Center for the Study of Political Islam International

Open Letter in Response to Hijab Emoji

November 7, 2016

Topic Women Topic Veiling

Not long ago, arguments put forward by a young Rayouf Alhumedhi from Saudi Arabia appeared in the media. She defends the use of an emoji with the hijab symbol (in full available here). Her arguments were accepted as appropriate and well-formulated in many circles.

With this open letter we would like to point out the fact that the recognition of the hijab emoji as the symbol, which will supposedly be used by a large amount of the Internet users, will have a far greater impact on the development of our society than it might seem at first.

Contrary to what Ms. Alhumedhi claims, the hijab is not merely a type of headwear. It is also a political symbol that communicates oppression and a lack of freedom. This can be well-supported with the arguments directly based on the primary Islamic doctrine. However, let us summarize Alhumedhi’s arguments first:

1. The hijab is a sign of modesty.
2. The meaning of the hijab for Muslim women is similar to that of a headscarf for Christian and Jewish women.
3. The hijab is just a headwear, a representation of a certain lifestyle.
4. There has been growing demand for the word “hijab” in the Internet search engines.
5. There is currently no emoji representing a pious Muslim woman.
6. The hijab is one of the most globally recognized visual representations of Islam, and it would be a great addition to the mosque and the symbol of Islam emojis.
7. The demand for these emojis will grow steadily since, according to the PEW research, the world’s Muslim population will reach 29.7% by 2050 and will constitute 50% of the population in 51 countries.

The last three arguments seemingly stand out, particularly the one claiming “the hijab is one of the most globally recognized visual representations of Islam”. This is true. Therefore, in order to grasp what the hijab represents, we have to understand what Islam exactly is.

The Islamic doctrine is based on three foundational books. These are the Koran (Allah’s words, as interpreted by Mohammed), the Sira (the biography of the Prophet Mohammed) and the Hadith (words and actions from the life of the Prophet Mohammed). These three sources comprise the so-called Trilogy.

When this Trilogy of Islam is put to analysis, as devised by Dr. Bill Warner, it appears that less than a half of the text make up instructions for religious practice. As much as 51% of the text comprise the demands towards non-Muslims. Thus it is not simply a part of Islam, but a political doctrine relevant to non-Muslims. Therefore, this 51% of Islam is called Political Islam [1].

We work on the assumption that something called “religious” only concerns those who adhere to a particular religion. If a religion makes demands towards unbelievers, these demands are political in their nature.

Let us examine the Koran more closely. A statistical analysis [2] reveals that 64% of the total text is Political Islam, since these 64% of the text make demands on unbelievers.

The fact that a certain religion is concerned with the unbeliever to such an extent raises the question: Why? What attitude does it convey towards the unbeliever? Islam describes the unbeliever as the Kafir. The Kafir is anyone who has not adopted Islam as their religion. However, the word "Kafir" is not a neutral equivalent of the word "unbeliever". Islam views the Kafir as the lowest social class, and thus it is allowed to deceive, hate, enslave, ridicule, torture and even kill the Kafir. Please, see a few verses from the Koran [3] below which illustrate the way to approach the Kafir (non-Muslims).

Koran 40:35 They [Kafirs] who dispute the signs [Koran verses] of Allah without authority having reached them are greatly hated by Allah and the believers. So Allah seals up every arrogant, disdainful heart. [4]

Koran 83:34 On that day the faithful will mock the Kafirs, while they sit on bridal couches and watch them. Should not the Kafirs be paid back for what they did?

Koran 47:4 When you encounter the Kafirs on the battlefield, cut off their heads until you have thoroughly defeated them and then take the prisoners and tie them up firmly.

Koran 8:12 Then your Lord spoke to His angels and said, “I will be with you. Give strength to the believers. I will send terror into the Kafirs’ hearts, cut off their heads and even the tips of their fingers!” The Koran forbids Muslims to have friends among the Kafir. The Kafir are repeatedly described as evil and cursed, hated by Allah. See the examples below.

Koran 23:97 And say: Oh my Lord! I seek refuge with You from the suggestions of the evil ones [kafirs]. And I seek refuge with you, my Lord, from their presence.

Koran 33:60 They [Kafirs] will be cursed, and wherever they are found, they will be seized and murdered. It was Allah’s same practice with those who came before them, and you will find no change in Allah’s ways.

Koran 4:144 Believers! Do not take Kafirs as friends over fellow believers. Would you give Allah a clear reason to punish you?

Another important argument by Ms. Rayouf Alhumedhi is that there is currently no emoji representing a pious Muslim woman. What does it mean to be a pious Muslim? Who or what do Muslims dedicate their lives to? According to the definition, a Muslim is a person who has accepted Allah as their only God and Mohammed as His Prophet. It is mentioned 91 times in the Koran that Mohammed is the perfect Muslim in all aspects. Pious Muslims should follow the example of Mohammed and the will of Allah.

