Now this is interesting: Wearing hijaab at the sauna!
After reading the article, I find that there are a variety of things to take issue with (in no particular order):
1. Why would a Muslimah go into the sauna and pool at regular hours anyway? I'm pretty sure that in most/many places, a group of Muslimahs will book to reserve the pool and/or accompanying facilities for the private use of the community's Muslimahs. That way, Islamic regulations regarding gender segregation and the issue of hijaab can all be followed, while allowing Muslimahs to kickback and relax.
2. Health IS an issue. I'm pretty sure no one – Muslim or not – wants to suffocate in a sauna because they're wearing too many clothes. Hence, back to the idea of renting the pool/sauna privately so that the sister(s) can have fun without wearing an 'abaayah and khimaar and running the risk of… whatever it is that they might possibly be at risk of.
3. Going back to issue #1 – why go at regular hours? Assuming it's not a women's-only health club (the article didn't specify), then it means that there are guys who can walk in there as well… not to mention that most people there are probably half-naked! And as we know, it's not correct forus as Muslims to be around those openly doing something wrong, or something that might lead us to something wrong.
Now, some people might bring up the issue of how walking on the street is enough for our eyes to fall upon something incorrect, so in that case we may as well all stay at home. But this is something different… when in the streets, we can't really do anything about it except try to get away from it ASAP. However, when you go to a health club, or a pool, or wherever, you have a CHOICE. You can CHOOSE to remain in that company, or you can remove yourself from that environment. It's not an issue of neccessity, as walking in the street is; it's an issue of enjoying yourself vs. pleasing Allāh. We can have fun in other ways that don't contradict the Sunnah.
Again, it's relatively simple to reserve the same facility for a private session, so that other Muslims/ Muslimahs can have the same halaal experience.
4. Mr Hargey, chairman of muslim group MECO, said: “If this woman wants to wear this garb it's not Islamic custom, it's a cultural tradition which has nothing to do with faith.”
That statement reeeeaaaaaallllyyyyy bugs me. I've been hearing it quite often lately – that the khimaar and/or 'abaayah 'has nothing to do with faith', when indeed it has EVERYTHING to do withit! I don't really want to start another flamewar wherein people furiously argue for/against the khimaar and/or 'abaayah, but I DO want to say that I really don't think that man had the right to say it's only 'cultural tradition'. A great many Muslim women wear the 'abaayah not because it's “cultural tradition” – for many, such as 'white' convert sisters, African-American sisters, even Desis, it's not at all a part of our culture – but because they really believe it's a required part of the hijaab. Will this man then say otherwise? Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illaah billaah! There is no might or power except with Allāh! (For any non-Muslim readers here, this is a phrase that Muslims often use as an exclamation of surprise or shock, sometimes accompanied by a sad shake of the head and a 'tsk tsk'! ;) )
And finally, I have a sneaking suspicion about the whole thing. It seems disturbingly like a publicity stunt designed to bring even more negative attention to Muslims – but that could just be the conspiracy theorist in me talking ;)
Your little sister in Islam,