KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 6 -- Actress Emma Maembong has admitted that she has now returned to her original image of not wearing the tudung or headscarf as of three days ago, after having embraced it for around five years.
Emma, or her real name Fatimah Rohani Ismail, 27, was reported telling Malay portal BH Online that she faced intense criticism even when she decided to start covering up.
“My way of wearing a scarf around the neck was quickly chastised by those online. There were those who said, it is better for me to wear a full and proper tudung. Little by little, I tried to wear the tudung.
“After I wore the tudung, as usual even the way I dressed and styled my tudung invited criticism. It was as if nothing was right. It’s true, it was hard for me to please others,” she was reported saying.
Emma said she received heavier criticism following the recent event when she was pictured with friend Syed Abdullah Abdul Rahman sans tudung.
The two became the subject of controversy over images that surfaced on social media — one was taken in a restaurant where Emma was seen without her tudung while the other was taken in a bedroom with a woman seated between a man’s legs.
Both were forced to apologise to the public over the incident.
“I was punished as if I was ridiculing the religion. Those who commented harshly were as if they are guaranteed to enter heaven. There were even those who said, I only apologised after I was caught red-handed,” she related.
The actress also denied that she started covering her head after she kickstarted her business to sell headscarves, saying the business came out first before the decision.
Despite that, she divulged that her family found it hard to accept her decision to unveil.
“But they accept and know what I faced all this time. They saw with their own eyes all the episodes of my fall and the ‘pain’ as an artist. They are not encouraging this, but at the same time, hope for me to remain steadfast,” she added.
In 2016, local celebrity Uqasha Senrose also came under intense fire from fans after going bareheaded after covering up her tresses three years ago.
Born Nik Zaris Uqasha Senrose, the 24-year-old actress reportedly said that she took off her tudung as she no longer wanted to lie to herself.
Some Muslim women cover their head as the hair is considered “aurat”, referring to the parts of a Muslim woman’s body that must be covered, but the extent of which varies in interpretation according to schools of Islam.
Speaking to Malay Mail in 2016, Muslim women’s rights group Sisters in Islam (SIS) said the Muslims’ holy book Quran does not specifically mention hair as part of a woman’s “aurat”.
SIS said the interpretation of the “aurat” in Malaysia has become increasingly influenced by Arab culture since the 1980s, noting that most Malay-Muslim women did not wear the tudung during the 1950s and 1960s, including the wife of the then Kelantan mufti and the spouse of Indonesian ulama, Prof Dr Haji Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah, better known as Hamka.