MumsnetGuestBlogs (MNHQ) Wed 16-Oct-13 10:58:09

Why I wear the niqab

As the debate over the niqab, or full-face veil, rumbles on, community activist Sahar Al-Faifi explains her decision to cover up.

Please do share your thoughts on the niqab on the thread below - is it a symbol of oppression, or an important religious freedom?

Sahar Al-Faifi

Molecular geneticist and community activist

Posted on: Wed 16-Oct-13 10:58:09


Lead photo

Women wearing the full-face veil, or niqab

The common impression that people have about women who wear the niqab is that they are forced to do so by their spouses or society, and are therefore oppressed. They are also believed to be uneducated, passive - kept behind closed doors, and not integrated within British society.

These negative prejudices are just that, though they are presented as facts - widely accepted, and promoted by cynical politicians every so often. Although I prefer not to be apologetic in my approach, I always find myself having to explain my choice to wear the niqab, in the hope that I can raise awareness, challenge misperceptions and help promote mutual respect.

To understand the niqab, it helps to understand the religion behind it. Islam has three simple messages – liberation from worshipping anything but the one God; following in the way of His Prophets including Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them; and servitude to the whole of humanity. Islam’s practical acts of liberation are many – from the duty of environmentalism (protecting ‘the Creation’ from the excesses of humankind) to the imperative of modesty for both women and men – one part of which is the face-veil.

In my view, the authentic reading of Scripture does not deem the niqab as compulsory, but rather as highly recommended: the wives of the prophet Muhammad used to wear it, and they are my role models.

Therefore the niqab is a religious symbol - and wearing it is considered by many Muslim women as an act of worship. Certainly the niqab is a spiritual journey that not many will take or understand, but those women who choose to wear it, such as myself, believe that it brings them closer to God, their Creator. 

I also find the niqab liberating and dignifying; it gives me a sense of strength and empowers me.  Deciding to wear it  wasn’t easy - I had to go against my wishes of my parents, who discouraged me from wearing it because they feared I would face discrimination. But since I started wearing it, over 10 years ago, I have never changed my decision, nor have I ever found it a barrier. I continued my education to postgraduate level, and am now a professional molecular geneticist. Never once did I feel that the niqab prevented me from adding value to our British society – I’m involved in many community projects and events, and hold leadership positions in community organisations.

Public freedom is a cherished value in the UK... it allows individuals the right to practice and articulate their religious freedoms and rights – and offers awoman total freedom of choice to decide what she wears.Women who wear the niqab are simply articulating those religious and personal freedoms – and we cannot risk undermining themfor the sake of social imaginaries, deep-seated psychological fears, or ignorance.

Some claim that women choose to wear the niqab do so due to social constraints and conditioning. This might be applicable to some extent in countries like Saudi Arabia or Iran, where individuals have to behave in a certain way for social approval (which can include wearing the face-veil). But in Britain, face-veiled women are minority within a minority – numbering perhaps just 0.001% of the total Muslim population in the UK (no statistics are available on this issue). Wearing the niqab is not so common within the British Muslim community that social conditioning could play any significant role: in Britain the majority of these women wear the niqab as a personal choice.

The norms of any society are the sum of its collective values, so rather than talking about the role of social conditioning in relation to face-veiled women, let’s talk about those norms. Public freedom is a cherished value in the UK, and is part of the fabric of our society. It allows individuals the right to practice and articulate their religious freedoms and rights – and offers a woman total freedom of choice to decide what she wears.  Women who wear the niqab are simply articulating those religious and personal freedoms – and we cannot risk undermining them for the sake of social imaginaries, deep-seated psychological fears, or ignorance.

There are claims that the niqab is a 'security threat', but such claims are overblown. With regards to the issue of security, particularly the wearing of the niqab in court, let’s be clear that Muslim women are allowed to take off their veils, particularly in the pursuit of justice. But there’s no common approach and each case should be dealt with individually, in a manner that ensures the preservation of these women’s dignity and rights.  These women are not committing any crime; they must be treated as human beings with full rights to participate equally in civil society, and to access education. 

The reason, I believe, that the niqab debate has progressed this far is that there exists a wide range of far-right movements, politicians and intellectuals across the spectrum who seek to promote the hysteria that fuels anti-Muslim hatred.  These people hope to make the face-veiled Muslim women emblematic of a sinister 'Other', a ‘problem’ impossible to solve or accept.

We have to overcome this authoritarian mentality which assumes a right to interfere in the lives, appearances and thoughts of other people. We all have so much to offer each other and we should extend our tolerance to respect, not merely for individuals, but for their beliefs as well. Otherwise, by all clamouring to enforce our own ideologies on the women we seek to “liberate”, we will be contributing to their collective oppression. Indeed, attempts to ban the niqab will marginalise face-veiled women from participating in public life.

It’s time to go beyond words, and to pursue peace, prosperity and freedom through social, political and interfaith harmony - seeking compassionate justice for everyone, and protecting freedom of the individual.

By Sahar Al-Faifi

Twitter: @SaharAlFaifi

Rowlers Wed 16-Oct-13 12:01:49

Why don't men wear the niqab?
If they did, maybe there wouldn't be so much of an debate.

JackAubrey Wed 16-Oct-13 12:10:54

Hi Sahar,
Thanks for your comment - v interesting view from behind the veil...

to misquote Voltaire, I disagree with what you wear, but will defend unto death your right to wear it.

My question is this - can you see any validity in the opposing view: that women have fought and died for freedom, and your decision to wear the niqab seems like a repudiation of that - unlike a man, you will not feel the sun on your face, the wind in your hair. Unlike a man, you cannot be seen - as if somehow you are either too dangerous or too unworthy to be allowed a public profile.

You say: "Women who wear the niqab are simply articulating those religious and personal freedoms"

Can you understand why to feminists it is utterly depressing that you choose to exercise your hard won personal freedom in the way that you do?

SilverSixpence Wed 16-Oct-13 12:15:45

I'm Muslim, and appreciate an intelligent discussion on this topic rather than simplistic comparisons. However I don't support women wearing niqab in this country as the overall harm seems to outweigh the benefits - in terms of public perception, perpetuating myths about oppression, creating a physical barrier, etc. most people who argue in favour of niqab describe it as a personal decision, however it has consequences for other Muslims like myself who don't wear niqab.

CoteDAzur Wed 16-Oct-13 12:21:49

Given that there is no mention of covering the face in the entire Quran and Mohammad is on record saying "A woman's face & hands should be visible", I don't know where you get the idea that the veil is part of being a Muslim.

It's silly but whatever floats your boat.

MerryMarigold Wed 16-Oct-13 12:24:52

Thanks for this. I think something troubles me about the niqab as I have seen it worn around here (I live in a strongly Muslim area of East London). Do you think it is worn as a sign of 'rebellion' as opposed to being a truly religious commitment?

There are quite a lot of young (16+) girls adopting it, but almost as a badge/ statement/ attitude (like punks did their hair) rather than for genuine reasons about becoming closer to God. You can tell this partly from the ton of eye makeup they are wearing! It always slightly amuses me that they have the modest niqab on, but have made their eyes incredibly sexy and alluring and I don't understand it. They are also often quite mouthy (as a lot of teens are), but it doesn't match with the rest of the ethos of the niqab.

I hope that doesn't come across as anti Muslim. I was celebrating Eid yesterday with friends (they do cover hair but not niqab). This is just what I observed around this area and was wondering if you feel the 'niqab as a statement' is becoming a trend.

mumblechum1 Wed 16-Oct-13 12:36:30

What Jack Aubrey said. I feel really uncomfortable when I see a woman in Niqab, as if she's saying that she rejects British values and culture and identifies with a medieval mindset.

AmeliaFox Wed 16-Oct-13 12:38:10

I really appreciate your thought provoking article. To me just like women without veil is considered odd in Muslim society, similarly women with veil is considered odd in non muslim society. It means both societies have their own criteria to judge others. Better not to think wrong of women wearing veil as it is their religious duty.
Why not to say wrong about Nuns wearing veil or dedicating their lives for God and not marrying anyone. For us it is sacrifice and if some muslim women will cover herself we will call her extremist.
I don't know why we make such balances that are not weighing things equally.

plummyjam Wed 16-Oct-13 12:40:54

Thanks for your insight. I have a few questions.

At what age would a woman start to wear the niqab? For example, if you had a daughter who was allowed to make her own decision about wearing a face veil, what age would this be appropriate in your view? Similarly, at what age is it acceptable to stop wearing the niqab? In other words when does a woman's face become/stop being immodest?

Does the risk of vitamin D deficiency concern you?

This is very hypothetical, but if you lived in a society where there were no men, would you still wear the niqab?

Sahar - can I ask you your view on how the niqab affects communication - particularly whether it acts as a barrier or deterrent, by making it harder to read the face of the wearer?

To me, it sometimes gives the impression that the wearer doesn't want to communicate or interact with me, and wishes to keep herself apart and separate from me, and I worry that this hinders understanding and amicability between us.

I think, having grown up in a society where women's faces are not routinely covered, I rely on reading people's facial expressions to aid and enhance my understanding of other people. If I am correct, women do not usually wear the niqab at home, or in all-female gatherings, but as a non-muslim woman, who does not have any muslim friends, I only ever encounter muslim women out and about in public, so would only ever be interacting with a woman who wears the niqab when she is out in public and would therefore be wearing it - and I would hesitate to do more than smile, or thank someone who had opened a door for me (or other small interactions) with a woman wearing a niqab - and maybe we both lose out because of this.

I also worry that it reinforces the 'otherness' of some muslim women, which can lead to intolerance in some people, and whilst the blame for this lies squarely with the intolerant bigot, I am not sure how society should tackle the problem. Communication, friendship and interaction are key, imo.

I really hope that this does not come across as bigotted or offensive - please be assured that this is NOT my intention - these are my genuine feelings - and I also genuinely wish for harmony and understanding between everyone. I would love to get to know the women behind the niqab.

NCISaddict Wed 16-Oct-13 12:50:04

I don't have a problem with women wearing the veil but I do object to my teenaged son not being allowed into shops with a hood up because he is 'obscuring his face' but women with headscarves are unchallenged. I have no wish for them to be challenged just for my son to be afforded the same courtesy.
I do find it disturbing that modesty for women is much more restrictive than for men. Whatever people say it makes them appear as inferior human beings.

Nerfmother Wed 16-Oct-13 12:57:43

I rarely post anymore but am keen to ask something.
One of the most depressing sights for me was a family at a shopping centre, woman and young girl walking just behind (presumably) dad and young son. Both males in shorts and t shirts, woman in niqab, girl dressed modestly. In your op you say modest dress for men and women but there isn't much evidence of the former?

LocalEditorPortsmouth Wed 16-Oct-13 12:58:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

spookyspoonrulestheworld Wed 16-Oct-13 13:03:52

Thanks for your blog post, very interesting.

I wish you could have said more on this:

"the imperative of modesty for both women and men – one part of which is the face-veil"

What does modesty for men look like then?

crispandglossy Wed 16-Oct-13 13:10:04

Load of rubbish

Wearing it does the opposite of empowering you - that is just brain washed doctrine

Always love how man manage to worship without these constraints ! Allah doesnt mind that then, no ?

Sigh .... We have a long way still to go whilst women pander to this crap

AllBellyandBoobs Wed 16-Oct-13 13:10:40

I was going to say what CoteDAzur has said. I understand that women may wear the niqab through their own choice and not because it has been forced on them by their husband. However, I believe it is patriarchal societies and their interpretations of religious texts that iniated the practice. That makes me feel uncomfortable with it. The practice, not with the covered individuals.

I haven't put that very eloquently but I'm also trying to do a jigsaw with my toddler and my multitasking skills are rubbish

MooncupGoddess Wed 16-Oct-13 13:17:43

Interesting piece. I have a couple of questions:

"the imperative of modesty for both women and men – one part of which is the face-veil" - but why is the face veil only ever worn or expected of women, not of men?

Also, presumably wearing the niqab means you can't eat or drink outside the house (visiting a cafe and ordering a coffee, say, would be impossible) - is this limiting or would you never eat or drink outside the house anyway?

PoopMonster Wed 16-Oct-13 13:25:59

Thanks for this very interesting article.

I believe in everyone's right to dress and practice religion in whatever way they choose, I was just wondering about the different interpretations of "modesty" and whether niqab really achieves this in certain contexts. Having live in SE Asia there were a lot of different ways that Muslim women chose to live this ideal. Some of the more practical (IMO, due to the climate) ways of covering one's hair included what looked like knitted caps which ladies then tucked their hair into, so that their necks were still showing (though these ladies rarely wore makeup). As a teenaged observer this seemed far more discreet to me than women in niqab. If most people in a society (be that Eastern or Western) don't dress in niqab, doesn't that ultimately draw more attention to those who do, and therefore have the opposite effect of modesty as you are effectively more "on show"?

That's just my opinion though, and I wouldn't dream of enforcing it on someone in the name of "liberating" them confused

SweetSkull Wed 16-Oct-13 13:30:01

How do you cope with the heat?
And why does the niqab has to be black?

Jabbacakes Wed 16-Oct-13 13:30:35

"There are claims that the niqab is a 'security threat', but such claims are overblown."

SweetSkull Wed 16-Oct-13 13:37:14

and I'm sorry if I'm not eloquent enough, English isn't my mother tongue...
But doesn't the reasons to wear niqab ressembles 'victim blame'.?

I mean, if a man have impure thoughts towards an woman, sure this is his issue?
Even if some wear the niqab, some others don't, so men will still sin using their images, so it's the men who should be working on themselves?

mrscog Wed 16-Oct-13 13:40:33

Many of my questions have already been raised, but I did enjoy your article. My main question is the same as a couple of others have raised - why is it required to be a modest woman but not for men? For me that's what's so sexist about it. If both men and women wore the Niqab then I woulnd't consider it so sexist.

My other main 'concern' is that it should be just as expected of wearers of the Niqab to remove it in situations where a bavaclava or similar wouldn't be suitable - banks, airports, whilst teaching/nursing etc. What do you think of this? Is this bigoted of me? I'm not sure but equally don't want to be offensive.

CuttedUpPear Wed 16-Oct-13 14:01:48

When muslim men cover their faces as well your arguments will have some credence.

edam Wed 16-Oct-13 14:06:44

Thanks for the thought-provoking blog.

However, I think it's unfair to say all opposition to the veil is caused by anti-Muslim hatred. I'm concerned about:

- Discrimination against women - as many people have asked, why don't men wear it if it's so important as a religious duty? If you choose to wear it in Britain, a reasonably free society, what message are you sending to women in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan who are forced to wear it, and where it is a symbol of extreme discrimination?

- The fear that some people are forced to wear it by their husbands/fathers. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown wrote about an example of this. It can hide the signs of domestic violence and separate a women from society, so is a useful tool for oppressors. You may choose to wear it, some people do not.

- Difficulties in communication. Covering the face means other people can't read your facial expression so they have no idea whether you are friendly and want to talk or not, or how you are reacting to them if they do talk. Whole regions of the human brain are devoted to interpreting facial expressions. It seems perverse to go against this.

- Security. It's all very well to say it is overblown and women are allowed to remove the veil if required. But the woman in the recent court case was refusing to remove her veil in court, so clearly she disagrees with you. There have been cases where male criminals have used the chador and niqab to disguise themselves. A university or college in Birmingham had to backtrack on their policy of requiring women to remove the veil for security reasons recently.

Women (and some enlightened men) have fought for centuries to achieve female equality. We aren't there yet, but we have made progress. The niqab feels horribly like going backwards.

Ultimately, I choose women's right to decide what they want to wear over the rights of society to tell them (although society does reserve the right to make people take off crash helmets, or wear clothes - the poor naked rambler keeps getting arrested although he's not doing anyone any harm). But it doesn't mean I'm happy with women in Britain wearing the veil. I'm deeply uncomfortable.

AHardDaysWrite Wed 16-Oct-13 14:09:43

We don't have "freedom of choice" to wear what we want in this country. If you think we do, try walking down the street naked and see what happens.

I don't like the niqab. It's not required by Islam, and it's a cultural practice, not a religious one. It hinders integration and it is one of the reasons why many non-Muslims in the UK are suspicious about Islam. I don't see why a headscarf and long sleeved clothing isn't sufficiently modest. Our culture relies on being able to see one another's faces to communicate. Why do you want to shut yourself away from others in this way?

Venushasrisen Wed 16-Oct-13 14:52:21

I feel you are saying 'look what a true Moslem I am' and thereby implying that those who don't choose the niqab are lesser mortals in a religious way.

I live in Birmingham, and more than 0.001% of the population appear to wear the niqab. If I walk down the street in central Birmingham on any weekday, I will see at least 100 women wearing full niqab.

You have obviously made your peace with the niqab, and come up with reasons why you wear it.

That does not negate the experience of other women within the United Kingdom, who are forced to wear the niqab by family, culture and oppression.

"The reason, I believe, that the niqab debate has progressed this far is that there exists a wide range of far-right movements, politicians and intellectuals across the spectrum who seek to promote the hysteria that fuels anti-Muslim hatred." Or maybe we are free to think for ourselves? I dislike the niqab because it says that a woman's (God given?) beauty should be hidden away. It also says that a man may think immodest thoughts if he sees a woman. So it insults both men and women.

I have long hair. When I wear it tied back I become invisible. When it is all glossy and bouncing like an extra in a hair conditioner advert, I get looked at. Covering of the hair makes a woman mostly invisible - as was known by early Christians and other religious sects.

The niqab makes women completely invisible. No argument that you can present will make me like it, or anything that it represents.

Tolerance goes both ways. Of course, within British law, you are free to wear the niqab. And under British law, I am free to consider it a revolting symbol of deep-rooted cultural misogyny.

QueenoftheSarf Wed 16-Oct-13 15:09:38

I really don't have any problem whatsoever with people wearing whatever they like, as long as they are not harming others though their choices. However, the fundamental problem I have with Islamic face coverings based on what Sahar Al-Faifi has said in her blog here is that if one of the three simple messages of Islam is "the imperative of modesty for both women and men – one part of which is the face-veil", why then do men not feel any obligation to cover their faces too?

ksrwr Wed 16-Oct-13 16:09:50

i think the real point is why should women wear veils, why not men? its the equality (or lack thereof) that i have an issue with rather than the veil itself.

MerryMarigold Wed 16-Oct-13 16:11:15

Men have to have beards. Women don't.

Rowlers Wed 16-Oct-13 16:35:19

beard ≠ niqab

GoshAnneGorilla Wed 16-Oct-13 17:07:02

Thank you Sahar for taking the time to post here.

