Islamic Studies

In Oklahoma Everything is Not Ok: State Seeks to Ban Hijab?

From ISNA website

The Oklahoma state Senate is considering a bill that has already passed the Oklahoma state House, HB1645, which is intended to amend the present law to prohibit Oklahomans from wearing head scarves or other coverings in driver’s license photographs. If passed, the law will violate the religious and constitutional rights of Oklahomans Muslim women who are required by their faith to cover their heads in public.

Wearing a headscarf is a religious duty for Muslim women, not merely a cultural custom, and legislating its removal from driver’s license photos would create an extreme hardship as it would force Oklahoman Muslim women to choose between applying for driver’s license and following their faith requirements. No American should ever be forced to make such a choice.

The US Constitution protects the free exercise of religion and ensures that religious practices and traditions are respected and accommodated. The Founding Fathers enshrined this inalienable right in the constitutional Bill of Rights and countless fellow Americans fought long and hard to ensure that people are able to enjoy the values of freedom and equality.


Please call the leaders of the Oklahoma state Senate and ask them to protect the religious freedom of Oklahomans and to reject the ongoing attempt to undermine the civil liberties of Muslim Americans and other religious minorities.

  • Senator Charlie Laster
    Democratic Leader
    2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 522
    Oklahoma City, OK 73105
    (405) 521-5539
  • Senator Glenn Coffee
    President Pro Tempore
    2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 422
    Oklahoma City, OK 73105
    405.530.2304 (fax)

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.

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  • Here is the article. Ridiculous argument made! Please call and email and do as much as you can. We can't let peoples' basic rights be stolen and remain idle.

    Groups oppose Oklahoma driver's license photo bill
    Lawmaker’s proposal follows head scarf incident
    Published: March 6, 2009
    Buzz up!

    A national organization is asking the state Senate to defeat a bill that would prohibit Oklahomans from wearing head scarves and head garments in driver’s license photographs. Another group says it will challenge the bill’s constitutionality.
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    Click here to find out more!

    “It is a matter of grave concern not only to the Sikh-American community, but also for members of other faiths who are required by their respective religions to wear religious head coverings,” said Rajdeep Singh Jolly, legal director for the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund based in Washington.

    “The motives behind this legislation appear to be suspect.”

    Rep. Rex Duncan said a person’s religious beliefs had nothing to do with his proposal.

    Duncan said he wants uniform regulations for driver’s license photos.

    “It would just be equal treatment for everybody,” said Duncan, R-Sand Springs. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a cowboy and take off your cowboy hat, a nun. No glasses, no Harley-Davidson bandannas, nothing on your head, no masks, nothing.”

    The proposal, which Duncan included in House Bill 1645, passed the House last month, 88-8.

    “It appears as though it didn’t even occur to them that this legislation would impact members of diverse religions — observant Sikhs who wear turbans, observant Jews who wear kippahs,” Jolly said.

    “Fundamentally, we just reject this piece of legislation. It’s illegal and it’s un-American.”

    What’s ahead?
    HB 1645 has an uncertain fate in the Senate because the Senate author, Sen. Roger Ballenger, said Thursday he no longer will handle the bill, which started out as measure with cleanup language requested by the Department of Public Safety.

    “In talking with DPS, they didn’t request the amendment and they do not have a problem with the present law on facial identification on driver’s license photographs,” said Ballenger, D-Okmulgee. “It appears to be a solution looking for a problem.”

    Duncan said he wrote his proposal after a Muslim woman was allowed last month to wear her traditional Islamic head scarf for her driver’s license photograph.

    Several months earlier, she was told she couldn’t wear the scarf, or hijab; the Oklahoma City chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations intervened and the Department of Public Safety said a head covering is permitted when taking the driver’s license photo as long as it does not obstruct or obscure a full frontal view of a person’s face from hairline to chin.

    The national organization said it is asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to determine whether Oklahoma’s bill would violate the U.S. Constitution.

    In defense of bill

    Duncan said he wrote his proposal because no state law exists defining what is permissible for driver’s license photos.

    “If the trooper on the side of a road in the middle of the night in a rainstorm needs to be able to confirm that the person that he’s looking at is the one on the license, part of what they’re looking at is whether you have hair or not to start with and then what color it is,” said Duncan, a former prosecutor.

    “If we’re going to allow people to cover up their hair and parts of their face, then it’s going to be difficult for the law enforcement folks to confirm who they’re actually looking at.”

    Eyewear also is included in his proposal because eyeglasses in a picture make it more difficult to determine the color of a person’s eyes, he said.

