accept us as we are, as your mother has. She hasn't tried to change us, neither should you. You are part of an English family, not a Muslim one."
"At least look at them, Carol. They are pure silk."
"I don't care if they are pure gold, Mo. They are a symbol of male oppression and we aren't wearing them for anyone, especially not for you."
"And I agree with Carol, Mo," my sister Anne said. "We are not Muslim, and even if we were, we'd never wear a hijab. The next request will be to cover our legs and shoulders. Like Carol, I say fuck your honour. We are respectable English girls who look after ourselves and our own honour. So does Rebecca. She wouldn't wear a hijab either."
"But Rebecca is engaged to marry my elder brother. As a Muslim wife she must wear a hijab." Mo was horrified.
"Rebecca won't be a Muslim wife, Mo." Anne said. "She's a Christian and won't change for Abdul. They are having a Registry Office wedding, not a Muslim or Church one. She has told Abdul that she will not appear to be a Muslim and she won't cover her hair or anything else. If he suggested that, not only would the wedding never happen, but Rebecca would beat Abdul up."
"She wouldn't! That would shame Abdul." Mo protested.
"She fucking well would, Mo, as Anne and I would for you if you tried to insist on a hijab for us."
"I wish you wouldn't swear, Carol. It's not womanly. And my name is Mohammed, not Mo."
"I'll call you something stronger than Mo if you carry on like this. How about male chauvinist PIG!"
We had had similar arguments before ever since our father, Andrew, had married Mo and Abdul's mother, Sadia. Our mother had died five years ago in a car crash. Their father had died in an accident at work and their mother had worked in the same office as our father. He had helped Sadia with the compensation claim, with the insurance claim on their mortgage and the two of them had a mutual respect that gradually changed into love.
We liked and appreciated our stepmother and she understood that the two of us were adult English women who lived our own lives. But her sons thought that as males they were responsible for us and should insist that we behaved in a way they thought appropriate.
Abdul had met Rebecca and was struck by her independent nature and intelligence. She had been working on him to change his attitudes and accept that he lived in a society that treated women as equals. We thought Rebecca was more than Abdul's equal. She organised him, ran him and was obviously the dominant partner in their relationship.
Mo, or Mohammed, was worried by Rebecca's control of Abdul. He thought that he ought to insist on his role as the dominant male since or father and Abdul wouldn't accept that role. We two sisters, slightly older than Mo, and vastly more sophisticated, resented Mo's attempts to make us into submissive Muslim-style females.
Even Rebecca was finding Mo's attitude irritating. Because she was annoyed, so was Abdul, yet Mo became even more authoritarian as we all opposed him. It didn't help that Mo worked as a buyer for a supplier and manufacturer of Muslim dress. His working life was surrounded by Muslims who had a financial interest in getting women to dress in 'modest' Muslim styles. As an employee he could get a discount on their products and very good deals on end of lines. But neither his mother, nor us, his step-sisters, nor Rebecca his sister-in-law to be, would wear Muslim dress. The closest any of us came was that his mother Sadia would wear her one and only hijab on the rare occasions she went to the mosque. She would take it off as soon as she got home and never wear it again until her next visit.
Mosque? That was part of Mo's problem. Mo and Sadia went to the mosque closest to home. The Imam and all that Mosque's leaders had been born in the UK, grew up speaking English and were relaxed about being in a tolerant western democracy. They understood and sympathised about the conflict between living as a Muslim and interacting with people that weren't Muslim. They knew our father Andrew, knew he wasn't Muslim and had intention of becoming one, but that he was quite willing to accept Sadia as a Muslim. Andrew was liked by many people at that mosque and willing to help with any problems within his expertise as a commercial lawyer. He had a wide understanding of the conflicts that could arise between a business owner who was a practising Muslim and UK laws for companies.
But Mo went to the mosque nearest his work. Their Imam was a recent immigrant from a deeply traditional rural area in his country of birth. His command of English was very limited and he worked using the classical Arabic of the Koran and his own language of the country where Sadia had been born. Sadia, Abdul and Mo all spoke English but the factory where Mo worked used their country's language. Many of the female employees couldn't work elsewhere because they didn't know enough (or any) English and their husbands didn't want them to learn it because they might be exposed to revolutionary ideas about a woman's role.