Unfortunately, as many of the comments above show, your choices matter little to the self-appointed saviours of Mumsnet, who are so concerned for Muslim women that they start thread after thread slagging them off and talking down to any Muslim woman who dares to disagree with them.

Attacking women in the UK for wearing niqab will do precisely zero to help women in Saudi Arabia or Iran or Afghanistan. How can you claim to want to "help" Muslim women, when you think you know better then they do about their lives?

You are keen to point out that it's your choice to wear the veil, but what is entirely absent from your post is the actual reasons for doing it. You say it makes you feel closer to your god - why or how does it do this? Are men not close to god because they don't wear one? What is it about wearing the veil which makes it, in your opinion, a worthwhile thing to do? Because if it really is all about women having to show modesty, while men don't, then I fail to see how anyone these days can even begin to defend it.

Tinlegs Wed 16-Oct-13 18:02:35

Isn't the niquab designed to prevent men from getting carried away by their weaknesses and looking or touching someone else's property? Surely, it is the men, therefore, who have the problem? Anything,at all, that is for men / women only is putting women's freedom back years.

It is a symbol of oppression and, as such, has no place in a free society. It is not that you have the freedom to wear it, it is more that they men have the freedom not to wear it that I object to. I would also object if a religion or culture demanded women wear slave chains or have their feet bound - both are symbols of oppression and far more than just a clothing choice.

tethersend Wed 16-Oct-13 18:16:02

It is your choice to wear the niqab; the same way that it is a stripper's choice to take her clothes off. Something being a woman's choice does not therefore make it a feminist act, which you seem to be implying.

I do not agree with the wearing of the niqab, (or the concept of modesty) but I do not want to see it banned. I like living in a society where things I do not agree with are allowed.

passmetheprozac Wed 16-Oct-13 18:46:34

This sums it up for me, in a much more articulate way.

Catchhimatwhat Wed 16-Oct-13 18:49:59

My views on many things have changed since I was a teenager, but I felt sad when my friend decided to wear the niqab twelve years ago, and I still feel sad about it now.

GoshAnneGorilla Wed 16-Oct-13 19:01:05

"It's a symbol of oppression and as such has no place in a free society"

And you would enforce this how?

Doesn't sound very free to me.

Tinlegs Wed 16-Oct-13 19:11:40

I would not enforce it. Any more than I would enforce any other dress code. I was merely trying to make the point that sometimes clothes are not just clothes, they are symbols and so mean far more than just a personal choice.

Shallishanti Wed 16-Oct-13 19:18:59

Some interesting points made here, is the blogger going to come back and respond to them?

GoshAnneGorilla Wed 16-Oct-13 19:27:53

Tinlegs - but it seems that with niqab what the wearer actually thinks about it carries very little weight at all, instead the opinions and anecdotes of every Tom, Dick and Harriet are deemed to be far more important and valid.

I find that to be a very dubious power dynamic indeed.

Venushasrisen Wed 16-Oct-13 19:32:34

Attacking women in the UK for wearing niqab will do precisely zero to help women in Saudi Arabia or Iran or Afghanistan. How can you claim to want to "help" Muslim women, when you think you know better then they do about their lives

I wouldn't say most posters are wanting to help Muslim women, more confused that the religious laws apply to women and not men.

Perhaps by spreading the wearing of the niqab so it is normalized world wide the Saudi etc women have more difficulty arguing for more freedom. But the OP is happy with her choice regardless of Saudi or Afghani women's rights so that seems to be what matters to her, and you.

GoshAnneGorilla Wed 16-Oct-13 19:39:52

Venus - There are active women's rights groups in Saudi fighting against many things, driving and guardianship laws being two of the biggest issues.

The problem in Saudi is not that niqab is widely worn, it is that it is enforced. Sahar has said that her decision to wear the niqab is a choice, so how does that support women being forced to wear it? It's like arguing that love marriages support forced marriages, when the former is a free choice and the latter is a human rights violation.

Venushasrisen Wed 16-Oct-13 19:46:57

What I said, it could easily provide evidence to those enforcing the use of the niqab that they are being reasonable, and their concern is for the well being of their women, and there is nothing wrong with the enforcement as 'free' women are choosing to wear it.

edam Wed 16-Oct-13 20:09:20

I think the points raised about 'who are you to tell a Muslim woman she is oppressed by wearing the veil' raise an interesting point. But... while one woman's experience and choice is valid for her, that doesn't mean she speaks for all women, or even all women who wear the niqab. No more than I do.

And I don't think anyone here is attempting to 'tell' Muslim women what to do. We are listening, and we are asking questions, we are trying to have a conversation where different viewpoints can be discussed.

It's just a shame that the blogger doesn't seem to be coming back to discuss any of this.

It'd be great if any of the pro-niqab posters could respond to some of the points raised. About the battle for women's rights in Saudi Arabia, for instance (esp. pertinent as the chador and niqab are originally from that part of the world).

It is your choice to wear the niqab; the same way that it is a stripper's choice to take her clothes off. Something being a woman's choice does not therefore make it a feminist act, which you seem to be implying.

^^ this. And why aren't the men doing it if they are supposed to be 'modest' too?

I don't quite get the communication issue that's frequently brought up though. Personally I find it far easier to have a conversation with a woman in niqab than with someone wearing sunglasses but nobody else seems to have a problem with that.

Sahar, it would be great if you could come back and respond to points raised.

GoshAnneGorilla Wed 16-Oct-13 20:24:07

Edam - Forgive my cyncism, but I've been on many "niqab debates" around here.

I'm sure if she'd posted saying that niqab was terrible and indefensible you wouldn't be pulling the "she doesn't speak for all Muslim women" card. You'd all be happily agreeing and thrilled that you had a real, live Muslim woman to quote at any Muslim woman who disagreed with you.

As for her not responding to you, the post only went up this morning, she might not have had chance to respond. Stop clicking your fingers at her like she's a servant, it's making a mockery of your supposedly "anti-oppression" stance.

edam Wed 16-Oct-13 20:29:52

Gosh, there's a tecchie problem in that I can't see the most recent post - it's hidden by the blog. I can see you've posted and the first few words in 'threads I'm on' but not what you've posted.

Hopefully this post will move the thread down a bit so I can see yours!

edam Wed 16-Oct-13 20:33:21

Wish I hadn't bothered now.

What on earth are you on, claiming I'm clicking my fingers at the blogger like a servant? FFS. I said 'it's a shame the blogger hasn't been back to discuss this'. It's a perfectly polilte, reasonable thing to say.

Argue about the issue all you want, but derailing the debate and insulting anyone who disagrees with you does suggest you don't actually have much to say in favour of your viewpoint.

GoshAnneGorilla Wed 16-Oct-13 20:39:33

Edam - That's a tone argument and a poor one at that.

Rowlers Wed 16-Oct-13 20:45:43

Gosh, why have you lumped all posters on here together?

MooncupGoddess Wed 16-Oct-13 20:49:48

'The problem in Saudi is not that niqab is widely worn, it is that it is enforced.'

But when the niqab is very widely worn, a woman who chooses not to wear it will stand out, and many women who dislike wearing the (let's remember, uncomfortable and physically limiting) niqab will nevertheless wear it because they hate standing out from everyone else.

ShreddedHoops Wed 16-Oct-13 20:55:03

You talk eloquently for paragraphs around how people feel about niqabs - however the only, sole, single reason you give for wearing one is that Muhammad's wives wore them. Why is that a reason? Why are they 'an inspiration' to you? As an independent woman gifted with intelligence and ability to use it, why are Muhammad's wives so inspirational to you?

I, like many other posters, struggle with the idea of 'modesty' - what does that actually mean? I must cover certain (all?) parts of my body to avoid being lusted after by men? Why is that then seen as me being a good woman? I don't understand. My behaviour is enough to judge whether I am a good woman or not, surely. A 'good woman' to you may be one who covers her body, but you have failed in your OP to explain why.

Women (and men) have argued for years that it makes no difference what a woman is wearing, how culpable she is if raped or sexually attacked. I can walk out of my house right now, at 9pm in the dark, and walk across town in my underwear if I so choose. If a man attacks me, it is his crime and his moral failing, not mine. Some sections of society would make it 'my fault' but legally, I would be entirely justified. I'd be interested in your views on this and how it relates to your views on 'modesty' - to me, the concept of modesty is just a way of putting the onus on women to be responsible for male sexual behaviour. This applies across cultural and religious divides. As many before have asked - what constitutes male modesty?

ShreddedHoops Wed 16-Oct-13 20:56:04

And the irony of your piece being titled 'why I wear the niqab' when you have only one reason - that Muhammad's wives wore it, and they are an inspiration to you - is not lost on me.

Rowlers Wed 16-Oct-13 20:58:41

I must admit, I know nothing about Mohammed's wives - why are they an inspiration?

GoshAnneGorilla Wed 16-Oct-13 21:09:03

Mooncup - but that hasn't happened anywhere which doesn't enforce niqab. It may rise and fall in popularity, but it remains a minority practice in nearly every Muslim population on earth.

Shredded - For me, if I read someone saying that they were inspired by so and so and I was curious about why this so and so was so inspirational, I'd go and Google a bit more about them. Maybe that's just me. However, in short Muhammad's wives are referred to as "The Mother s of the Believers" and are held in extremely high regard for their scholarship and their works, hence being viewed as inspirational.

As for modesty, in Islam everyone is held accountable for their own actions and modestym treating others with respect and avoiding lewdness is prescribed for men and women, regardless of what anyone is wearing.

I would say that niqab goes beyond modesty, it is viewed as an ascetic practice and a way of being less worldly, much like a monks robes. Generally the women who wear it, like Sahar will refer to it very much as a spiritual practice and a way if drawing closer to God, if focusing oneself, rather then as something for those around them.

GoshAnneGorilla - you seem determined to put the worst possible interpretations on anything said on this thread - for example, stigmatising edam's statement, "it's a shame the blogger hasn't been back to discuss this'" as her clicking her fingers at the blogger and treating her like a servant is a straw man argument par excellence - and I doubt that many other people would have made the same interpretation.

dreamingofsun Wed 16-Oct-13 21:32:26

I'm interested in the viability of doing certain jobs - you say women should have the right to choose what they wear, but what about certain working environments where communications important, for example teaching, a news presenter, a model? Is it feasible to drive safely in one or operate on a patient? Who's rights should take presedence?

GoshAnneGorilla Wed 16-Oct-13 21:33:31

SDTG - because women who wear niqab are always having to "explain themselves". Whatever she says, people will pick at and be dissatisfied with, but they'll still want her to explain herself again and again, just for their own pleasure in (trying to) tear her down and dismiss her words and they'll think they are somehow fighting women's oppression by doing so.

It is not at all pleasant to have your body to be forever up for public discussion and this what these endless niqab/hijab debates do to Muslim women who cover. The sense of entitlement such discourse creates is huge, you aren't free to just be, you have to forever be explaining and justifying yourself and that sense of entitlement people think they have to your body can spill into violence and aggression.

I've heard that fewer women are wearing niqab in the UK, because the violence and abuse they faced was too great. That seems to get far less airtime.

maninaskirt Wed 16-Oct-13 21:46:46

Well, GoshAnne, she started it! She is the OP. We didn't ask her about her niqab.

Op your article is very interesting. I'm unsure I learnt much generally but did about you specifically. It has given me good for thought certainly.

I would question your ascertains however. Much like I presently question Miley Cyrus's. Different ends of the spectrum but oddly familiar. You both claim to be empowered and in control and unexploited however your actions do not necessarily back that up. I wonder if you're admitting everything you actually feel or if maybe it's fake even to you. (I'm putting this potentially badly) ultimately I feel you will only truly discover how you feel too late, after some time, when you are older maybe. And you may well regret it perhaps too late.

SweetSkull Wed 16-Oct-13 21:47:40

I get it that the woman may feel closer to God by covering themselves in black and avoiding the world out there...
Does it mean that muslim men won't ever get as closer to god as a niqab wearer woman?

GoshAnne - that doesn't make it OK for you to be so agressive towards people who are asking polite questions and trying to gain more understanding.

Lack of understanding will only ever lead to intolerance and fear, and that is a bad thing.

GoshAnneGorilla Wed 16-Oct-13 22:03:28

Polite questions? I've also seen a fair bit of sneering and snarkiness, but I don't see you policing the tone of those posters.

If you had addressed your aggressive posts only at sneering or sarcastic posts, I wouldn't be so peeved, but you didn't - you basically accused us all of being the "self-appointed saviours of mumsnet" - a phrase I am sure you used in order to be as offensive as possible.

SweetSkull Wed 16-Oct-13 22:08:39

Hope it wasn't me who came across as sneering and aggressive.

KaseyM Wed 16-Oct-13 22:11:32

FGS GoshAnne let people have a debate. That is the whole point of this forum and no one has been disrespectful to the OP, and it was indeed the OP who brought up the subject, so just chill will you!

People are allowed to disagree. And it's hardly surprising that they have questions, seeing as it's a custom that has been introduced very recently and is not something that most posters are brought up with.

ICameOnTheJitney Wed 16-Oct-13 22:12:33

If wearing the veil is an "act of worship" for what reason is it considered that? What I mean is why is covering your face seen as an act of worship. For what purpose?

ICameOnTheJitney Wed 16-Oct-13 22:14:16

GoshAnne I don't think she needs you to fly to her defence. She's articulate enough and keen enough to share that I am certain she can do that herself.

tethersend Wed 16-Oct-13 22:15:49

I think it's as dangerous to assume that any disagreement with the wearing of the niqab is borne of ignorance as it is to assume that all wearers have been forced to wear it against their will.

The wearer choosing to wear one does not signal the end of the debate.

lazysleepymummy Wed 16-Oct-13 22:16:06

I enjoyed your post - it feels genuine and it's thought-provoking to see this issue from your perspective.

However I have to say, you can make the choice of wearing the niqab, but you can't deny the social effects it has on other people. I for one, wouldn't feel very comfortable to talk to someone covering their face, because I can't see their facial expressions so I can't read them as well. It has nothing to do with religion or prejudice. It's the same reason I don't like talking to people wearing sunglasses because I can't see their eyes. It puts a barrier between niqab-wearers and other people. It's a fact, not a judgement.

I'm also ethnic minority, and while I retain my identity I also feel it's my responsibility to fit in the culture I live in, not the other way around. I chose to live in this particular community, the community didn't choose me to be here. If I don't like it I move. There is individuality and personal freedom, but there is also social responsibility to create a harmonious society.

It's all a bit of a balance isn't it? You can't just put the responsibility of fully unconditional acceptance and tolerance on others, you've also got to take some responsibility of making it difficult.

damppatchnot Wed 16-Oct-13 22:16:29

Jesus was not a prophet, he was Gods only son

ICameOnTheJitney Wed 16-Oct-13 22:17:00

tethers so well put.

KaseyM Wed 16-Oct-13 22:17:16

And YY to SDT. The whole idea that we are "self-appointed saviours" who see the niqab as something that muslim women are forced to wear, is SO last season...

We are well past that now. As a nation we've had this debate so many times that it is pretty much common knowledge that lots of muslim women actively chose to wear the niqab and that the situation is a lot more complicated than simple coercion.

ShreddedHoops Wed 16-Oct-13 22:20:50


A) I intentionally ignored your inflammatory posts as this is a topic which greatly interests me and I cba with the usual bickering and derailing...

B) I have previously read about Muhammad's wives - I am interested in why OP sees them as inspirational. I see them as mostly dutiful wives and mothers, with little else to commend them. One of his wives was six when they married, and nine years old when they first had sex sad and he was in his 50s. I knew all this but didn't previously post about it as I'm interested in OP's defence of why they are particularly inspirational. My knowledge of Christianity shows me that women in religion are prized when they are faithful, virginal, and fertile. OP is well educated and in a good career - why does she find these women inspirational to the extent of copying how they dressed?

ICameOnTheJitney Wed 16-Oct-13 22:20:59

Kasey yes but the question is WHY do they? It's not enough to say that it's because it's an act of worship. In our culture, the face is a major part of communication...and if women hide their faces, then that puts the kibosh on understanding their emotions etc....when we talk to them.

KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 16-Oct-13 22:22:42

Hello all

Thought it might be useful to clarify that we sometimes gather our guest blogs in advance; this means that the blogger in question isn't always aware of the precise date that the blog will appear on MN.

In this case, we let Sahar know this morning that her post was 'up', but haven't yet heard back from her - so she may not be aware that it's being discussed here.

Just to be clear: although we're always very happy if our contribs respond to comments on the thread, it's by no means compulsory. The cut and thrust of live debate isn't everyone's cup of tea - and we'd hate if that fact were to limit the voices heard on MN.

ICameOnTheJitney Wed 16-Oct-13 22:23:42

Oh. So this is just so she can read what WE think but not come on and contribute? hmm Might have been good to say that right away.

or operate on a patient?

grin dreamingofsun, Just stop and think a second about how people dress when they're operating on a patient

GoshAnne - It is not at all pleasant to have your body to be forever up for public discussion and this what these endless niqab/hijab debates do to Muslim women who cover. The sense of entitlement such discourse creates is huge, you aren't free to just be, you have to forever be explaining and justifying yourself and that sense of entitlement people think they have to your body can spill into violence and aggression.

I agree but I think this applies to all women, not just muslim women who cover.

Fugacity Wed 16-Oct-13 22:26:43

If you wear the niqab (or do anything that sets you apart as a matter of choice), then you have to also accept that you will be persecuted for your faith.

Holiness is nearly always followed by persecution.

What you must never do is complain about this, or exhibit any kind of pain.

If you can't hack the persecution, then don't wear the niqab.

SweetSkull Wed 16-Oct-13 22:27:49

damppatchnot Jesus is regarded as God's only son in Christianity, but as a prophet in Islam.

lazysleepymummy Wed 16-Oct-13 22:28:36

well said fugacity, exactly what I tried to say but much more succinct

ShreddedHoops Wed 16-Oct-13 22:29:09

Replace 'out there fashion choices' with 'holiness' and 'niqab' and I'll agree with you there grin

damppatchnot Wed 16-Oct-13 22:30:36

Jesus is gods son. It is what it is regardless how people view it.

ShreddedHoops Wed 16-Oct-13 22:32:37

But look - wasn't this blog meant to be about WHY she wears it?

Why does she? If the reason is the thing, if the 'why' is the relevant factor here, why aren't we discussing that?

I and many of you walk past women wearing niqab and feel sad for them, feel distant from them, not particularly because we want to stop them expressing how they want to dress, but because we don't understand why they do it . If it's because of Muhammad's wives, if it's because it's modest, what is the reason?