    Duncan in 2007 refused a Quran given to legislators by the Governor’s Ethnic American Advisory Council because he said it encourages Muslims to kill unbelievers. His proposal in HB 1645 has nothing to do about religion, he said.

    Rep. Wade Rousselot, D-Wagoner, said he didn’t mind that Duncan put the language in his bill.

  • Assallamu Alykum waRahmattu Allahi waBarakatuh,

    Should anyone choose to write, please point out the fact that the US and British governments do not force Muslim women to uncover their heads for passport photographs. So it's not really a matter of a security risk.

  • They are not banning the hijab, but they are banning the head cover in driver's license photos. Please be careful before we cause a huge uproar in the Muslim community and then Islam will have another bad image in the public eye.

    We should be against this because it can set a precedent for future laws that are more strict against the head cover. Please comment if you called or emailed the senators.

  • I sent an email this morning, here's the reply:

    “Thank you for your e-mail, I will make sure Senator Laster receives it. In
    the meantime, could you please forward your home address for our records?
    Thank you.

    Sharon Veazey
    Executive Assistant to
    Democratic Leader Charlie Laster”

  • Thanks for the article…after reading the article, it's clear why Duncan added that proposal. His argument about being able to identify the person photographed is plain wrong. If a believing woman uncovers her head for a photograph and then is stopped, she would not have her head uncovered when she's stopped. Therefore the officer that stopped would have a more difficult time identifying her. The same is true of a skih. Amazing that he doesn't see that.

    The US government allows women to take their passport photos in a hijab if that's how they normally (everyday) dress. The same rule should be applied here because that's the easiest way to identify someone, how they dress daily.

    The whole thing is shameful.

  • Rex Duncan is for sure lying when he says the bill is not aimed at Muslims. Duncan should speak the truth on the legislative intent of the bill. The whole reason the bill even started was because of the issue of a Muslim woman taking her picture with the hijab.

    We all know this is Rex Duncan's way of trying to refuse rights to Muslims. Others included in this bill would be Sikhs and cowboys. However, the American people are already not taking this nonsense. Alhamdulilah, most people I have seen are rejecting this bill.

    Jazakullahukhayr Imam Suhaib for posting this.

  • they are banning the hijab, if you are a practicing muslim woman, you wear the hijab all the time, you can not be carrying around a picture of you without a hijab on to show to a male police officer. this is cause for an uproar if needed..i have sent an email to the senators and i know 3 other people who have. i hope this bill is not passed, i am a muslimah who wears a hijab and i find this very offensive that such a bill should even come about.

  • Interesting that you received a reply…I emailed both Laster and Coffee and rec'd nothing. Maybe since I gave them my full name and phone number they were able to get that information on their own.

    I'm glad you did receive a reply though, at least the emails are being read.

  • Ya akhi! How could you say such a thing!? If the bill passes, muslims women in oklahoma wouldn't be able to have driver liscences since it forces them to disobey their lord. As you know many americans depand on car transportation.

    This is a form of prosecution because it is banning muslim woman from driving if they do not show people their hair (their driver liscence that shows the police officers the womens' hair )!

    Remember how the prophet (may peace and blessing be upon him) and the companions were forced to make hijrah to Madina.

    If it passes, protest and send letters until justice it made.

  • alhamdulillah emailed as of yesterday:

    Dear Senator ______

    Our country was founded on the pursual of religious freedom. Fleeing persecution of the British Empire, the first Pilgrims made their way to the Americas. It is appalling to see those very freedoms being stripped and removed.

    I urge you remove such appalling bans from consideration lest we might be remembered for bigotry

  • does anyone know when this vote is going to take place? Our Muslim Students Union is planning on doing a petition on campus and we don't want to find out after collecting all the signatures that it's too late.

  • not any human living in the us should be forced into doing something espcially muslim woman which shoul keep their religious hijab on no matter what because this country guarantees FREEDOM of religion to everyone in the USA .(bill of rights which is the 1st tenn amendments). we shall not be discriminated.

  • very “smart” comment brother or sister MR…. what's Hijab then if it's not a head cover?
    Do you think it may be used to cover shoes?
    Of course politicians are smart enough not to mention the Hijab in their bill, but we all know what they are targeting here!

  • Salaam Imam Suhaib,

    Here is the CAIR Action Alert:
    and here:

    Press Release:

    As of today there is a new Senate sponsor, but we are looking for the Senate Sub-Committee it is suppose to go to. I should have more details by the end of the week InshAllah, I'll keep you posted. Jazak'Allah-Khair for the support. Wasalaam

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