All of us, including Rebecca, knew that Mo had a large suitcase under his bed full of female Muslim dress that he had acquired from work and wanted to persuade us to wear. If only he had brought home some material instead of made-up garments Anne and I could have made some clothes. We often do. Today's dress for the two of us started another argument with Mo.
It was a hot summer day. Anne and I, together with Rebecca and her sister Mary, were going to the local ice-skating rink. The two of us were in the kitchen eating bacon butties which we liked and horrified Mo. He didn't like seeing bacon in the fridge. Sometimes Sadia would make bacon butties for us and her husband. That upset Mo even more as he considered Sadia was polluting herself with the bacon.
Mary and I we wearing our self-made skating skirts. They were short, flared and stitched to matching panties. No matter how fast we twirled, or even if we fell over, would we show anything except those panties worn over our normal ones. Above the skirts we were wearing tight white ribbed sleeveless sweaters which emphasised our breasts. Rebecca and Mary would be dressed similarly, and Abdul would join us on the ice rink in about an hour.
Mo walked into the kitchen. His face turned white as he saw the bacon butties. I stood up to make him a cup of coffee. He saw what I was wearing.
"Carol! You can't go out like that. You're indecent!" He protested.
I twirled to flare my skirt.
"Why not, Mo? No one could possibly see anything," I retorted.
"But your legs are bare..."
"So what? They often are on a day as hot as today."
"And your boobs!"
"So what, Mo. Anne and I know we have nice boobs so why not? So have Rebecca and Mary. They'll be here soon and we're all going skating to meet Abdul. Why don't you come too?"
"I can't skate and..."
"We know you can't but any of us could teach you. Any one of us could hold you up so you wouldn't fall."
It was true. All four of us women were much taller and heavier than Mo.
"But I'd be in a woman's arms, Carol."
"Is that so bad, Mo? You'd be supported and taught by a woman who might be a sister. There's surely nothing wrong with being held up by your sister, is there?"
"No, but, the other men from the mosque might see..."
"Not might, Mo. They WILL see because so many of them go to watch the women, unlike from our mother's mosque whose men are likely to be on the ice with their wives or girlfriends. There is nothing un-Islamic with skating."
"But they'll tell my Imam."
"Fuck your Imam! He isn't even up to the 18th Century Age of Enlightenment. He is medieval, not in 21st Century UK. Men and women can skate together in public without offending modern standards of decency. Come with us, unless you are too scared..."
I was twisting Mo's tail. I know he hates being accused of being too frightened to do something. As I had hoped, the taunt worked.
"OK, Carol. I'll come skating with you if you will look after me."
"We will. We'll make sure you don't fall over and protect you from scantily-clad females."
At that point Rebecca and Mary arrived. As usual Rebecca embarrassed Mo by hugging him and kissing him on the cheek. While Rebecca still held Mo against her prominent breasts, her sister Mary hugged him too before kissing him on the other cheek. Mo blushed more than I had ever seen him do before. I know he likes Mary, but Mary had never kissed him -- until now.
I explained that Mo was coming with us and couldn't skate so would need help. As I suspected, Mary decided she would be Mo's instructor. I had said we would protect him from scantily-clad females but 'we' included Rebecca and Mary. By Mo's standards we were all scantily clad but he was with us.
At the ice rink Mary took Mo on to the edge. She had to hold him tightly for the first few minutes as he began to find his feet on the unfamiliar surface. As the other three of us were twirling around on the ice we could see Mo struggling but determined to try. Every time he slipped Mary held him tight, sometimes with his head in her clothed cleavage. He was embarrassed, not just by his incompetence, but by Mary's body so close to him and his reliance on her. I could see that some of the men watching were jealous of Mo's predicament.
After about twenty minutes Mary led Mo off the ice. I had been impressed, not only by Mo's progress as an absolute beginner, and Mary's competence, but by Mo's complete trust in Mary. For someone who undervalued women, Mo seemed happy to accept Mary as a person who protected him. Maybe my brother wasn't such an asshole as he seemed.