And the reasons the OP gives are frankly rubbish. I'd prefer 'if I'm having a rubbish hair day I can hide' to be honest.

GoshAnneGorilla Wed 16-Oct-13 22:34:02

Shredded hoops - sorry but if all you've read about Muhammad's wives is that they were wives and mothers then you've proved that you've read very little indeed.

Fugacity - that is nasty victim blaming.

Plenty - Muslim women also have the burden of being "othered" in a racialised sense, too. Hence the references to "our" culture that always pop up, as Muslims are painted as not truly British.

damppatchnot Wed 16-Oct-13 22:34:56

And i have muslim friends and they dont wear it as they say the Karan doesnt tell them too

SweetSkull Wed 16-Oct-13 22:36:35


You can't force your beliefs onto everybody else.
I am a Christian by the way.

I can appreciate how dressing for invisibility could turn you inwards towards contemplation (or depression) but ... another poster talked about seeing women in niqab with very heavy eye make-up and I've seen that too, so I think for at least some women, there is something else going on. I'd like to understand that without this thread becoming a bunfight.

ShreddedHoops Wed 16-Oct-13 22:39:14


Please tell me about them then, and explain why they are so inspirational that many Muslim women copy their dress.

fromparistoberlin Wed 16-Oct-13 22:39:41

"It hinders integration and it is one of the reasons why many non-Muslims in the UK are suspicious about Islam

erm speak for youself there lady!

interesting post, thanks

agree, people should be free to dress as they like. this provided a very interesting perspective

whilst i have some ambivilance about the veil, i HATE reading that some countries want to ban it.WTF

sonlypuppyfat Wed 16-Oct-13 22:41:28

I was amazed at the sight of a woman trying to eat her breakfast in a hotel I was staying at in London, lifting her veil to eat a cracker.

edam Wed 16-Oct-13 22:47:00

YY, fromparis, I may dislike the veil but I'd be against any plan to ban it. Just as I'm against the sort of misogynist regimes that force women to wear it.

Venushasrisen Wed 16-Oct-13 22:48:57

Did you say Mohammed's wives? confused confused

Must admit I didn't get to the end of the list, so perhaps missed the relative parts!

KaseyM Wed 16-Oct-13 22:51:33

Jitney, I agree. I do think the question of the niqab is a different kettle of fish to other religious forms of dress because of the communication issues involved in not being able to see someone's face.

This is going to sound stupid, but I will ask it anyway. In places were most women wear the niqab and you're out and about, standing in queue with random strangers, do you just strike up conversation? How do you know if others are interested in talking to you?

I suppose it's just that I am so used to searching a person's face to see what they want that it would be take a lot of guts for me to strike up a friendly convo with someone in niqab. Should I just do it anyway?

angeltulips Wed 16-Oct-13 22:53:01

The OP could swathe herself in tinfoil and walk down the high st & I wouldn't mind - it's just clothing. I don't like it when women are forced to wear it, but that's clearly not the case here. And as a feminist I am not overly impressed by islam'a emphasis on the "equal but separate" roles for men and women, but for me that's a whole other debate.

But, like others, I am intrigued as to WHY she wears it, and I don't think her blog really even touches on it. I suspect that ultimately it is a matter of faith and therefore not capable of reasoning; there's nothing wrong with that at all, but if that's the case I don't think she should pretend there's anything rational about it.

KaseyM Wed 16-Oct-13 22:54:27

I thought Fatima, Mohammed's daughter was quite a feminist, no?

maninaskirt Wed 16-Oct-13 23:07:26

Go on, back that up with a link to something.

damppatchnot Wed 16-Oct-13 23:11:00

Its not my belief its the truth. Im a Catholic.

peacefuloptimist Wed 16-Oct-13 23:15:55

SDTG I think you should try to see things from another perspective. I totally understand GoshAnne's reaction. As muslim women we are constantly exposed to these caricatures of what we are really like and how we should feel, often created and bandied about by people who have no real concern for the welfare of Muslim women nor any understanding of what their lives are really like. So we are often presented as being these oppressed, down-trodden women who are under the thumb of their men folk and who need to be liberated from their oppressive religion. For me that is deeply insulting and patronising. Its as if your saying yes we believe that men can truly be followers of Islam but you do not take the faith of muslim women seriously. As if the only reason we are following our religion is because we are forced. It is very disheartening to have people constantly talking over you, talking down to you, talking about you but not to you. It can make you very angry and defensive. I understand GoshAnne's reactions because I feel that pressure of being constantly under attack and besieged by people from both sides I would say who are using muslim women to make a point and win an argument that they are not really involved in. I hope that makes sense.

Having said that there are real issues in the muslim community and in muslim countries to do with inequality of women that need to be dealt with. Niqab and hijab though very emotive for western women are not the priority of muslim women. Niqab and hijab for me are religious symbols not symbols of inequality. In the same way a turban, a nun's habit or a skull cap are religious symbols. Though I do not wear niqab I know many people who do wear niqab and though they are all different what they do share is that they are deeply religious.

In Islam we have certain acts of worship that we are required to do as a minimum. For example all muslims are expected to pray 5 times a day and to fast in the month of Ramadhan (though of course not all muslims do this). This is the minimum expectation of praying and fasting expected of all muslims however those who want to can do more. Some people wake up in the night to pray as they feel they can concentrate better at that time. Other muslims will fast twice weekly (not as part of the 5:2 diet) as they feel this helps them spiritually. What I am getting at here is that there are minimum requirements with regards to modesty of men and women in Islam. For me the minimum is that you wear the hijab, you do not wear clothing that is see-through or clings to your shape and that no part of your body shows except your face and hands. Other people may have different standards of what they consider modesty in Islam. That is fine as there is room for flexibility. Now just like some people like to pray more then what is required or fast more then what is required as they feel this helps them spiritually, some women like to wear niqab because they feel that it helps them grow spiritually. It has nothing to do with helping men keep their desires in check that is their responsibility and the Quran makes that clear. Before the Quran mentions anything about women dressing modestly it instructs men:

"Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Verily God is aware of what they do." Holy Quran, Chapter 24, verse 30-31

Most muslim scholars have interpreted that the reason why God mentions men first is that they are responsible for guarding their own modesty. Even if a woman is standing naked in front of them they should lower their gaze and they should control their own lusts. After this the Quran mentions women.

Now for those saying why are muslim men and women not expected to cover up to the same extent, well that one can be fired right back at you. Do men and women dress the same in this society? No. I remember an incident earlier in the year when I went in to town and saw a group of 4 preteens. Two males and two females. Though it was quite cold (I think it was February or March) the two young girls were wearing denim shorts with no tights or leggings and skimpy tops. The boys on the other hand were wearing baggy jeans, jumpers and jackets. Why is it that men in this society can dress comfortably and appropriately for the weather whilst women are under this pressure to always appear sexually attractive.

In Muslim countries you will see that actually men and women dress in a very similar manner. In the Middle East both men and women wear long flowing robes. In Pakistan both men and women wear shalwar kameez (Im sure the mens one is not called that though) though women wear more colourful and attractive ones whilst the men's ones tend to be quite bland. Also the beard is sort of the equivalent of the niqab. (Think about it do you find a man with a huge beard attractive?) In fact some people would interpret the beard to be obligatory for men to have but would not consider the niqab to be obligatory.

The Prophet's wives are examples to Muslim women because of their piety and high spiritual status. They were not submissive. One of the Prophet Muhammed's wives lead an army. They challenged him in his lifetime as well. They were intelligent, knowledgeable about the religion, charitable, god-conscious, fought for justice, loyal and pious. There are others Im sure who can elaborate further or I can come back and right more about them (but maybe tommorow morning).

SweetSkull Wed 16-Oct-13 23:17:13

whatever damppatchnot

I personally come at this debate from the "other side". I'm a Reform Jew. In more traditional Jewish groups, both men and women dress modestly and cover their heads. For some reason, Reform Judaism, while promoting equality of the genders in all other ways, decided in their wisdom that women don't need to cover their heads any more. But men do. I'm not sure whether to interpret this as "men are more holy so need that extra symbol of their holiness" or "women are more holy so they don't need that extra symbol of their holiness".

Either way, it's divisive crap.

So I cover my head and wear a prayer shawl in synagogue. If men have to, I do too, in my mind. Equality needs to go both ways.

I will argue against gender inequality wherever I see it, and whichever gender is being discriminated against. And whether it be in a religious or secular setting. If men wore the niqab too, I would have no issue with it. But I, personally, can't just accept this absolute dichotomy of how men and women are expected to dress/act.

peacefuloptimist Wed 16-Oct-13 23:22:49

What is wrong with me? *write. I really need to get some sleep!

GoshAnneGorilla Wed 16-Oct-13 23:25:22

I wouldn't say there's an "absolute dichotomy" when you can wear niqab and still be a scientist and work in the community, unless those two activities are really unmanly suddenly.

Cross-posts with peacefuloptimist. Thanks for your post, it's probably the most sane and rational post on this thread so far.

And I'm pleased to hear that in the Middle East men and women dress to similar levels of modestly. And I've certainly seem Muslim families where the men and women do both stick to more traditional styles of dress and both seem to be expressing their following of Islam equally. I can also understand your point about beards.

Why do you think there remain so many families where the boys/men are dressed completely comfortably and casually in Western clothing, with clean-shaved faces, where the women trail behind them covered from head to foot in the traditional manner? Is that down to difference in personal choice between the men and women in those particular families?

SilverSixpence Wed 16-Oct-13 23:27:08

Brilliant post peacefuloptimist you said everything I think but in a far more articulate way!

GoshAnne, I'm talking purely about clothing, not career choices.

tethersend Wed 16-Oct-13 23:29:59

"Why is it that men in this society can dress comfortably and appropriately for the weather whilst women are under this pressure to always appear sexually attractive."

Why indeed.

The fact that women choose to wear hotpants in winter does not mean that we shouldn't debate the reasons they are doing so and question their decision and the societal constructs which influence it. It also does not mean that we should ban hotpants.

I see the niqab in a similar way.

peacefuloptimist Wed 16-Oct-13 23:30:40

AnnieLobeseder you say that equality needs to go both way and that you dont accept there should be a dichotomy of how men and women dress but does that mean women should dress like men or that men should dress like women. So for example when going swimming should women just wear bottoms and nothing on their top half like men? Should men be wearing short skirts and heels to show that they are equal or should women not be wearing them and instead wearing baggy trousers and ugly shirts? What Im trying to say is that why is it that people are able to accept these other differences in the way women and men dress but with niqab the view expressed repeatedly here is that if women wear it men should too. On a side note there are some muslim men who cover their faces (search tuareg).

SweetSkull Wed 16-Oct-13 23:31:59

And all the young girls using hijab (yes, I know it isn't a hijab discussion), doing it by their own choice?
Because there was one at my daughter's nursery class wearing it.
Is a 3 years old girl mature enough to chose such a strong religious symbol?

peacefuloptimist Wed 16-Oct-13 23:41:55

Why do you think there remain so many families where the boys/men are dressed completely comfortably and casually in Western clothing, with clean-shaved faces, where the women trail behind them covered from head to foot in the traditional manner? Is that down to difference in personal choice between the men and women in those particular families?

I think a lot of times in these cases its because the women are covering up for cultural rather then religious reasons. For example some women from some parts of the world (e.g. Saudi Arabia) may feel pressured to wear a niqab because everyone else is doing it rather then choosing to wear it for spiritual reasons.

peacefuloptimist - I would argue that women should be allowed to go topless at the pool, and I'd prefer it if a lot of men would cover their chests!! grin.

I do hear what you're saying, and this problem is by no means unique to Islam. I'd be much happier if Western teenage girls didn't feel pressured to wear skimpy clothing in winter (or summer for that matter) while boys wear Ts and jeans, if men could wear dresses without anyone so much as raising an eyebrow. I don't think there should be "men's" and "women's" *anything. Just people making their own choices and everyone else leaving them to it.

I realise this may seem like a contradiction, saying that I oppose the niqab but think people should be free to wear what they like. But it's not the niqab itself I disagree with, it's that only women wear it. Why isn't it more spiritual for men to remove themselves visually from society in the way it is for women? It comes back to the basic reason that men don't wear skirts but women wear trousers - because by doing something "womanly", men are making less of themselves, because society and religion tell us that women are inherently lesser than men.

peacefuloptimist Wed 16-Oct-13 23:50:58

However that peer pressure can influence women's choices in this society too. Why do so many women choose to wear make up and straighten their hair? Because they look better that way. Okay but why would you feel the need to always look that good. I had a friend who worked in a hospital on drug trials and she use to find it hilarious that the women who were undergoing the trials (normally students who were strapped for cash) would wake up a good hour or two before the men to do their hair and make up and 'get ready' (for what I dont know) whilst the men would spend maybe a half hour if that on their appearance and general grooming when they woke up, which meant they got to stay asleep longer.

SweetSkull Wed 16-Oct-13 23:52:26

For example some women from some parts of the world (e.g. Saudi Arabia) may feel pressured to wear a niqab because everyone else is doing it rather then choosing to wear it for spiritual reasons

So how do we know amongst all these women out there, who is wearing it by own choice or not?

Also the teenagers in skimpy clothing DO wear some other clothes at some points. Hot pants aren't their uniform, iykwim.

peacefuloptimist - again, I find that situation just as sad as women who feel they have to conform by covering up. Any situation where women are altering their appearance by several orders of magnitude more than men, just in order to be accepted, to be "normal", is so, so wrong.

ShreddedHoops Thu 17-Oct-13 00:03:30

Thank you for posting peacefuloptimist thanks

I think it's more than a clothing choice though. Covering your face, and therefore any facial expression, is a huge opt-out from society. I make the (possibly wrong) assumption that despite OP having a successful career, the vast majority of niqab wearers will have little interaction outwith their immediate family? Am I wrong? At pretty much any occasion or situation I can imagine, I would find it intensely difficult to converse freely with a woman wearing niqab because I couldn't read all the facial expressions and cues which are so much a part of language. It's a physical and emotional barrier in a way that any fashion choice like hot pants, just isn't. The only parallel with hot pants is the freedom of choice thing, which I think is a massive red herring. You can't expect to wear niqab and be spoken to in the same way as a non-niqab wearer, male or female. It's an entirely different experience and an awkward and difficult one, in my own experience. And that makes me sad for the woman, because she is living less of an existence than she otherwise would be. She's hiding her face and her emotions.

ShreddedHoops Thu 17-Oct-13 00:05:26

I'm sorry if I've been in any way offensive in the way I've expressed myself, btw.

maninaskirt Thu 17-Oct-13 01:02:38

Having read the article, I am still in the dark about why the OP wear the niqab. I've tried looking for some solid reasoning, but there is none.

Islam's 3 simple messages: freedom from worshipping other gods (aka compulsion to worship Islam's god); following the prophets; and servitude to all of humanity. No veils there.

Environmentalism - no veils there - and modesty - lots of people have pointed out that men's modesty does not involve veils.

Muhammad's wives are your role models? Given that you know that most of your readers know nothing about them, you should have provided a link to some information about them. Someone else has kindly done that for you, so maybe you could tell us which bit of their lives or character inspire you? They were all doormats by modern standards - no research scientists there, just dutiful and downtrodden wives. He treated them abominably. A special mention to wife no 2, who married him when he was unpopular and broke, but he later dumped her when she was old and plain.
No, hang on, she persuaded him not to divorce her and instead let her stay in his house in exchange for him agreeing not to shag her any more. WTF? I am struggling to work out who got the better end of that deal. And little no 3, who was only 6. Bless! Do you have a daughter, and do you intend to marry her off when she is 6? Hmm, I thought not.

"The niqab is a spiritual journey not many will take or understand." Or explain with any degree of coherence, it would seem. "It brings [the wearer] closer to God." How?

In what way does the niqab liberate you, other than by saving you from painting your face every morning?

How does it dignify you? Granted, as you choose to wear it, it does not strip you of your dignity, but how can you say it give you more dignity than the unveiled person? And what about the millions of women who are forced to wear the veil? The last thing it does is dignify them; it is a potent symbol of their oppression.

It gives you a sense of strength and it empowers you? How, other than any feeling derived from having defied the wishes of your family?

Did you know that 64% of statistics are made up? That includes your 0.001% figure, since you say none are available. It equates to about 20 people, so I'd say it is way off the mark. I'd have expected a scientist to be a little better at maths.

Society in general does not condition women to take the veil, but particular families may well influence their own women to do so.

Have you the slightest bit of evidence that most women who wear the niqab do so through free personal choice?

UK public freedoms allow you to wear what you want. Well aren't you lucky to be one of the small minority of Muslim women who live in non-Muslim countries?

In Court, of course there should be a common approach. How else are we to achieve justice? And why should a woman's irrational beliefs or minority social rules trump the defendant's right to a fair trial?

And finally, as many others have commented already, the face-veiled Muslim woman is a problem, in normal social interactions. Words are only a small part of communication. Your veil cuts off facial expressions and most body language. It makes things difficult for the people you speak to.

Wear what you want, it's your choice. But don't expect anyone who has not been drenched in your medieval and deeply mysogynistic culture to like it or to accept your glaring non-sequiturs.

Venushasrisen Thu 17-Oct-13 04:44:11

In the Middle East men don't cover their faces.

i've only read two pages of comments so apologies if this has already been said.

my concern is that the more women wear it the more women will feel under pressure to wear it. if it becomes a symbol of being a 'true' or 'better' or 'purer' muslim woman then of course it turns into a pressure on other women. it also then becomes a status symbol for men that 'his' wife wears it and yours doesn't which spreads the pressure in another direction.

no choice exists in a vacuum.

rootypig Thu 17-Oct-13 06:57:46

great post manina

peacefuloptimist Thu 17-Oct-13 07:22:58

peacefuloptimist - again, I find that situation just as sad as women who feel they have to conform by covering up. Any situation where women are altering their appearance by several orders of magnitude more than men, just in order to be accepted, to be "normal", is so, so wrong.

I respect your views Anne. I think unlike many you are very consistent in what you are saying. I do agree with you that its not right but unfortunately this is the situation in most parts of the world. Women are always made to feel that they need to do that little bit extra to be attractive to men. I think many stand to profit from making women feel insecure about the way they look and by holding up standards or models of beauty that very few women can actually fit in to naturally.

So how do we know amongst all these women out there, who is wearing it by own choice or not?

