Please refer to the following news article:
Islam is not about turban and beard
From my research, discussions and debates with people of various backgrounds, I agree with many of you in that the real issue in this controversial case is whether the right of individuals to wear headgear is at stake. On top of that, the question of whether this type of lawsuit falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Court is also one of the major talking points.
However, I am not really interested in the aforementioned issues nor the political or legal ramifications surrounding them, which in my opinion only serve as a moot point. What I am more interested in is whether wearing turban is an Islamic practice in the first place.
Before I begin, it is important to note that my intention is not to question or lambaste the age-old Islamic practices and belief. Rather I am honestly trying to engage ourselves in a healthy intellectual discourse that has nothing to do with politics. That said, I invite you to make corrections on any erroneous or inaccurate claims that I am about to make. I am here to learn, and I strongly believe that many of you readers are wise men who possess a wealth of invaluable knowledge to offer.
If we study the "science" and history behind turban beyond what most of us already know, it seems obvious that wearing turban is far from being exclusively Islamic, let alone Arab. People of diverse cultures, particularly in the Middle East, Africa, Central and South Asia all regard turbans as part of their custom. Conventional wisdom suggests that the reasons for wearing turban vary greatly. Many Africans wear it to keep desert sand out of their faces and the more nomadic members of African tribes use turbans to disguise themselves from their enemies. Indian gentlemen wear turbans as a symbol of their wealth, caste and profession, while Turks also don them for similar reasons. If Sikh men wear turbans for purely religious purposes, Arab, Afghan and Persian gentlemen use them for a mixture of religious, cultural and geographical reasons.
If historical, sociological and anthropological knowledge were any indication, wearing turban can safely be ruled out as an Islamic practice. However, we have so far overlooked the Quran and Hadith in determining whether it is indeed Islamic. While the Quran makes absolutely no mention about turbans, the authentic Ahadith (Sahih Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud and Malik) hardly indicate any significance that turban has in Islam beyond the fact that Muslims are not allowed to wear it while in the state of Ihram. Unfortunately, what we often hear and choose to believe is a collection of weak Ahadith glorifying turbans and quoted as if they were authentic.
While there is no question about whether wearing turban is part of the Sunnah, the real issue remains whether it holds special significance in Islam. Even though it is true that some parts of the Sunnah are more significant than others, wearing turban does not appear to me as being one of them. Some of you may hate me for saying this, but I personally agree with the judge for commenting that not everything that Muhammad did has to be followed. The Prophet did countless things during the course of his life, and it is simply impossible for us to emulate each and every one of them, especially since we live in a totally different era that renders many of his deeds impractical.
In my humble opinion, excessive obsession with and blindly emulating Muhammad border on idolatry, which is a grave sin in Islam. I see Muhammad as my reference, not an idol. The sole object of my devotion is Allah, while Muhammad was merely one of His many messengers. Muslims often forget that Muhammad did not establish Islam, he merely completed it. Therefore it is no surprise that many Muslims all over the world were united in blind rage when the infamous caricatures of Muhammad were made public recently, while writings and other forms of mockery on Abraham, David, Solomon and Jesus were utterly disregarded.
What appeared initially as a mere question of religious attire leads to a bigger and more important question: have we been looking at the mere appearance of Islam while neglecting its underlying form? Many modern Muslims scholars believe that Dajjal or the Antichrist is an allegory (not a creature or some scary monster as Muslims widely believe) which is essentially an embodiment of evil and ignorance prevalent during the End of Days. In many versions of the Ahadith, the Antichrist is described as being one-eyed, which is a metaphor for mankind's obsession with physical appearances (materialism) while neglecting the underlying form (substance).
There is plenty of evidence to support the above prophecy, and we really do not need to look that far and deep in order to verify it. Mankind in general makes the pursuit of materialism its ultimate goal above morality and kindness. More and more Muslims are placing greater importance on physical appearance and false religious rituals above Aqidah, Tawhid and Akhlaq. We perform all obligatory religious rituals that are expected of us without understanding what they entail. As if we have not learned from the fallacy that confuses the Arab culture with Islam, Malays equate conversion to Islam with being Malay or "masuk Melayu". On each Friday (which is Islam's holiest day, not Malay's), male and female Muslims don baju melayu and baju kurung thinking that they have something to do with Islam. When we need to perform daily prayers, the elders tell us to put on kain pelikat as if wearing a clean and sterile pair of Dockers long pants does not quite cut it. And when we do not wear songkok to prayers, some imams call us fasiq.
To make matters worse, when a group of enlightened and educated Muslims (Salafis, Qutbi and Wahhabis) attempt to abolish many false practices (bid'a) that have become synonymous with Islam, we call them deviant and kafir just because they are trying to purify and restore original Islam.
Perhaps it would be fitting for me to sum up my whole point with a personal tale. I personally know a few Muslim fellows (Americans, Malaysians, Sudanese, etc) who are considered "pious" and never fail to don their favorite headgear. One of them used to tell me once, "Every time before I go drinking and nightclubbing, I will never miss reciting surah Al-Yasin after Isha' prayers."