Therefore, being a symbol of a pious Muslim, the hijab also symbolizes following the example of the Prophet Mohammed. In order to understand the meaning of this symbol, one then needs to familiarize themselves with the life of Mohammed. For instance, let us look at how Mohammed viewed values which define a free, humanistic society. How does Islam see the freedom of religion or the freedom of speech? The answers are found in the above mentioned Sira and Hadith.

The texts contain examples of how Mohammed, the living example of a true Muslim, approached apostasy as the act which deserves a death penalty. In the following section we are going to provide quotes from the Hadith, specifically selected from the collections by widely recognized authors Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.

[Bukhari 9,83,17] Mohammed: “A Muslim who has admitted that there is no god but Allah and that I am His prophet may not be killed except for three reasons: as punishment for murder, for adultery, or for apostasy.” [5]

[Muslim 001,0031] Mohammed: “I have been ordered to wage war against mankind until they accept that there is no god but Allah and that they believe I am His prophet and accept all revelations spoken through me. When they do these things I will protect their lives and property unless otherwise justified by Sharia, in which case their fate lies in Allah’s hands.” [6]

[Bukhari 9,84,57] Ali ordered that some atheists brought before him be burnt to death. Upon hearing this, Ibn Abbas said, “If it were me, I would not have ordered them burnt. Mohammed told us, ‘Don’t punish people with fire. That is Allah’s punishment.’ I would have done as Mohammed instructed, ‘Whoever turns his back on Islam, kill him.’” As far as the freedom of speech is concerned, there are multiple examples in the Trilogy, especially in the Sira, which show that Mohammed killed those of his followers who had criticized him or openly doubted Islam as the only true religion. Let us consider at least one example from Ibn Ishaq’s Sira, the officially recognized biography of the Prophet Mohammed [7]:

Ishaq 819 Mohammed had told his commanders to kill only those who resisted; otherwise they were not to bother anyone except for those who had spoken against Mohammed. He then issued death warrants for all of those in Mecca who had resisted Islam. [8] Some of them were:

  • One of Mohammed’s secretaries. He had said that Mohammed sometimes let him insert better speech when he was recording Mohammed’s Koranic revelations, and this caused the secretary to lose faith.
  • Two girls who had sung satires against Mohammed.
  • A Muslim tax collector who had become an apostate (left Islam).
  • A man who had insulted Mohammed.
  • All artists and political figures who had opposed him.

In conclusion

It is not our goal to tell the UNICODE Consortium what to decide regarding this matter. With this letter, we intend to point out that including the hijab symbol into the worldwide collection of emojis is different. It will not be an innocent image in the extensive mosaic of visual symbols. Regardless the impression created by a Saudi girl’s argumentation, yet once put to analysis, together with the politics of Islam found in three foundational texts (the Koran, the Sira and the Hadith), interesting observations appear.

Ms. Rayouf Alhumedhi claims that the hijab is the sign representing a Muslim woman and one of the most widely recognized symbols of Islam. She also claims it is simply a cultural symbol or a sign of a certain lifestyle. The hijab, as a symbol of Islam, is also a symbol of everything that goes together with Islam.

As Dr. Bill Warner’s analysis reveals, Islam is (over 50%) a political system which strictly divides the world into the Muslim and the Kafir (non-Muslim). In Islam, the Kafir are inferior to the Muslim, and it is allowed to mistreat them. Political Islam also supports hatred towards the Kafir, death penalty for apostasy and killing as the punishment for criticism of Islam.

Therefore, we strongly wish that the UNICODE Consortium takes into consideration the facts regarding the hijab’s political significance during the approval process. The hijab symbolizes inferior status of a certain part of society (the Kafir) and doctrinally approved hatred towards diverse non-Muslim population of over 5.5 billion globally. The application submitted by a young Saudi girl is a political act and is a manifestation of Political Islam.


[1] Bill Warner, A Self Study Course on Political Islam – Level 1.
[2] Precise methodology of statistics is described at
[3] Official Koran translations are available online at
[4] Koran 1:2 refers to the Koran, chapter (sura) 1, verse 2.
[5] [Bukhari 1,3,4] refers to Sahih al-Bukhari, volume 1, book 3, number 4.
[6] [Muslim 001,0031] refers to Sahih Muslim, book 12, number 1234.
[7] As a source for hadith we used the websites of University of Southern California,, and
[8] Ishaq 123 refers to the Sira by Ishaq, margin note 123.
[9] Guillaume, Alfred. "The Life of Muhammad. A Translation of Ishaq's Sira Rasul Allah. With Introduction and Notes by A. Guillaume." (1955).


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