So the solution to that is to take away the choice from the women who are telling you they are wearing it out of their own choice? If you are concerned about women not having their personal choice taken away that should apply both ways right? If they want to wear it they should be able to and if they dont want to wear it they shouldnt have too. For my example I used Saudi Arabia, a country in which niqab is to a certain extent enforced though Im not sure if its enshrined in law or whether its just societal pressure. However we are talking about the UK. Dont confuse the issue. Actually I have been to Saudi and when I was there I didnt wear niqab. No harm came to me. However the rules are lax in the two holy cities (Makkah and Medina) because muslims visiting it come from all over the world so they can not enforce their dress codes as there are too many violations grin for them to cope with. Even in the Muslim world only a minority of women wear niqab.

In the Middle East men don't cover their faces.

They cover them with beards. I did explain the similarity earlier. By the way in the Middle East many women dont cover their faces either. We are talking about a worldwide minority except for one country where it is enforced.

she is living less of an existence than she otherwise would be.

This doesnt offend me but it annoys me. Who are you to tell her that her existence is less then what it should be? She is living the existence she has chosen for herself. Do you think a nun, or a buddhist monk live less of an existence? Why is it only muslim women whose religious garb has been deemed oppressive? The parallel between hotpants and niqab is more then just choice. Why arent men in this society expected to wear hotpants like women. Why arent men wearing clothing that is just as revealing as women? Why is it in the summer when I go out in a hijab and dress people ask me arent you hot when the man covering an equal amount of skin to me (with the exception of the headscarf) is not asked the same question? Is it because there is some unspoken rule that when the sun comes out women's clothes should come off. You struggle to communicate with niqabis because you are not used to it. I have absolutely no trouble communicating with them, probably because I have more interaction with them. As for needing to see read facial expressions and cues, well how do people are blind cope, if its such an essential part of communication?

I hope I am not being offensive or rude ShreddedHoops but Im trying to get across to you how patronising it is to Muslim women to be told how they should be feeling. Right now its about niqab but I have seen these same sorts of discussion being played out about hijab and as a hijabi you can see my face and I can interact with you in every way except my hair is covered. However the argument still follows along the same lines. I can understand and accept that niqab makes you feel a certain way but it doesnt actually cause you any harm. I feel intimidated by people with lots of tattoos and piercings but at least I can admit to myself that my discomfort is irrational. I wouldnt dream of taking away their choice just because I think they look a bit scary and you know what its probably because like you I dont have much interaction with them either.

peacefuloptimist Thu 17-Oct-13 07:23:57

Sorry I meant Annie

GoshAnneGorilla Thu 17-Oct-13 09:27:58

Maninaskirt - Where to start?

Firstly, of Muhammed's wives, the first was a business woman who was extremely wealthy and powerful. Several were very well respected scholars of Islam, particularly Aisha who provides of the hadith Muslims use. She also lead an army in battle - does that sound like a doormat to you? Her age at the time of marriage is disputed, but her age would certainly be in line for what was normal practice at the time, as was the case in much of the world for many centuries.

No one here is defending women being forced to cover. But there are many choices we make, that others do not get to make. Upthread I mention marriage. Does the fact that some women are forced into marriage make marriage intrinsically wrong? No.

The rest of your comment is deeply unpleasant. I wouldn't want to interact with you, I'm sure there aren't many niqab wearing women who would feel that they were missing out on much either.

aciddrops Thu 17-Oct-13 09:33:15

I found your blog interesting but I still do not think that wearing the niqab can ever be a good thing for all the reasons that people above have said.

Also, you say These people hope to make the face-veiled Muslim women emblematic of a sinister 'Other', a ‘problem’ impossible to solve or accept.

Do you not think that dressing in black from head to toe with only a slit for eyes does not look sinister? If you are going to present a sinister look to the rest of society, then please don't expect people to engage with it.

<applauds Maninaskirt>

Well bloody said.

GoshAnneGorilla Thu 17-Oct-13 09:39:46

Aciddrops lots of people find excessive tattoos and facial piercings "sinister", but no one is saying they should be shunned by society.

Or is that different because people perceived as "British" do that?

aciddrops Thu 17-Oct-13 09:41:38

Peaceful optimist - As for needing to see read facial expressions and cues, well how do people are blind cope, if its such an essential part of communication? do people without legs cope if it is such an essential part of getting around?

I would suggest that blind people have a disability and certainly do have a problem with not being able to see.

aciddrops Thu 17-Oct-13 09:44:14

Gosh I think that people with loads of tattoos and piercings probably are discriminated against. I certainly wouldn't employ someone like that as it would give a very bad image to my business. If they choose to look like that they they have chosen to be discriminated against. Their choice.
The same goes for someone who chooses to wear a niqab.

MorrisZapp Thu 17-Oct-13 09:51:41

Totally agree with maninaskirt, and the majority on this thread.

The hot pants argument is laughable. I've never worn hot pants in my life. Most women do not wear hot pants. Most job descriptions would preclude their wear.

Western women can wear what suits them, the weather, and the occasion they are dressing for. So, mostly not hot pants (or similar) then.

MorrisZapp Thu 17-Oct-13 09:54:13

Also feel the the blog is mostly smoke and mirrors.

Why does the writer wear the niqab? We're none the wiser really are we. She just presents the arguments against banning it. I'm not in favour of banning it anyway.

ICameOnTheJitney Thu 17-Oct-13 09:56:16

That's right Morris she's had her say and not come on to answer any questions. What was the point?

peacefuloptimist Thu 17-Oct-13 10:19:07

Western women can wear what suits them

If you can wear what you want shouldn't muslim women and other women around the world be able to wear what they want even if you dont agree with it. Dont niqabi women have the right to wear what suits them without being branded as sinister, oppressed, unwilling to engage with society? Its clothes for goodness sake.

I did an interesting experiment this summer. Whenever I went out I looked out for groups of men and women and noted what they wearing. 9 times out of 10 when you looked at women you saw skin and when you looked at men you saw clothes. You have such discrepancies in your own culture with regards to how men and women dress. Why should we look to you as some sort of example of enlightenment? Putting pressure on women to constantly look attractive is extremely damaging to their self esteem. Dont believe me look at the statistics.

Only 3% of women in the UK are totally happy with their body.

The survey of 5,000 women, commissioned by REAL magazine, found that 91% of women were unhappy with their hips and thighs, 77% were dissatisfied with their waist and 78% said they had cellulite.

Three-quarters of British women were unhappy with their shape, 71% with their weight and six out of 10 said their body image made them feel depressed.

Some 65% of those surveyed felt their life would improve considerably if they were happy with their body.

But 84% of those who were of normal weight wished they were slimmer, by an average of nine pounds.

Hijab and niqab protects muslim women to a certain extent from this because we have already backed out of this contest. We are not interested in looking attractive to men we do not give a damn about. Dressing modestly shields you from that judgement.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 17-Oct-13 10:19:55

Why don't men wear the niqab?

That's all, really.

nicename Thu 17-Oct-13 10:20:32

Women in Iran don't tend to cover their faces. Culturally it is alien to them.

It is lovely to go to the consulate these days and see women wearing what they wish not what they have been told they must.

GoshAnneGorilla Thu 17-Oct-13 10:26:06

Considering comments like Fugacity's which says that if women wear niqab, they shouldn't complain if they are physically attacked or assaulted, Sahar may not feel this is a safe space for her.

Would you like to participate on an internet forum where people thought it was your fault if you were physically attacked? And that if you experienced such an attack, you had no right to redress?

Fantastic article, passmetheprozac. Especially this:

Many brave women in the Middle East and Asia have died for the much more important right not to cover their faces, and I have little patience with women in this country who make a mockery of that struggle by trying to pretend they're the ones suffering oppression.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 17-Oct-13 10:33:05

I was disappointed in that blog tbh. I was hoping an intelligent woman would be able to make an argument that made sense. The only reason she's given is that she's emulating the prophet's wives. And saying that we all assume women wearing the niqab are uneducated, oppressed and forced into it? I don't assume any such thing. It's well known that younger more educated women are adopting the niqab. I don't understand why though, and the blog hasn't helped at all.

Anyway, I would never support a law which banned the niqab. I fully support people's right to wear whatever they want. I happen to find it ridiculous and depressing though.

Ooh, and this from someone whose name I've just forgotten. blush

You talk eloquently for paragraphs around how people feel about niqabs - however the only, sole, single reason you give for wearing one is that Muhammad's wives wore them. Why is that a reason? Why are they 'an inspiration' to you? As an independent woman gifted with intelligence and ability to use it, why are Muhammad's wives so inspirational to you?

I, like many other posters, struggle with the idea of 'modesty' - what does that actually mean? I must cover certain (all?) parts of my body to avoid being lusted after by men? Why is that then seen as me being a good woman? I don't understand. My behaviour is enough to judge whether I am a good woman or not, surely. A 'good woman' to you may be one who covers her body, but you have failed in your OP to explain why.

Women (and men) have argued for years that it makes no difference what a woman is wearing, how culpable she is if raped or sexually attacked. I can walk out of my house right now, at 9pm in the dark, and walk across town in my underwear if I so choose. If a man attacks me, it is his crime and his moral failing, not mine. Some sections of society would make it 'my fault' but legally, I would be entirely justified. I'd be interested in your views on this and how it relates to your views on 'modesty' - to me, the concept of modesty is just a way of putting the onus on women to be responsible for male sexual behaviour. This applies across cultural and religious divides. As many before have asked - what constitutes male modesty?

aciddrops Thu 17-Oct-13 10:40:55

If you can wear what you want shouldn't muslim women and other women around the world be able to wear what they want even if you dont agree with it. Dont niqabi women have the right to wear what suits them without being branded as sinister, oppressed, unwilling to engage with society? Its clothes for goodness sake.

How do you brand a punk, a goth, a hippy, someone dressed in track suit bottoms, or a woman in hot pants and a skimpy top? All those people are presenting an image and expect some sort of reaction to it even if it is only a subtle one. What you choose to wear will influence people's perceptions of you. Clothes are very much about image. The niqab presents another image.

SweetSkull Thu 17-Oct-13 10:47:20

I often see niqab wearers buying sexy lingerie at primark (I know that the primark info isn't relevant btw)
So I think they do care about being attractive to man, yes. But only her husbands.
You may argue that they have the right to do so.

But so do Western women when they want to show skin.

I understand that there are many commercial pressure for women to feel they need to improve their looks etc, but not every women get trapped in it. I for example don't give a shit about what my husband or other people think about my body or dress sense. The only person I strive to please on this subject is myself and I'm very happy with my image.
I must admit I wasn't like this when younger but the key is that once I changed my mindset, there is no religious or cultural pressure that will make me doubt my choices, just for what I look in the outside.

By the way, I love summer, I wear hot pants and bikini when I feel like and sometimes I'm totally covered a part from my face, even though I have huge sunglasses. And I still feel my relationship with God is the same regardless.

sorry if I'm not making much sense

GoshAnneGorilla Thu 17-Oct-13 10:50:36

Aciddrops - I might not like what someone is wearing/how they've chosen to present themselves, but I don't think that gives me the right to treat them in a negative way.

With regards to employment, niqab wearers don't seek public facing work roles. Considering a niqab wearer can barely fart in the UK without it being national news, I can only think of one case where a niwab wearer has been dismissed from their role (it was the teaching assitant case and it was widely agreed that the dismissal was correct as she had not worn niqab at interview), so it would appear to not be a huge issue.

UptheChimney Thu 17-Oct-13 11:01:07

Thanks for this personal point of view. It's thought through and obviously important for you.

But I find the religious requirement for WOMEN only to cover their faces to be offensive. Not the women who do it, but the religious principle. It is fundamentally misogynist, as are other religious strictures in other religions which focus on the "dangers" of the female body, and femininity. Women's rights are human rights, and religious strictures which tell me that my body is a risk, a danger, and needs to be treated in certain ways -- covered, not permitted in certain places, and so on -- are treating me as less than human.

The norms of any society are the sum of its collective values, so rather than talking about the role of social conditioning in relation to face-veiled women, let’s talk about those norms. Public freedom is a cherished value in the UK, and is part of the fabric of our society.

Yes, let's talk about a society's collective values.

In the UK, we live in a liberal democracy. Citizens are free to live as they wish, as long as they don't harm others. Those freedoms carry with them reciprocal responsibilities: to act with openness and frankness in our dealings with other citizens.

The niqab cuts across the citizen's responsibility to act with openness and frankness in their interactions with other citizens. To that extent, I find such a requirement to be unBritish.

And many Muslims will tell you it is NOT a religious requirement, but a cultural one, and as oppressive to other observant Muslims, as it is offensive to an open society generally. See Yasmin Alibhai Brown's writings on this.

aciddrops Thu 17-Oct-13 11:19:41

I might not like what someone is wearing/how they've chosen to present themselves, but I don't think that gives me the right to treat them in a negative way

So do you think that a girl in hot pants, a skimpy top and high heels should be let into a mosque?

As I said in my first post, my main worry about the niqab is that it is a barrier to communication. As I do not know any muslim women as friends, I do not ever visit anyone who wears the niqab in their home, nor does anyone wearing the niqab visit me in my home. Therefore the only time I will ever encounter and interact with a woman who choses to wear the niqab is in public, when she will be wearing the niqab - and I genuinely find this a barrier to communication.

If I can't see your face, it is much, much harder for me to communicate with you - I can't see that you are smiling at me, when, for me, a smile is often how a conversation starts. On other occasions, it is a different facial expression that provokes a comment from me - if someone looks tired or upset, I might offer a supportive comment, for example. Or if they look worried, I might ask if I can help. None of that is possible if I cannot see someone's facial expressions, and so the conversations don't start.

That might sound very trivial - so I don't have passing conversations in Tesco or the town centre with women wearing the niqab - why is that a big deal? Well, for me, conversations are little connections made with another person, and every connection made between communities strengthens understanding and tolerance - and when these little interpersonal connections aren't being made, that tolerance and understanding grows a lot more slowly, if it grows at all - and I believe we need much more communication, tolerance and understanding between the muslim and non-muslim communities - because otherwise it is far too easy for lies and misunderstandings to flourish and cause tension and conflict.

Maybe it is my problem, but when I see someone wearing a niqab, I feel that they are saying they don't want to have anything to do with me, they have nothing to gain from a conversation or a relationship with me, and they only want to interact with members of their own community - and that is not a good impression to give, imo.

lilmamma Thu 17-Oct-13 11:43:01

I personally think they are scary, and when there are a group of women with them on, I tend to look the other way, as you cant see their face or expression and they look threatening, the same way if a man was walking around in a full face balaclava, if he approached you, would you not feel uncomfy or a bit threatened ? It is the womens choice to wear them, not a religious must do..I think they enjoy the attention it brings them, being a bit of a rebel .

GoshAnneGorilla Thu 17-Oct-13 11:45:58

Acid drops it wouldn't bother me, but again institutional dress codes are a different matter to general perceptions and treatment.

There are some people on this thread arguing that it is ok to treat niqab wearers with hostility. I find that to be extremely worrying.

I think people should be clear as to exactly how far their "dislike" or "distaste" for niqab should be allowed to go.

I didn't read anything about treating niqab wearers with hostility? There have been several posts reiterating the fact that the niqab is a very physical barrier to communication, and therefore to understanding, but that is not hostility.

Thank you to whomever posted the link about the prophets wives and sexual slaves/concubines. Very ironic for the founder of a religion that speaks so much about "modesty".

ChildrensStoriesNet Thu 17-Oct-13 12:01:23

Some say the "niqab" discriminates against the disabled (hard of hearing) because lip reading and expression are very important to such people.

It seems they have a valid point.

peacefuloptimist Thu 17-Oct-13 12:07:34

I really despair of some of the posters on here.

I think they enjoy the attention it brings them, being a bit of a rebel.

I know a woman who left the UK because of the attention it brought her. People use to spit at her on the street when she was walking her children to school, pushing her baby in the pram. Some niqabis have been physically assaulted. Is that the kind of attention that you think they want.

So do you think that a girl in hot pants, a skimpy top and high heels should be let into a mosque?

What has that got to do with anything. I worked in a secondary school that sent girls home on non-uniform day because they were wearing hot pants. Is that treating them in a negative way or is that simply acknowledging that hotpants are not an appropriate attire to wear to an institution where you are supposed to be learning. By the way its not just students. A teacher in another school I worked in was taken aside and told not to wear low cut tops as she was distracting the male students. There is a dress code when you walk in to a school and there is a dress code when you go to a mosque. If you dont like it dont go.

How do you brand a punk, a goth, a hippy, someone dressed in track suit bottoms, or a woman in hot pants and a skimpy top? What you choose to wear will influence people's perceptions of you. Clothes are very much about image. The niqab presents another image.

Why should I brand them as anything? What right have I got to brand anyone as anything? A punk, a goth, a hippy, a track suit bottom wearer (?) are all human beings. Some are bad, some are good. Clothes dont tell you what the person is like. Some people may dress in a way that you like but they may be absolutely horrible human beings. You need to get past this obsession with image. That's another advantage of hijab and niqab. It stops you obsessing about your image. Clothes are chosen on the basis of modesty and practicality not based on what will people think of me. People in all societies want to look nice and dress nicely but I think the amount of meaning invested in to clothing by the Western culture and others influenced by it is insane. Thats why you get women crying about having to leave the house without make up on or spending the bulk of their salary on clothes. Image is not everything.

aciddrops Thu 17-Oct-13 12:11:46

But Gosh the thing is that I doubt that a scantily clad woman would be allowed into a Mosque. She would not be welcome in many Catholic churches abroad either. I'm not suggesting that she should be allowed into these places dressed like that, all I am trying to say is that there are dress codes for different situations. I think that the niqab is the wrong way to dress for many situations, including appearing in public.
The problem I have with it is that when I see a covered woman, I am not on an equal footing with that woman because she can see my face and I cannot see hers. I am identifying myself but she is not identifying herself. She can see my facial expressions but I cannot see hers. Identification and communication are key things in most cultures. If I could not interact with that person on an equal level then I wouldn't particularly want to interact at all. Is that hostility and discrimination?

peacefuloptimist Thu 17-Oct-13 12:20:18

Worldgonecrazy I also read that link. Its absolute garbage. However if you want to take your knowledge from a source that doesn't even tell you who the author of the piece is and what authority they have to speak on what they are writing about go ahead (for all you know its written by some nutter from the EDL) . But don't expect it to make you any wiser.

camilamoran Thu 17-Oct-13 12:27:28

It's a rude, aggressive way to dress, but so what? It's a free country; you have the right to be rude and aggressive.

GoshAnneGorilla Thu 17-Oct-13 12:27:48

Worldgonecrazy - read Fugacity's post. At the minimum, it is victim blaming, yet anti-niqab sentiment is meant to be about combating female oppression.

No one condemned that post, someone even applauded it.