As I passed them again they were sitting down having a drink. The café area was crowded so they were on one chair with Mary sitting on Mo's lap. With their relative sizes it might have been more sensible for Mo to sit on Mary's lap but that was probably a step too far for Mo yet. But he looked satisfied to have Mary sitting on him
Abdul arrived and took to the ice with Rebecca, sometimes holding her in his arms, and sometimes with the two of them circling each other. Abdul is nearly as good on the ice as she is but when they are dancing together she has to lead. Abdul can't see over Rebecca's shoulder.
When we left the ice rink it was very hot outside. We passed a woman in a full length black Muslim cloak and hijab.
"She looks hot," Mary said once we were some distance away. "It must be stifling in a hot country to dress like that."
"I'm sure it's not," Mo said.
"How would you know?" Mary asked. "You don't have to wrap yourself up from head to toe as she was."
"Perhaps Mo does know," I said mischievously. "He has got a Muslim woman's costume at home."
Mo was horrified. He didn't know that I, and all of us, knew about his suitcase.
"I wouldn't wear it in public, Mary said, "but it might be interesting to try some items on..."
."And why does it only apply to women?" Rebecca asked. "Look at you two."
Abdul and Mo were wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
"You, Mo, don't think what you are wearing is indecent, but you think we women are. Why should we sweat under layers when you don't have to?" Rebecca continued.
"I wouldn't insist on it," Abdul said, "because if I did, Rebecca would object, verbally and physically."
"I would, Abdul. If you tried, you might end up as the shapeless bundle," Rebecca said.
"If you don't object, Mo, I'd like to try when we get to your house." Mary said.
Mo didn't object. I could see he was excited by the idea.
When we got home Mum had left a note. She and Dad had gone shopping and wouldn't be back for a couple of hours. The six of us went into the living room which has full length net curtains. It was far cooler than outside in th summer sunshine. Mo went upstairs to get his suitcase. He put it on the floor and opened it. On top were the hijabs he had wanted me and Anne to wear. He opened a packet to pull out a black silk one. He helped Mary to put it on. I took pictures of Mary on my phone. She looked odd with her mass of light brown hair hidden and her face framed by the black silk. The hijab didn't look right above a tight sweater and skating skirt.
Even Mary sensed that so she added an abaya covering her almost completely once she had fastened the front zip. It ended halfway down her calves because she was too tall for it.
Rebecca also tried a dark blue hijab and an abaya. Again she was too tall. Anne also dressed herself and I felt I was missing out so I put another black hijab on and an abaya. Mo also had black chadors which covered the hijabs with a hood and was equally short on all four women.
Rebecca asked Abdul to wear a hijab and abaya. He looked very odd with an almost sexless face but unlike us women the abaya, and chador on top, was too long and splayed around his feet.
Mary insisted that Mo be dressed too. She tied the hijab around his head before throwing the abaya over him. She didn't give him an opportunity to put his hands through the slits of the abaya before adding a fitted jilbab that was nearly too small for him. None of us women could have worn that jilbab. Mary fastened the front zip and Mo's arms were trapped inside the jilbab and abaya. She threw her arms around Mo before kissing him full on the lips. Mo tried to protest but was wrapped helpless and unable to escape from Mary's hug.
Rebecca had pushed Abdul on to a settee. She was sitting aside him and had thrown her chador around him before she kissed him. Abdul was unable to escape under Rebecca's body weight and the layers surrounding him. I could see him relax and enjoy Rebecca's kisses.
"Carol? Could you pass me another hijab please?" Mary asked.
Mo was struggling in Mary's grasp and trying to object verbally but Mary's hand was over his mouth. I grabbed a couple of loose hijabs from the suitcase and gave them to Mary. She stuffed one in Mo's mouth before winding the other around and around his lower face before tying it tight. She pushed him into a deep armchair and sat on him. She removed her hijab and shook out her hair. She tied the hijab around Mo's calves over the layers of abaya and chador. Once that was secure she shed her own abaya and chador before wrapping them over a faintly struggling Mo. Mo's eyes were open wide with surprise and horror that Mary had wrapped and tied him so effectively.
