In 1988, the Irish chose to celebrate the millennium of the foundation of Dublin during Viking times, a completely arbitrary date, but never mind.
One of the ways of celebrating it was to recreate a Viking village in a city centre location and people it with actors who had been well drilled in their roles. It was located in the basement of a spacious building and one entered the ‘village’ itself through a lift which, instead of floors, showed the years 1988 all the way back to 988 at which point the doors opened and we emerged into the ‘village’. My group included some Canadian tourists, women who were rather modestly dressed with skirts and their hair rather neatly trimmed.
When we emerged from the lift, there were some buildings in a kind of mock-Viking style and here and there various ‘Viking’ figures standing around absolutely still. They were models, clothes dummies dressed in costume. One had its back to us. We were startled when it turned suddenly to face us, because we had assumed it to be inanimate. The man also evinced astonishment at seeing us, and burst out, speaking to the two Canadian women, “What kind of women are you that you don’t cover your hair and your dresses don’t reach to the ground?” Then he added, “Of course, you must be slave women, for no free woman would dress like that.”
Here the actors had been prepared with a piece of information that few modern people know, least of all those who most need it: Muslims, and specifically, Muslim women. The hijab, the head scarf and its associated modest clothing that drapes over the entire body are not the distinction between Muslim women and non-Muslim women, but rather have always been, in all sorts of societies even Viking society, the distinction between free women and slave women. Few people know today that slave women do not need to cover their hair even if they are Muslims, and indeed, according to some views were not allowed to, even in the prayer.
This is from the Kitab al-Athar of Imam Abu Hanifah, may Allah be merciful to him, as narrated by Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ash-Shaybani:
219. Muhammad said, “Abu Hanifah informed us from Hammad that Ibrahim said concerning slave women, ‘They pray without head-covering or veil, even if they reach a hundred years and have children by their owner.’”
220. Muhammad said, “Abu Hanifah informed us from Hammad from Ibrahim that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab used to beat slave women if they covered their heads, saying, ‘Do not try to emulate free women.’”