In fact it seems the more vitriolic someone is about niqab, the more praise they are getting for it on here.

So I feel the need to ask, how far do people want anti-niqab sentiment to go? Is verbal harrassment ok? Being physically attacked ok? Is being prosecuted ok?

Myself and Peaceful have given examples of the abuse women with niqab face, no one seems to care about that.

Wingdingdong Thu 17-Oct-13 12:47:22

I don't give a monkey's about someone else's choice of clothing as long as it doesn't impact on me.

However, IME the niqab does impact adversely on other people, and on themselves. I have taught two students (different universities) who wore the niqab. One student fainted in class as she was too hot. We didn't know how to treat her (didn't dare lift the niqab) and had a problem getting her out of the room to a cool outside spot as the ideal students to help carry her were male.

My other student tried her best to contribute to seminars but nobody knew when she wanted to say something, so she had to put her hand up like a child. Nobody could hear her - her voice was very muffled. She was also unable to hear properly. she could understand me, as she could see my face, but obviously misheard or didn't hear at all the students whose faces she couldn't see. She frequently emailed me to ask for a synopsis of the seminar and others' contributions (requiring me to give up my free time as a concession to her choices), and asked if she could use a dictaphone.

I have no issue with hearing-impaired students using recording equipment, but I feel very uncomfortable about students with no disability taking advantage of the disability procedures. The implication is that the 'choice' they have made is to give themselves a disability. I find this incompatible with the enabling argument used by the OP.

The same student happily removed the niqab on one occasion when the only male student who had turned up left early; the seminar was considerably more productive without the constant requests for repetition and her contribution was much greater. She then asked if we could provide women-only seminars. IMO this totally defeats the point of 'inclusive' higher education though I can see the opposite argument.

I don't feel the niqab creates hostility or affects my attitude towards the student - but I do think that if it creates communication issues to the point that the wearer asks to be treated as someone with a disability, then there's a moral issue, and if somebody else's choice requires me to give up (unpaid) time in order to repeat material and give an exclusive one-to-one tutorial, it's both inconvenient to me and a moral issue. I will defend any woman's right to wear whatever she chooses, but struggle to defend the need for others to accommodate that choice through their sacrifices.

KaseyM Thu 17-Oct-13 12:55:10

Of course people care about it. Stop being so sanctimonious. I doubt very much that anyone here would wish any harm on a niqab wearer.

I think it's wrong to speak for all Muslim women as to their reasons as everyone will have different reasons. One Muslim woman I knew told me she wore a veil because of the harrassment she used to get from men when she was younger and wearing skimpy clothes. She also now had come round to the opinion that women who wore skimpy dresses were inviting trouble. She had a very low opinion of men, and had changed the way she dressed in order to manage that.

That's different from the reasons of the OP so everyone not only has different reasons but these reasons may well change over time for each individual.

And it's not a case of western women vs Muslim women a you're trying to present because there are lots of Muslim women who are opposed to niqab.

GoshAnneGorilla Thu 17-Oct-13 12:56:17

Wing - that is very odd. Niqab sits on the face, so I have no idea how it affects hearing. I wear hijab and my hearing is fine.

peacefuloptimist I found another pro-Mohammed source which provide what the writer believed to be good reasons for Mohammed marrying lots of women and keeping concubines. I, however, do not believe there to be good reasons for his behaviour. Just because things were accepted as "normal" at the time, does not make them right. Rape is morally as unacceptable in the past as it is today.

If Mohammed were truly in touch with the Divine, then he would have known this and not acted as he did. (The same argument can also be applied to various Christian, Jewish, Buddhist behaviour, etc. but for this thread, we are specifically discussing Islam.)

I have been asked to be understanding and accepting of why some women choose to wear niqab, without the same tolerance or understanding being shown of why I find the niqab distasteful.

I repeat my earlier comment: "within British law, you are free to wear the niqab. And under British law, I am free to consider it a revolting symbol of deep-rooted cultural misogyny."

Wingdingdong Thu 17-Oct-13 13:20:53

Well, maybe she was just a weak student taking the piss and I fell for it sad. But her excuse seemed plausible and I didn't know otherwise. It's not like you can really ask someone to prove their hearing is affected in these circs, is it? But now I feel angry if I was duped.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Thu 17-Oct-13 13:25:18

Gosh - I actually read Fugacity's post not as a threat, but coming from the point of view that it should be a privilege to suffer for your faith; I believe this is a fairly common theme in the Catholic tradition.

BangOn Thu 17-Oct-13 13:25:50

I might have this wrong, but I understand that in Sharia courts, the testimony of two women is equal to that of one man, in many cases.

Hypothetically, if a woman in a niqab witnesses the rape of another, unknown woman in a niqab, then the much repeated 'communication problems' caused by the veil becomes much more serious. You would end up with one witness who is unable to credibly even identify the victim, & a victim who can't give a credible identification of an eyewitness. In such circumstances, the barriers to the prosecution forming a coherent case would presumably be hampered.

Beyond this narrow example, I would also question whether the niqab also plays a wider role in stopping women from forming strong bonds with one another outside of their immediate family, & so strengthens the dominant patriarchy.

Actually, the same could be said of 'western' women wearing as little as possible, & thereby dividing themselves from one another ib a sort of competitive sexiness. I'd probably feel as uncomfortable trying to strike up a conversation with a woman with boobs & bum hanging out all over the place, as I would a woman completely covered.

CoteDAzur Thu 17-Oct-13 13:39:28

"I know a woman who left the UK because of the attention it brought her"

Well, if the way you want to live your life is alien to the country you are in (to such an extent that you are receiving abuse from strangers) it might be an idea to move to a place where it is the norm. You will be happier.

"But I am English, I was born here etc" I hear you say smile And so what? If you decide to be a cannibal or a nudist living in Central London, do you think it will matter that you are born English, in England?

Like it or not, each country/society has its norms and mindset. When you espouse a mindset radically different than that of your country (like, say, "women are to blame for men's sexual thoughts and sexual activity needs to be regulated, so women must to be hidden away behind black curtains"), you really shouldn't expect society to be OK with that.

ShreddedHoops Thu 17-Oct-13 13:42:21

It's such a shame the OP hasn't been back - I understand it's up to her, but can HQ if you're reading this, can you perhaps send her a message saying it's led to a discussion she might want to take part in?

Because we're speculating about reasons for wearing niqab and I'd like to hear hers, described better than in the OP.

It seems clear it's for 'Modesty' so let's unpick the concept. Modesty is dressing in such a way that doesn't invite the attention of the opposite sex. Behaving modestly is not engaging in flirtatious behaviour, and also of course the dual meaning of not talking yourself or your achievements/looks up. Modesty.

So Modesty is all about how you come across, how you are perceived to others. It's therefore subjective, and subject to change dependent on cultural norms and what the majority think of as Modest.

In the West, there are standards of Modesty - which change depending on environment - the workplace, where it's seen as a 'distraction' if you wear revealing clothes, and flirtation is unprofessional; the shopping mall / street, where more revealing clothing / flirtatious behaviour is acceptable, and the nightclub, where revealing clothing is the norm and flirtation is practically the reason for being there.

I like these multiple layers of Modesty in the UK. I wear comfortable, colourful, stylish, fashionable clothes to work, maybe with the addition of high heels or lots of makeup if I'm feeling more 'flirtatious' (need a better word, but sticking to my theme here). When I go out shopping / for lunch / out with friends to theatre or whatever, I dress a bit more provocatively. It doesn't invite attention in this country because I am meeting the expected standards of Modesty. If I go to a nightclub - I wear a revealing dress, heels and lots of makeup. It's fun, I feel great, it's absolutely in human DNA to enjoy feeling physically attractive. Again, I am meeting standards of Modesty.

I mentioned upthread about how women's clothing should never be taken as an invite to rape, sexual assault or other violence. However - clothing gives cues, and standards of societal Modesty are there to assist women with clothing choices and men understand how the woman may be feeling.

How does niqab fit into this? If it is always worn? Is the standard of Modesty so high that any expression of sexuality from a woman is deemed morally wrong? How did it become something women accept, that their natural bodies, God-given shapes, should be entirely covered up at all times?

GoshAnneGorilla Thu 17-Oct-13 13:44:28

Boulevard - come off it, that is very twisted logic, particularly when Muslim women are being attacked for wearing niqab. The comment was victim blaming, plain and simple.

Also, why on earth should a Catholic perception of faith be applied to Muslims?

quoteunquote Thu 17-Oct-13 13:55:47

Did you know that some children find it terrifying people covered up?

Especially autistic children, my SiL finds it hard to go out and about with her child as he frightened of people covered head to foot. (as do other children)

You say you wear it because your role models wear it, why did they wear it?

ShreddedHoops Thu 17-Oct-13 13:58:07

I guess what I'm getting at is, in Western culture, no woman would choose to wear niqab. It's not necessary for Modesty and it's certainly not practical.

So why is it a common choice for women in Islamic countries?

My twopennyworth of an opinion is that women in Islamic countries who wear niqab are in far more traditional roles, ie looking after the home and children, so don't need to be dressed appropriately for work. They don't go out socialising with non family members. They don't go out dancing. In Saudi Arabia they are not even considered able to drive. They live less full lives than male members of society. Men are in positions of power - government and so on.

Is it a coincidence that in this state of inequality, of yes oppression, of misogynism, that women cover their bodies and faces? How on earth can wearing niqab be a more feminist choice than wearing hotpants, given the political background?

olathelawyer05 Thu 17-Oct-13 14:01:26

Muslim woman: Its a symbol of dedication to my faith & culture. Nobody makes me wear it.

'Western' Feminist: Ah, but how do you know they don't make you wear it 'really'. You know, the patriarchy is all around you making you do things without wanting to do them.

Muslim woman: No really, I'm quite happy that its my choice. Nobody forces me to wear it. Not my father, husband, brother, mother....

'Western' Feminist: Ah, but is it your choice, or have you been brain-washed into thinking this? I have to keep questioning you because even if were truly your choice, its a choice that I'm not comfortable with anyway and I'm going to ignore the fact that this actually says more about my own intolerance that it does about you or your culture.

Muslim woman: I assure you, I'm fine. I 'choose' to wear it so its about my empowerment. You don't have to like my choice, but you must surely respect it as my choice.

'Western' Feminist: Ah, but that's what you would say if you were brain-washed isn't it. So how do you know you haven't been brainwashed? Really, I don't believe its your choice. You're probably in denial so I think regardless of what you say, I probably know better than you and its best I try to save you... from yourself if I must. Oh and remember, because you're a woman, you owe every other woman on earth a responsibility not to do anything that any one of them might believe is somehow insulting or restrictive to her as a woman. All women are linked in that way you know. Kind of like the way all the black people in the room feel a sense of shame, when another black person whom they don't even know, is reported to have done something bad.

Muslim woman: How do you know you haven't been brainwashed?...

[and on, and on and on....]

ShreddedHoops Thu 17-Oct-13 14:16:17

Ok Ola - so you choose the niqab. Why? How is covering your entire face and body (only for women) a potent symbol?

Doesn't this make anyone else really detest religion?! For how it makes people (in this case women) not question why they have made this choice. What kind of a symbol is it? Self sacrifice? What?

<bangs head>

eurochick Thu 17-Oct-13 14:35:50

ola all religion is an attempt at brainwashing in my view.

lazysleepymummy Thu 17-Oct-13 14:38:51

I don't see it as victim-blaming, it's that personal choices have social consequences. I certainly don't condone any physical or emotional abuse towards niqabis, but equally it's natural people find them hard to read and communicate with, which creates a barrier to social integration.

Several people refused to acknowledge the difficulties niqab creates in communication. That's funny because many people voiced their discomfort with not being able to read facial expressions etc, and you don't think so because you know better than how I feel?

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Thu 17-Oct-13 14:42:28

If men wore I could view at a symbol of something besides blatant sexism. But I agree it is your right to wear what makes you feel comfortable and I can't see how you are "rejecting Brisith values" by wearing it as mentioned by comments above. What are "British values? confused who decided. The BNP and EDL are the only groups who claim to know as far as I can see.. so I'd say it's best to leave it to the individual. I'm hardly going to be the one to tell a molecular biologist that she isn't clever enough to make her own wardrobe decisions!

Anyone who shaves their legs/wears make up/ gets vajazzled is making a choice to conform to a societies gender roles about looks for women and doing something the men havent got to worry about. Why don't we ban those things too?

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Thu 17-Oct-13 14:45:54

*molecular geneticist

could be the same thing for all I know though

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Thu 17-Oct-13 14:52:25

Gosh - not defending/supporting said post, just saying how I read it.

nicename Thu 17-Oct-13 14:53:24

I know women who have emigrated to get away from being forced to cover up. It makes society a very odd place when all are forced to comply.

SweetSkull Thu 17-Oct-13 15:08:00

I know. Niqab is just a way of not worrying about matching shoes with clothes and handbags, not faffing with makeup and grey hair.
I'm converted!!!!

What about the issues of hampered communication, and the divisive effect this has in society?

GoshAnneGorilla Thu 17-Oct-13 15:23:52

SDT - you do realise that only a small, small number of women wear niqab, probably less then 500 maximum. It really isn't the big societal issue it is being made out to be, nor should it be held up as a reason to view Muslims as outsiders in society, when so few of them actually wear it.

TooExtraImmatureCheddar Thu 17-Oct-13 15:23:57

I don't agree with the posters saying that it is hard to communicate with women wearing the niqab. It is perfectly possible to communicate by talking/listening - how else do we manage on the phone, when we can't even see the other person's eyes? That argument seems a bit specious to me.

I agree that it should not be banned and that it is the wearer's right to wear it, in the same way that people can choose to be pierced/tattooed/wear a nun's habit/wear hotpants etc etc.

I am uncomfortable with the idea of Muhammed, aged 52, marrying a 6 year-old no matter what the cultural norms of the time were or what she went on to do in later life.

QueenoftheSarf Thu 17-Oct-13 15:29:36

At the end of the day arguments here go around in circles ad infinitum.

The way I look at it, religious people of all persuasions, irrespective of how many degrees or doctorates they may be in possession of, have incredibly closed minds. It is, after all surely, the very essence of religious faith that adherents of any faith can't and won't be persuaded of another viewpoint that conflicts with what they've been told.

In their private lives, these people have to be left alone to believe whatever they want, to do whatever they feel religiously obliged to do, to not eat whatever it is they don't want to eat, and to wear whatever they want to wear.

To me, religion is personal thing and wearing the niqab or burka is a personal matter. Women should be left to exercise their own personal choice to wear these things. Many orthodox Jewish women also cover their hair but do so by wearing wigs but because that not so noticeable it does not attract comment.

However, if the wearing of full face coverings, or the carrying out of any other religious ritual for that matter, infringes upon the rights and freedoms of others in the public sphere of life, then that is another matter entirely.

I for one do not think that Jehova's Witnessness should be allowed to trespass on to other people's property and harass them by trying to engage them in pointless conversation of a spiritual nature, irrespective of the fact that they consider this to be one of their religious obligations. A perfect example of one person's religious beliefs infringing on the rights of others.

UptheChimney Thu 17-Oct-13 15:48:55


I take your points, and they're mostloy strong ones, but this

standards of societal Modesty are there to assist women with clothing choices and men understand how the woman may be feeling

worries me. Why is the focus on what women do, or how they dress or behave?

Why don't we require that men learn to guard their eyes and quell their lustful thoughts?

lazysleepymummy Thu 17-Oct-13 15:52:27

Here is a bit of communication science for you.

There are three elements in face-to-face communications:
- words
- tone of voice
- non-verbal behaviours such as facial expressions, body language

Well-regarded research shows that in communications, literal meanings of words only account for 7% of what we take in, tone of voice account for 38% and non-verbal behaviours account for 55%. People often look from congruency in three channels of communication, and will dismiss the literal meaning of the words if the tone and behaviour send a different message. We rely so much on facial expression, it's only natural that we find it hard to communicate or even trust people covering up their faces.

So tell me again how does covering up your face have no effect on communication whatsoever?

nicename Thu 17-Oct-13 15:52:58

I was googling the whole deaf issue and found an article by a moroccan muslim woman. She said that women still get sexually harassed wearing the veil as they would without.

The veil is an ancient piece of clothing from a time, culture and society pretty far away from London 2013, and I've met a few white british born women covered to varying degrees.

A practising muslim friend of mine (born and bred in the ME) asked one convert (in genuine confusion) 'why have you dressed up like an arab?'. The reply was 'we' this and 'we' that, and my friend said 'don't you realise that there are a lot of 'us'? Your 'we' is actually 'my husband thinks... What do you think?'.

nicename Thu 17-Oct-13 15:58:05

I'm assuming studies on communication were carried out in non-veiled societies. I'm thinking that in places where a covered face outside the home, communication adapts?

peacefuloptimist Thu 17-Oct-13 16:04:33

So why is it a common choice for women in Islamic countries?

Have you not been reading anything I have written or many of the other posters. It is not a common choice. There are a minority of women in muslim countries wearing niqab just like there is a minority of muslim women in the West wearing it.

My twopennyworth of an opinion is that women in Islamic countries who wear niqab are in far more traditional roles, ie looking after the home and children, so don't need to be dressed appropriately for work. They don't go out socialising with non family members. They don't go out dancing. In Saudi Arabia they are not even considered able to drive. They live less full lives than male members of society. Men are in positions of power - government and so on.

This is all fantasy. Where is your evidence? Your just speculating about how you think it is. The truth is it is probably much easier for a niqabi woman in a muslim country to work then it is here. It is probably easier for them to socialise with others and go out dancing (although again with women) then it is for them here. I know a few women who live in Saudi Arabia who do work. One of them is a lecturer in a university and she actually had her PhD sponsored by the Saudi government who sent her to the UK to complete her qualifications with a guarantee of a job on her return. I also have seen doctors, teachers and nurses etc who wear niqab in muslim countries. The video below gives some more examples of what life for Saudi women is actually like so you dont need to rely on your imagination.

Life of Saudi women

The fact is in many countries in the Muslim world you will find that women have overtaken men in higher education. In Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, nearly two thirds of all university students are women. They are making an especially strong showing in Science, Technology, Environmental, and Mathematics (STEM) areas. In fact I remember reading a statistic somewhere that more women go to university in Qatar then they do in the UK. Here is a list of the 100 most powerful arab women. Look at the diversity of fields in which they work.