"Anything else useful in that suitcase, Carol?" Mary asked.
I knew what she meant. I found a burqa and several long silk scarves. Carol wrapped and tied the scarves around Mo before covering his head and shoulders with the burqa.
"I think I have made you into a copy of Rebecca's shapeless bundle, Mo," Mary said conversationally. "How do you like being a submissive Muslim woman?"
Of course Mo couldn't answer. He was bound and gagged into silence. Mary positioned herself to pull Mo's shrouded head against her prominent breasts. Mo managed a muffled groan as she waggled them across his head.
"I think I might claim you as my wrapped boyfriend, Mo," Mary said, "but with one condition. You would have to change mosques to the one Abdul and your mother go to. Is that OK? You can nod your head."
She was surprised when Mo's head shook frantically. She lifted the burqa off his head, untied the hijab around his lower face and pulled the other sodden hijab out of his mouth.
"I think you had better explain that refusal, Mo. Don't you want to be my boyfriend?" Mary's voice was dangerously annoyed.
"Yes, Mary, but your condition is impossible." Mo said with his face still pressed against her breasts.
"It is? Why?"
"If I don't go to that mosque I will be fired and lose my job."
"That's illegal," Mary retorted. "An employer cannot insist that you are Muslim and certainly not that you go to a particular mosque."
"It's in my contract of employment, Mary."
"If it is, it is still illegal. If they fired you for changing mosques you could go to an industrial tribunal and get compensation from them. Apart from that you are in a shitty job with no prospects and you could do much better. Your English is as good as anyone and you could apply for another job with a better employer -- and go to another mosque. Which reminds me. How many women belong to that mosque?"
"About fifty, Mary, the employees of my company? Why?"
"And how many men?"
"About three hundred, Mary. Again, why are you asking?"
"I thought so. The women only go there because they have to. The men? Because they are antediluvian dinosaurs who believe women can never be equal. Their attitude has affected you. I know that women can be the same as men and have their own opinions. We are equal, sometimes more than equal, as now when I have wrapped and tied you up as my helpless victim. I could do that anytime because I and bigger and stronger than you. But I won't. I have shown that being dressed as a Muslim woman is impractical and far too hot on a summer's day like today. I want Mo as a partner, appreciating me as an equal, sometimes better as Abdul thinks of Rebecca."
Rebecca was still hugging and kissing a restrained Abdul.
"Look, Mo," Mary said, pulling his head around so he could see Abdul and Rebecca, "he's enjoying it. So is she. We could too if you will change mosques and possibly your employer. Will you try, for me?"
"Yes, Mary." Mo said.
That was the last he said for some time. Mary lifted her sweater and pressed Mo's face against and between her bra covered breasts. She finally relented to set him free shortly before my parents returned.
Mo became Mary's boyfriend, changed his job and mosque and gradually became more relaxed about the way his stepsisters behaved and dressed. It took some time. If he tried to protest, Mary might drag his suitcase from under his bed and turn him into a squirming bundle hidden inside restricting female Muslim clothing which none of his female relations ever wore.
This word is sometimes used to generally describe a Muslim women's modest dress. More specifically, it refers to a square or rectangular piece of fabric which is folded, placed over the head and fastened under the chin as a headscarf. Depending on the style and location, this may also be called a shaylah or tarhah.
Common in the Arab Gulf countries, this is a cloak for women that is worn over other clothing when in public. The abaya is usually made of black synthetic fibre, sometimes decorated with coloured embroidery or sequins. The abaya may be worn from the top of the head to the ground or over the shoulders. It is usually fastened so that it is closed. It may be combined with a headscarf.
Sometimes used as a general term, quoted from the Qur'an 33:59, for an over-garment or cloak worn by Muslim women when in public. Sometimes refers to a specific style of cloak, similar to the abaya but more fitted, and in a wider variety of fabrics and colours. It looks more similar to a long tailored coat.
A face veil worn by some Muslim women which may or may not leave the eyes uncovered.
This type of veil and body covering conceals all of a woman's body, including the eyes, which are covered with a mesh screen. Common in Afghanistan; sometimes refers to the "niqab" face veil described above.