100 Most powerful Arab women

My point is this is not about religion causing women to be held back as many posters are suggesting. There are many Muslim women who feel empowered by their religion to achieve their potential, to make a difference, to improve their lives. However just like women here face problems dealing with a very entrenched and powerful patriarchy so to do we have problems in the Muslim world (though it is of a different nature). However if you speak to Muslim women often you will hear them saying the same thing which is that the problem is not Islam the problem is culture. As women we should listen and support eachother to deal with injustice against us rather then trying to belittle others life choices as Ola so eloquently enacted.

"GoshAnneGorilla Thu 17-Oct-13 12:56:17
that is very odd. Niqab sits on the face, so I have no idea how it affects hearing. I wear hijab and my hearing is fine."

Just to help you out I thought I'd point out that while 'niqab' may technically refer to just the veil most people seem to be referring to the whole costume which covers the head and body and therefore does hamper hearing.

I guess from your comment that you do not wear the head covering too so were unaware of the problem.

One thing I'd like to ask the OP is: if wearing the niqab is nothing to do with modestly and not "distracting" men and everything to do with just being closer to god, why do you only wear it when men can see you? Why is it okay to take it off in front of strange women but not okay to take it off in front of men?

Because this very clause makes it very clear that it's not about women distancing themselves a bit from society in order to be closer to god, it's about women distancing themselves from men. Which makes it completely a feminist and sexist issue.

Zra Thu 17-Oct-13 16:13:29

Clearly women in niqab are seen as a threat reading all the posts on here, a challenge to feminist values that we have all grown up on.

I've met a few niqab wearers and visited their homes. They are just as normal as anybody else with their own set of challenges just like you and I. They choose to wear niqab when they leave their homes. The ones I know chose to do it for religious reasons, that's their call. I wear hijab and never has a niqab wearer looked down on me for being 'less pious'.

How many doctors or public figures wearing niqab have you met? I've yet to meet one before I can say it's problematic. I'm sure that public bodies will address this challenge if we suddenly have an influx of niqab wearing doctors, teachers etc on the grounds of health and safety! I somehow doubt that this is going to happen though.

Let our niqab wearing fellow females be. If they are being forced to wear niqab help them out, although I doubt many of us on this thread want to even communicate with them.

GoshAnneGorilla Thu 17-Oct-13 16:21:00

Back - hijab is the headscarf covering. It covers my ears, yet as it is a thin layer of fabric, I can hear perfectly well and have certainly had no problems in educational or work environments.

Judging by the significant proportion of hijab wearers employed by the organisation I work for, a lot of people would say the same.

lazysleepymummy Thu 17-Oct-13 16:28:33

Funny enough the main researcher about the 7%-38%-55% rule is born in an Armenian family in Iran, so you'd think he is at least vaguely aware of this issue.
Perhaps people living in communities where everyone covers their faces adapt, but then in British society I for one certainly haven't adapted

Can I ask where you get the figure of only 500 women in the UK wearing the niqab, please, GoshAnne.

TooExtra - of course it is possible to communicate when you can't see someone's face, but being able to see someone's facial expression does facilitate better communication and understanding.

Perhaps someone can clear something up for me. I have the impression that, in general, the members of the Muslim community prefer to stay apart from western society. I want to be wrong about this.

nicename Thu 17-Oct-13 16:40:52

Women in Iran don't cover their face - it is not part of the culture there ('tis an Arab thing). One relative does cover more than the necessary (in Iran) and even she wears patterns and colours but doesn't cover her face. She judges less covered women, boy does she judge. And as for her thoughts on western women (not that she's actually met many)... It's all about education, isn't it?

I don't like to see a covered face. It's not what we are used to here in the UK. Culturally, its not what a law abiding person has done - to cover your face it to hide your identity. A mask is that - it masks. It throws up a barrier - why?

UptheChimney Thu 17-Oct-13 16:52:44

Let our niqab wearing fellow females be

Yes, of course. I had a GP who wore the headscraf -- hijab -- and that was fine. I saw her face clearly and she was a good GP.

It doesn't mean I cannot or should not criticise the ideology behind hijab or niqab wearing. I find the ideology offensive: misogynist and illiberal.

Not the women.

peacefuloptimist Thu 17-Oct-13 16:54:16

I think this communication point is a bit of a red herring. As TooExtra already mentioned we communicate on the phone with people who we cannot see fine. Right now we are all communicating without seeing eachother and yet we are able to understand eachother and have a conversation without any trouble. When I was at university I had a friend who wore niqab. In our friendship group there were a few girls who were non-muslim and when we were alone she would remove it but in mixed company she would cover. I use to always wonder in the past whether they had difficulty communicating with her but if they did they definitely didnt show it. You can still pick up on non-verbal communication cues if you are observant. We can convey a lot of emotion through our eyes. Also a persons body language can still be interpreted without seeing their face. Most posters here admit to not knowing m/any niqabis. If you had just one niqabi friend you would realise that its not the barrier to communication that you think it is.

sarahtigh Thu 17-Oct-13 16:57:02

communication is a lot about non verbal communication as above research shows which is why phone conversations are not as good as face to face discussions as by facial bodily expressions something said face to face can seem less or more of an insult than same words on a phone,

short emails and texts are even worse for people getting hold of wrong end of the stick and mis-interpreting

radio because no visual stimuli allows for more imagination but not necessarily more accuracy it is also generally harder to say nasty things face to face than on phone/ email or online

this at least in part explains internet trolls etc who say things online they would never dream of saying face to face

many people especially those with some deafness (about 50%+ of over 50's) rely to a great or lesser extent on lip reading/ visual signals

in a meeting /lecture/ sermon people who can not see the speaker generally report hearing less clearly

I am not saying it is an insurmountable or even difficult communication problem but to say not seeing the speakers face makes no difference whatsoever is misguided at best and probably simply untrue

on a earlier thread a niqab wearing nurse said she would remove if it was hindering communication hence the acknowledgment it can hinder good communication in some circumstances

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Thu 17-Oct-13 17:01:02

It may hinder communication but it is up to the person if they want to make the extra effort to make themselves understood.

I could in theory learn sign to help deaf people but I never have. No one has ever questioned my right to not bother

AveryJessup Thu 17-Oct-13 17:03:04

It's funny how so many Muslim women seem to suddenly want to feel closer to Allah since September 11th and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq...

Sorry to be so cynical but these face veils were never seen in our countries except in the last 10 years (although they have existed in Islamic countries for generations) which leads me to believe that the niqab and other extremes of Islamic dress are political, not religious, statements. Women who wear them in Western countries are the very opposite of modest piety. They are doing it for reasons of social statement, attention-seeking and rebelling against the idea of integration with Western values. As other posters have pointed out a lot of the niqab wearers are young second or third generation immigrants or converts to Islam.

The author's professions of deep religious piety don't convince me in the slightest. She has the right to dress how she wishes of course but don't insult our intelligence by pretending your motives are innocent of any political or social statement.

AveryJessup Thu 17-Oct-13 17:06:55

* 'in some Islamic countries' that should read

nicename Thu 17-Oct-13 17:08:38

I have problems with my hearing - so if there is background noise I just can't hear a voice very well. So if I'm in a restaurant, cafe, shop, street etc I struggle to hear someone spoeaking below a yell. This means that I watch lips and lean into people. It was a long time before I realised that it wasn't everyone!

My dad was partially deaf, as are some other members of my family, and one was completely deaf. It is hard to follow conversations often and not being able to see lips or lean in really close (I guess my dad wouldnt be welcome leaning into someones face) would be really hard for me.

GoshAnneGorilla Thu 17-Oct-13 17:08:39

SDT - be clear. Is it just niqab wearers you think want to be apart from society or all Muslims?

As for figures, in countries such as Belgium and France, when they began their niqab bans, they found less than 100 and about 400 women respectively wore niqab. I doubt the UK figures are much higher. It is all very much a storm in a tea cup.

I have to say, I can see the attraction of the niqab - so much pressure is put on women to look a certain way, we're all under constant pressure/scrutiny, and our achievement are judged secondary to our appearance. To hide from it all must be bliss.

But that's the coward's way out IMO. It's giving in, not fighting back. Though just imagine, for a minute, how the men of the world would react if all of a sudden, every single woman refused to engage with their objectification and covered herself from head to toe. grin It would be awesome!!!

(just for a day or two as a social experiment/political statement, you understand, not that I think all women should hide away from men on a permanent basis. That would be silly)

GoshAnneGorilla Thu 17-Oct-13 17:11:57

Avery - so not only does the author not only know her own mind, but you think she's a liar to boot?

This thread is beyond parody.

peacefuloptimist Thu 17-Oct-13 17:14:59

I have the impression that, in general, the members of the Muslim community prefer to stay apart from western society.

Of course this is not true SDTG. With all respect you mentioned earlier that you do not have any muslim female friends (you didnt mention men) so what are basing this impression on? Do you live near a muslim community or is it based on what you see in the news.

I cant speak for all muslims but I would say for myself I feel very disheartened about the general turn in attitude towards muslims in this country. I have invested a lot of myself in to integrating in to this society but now I feel as if my efforts were misplaced as I am now being told that I will never be accepted unless I give up my religion. I know people will immediately jump to say I am exaggerating but think about how you would feel if your community were constantly bombarded with negative press coverage in the way muslims are. Muslims are attacked and criticised about everything they do from fasting in Ramadhan, to eating halal meat, to how they dress, to how they bring up their children, to where they choose to live etc etc. Its exhausting so I understand why some people might feel like they prefer to shield themselves away. I have never been blessed enough to live in an area that is predominately muslim though so Im always in the line of fire. This thread has also opened my eyes to the amount of under cover surveillance of muslims (in this case niqabis) that goes on. Im going to be much more careful to control my face when Im in public. grin

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Thu 17-Oct-13 17:17:13

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

humphryscorner Thu 17-Oct-13 17:17:52

eurochick all religion is an attempt at brainwashing in my view. correct.

We have discovered how life began, yet educated people still choose to believe the old men in the clouds made us.

Religion is man mad for control and dominance.

religion actually causes nothing but death, pain and suffering.

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Thu 17-Oct-13 17:18:05


nicename Thu 17-Oct-13 17:18:22

My reading of it is that both sexes dress modestly - and that's not just flashing ther flesh, bling is also frowned upon - and that men ought to avert their gaze.

It does not tell women that they ought to be unseen and unheard.

I believe covering the face goes back to being in a dry, hot climate where your poor face will be sandblasted (see how the desert men cover their hair and faces against the sun, heat and sand?), and a time when women were seen as spoils of war (as it has been worldwide since the year dot). It would have been a sensible precaution there and then.

GoshAnne - I think my feeling is that the more devout the Muslims, the less they want to interact or make friends outside their community. I also have got the impression (drawn from a variety of sources) that non-muslim people who live in largely muslim areas feel a sense of separation and exclusion.

As i have said, I am happy to be proved wrong.

peacefuloptimist Thu 17-Oct-13 17:21:16

Annie you wouldnt believe how much quicker it is to get ready in the morning when you dont have to sort out your hair.

nicename Thu 17-Oct-13 17:22:53

I use dry shampoo myself.

humphryscorner Thu 17-Oct-13 17:23:53

My reading of it is that both sexes dress modestly - and that's not just flashing ther flesh, bling is also frowned upon - and that men ought to avert their gaze.

That is not true wrt men for where I live. In fact its the complete opposite, yet the women still dress modestly.

lazysleepymummy Thu 17-Oct-13 17:31:39

Phone, text, email etc are ways to communicate when face-to-face is impossible or not cost effective. It doesn't mean they are equally as good as face-to-face. That's why people tend to do face-to-face interviews and have serious conversations face-to-face. Pure texts can cause so much understanding, which perhaps is why we are typing away on this forum for ages, carefully choosing our words, on something perhaps a face-to-face seminar would take an hour to communicate.

I suppose if you make a big effort to read gestures and body language, perhaps it will compensate for some lost communication. But not everyone will be very good at it - even counselling/psychotherapy professionals need to be trained to read body language better. And neither will everyone want to make an effort. It's human nature to talk to the person we find easiest to talk to.

I'm not trying to make the case of communication the biggest issue. I don't have any strong opinions on either side, but I just think the whole denial of any barrier to communication is a bit silly, it actually undermines the argument for niqabis for me.

lazysleepymummy Thu 17-Oct-13 17:32:58


nicename Thu 17-Oct-13 17:37:39

'My reading', as in, what it's supposed to be.

The actuality is sadly far from this. Men still oggle, grope, make filthy sexual comments/jokes, abuse and rape women. Stats aren't great to compare cuntries or communities as women don't really report assault as much in countries where they have to cover.

peacefuloptimist Thu 17-Oct-13 17:42:02

SDTG you know what some people may feel like that others like many of my friends will feel as if they are British through and through. We are not a monolithic community who think and feel the same way about everything. You know what though I think would be interesting. To do a comparison of who interacts more with others: muslims living in the UK or British citizens living in muslim countries. I have heard stories (and met people) who have lived in the Middle East for 20+ years who cant speak Arabic. Isnt that a bit hypocritical that muslims are expected to change themselves to fit in when British people living in the middle east are happy to take their significant tax free salaries and contribute nothing to where they live. (Lets get this fire started!)

Well, it would be hypocritical if I believed that (and if others believe this, yes, they are hypocrites), but I have always believed it would be my responsibility as an incomer, to make the effort to fit in. I learned this from my parents, when we moved to a tiny, remote Shropshire village, and they made a point of integrating into the community - and they were told later on that people in the village were afraid they'd be the Big Noises from the Big City, out to show the villagers how much they could teach the village, and they were pleasantly surprised.

If I go abroad on holiday, I want to learn a bit of the language, eat local food, and respect their customs. If I moved abroad, I would make every effort to fit in.

olathelawyer05 Thu 17-Oct-13 17:54:26

eurochick - "ola all religion is an attempt at brainwashing in my view."

....So are most 'isms' I tend to find....

GoshAnneGorilla. I had thought of it as the whole thing, but you dismissed a posters comment as odd because you said "Niqab sits on the face, so I have no idea how it affects hearing"

Now you are saying that it does cover the ears, but that is not a problem for you.

Just wanted to clarify that in case someone thought you were right the first time.

I thought she said niqab covers the face and the hijab covers the hair. I am not sire what the robe that covers everything but the eyes is called - I had thought that was the niqab, but it appears I am wrong.

Note to self - google first. The burka is the full length robe. Apologies.

alemci Thu 17-Oct-13 18:52:21

Isn't what is in your heart and how you conduct yourself more important than outward appearance and how you help others in the wider community?

alemci Thu 17-Oct-13 18:56:10

I'm sorry that you have been treated badly by non Muslims Peace when you are out and about.

innoparticularorder Thu 17-Oct-13 19:07:24

The OP mentioned that she wears the niqab as an act of worship which brings her closer to God.

It's a PERSONAL thing between her & God who am I to say she shouldn't do that. She can worship her God in any way she wishes.

I've read this thread with a heavy heart, why can't people live and let live. If she had wrote she is oppressed and is forced to wear it, then I would understand posters rightly expressing their concern, but by all accounts she is making a free choice and is totally at peace with it.

PrincessFlirtyPants Thu 17-Oct-13 19:40:54

I have many Muslim friends who choose to wear the hijab, I have many Muslim friends who choose not to. I don't have any friends who choose to wear the burka or the niqab.

I do not find that Muslims choose to separate themselves from society.

The only attitude I dislike is the 'us' and 'them' attitude by those on this thread who are trying to promote integration.

I find it disappointing that posters who have asked questions to help them understand be told that they are attacking Islamic women. Ignorance breeds intolerance.

GoshAnneGorilla Thu 17-Oct-13 19:43:06

In no - thanks for that.

It's odd, I think if she wrote that she was oppressed and having a grim life, people would be happier to read it, some seem to find the thought of a happy niqabi very unpleasant.

SDT - Most UK Muslims are British, not incomers.

ICameOnTheJitney Thu 17-Oct-13 19:58:58

People who are unhappy about them are the people who feel that they come from a period of time when women were chattels. That is a very valid argument....closer to God or not....they are a hang back from a past time when women had no rights.

GoshAnne - I was answering peacefuloptimist's question about why people expect Muslims to integrate into UK society when many UK expats living in Muslim countries make no attempts to integrate. I was saying what I would do as a UK expat living in any other country, Muslim or otherwise. I was not commenting on Muslims living in the UK.

fuzzywuzzy Thu 17-Oct-13 20:16:19

Most Muslim women in niqab are English speaking, many are very educated actually.

Niqab and hijab does not affect hearing (how weird), depending on the style of the niqab you can wear different types to prevent your peripheral vision being affected if you drive.

Who says what I wear prevents me from integrating into society, unless there's a law that everyone must wear dungarees and flipflops, sartorial styles and choice vary widely all over the UK, I don't see people objecting to the African women dressed to the nines on a Saturday morning going to church in their traditional dress, or saris I see loads of women wearing those, or the dress of the Ultra Orthodox Jewish community who actually do tend to keep to themselves, but a head scarf or a face veil is us Muslim women not integrating into society.

The OP is a molecular geneticist, I wonder how many British people have already benefitted from her expertise and if that is not 'integrating' then I don't want to be part of this integrated British person who appears to be one single body who dresses thinks and behaves exactly the same.

ICameOnTheJitney Thu 17-Oct-13 20:47:56

Fuzzy the Op's profession is neither here nor there. It has NOTHING to do with her choice of dress. And the African women you mention don't hide their faces.

This is what makes it hard for people to accept...the fact that faces are hidden. WHY?

QueenoftheSarf Thu 17-Oct-13 20:52:21

I think you'll find that people do not object to head coverings. It's the whole face covering with a slit for the eyes that's the issue.

I think you'll find that encouraging women to wear shapeless, cover-all clothes, such as long macs down to the ground, and a full face covering when outside of the home stems from not wanting to arouse men sexually. Men of course, are allowed to carry on as they please. No one dictates to them what's "modest".

Islam is an inherently patriarchal religion where men make the rules and women abide by them. If the men have somehow managed to hoodwink some women into thinking that they're actually in control, then you've got to hand it to them, they're cleverer than you think. wink

fuzzywuzzy Thu 17-Oct-13 21:04:47

She has explained why she chooses to wear a face veil, she has answered why.

fuzzywuzzy Thu 17-Oct-13 21:10:22

When Muslim women say it's their choice and they have chosen to practice their religion in a way they find best for themselves, it's because the of menz, cos you know a Muslim woman who makes a conscious choice to cover herself is too stupid/brain washed whatevah to make a choice.

And actually her job has everything to do with this thread, she is integrated into British society, she is making a huge positive contribution to society, I doubt many 'british' people would be able to say the same and without having to face the daily prejuicide and hatred she must face.

QueenoftheSarf Thu 17-Oct-13 21:22:16

I'd imagine she's chosen her career based on what she was interested in and wanted to do fuzzywuzzy, rather than being guided by altruism as you appear to be suggesting.

PrincessFlirtyPants Thu 17-Oct-13 21:33:38

she is making a huge positive contribution to society, I doubt many 'british' people would be able to say the same and without having to face the daily prejuicide and hatred she must face.

What makes you think British people don't make a positive contribution to society?

ICameOnTheJitney Thu 17-Oct-13 21:34:00

fuzzy no she never. She gave no explanation at all. She DID say she felt it was more holy because his wives did or somesuch thing...but I don't think imitating the dress of a woman or women who lived eons ago is sensible considering the world is a different place.

Why not just imitate the women's actions? If they were especially holy.

alemci Thu 17-Oct-13 21:36:14

exactly jinty. heart and actions not appearance.

innoparticularorder Thu 17-Oct-13 21:48:17

Are we reading the same OP??

She did explain why she wears the niqab, as an act of worship, it brings her closer to God and because the wives of the prophet wore them and they are her role models. You may not want to accept her reasons because you find them ridiculous but she has definitely stated why.

innoparticularorder Thu 17-Oct-13 21:50:16

And who are you to decide how she follows her role models??

fuzzywuzzy Thu 17-Oct-13 21:51:15

Princess I'm answering the accusations on this thread that she's not integrating into society due to her dress, and I said 'many' British people not every single one.

Jitney, well you don't understand or accept her explanation, but she has explained why she dresses as she does, that is her reason and her reply to why. You may not find it acceptable but that is her reason for wearnig the niqab.

Queen, or maybe she was motivated by the thought of giving back to society and pleasing her God, maybe her motives for bieng in this field are entirely altruistic.

fuzzywuzzy Thu 17-Oct-13 21:53:15

For us as Muslims, it is heart, actions and appearance. For us every part of our lives are dedicated to worshipping God. Islam is not our way of life it is our lives.

PrincessFlirtyPants Thu 17-Oct-13 21:54:44

No, I understand that fuzzy I'm just a bit surprised.

Why would you think many British people do not positively contribute to society? Who are the many who do not positively contribute? I would agree some may not, but many? I think 'many' is an exaggeration. And an unfair one at that.

sonlypuppyfat Thu 17-Oct-13 21:57:36

Christians say that Jesus sets us free. Free from the trappings of only eating certain things or having to dress a certain way.

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Thu 17-Oct-13 22:10:27

^It's funny how so many Muslim women seem to suddenly want to feel closer to Allah since September 11th and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq...Sorry to be so cynical but these face veils were never seen in our countries except in the last 10 years (although they have existed in Islamic countries for generations) which leads me to believe that the niqab and other extremes of Islamic dress are political, not religious, statements. Women who wear them in Western countries are the very opposite of modest piety. They are doing it for reasons of social statement, attention-seeking and rebelling against the idea of integration with Western values. As other posters have pointed out a lot of the niqab wearers are young second or third generation immigrants or converts to Islam.
The author's professions of deep religious piety don't convince me in the slightest. She has the right to dress how she wishes of course but don't insult our intelligence by pretending your motives are innocent of any political or social statement.^

How was this pile of poo post left to stand and my response deleted...

PrincessFlirtyPants Thu 17-Oct-13 22:12:40

Colder I have no idea what you said but I agree that the above post is ridiculous & offensive.

GoshAnneGorilla Thu 17-Oct-13 22:15:53

Colder - considering the general tenor of the thread, I'm surprised minority opinions are getting deleted. I'd love to know what you said smile

alemci Thu 17-Oct-13 22:18:12

thanks Fuzzy, that is nicely expressed. tbh christianity isnt that different but god is concerned with having a pure heart but not outside appearance.

GoshAnneGorilla Thu 17-Oct-13 22:19:04

I wish mind readers such as the poster who "knows" the true reasons women wear niqab, would use such great powers for the wider good of society, rather then just on the clothing choices some women make.

joanofarchitrave Thu 17-Oct-13 22:34:37

Realistically we will all get used to niqab-wearing as it gets more common. We would probably have had similar conversations about the hijab a few decades ago. Like all the posters I have read, I have no interest in banning it (and i think that poor chap who keeps getting slung in jail for hiking naked should lead to a change in the law there too).

I am interested in how Deaf people manage in a culture where niqab is more common, but as many people speak in a way which is difficult to lipread whether or not their faces are covered, presumably a Deaf person would just ask the niqab-wearer to lift their veil to show their mouths while speaking; it could even be a useful visual cue to the Deaf person that the other person was talking to them.

I don't like the nun's veil being used as a comparison. The nun's veil is now a symbolic piece of clothing chosen by a truly tiny minority of adult women (not even all nuns) to signify a specific way of life; it is not suggested by anyone that it is appropriate for all females just because they are female. It's also true that the veil has had different symbolism, political role and importance in all sorts of periods, including times when it was normal dress for all women, and others when it was politically highly charged in much the same way as the niqab is now, and for similar reasons.

There was a case some years ago of a schoolgirl wanting to wear I think a jilbab, denied her in the end AFAIR by the courts. I would be extremely concerned about girls under 16 wearing the niqab; I think it should be an adult's choice. I have seen footage of a British school where the girls all put on a niqab as soon as a man entered the classroom. That I think is much more problematic than an adult wearing it. I would like to know whether the OP has thought about what she would suggest or provide for a daughter to wear, and why. By that statement I'm not suggesting that she hasn't, I'd just be interested to know what her conclusions were.

ICameOnTheJitney Thu 17-Oct-13 23:03:39

A garment cannot bring anyone closer to God. Thoughts, deeds and prayer...a different matter.

innoparticularorder Thu 17-Oct-13 23:15:21

If someone says they feel closer to God by wearing a certain garment then they own those feelings it's not for you to dispute it. Imvho.

fuzzywuzzy Thu 17-Oct-13 23:22:57

Jitney, that's your personal opinion.

GoshAnneGorilla Thu 17-Oct-13 23:34:01

Joan - not sure it's necessarily becoming more common, more discussed, yes. I've heard numbers are dropping due to it wearers feeling unsafe/being attacked. Also women may go through periods of wearing niqab, certainly in the UK, so it's not necessarily worn for all a woman's life.

As for school girls wearing niqab, my initial reaction is one of discomfort, as IMHO, niqab is a very big and therefore a grown up decision, on the other hand, providing the girl in question completed her education, there shouldn't be any impact if she decides to later change her mind and not wear niqab.

LaLaLeni Fri 18-Oct-13 04:56:00

Could I ask if those here who wear hijab/niqab etc always feel comfortable uncovering in women only settings, or are there ever considerations that women can be aroused by other women and therefore modesty is negated? If the women are strangers whose sexual orientation is unknown (or even if they're not strangers but equally might be gay etc).

This is a genuine question rather than any sort of judgement, it's never mentioned in the debate (or maybe it is but I just haven't seen it).

Apologies if I've worded this dreadfully.

neiljames77 Fri 18-Oct-13 05:49:30

Having read all that about Mohammed, he appears to be a medieval Russell Brand.

KaseyM Fri 18-Oct-13 07:07:16

I think we should discuss what men wear.

neiljames77 Fri 18-Oct-13 07:56:52

Islamic men or men in general?

peacefuloptimist Fri 18-Oct-13 09:46:45

Do you think a person can come to grips with christianity or understand christians without finding out about Jesus Christ? And do you think that it is advisable if you want to understand Jesus Christ that you seek out information about him from somebody like Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris?

You will never understand Islam and you will never understand muslims unless you read about the life of the Prophet Muhammed PBUH (his whole life not just the bits you like to glamourise and manipulate to make a vicious point). Right now we are not even speaking about the same person. When I read the comments made by non-muslims on this thread about him its actually absolutely unrecognisable. I will repeat again what I said earlier that WikiIslam link is a complete load of garbage. Even basic things like the number of wives he had they have got wrong. Seek out knowledge from people who actually know his life story, either muslim sources or Western intellectuals who have actually studied Islam and his life and know what they are talking about and not those who are politicians.

joanofarchitrave Fri 18-Oct-13 10:03:15

'more common' - I suppose I'm working from the point that I first met someone wearing a niqab in 1994 when I was working in a private hospital that often treated women from Arabic countries. I'd never seen one in real life before that. I now sometimes see women on the street wearing one - still pretty occasionally, but certainly more commonly than I did in the 90s.

camilamoran Fri 18-Oct-13 11:27:19

The hijab and niqab are completely different I think. Only a swivel-eyed racist would object to hijab. But covering your face arouses disquiet among a very wide section of the community.

GoshAnneGorilla Fri 18-Oct-13 12:14:21

Camila - plenty of people would object to the hijab sadly. I do feel that increased anti-niqab sentiment, increases anti- hijab and anti-Muslim sentiment generally.

I also have to add that one of the Mums at the school gate today was a niqab wearer. We said hello and it was fine.

A slight woman holding her child's school bag is neither sinister, nor scary. I could tell she smiled at me (as I did her) because her eyes crinkled at the corners as people's do when they smile.

I do wonder how many of those complaining about communication barriers have spoken to any niqab wearing women. I think the reality is not as fraught as people imagine.

Peacefuloptimist - could you perhaps suggest some sources that you consider to be reliable? I know I can google, but as a non-Muslim, who doesn't know a lot about the subject, I don't think I could easily distinguish the reliable sites from the dodgy ones.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 12:53:35

joining this thread a little late... some things I would like to say may already be said above:
1. in muslim countries like Malaysia, UAE, Indonesia, why do I see less women with the full face coverings? infact, hardly. and if I do, most are tourists from Pakistan and or Saudi.
2. islam as I understand it teaches modesty. it does not say cover your head so that you come across as threating to others.
3. possibly, during the time of Islam being formed, women may have covered their faces to protext against the hot sun. no sunblock, so to keep good skin, it makes sense. no? why is the face covering needed now? wink
4. why does the muslim world look upon SA for guidence when there are more advanced, liberal, successfull, muslim countries around? in Indonesia for example, women have freedom compared to SA, but still they can happily practice islam...

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 12:59:01

sorry about the typos.

Just an incident I would like to mention.

I was in a store recently with my dcs. we were in the toy section and a lady wearing a full head to toe black blanket type thing walked it. my kids ran to me scared. calling the lady darth wader. I thought she should apologies for scaring my children. instead she raised her face covering to give me a dirty look.
go figure.

ChildrensStoriesNet Fri 18-Oct-13 12:59:01

Re: quoteunquote Thu 17-Oct-13 13:55:47 - "some children find it terrifying"

YES, horses too apparently, they don't like being unable to see your face and can be spooked and gallop off if they can't.

Did you explain to your children that the lady was wearing a long robe because of her devotion to her religion, and that she was no threat to them at all?

It is a shame they were scared, but I imagine she was quite upset too, at being likened to Darth Vader! She might have been expecting an apology from you.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 13:09:24

why should I apologies? she was the one who looked like a threat. the children were being honest. I agree with the poster who said that this is a political statement.

ChildrensStoriesNet Fri 18-Oct-13 13:18:39

Re: SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius Fri 18-Oct-13 13:05:52 - "It is a shame they were scared"

Yes, I was scared too once in Sainsburys, looking down while shopping by chance I noticed a black pair of men's shoes under the outfit, quickly looking up no clues from the covered face, a bulge in the middle too, I moved away real quick, then thinking should I tell someone and looking back the stranger had gone just as quick.

This happened just after 7/7 when many were on edge.

GoshAnneGorilla Fri 18-Oct-13 13:19:19

Generally it is rude for your children to pass loud comment upon strangers (this has been hashed out many times on Mumsnet).

Who told you that Muslims look to Saudia Arabia for guidance? Muslims are very diverse and far from monolithic.Generally, the Saudi approach to Islam is viewed as A Bad Thing by most Muslims I've met.

Yes, niqab is a minority practice, that's what the OP said, that's what every Muslim on this thread has said.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 13:29:00

I should have said, why do British muslims from pakistan look to saudi for guidence when there are more successful muslim societies thriving around the world and still practicing islam? I.e., in Indonesia, most women work, are educated, hold high posts in offices and best of all, dont wear a face covering. they wear a scarf and the clothing although covers them from head to toe, they wear make up, and very stylish modest clothes. why do an increasing amount of muslims in the uk feel they need to cover their faces to feel close to god?!

most muslim Iranians, Iraqis, Egyptians, Somalis etc I have met in my extensive travels around the muslim world, do NOT cover their faces.

coffeeinbed Fri 18-Oct-13 13:32:34

Gauri, that was very rude of your children.
You wanted her to apologise? hmm

Whatever someone thinks of the niqab/burka is their business, and I don't like people covering their faces, but I would never comment on it.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 13:34:49

I thought Islam was monolithic! hmm

my dcs ran to mw to tell me they just saw darth wader (4 and 6 age). The lady overheard.

I looked at her to apologise but when our eyes met, she gave me a dirty look.

if that is not threatning, what is.

I sure sure these women who wear head to toe coverings in the UK know how they come across. so still why do it? to make a political statement.

defuse Fri 18-Oct-13 13:36:46

Gauri, as you state, it is a minority of women who wear the niqab. Why then, pick on such a minority group of women for choosing to wear what they want to wear? What is it to do with anyone if someone chooses to cover their face in order to feel closer to their Lord?

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 13:38:32

I disagree with the statement that 'whatever other think of the niquab is their business'.

if muslims call western women loose and judge because our daughters may wear shorts, why cant we judge them?! its human nature. neither is correct.

the only thing I object to is why is there an increase in muslim women wearing this medieval dress in the UK?

fuzzywuzzy Fri 18-Oct-13 13:39:27

Women tend to wear whatever's comfortable unde their robes, men's shoes or womens brogues with flat heels or trainers or stilettos. It's none of anyone's business.

Gauri she lifted her veil to show your children she was normal looking under it, you sound hostile & I suppose you didn't smile at her so why would she attempt to speak to someone who clearly was not prepared to behave in a kindly manner? If certainly not speak directly to someone's children when the parent looks like they are hostile to me, that's just asking for abuse.

GoshAnneGorilla Fri 18-Oct-13 13:43:53

Gauri you are confusing the terms monolith with monotheism.

The lady was entitled to give you a dirty look as your children were rude. Children loudly commenting about strangers is rude. No exceptions (unless the children have SN that make adherence to such rules difficult).

fuzzywuzzy Fri 18-Oct-13 13:44:34

Haiti I don't give a tats arse what anyone is wearing, would not personally bother me if people chose to swing down the streets Nekkid frankly, it's a flimsy & transparent justification to excersise your own islamophobia by stating we think your dress is 'loose' i don't & none of the women I know think it either, in fact hang out on s&b threads to really hear what your average non Muslim woman thinks of current female dress trends.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 18-Oct-13 13:46:10

I don't think Muslims look to Saudi Arabia for guidance generally, but you must remember that it is the modern-day site of the holy sites of Mecca and Medina; making a pilgrimage there is something every Muslim is supposed to aim for at some point, so it's always going to have a central place in Islam.

There is also the factor that SA is a hugely rich country, and able to widely promote their particular style of Islam - Wahhabi - which is a bit on the fundamentalist side. Just a tad.

defuse Fri 18-Oct-13 13:55:25

Gauri, how dare you make such a derogatory statement about someone else's choice of dress?

I am a British Pakistani and I have seen very few muslim women say anything derogatory about a western woman - and most of the time they get challenged immediately by the younger muslim women. I have come across many many many more western women saying derogatory things about a muslim woman's choices - look at this thread for instance. I myself have personally had derogatory remarks thrown my way heard unpalatable opinions about muslims - and I do not wear a niqab. And to say that the muslims make medieval choices - you should hear the degrading treatment and medieval opinions that some 'western' enlightened women have to this day.

olathelawyer05 Fri 18-Oct-13 14:07:17

Gauri - "...the only thing I object to is why is there an increase in muslim women wearing this medieval dress in the UK?"

Why do you object to an 'increase' in the numbers wearing it? Too many of them wearing it for your liking eh? Perhaps a quota system in is order? Seriously, you're a weird one.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 14:08:29

children aged 4 and 6 were speaking their mind. being honest. yes, I agree this would have been rude if the children were older than 8.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 14:19:36

I object to it asit threatens me.
I object to it as its a symbol for supression (like it or not).
I object to it as girls like Malala in Pakistan are fighting for the freedom to learn, to be free and in a relatively free country, (UK), women are using it as a political statement.
I object to it as it caused women to have vitamin D deficiency.
I object to it as the women wearing that niqab probably cannot join normal work and therefore is probably is on benifits. (I see ur statements coming to me on this comment).
I object to it because women wearing this claim they are more pious. (yes I have read comments on here disputing this).
I object to it as its not safe. how silly to close iff your periferal vision.
I object to it.

defuse Fri 18-Oct-13 14:23:01

Gauri - you expected an apology from a that lady who your kids felt frightened by! Says a lot about you.

defuse Fri 18-Oct-13 14:25:33

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

nicename Fri 18-Oct-13 14:27:06

Actually, I'd apologise if I scared someone's kids to be honest. The woman did pull up her veil though, so I'd take that as a friendly sign.

Its no worse than a kid (not me, oh no) yelling 'witch' when they saw a nun when they were about 4.

PoopMonster Fri 18-Oct-13 14:27:17

Wow Gauri - can I just say at that age I was scared once by a disabled person, and a) I told my mother privately later, not in front of them, and b) she didn't expect them to apologise...we talked about where fear of others comes from etc and how I could deal with it.


Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 14:27:32

yes, the quota system sounds good. that way ateast people will not brush all of the Islamic world with one brush.

I dont care for the number of women who wear this as a choice in SA.

but in the UK, when muslims are a minority, when they represent the country they come from or the culture or religion they come from, should you not put forward your best foot?
it seems otherwise to me.

wear the scarf if you want to be modest.

why look threatning and anti social and expect the rest of the society to accomodate your views?

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 14:29:54

defuse, is that your best argument? that I am islamaphobic for not liking the niquab?!confused hmm biscuit biscuit

defuse Fri 18-Oct-13 14:32:19

Gauri: which culture/country are you doing massive favours for by putting your best foot in mouth?

defuse Fri 18-Oct-13 14:33:18

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

nicename Fri 18-Oct-13 14:33:23

The niquab/scarf/burka is part the religion. Some muslims think its right, and some don't.

It's like saying 'all Christians wear crosses'. Some believe that the should, some don't think you need to.

It is hard to argue about something that there is no agreement on within the religion.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 18-Oct-13 14:35:29

Wow, gauri, don't hold back will you?

You've got to be way off with the benefits thing, I will wager substantial sums that niqabis are either in emplyoment (like the OP) or SAHMs (from my highly scientific observation of my fellow Brummies)

SweetSkull Fri 18-Oct-13 14:37:47

I think Gaudi has killed this discussion.
She is also not representing non Muslim women very well
I'm now hiding the thread.

defuse Fri 18-Oct-13 14:38:19

Also the point about vitamin D deficiency. Gauri, you are most likely vitamin D deficient yourself - majority of the population in the UK are. You're suggesting niqabis take off their niqab to up their levels - what are you going to take off?

it isn't part of the religion - that's not a fair or accurate statement.

it is not a requirement of islam and is a cultural practice.

in much the same way as christians wearing crosses is something that is not a religious requirement so not enshrined in law as a right, covering your face is not a requirement of islam so schools for example or other employers can ban it in a way that they couldn't ban a sikh from wearing a turban or a sikh schoolgirl from wearing the bangle.

it's best not to go with misinformation.

those who cover their faces are doing something that is not a requirement of islam but a choice to do so. to imply otherwise suggests that women who don't are somehow not observing their religion.

the requirements are quite simple.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 14:43:16

I would further add that rightly or wrongly, niquabis are not going to be in a higher paying employment, atleast not in the UK. what profession would employ a women who insists on wearing a face covering all day?! really!
Even while working in Jakarta, my fellow muslims found it strange when rarely they passed a women with a niquab.

Viviennemary Fri 18-Oct-13 14:44:32

I don't approve of the niqab. And nothing the OP has said has made me change my mind on that. It's one of these things that no matter how hard you try to justify it, cultural, religious it just doesn't wash. I just simply don't think it is a good idea for women to cover their faces and there is no obligation on men to do the same.

GoshAnneGorilla Fri 18-Oct-13 15:00:01

Gauri - in the actual O.P it states that she works as a scientist.

Swallowed - to be precise, it is not a religious obligation, but it is an optional religious act/practice. Like doing extra fasts or extra prayers.

defuse Fri 18-Oct-13 15:01:58

I object to it because women wearing this claim they are more pious. (yes I have read comments on here disputing this).

You have been corrected, yet you still hold bigoted views.

"The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract."

I would further add that niqabis on this thread can probably spell peripheral better than you - but then again, it is their vision that is obstructed - your views are not at all.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 15:06:34

gosh, I do not believe she is a scientist. none of the opening arguments in her post are 'objective'. everything she has said is subjective.

being in the engineering/sxientific world myself, I would be surprised if anyone employed a niquab wearing person for any role. specially a high paying role.

this is similar to having a tattkk on your face and seeking white collar employment.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 15:08:22

sorry for typos. getting used to new phone. And yes, I am dyslexic.

Venushasrisen Fri 18-Oct-13 15:08:59

The OP makes a good argument and I’m sure is a delightful person. But…….. I’m sure I could read a well argued view in favour of lap dancing and be convinced by that individual’s view. However, over all is wearing the niqab or lapdancing a good thing I want to support? no in both cases.

We are told that Britain is an open and friendly country, welcoming to incomers over many years. The truth is not quite the case. Compared to many countries we are welcoming but Jews were ostracized in the late 19thC and I can remember lots of antagonism over the Ugandan Asians arriving in the 70s and there are many other instances. In fact I suspect politicians keep using this spin to stop us complaining more than we do about immigration.

If you look around the world at Moslem countries they seem to be in turmoil, and what is the problem? Religion, or the Muslim religion to be more accurate, Sunnis against Shias, Muslims against Christians, strict dictatorships with their own form of Islam in the guise of kindoms such as Saudi Arabia. The last thing Britain needs is to import beliefs or angry inidviduals or traditions from these places. We have religious clashes still in N Ireland, we don’t need more.

The OP quotes, as do many, true religious beliefs of Muslims, these sound like quotes from the New Testament, promoting kindness and consideration to others, but when what we actually see is the terrible violence happening between or by Muslims (Kenyan mall siege a recent example) the interpretation it seems is up to the individual. Suicide bombers are all too real unfortunately. When we see women not allowed to drive or be allowed to travel unescorted we are, or at least I am, exasperated. It seems a throwback to some medieval attitude, before education. True, here in the UK, nuns, church ministers, bishops wear long robes but not in everyday life, probably due to the practicalities of it they gave that up long ago. How sensible, how reasonable.

To get to the point, I am British and I am discomfited and saddened that my lifestyle and traditions are not acceptable to many of the people who settle here, that it is not their choice. I worry that our reasonably fair-minded Britain (fair-minded in comparison to many countries) is disappearing under a tide of cultures which do not fit easily with our own, nor do they fit easily with each other. The wearing of the niqab is an example of this as is the seating of school girls at the back of the class, these seem to portend the way we are going. Though the latter may have been changed due to outside pressure but I’m sure there will be other similar issues in the future. We have a democracy, good education, freedom to drive our own cars, it seems madness to step back in time to ancient customs or ideas.

No doubt I will be lambasted as a racist, and probably my non-politically correct post deleted, so be it. I have lived in the Middle East and North Africa and other parts of the world, and the local people I met there were warm, welcoming and a pleasure to be with but I did follow their customs so as be accepted.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 15:09:44

I am not questioning the education level or intelligence of the niquab wearing women.

just stating that they would be highly unemployable.

slug Fri 18-Oct-13 15:14:45

To be fair though Venus, different sects of Christianity are just as bad at infighting as any Muslim. You only have to look at Northern Island to see that.

martinedwards Fri 18-Oct-13 15:31:42

I can understand how women want to wear the veil because they always have.

in the same way as I want to wear clothes covering my genitalia because I always have.

I disagree totally with the racist scumbags, but I did hear someone recently asking "what's the difference?" between a woman in a veil and an IRA terrorist in a ski mask.....

both have their faces fully obscured, and that COULD be disturbing for some people.

it made me stop and think......

GoshAnneGorilla Fri 18-Oct-13 15:32:52

Gauri - so you're calling the O.P a liar? Good to know.

Venus - the British values argument is a very dubious argument, particularly when most Muslims in the UK are British and identify themselves as such. One would argue that who gets to decide which values are British and who doesn't.

It also ignores that many Muslims in the U.K are here following colonialism. so the idea that they need to perpetually grateful to the British public and not "offend" then by displaying non-British ways, is rather unpleasant.

As for current political and terrorist issues, this has far more to do with political instability, economic issues and other issues then it does with religion. So it's unfair to point the finger at Muslims for that.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 15:47:02

Yes. The OP could be stretching the truth to get her point across.

Tell me, which high paying employer would employ a women wearing a full face covering.

I agree by passport these niquab wearing women may be British.

Ignore the argument that these women are only doing this to feel close to God.

Practically, no matter how welcoming the British public may be, how will this women actually assimilate or contribute. Even if willing to?! 80Percent of communication is via body language/facial expressions. How is she going to communicate?!

Are the French bigoted as they banned the scarf?!

We are not even talking about the scarf. We are talking about something that economically developing moderate Islamic countries do not tolerate.

GoshAnneGorilla Fri 18-Oct-13 15:50:19

Martin - that's easy, one is a terrorist, dressed for harming people, the other is a woman going about her daily business. HTH.

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Fri 18-Oct-13 15:51:12

If these women are so cowed and unable to live their lives ... why are you so threatened and scared by them?

If your children saw a man in a wheel chair and shouted robot would you also be pissed off he didn't apologise?

My deleted comment above was similar to your regarding British values not being a set of laws that everyone follows. Except for the EDL and BNP of course, they seem to think they have the "British Values" copyright.

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Fri 18-Oct-13 15:52:58

Do none of you leave your house on Halloween? Or go skiing? DO you really get that worried by random Muslim women attacking you, why? Has i happened before?

Muslim women ARE MUCH MUCH more likely to be attacked themselves by racist than the other way around.

peacefuloptimist Fri 18-Oct-13 15:54:07

SDTG if you are interested in reading about the life of the Prophet Muhammed PBUH your best bet is to read a book rather than go on a website which will only ever give you snapshots of different incidences in his life rather then a comprehensive overview.

Martin Lings, "Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources" is the best biography on Prophet Muhammad written in English Language.

Karen Armstrong's book Muhammad: A biography of the Prophet is also apparently good though I have not read it. But I have read Martin Lings one which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Another good source to find out about the Prophet Muhammed pbuh is the audio collection The Life of Prophet Muhammed PBUH by Hamza Yusuf which is amazing but might be more appropriate for muslims. Its based on Martin Lings work but with commentary from Hamza Yusuf.

If you dont have time though I will pm you some websites that would be quite authoritative and accurate.

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Fri 18-Oct-13 15:54:37

Tell me, which high paying employer would employ a women wearing a full face covering.

All of them that don't want to get done for race or sex discrimination? confused is this a trick question?

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 15:58:57

Colder, yes, I agree, that Muslim women are more likely to be attacked. Therefore, why stand out even more?

Why give the impression of being 'different'?!

When I go abroad, I try to blend in with the locals. In India, I wear the shalwar kameez. In Brazil, I may wear a bikini on the beach but not beyond. In Africa, I cover my light brown hair to blend in and not stand out.

So why would one want to wear an outfit that looks threatening to a majority of people and claim others are bigoted as they are not accepting me!?

GoshAnneGorilla Fri 18-Oct-13 16:04:22

Colder - such peculiar dichotomies:

They are downtrodden but they scare/intimidate me.


They are oppressed so I want to force them to dress in a manner I find acceptable.


ColderThanAWitchsTitty Fri 18-Oct-13 16:09:43

Colder, yes, I agree, that Muslim women are more likely to be attacked. Therefore, why stand out even more?

Absolutely lets make them change rather than stop creating an atmosphere that allows for racism and victim blaming where the victim can't wear the fucking clothes she wants because some cunt will rip it off them or attack them

A pregnant women had the shit kicked out of her and lost her baby not because she was wearing the niqab but because cowardly racists cunts found her. Theyd have not liked her more if she had "just" been foreign and not wearing the "scary dress"

She told her attackers she was pregnant so they would stop and have some mercy and they started kicking her in the belly.

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Fri 18-Oct-13 16:11:27

Rape apologist think a woman can't go out in a short skirt or expect rape.

Racists think a woman can't go out in a niqab or they should expect attack.

What can women wear if they dont want to be abused?

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 16:14:47

Colder, I do not know about the incident you refer to. Did this happen recently?

How dreadful.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 16:16:38

I agree we need to create an atmosphere of peace and assimilation, cultural acceptance. But how is that going to happen when you cannot even see the persons face? Or the person does not trust you enough to show their face?

peacefuloptimist Fri 18-Oct-13 16:19:32

Those of you who keep saying the wearing of niqab is political are starting to sound a bit self-obsessed and paranoid. Yeah they are dressing in a way that is going to make them more likely to be attacked or discriminated against just to annoy you. Please get over yourself.

You know what I also never noticed before Sept 11th. All these articles banging on about muslims needing to try harder to integrate in to Britain. I never heard of a single person calling for halal meat to be banned until after Sept 11th. Must be political too then right.

Also Gauri not everyones be all and end all is to work for a high paying employer. What is high paying by the way? Im sure a lot of people wouldnt fit in to that group. Are they all the scum of the earth to you too or is it just niqabis. By the way your benefits comment is way off. I know at least five niqabis (probably met more then that though) none of whom are on benefits.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 16:24:56

No, iam not saying racist have a right to attack if you wear a niquab.

Why don't we let naked ramblers ramble everywhere? Why is nudity threatening? If a person was walking stark naked on the uk high street, and say, they want to be treated just like the majority of people, what would you think?

Different is threatening. In any culture. It's human nature.

Nakedness has a vulnerability to it. But face covering is threatening. Like dacoits, bank robbers, people who have something yo hide. It's against human nature. To not accept this in a country where a majority wear clothes or a majority do not hide faces is about rebelling or not conforming to the rules of society you live in.

Venushasrisen Fri 18-Oct-13 16:29:10

Venus - the British values argument is a very dubious argument, particularly when most Muslims in the UK are British and identify themselves as such. One would argue that who gets to decide which values are British and who doesn't

It seems to be second generational Muslims who are choosing the niqab, it is described here as an individual merely exercising their rights but obviously there are wider implications, how will your daughter behave, surely she will be much more inclined to choose the niqab for herself, perhaps go a step further and insist on only attending a single sex school with female teachers. Whilst the daughters of British Muslims are donning the niqab and embracing more rigid Islamic traditions what are their sons doing?

Viviennemary Fri 18-Oct-13 16:29:29

Personally I don't want a bank cashier, checkout assistant, child's teacher or anyone else I have to deal with to be wearing a face covering whether it be a niqab or a balaclava or motorbike helmet. Personally I think they should be banned in all public places.

alemci Fri 18-Oct-13 16:30:32

I do agree that it is better to try to fit in if you feel uncomfortable. This outfit doesn't allow this and makes you look 'other'. Why not just wear the hijab and be done with it and try and assimilate. Your face won't be sandblasted in GB unless you go near a building site smile

I am sure God is more interested in what you do for others than if you are wearing a black dress and covering your face stopping you interacting and making others around you feel uncomfortable which is what happens.

I would never hurt another human being and I am sorry for that poor women who encountered those horrible men.

Someone said upthread about Western women having medieval attitudes. In what way?

nicename Fri 18-Oct-13 16:34:18

Oddly enough, I just passed a man in the street wearing a shalwar kameez. Definately a man (with a wig).

Clothes are odd, they really are. He just really rammed that home to me.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 16:35:44

What type of example is the niquab wearing mother setting to her male and female children?

What sort of economic spiral is she creating for her family and future generations by limiting her social circle and economic reach?

goshanne: "Swallowed - to be precise, it is not a religious obligation, but it is an optional religious act/practice. Like doing extra fasts or extra prayers."

no - it's nothing like extra fasts or prayers which is about being more pious and actually is also done privately re: if people see you doing it and making a song and dance of it it means nothing.

to compare the two is to return to the idea that women who are veiled are more pious. and to ignore the difference in doing something private between you and god to please god and doing something very, very public and visible is silly i think.

it is nothing like extra fasts or prayers. it is a purely cultural practice, nothing religious to it.

ChildrensStoriesNet Fri 18-Oct-13 16:37:10

Re: Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 15:09:44 - "just stating that they would be highly unemployable"

Absolutely, my partner tells me he couldn't employ any such person because they wilfully discriminate against the hard of hearing and deaf (hide their lips and expressions). Apparently the firm would be breaking the law to encourage the discrimination and needs to comply with equal opportunity rules.

Hard of hearing and deaf apparently have an equal right to understand and communicate with any one in the work place.

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Fri 18-Oct-13 16:40:27

What type of example is the niquab wearing mother setting to her male and female children?

What kind of example is Jordan setting for her children with her constant plastic surgery and getting her tits out for the boys?

Can we ban her while we're out it, she annoys me.

And TOWIE they shouldn't be allowed to breed either, they vajazzle, that's brilliant mesage to send to your daughters. That your vagina shold be adorned with glitter to make you loved.

it's actually really undermining of equality amongst women actually even aside from the equality with men business.

ooh salma next door wears a veil, she is such a good, pious girl, why can't you be more like her. her parents must have raised her better than we did.

or the husband who gets more prestige because his wife wears the veil therefore must be a better muslim woman and off runs his work colleague to apply the pressure to his wife to wear the veil.

to pretend this doesn't create pressure on women is just lying. or that it doesn't attempt to mark one out as better, more pious or more rejecting of your countries culture etc.

let's be realistic.

i think women who wear it are doing their sisters a disservice when you really look at it.

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Fri 18-Oct-13 16:41:34

Absolutely, my partner tells me he couldn't employ any such person because they wilfully discriminate against the hard of hearing and deaf (hide their lips and expressions). Apparently the firm would be breaking the law to encourage the discrimination and needs to comply with equal opportunity rules.

That sounds a lot like bullshit as they could probably speak to someone else. I'll await some in HR or employment law to come and confirm though

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Fri 18-Oct-13 16:43:15

Actually in that case you could equally say hiring a foreigner with a difficult accent is discriminating against the hard of hearing. Yeah, I call Bull shit.

employers are perfectly within their rights not to allow the veil. they are not within their rights to disallow something which is a religious obligation as i said upthread but they can absolutely disallow the veil.

crunchybargalore Fri 18-Oct-13 16:44:22

I find such clothing of some concern.

It can be a dangerous article of clothing in that there are so many occupations where complete covering would not work in terms of h and s and hygiene. think just how many occupations you could not undertake because of this form of dress.

It does not allow for vitamin d... Except in very hot countries where rays get through the clothing.

How do you run fast?

How do you teach your children how to pronounce words well?

How would you bf?

Seems like it is a great tool for keeping women at home.

by it's very design it oppresses women and the children they care for.

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Fri 18-Oct-13 16:44:47

I feel the same way about women who get brazillian waxes swallowed but I don't try and ban women getting them

the veil is a choice - why do people keep comparing it to a disability or a foreign language ffs??

it's a choice. equality law is not for choices. it does protect on the basis of belief or lack of belief and employers are asked to make reasonable accommodations - it's not a carte blanche to allow every personal choice to be unquestioned or for employers not to be able to say no with good reasons.

brazilian waxes don't tend to be shown off in public as a rule or result in pressure from parents or husbands that can be backed with the full weight of cultural and misplaced religious pressure. hardly comparable.

crunchybargalore Fri 18-Oct-13 16:46:21

Yes I also understand that for h and s reasons this garment can not be allowed for many reasons - there is no way it would be allowed on a building site for example. quite different from wearing if a turban which is allowed.

TooMuchRain Fri 18-Oct-13 16:46:39

I just wanted to say thanks to peacefuloptimist - your posts have been much more interesting and thought-provoking than the original blog smile

and it's ok for people to discuss and criticise things - it's not if you criticise that persons choice you obviously want it banned.

turban is allowed because it is a religious obligation.

veiling is not.

ergo court cases have upheld a workers right to wear one and not the other.

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Fri 18-Oct-13 16:48:07

religion is covered by equality law. and how people choose to follow that religion.

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Fri 18-Oct-13 16:49:13

Some have said they wanted it banned on thread, and been quite vile about how afraid they are of veiled woman hmm

hate to tell you and know i'll sound like an arrogant bitch but i really do know the equality act and it's coverage of religion. i write training on it.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 16:49:59

What's a towie? Why are we stopping breeding?!

Jordon... Hmm. That's a different topic for another time.

Problems with Islamic countries are due to economies. Afghanistan, Pakistan, parts of Islamic Africa.

SA being an anomaly, being economically well off culture/society means greater percentage of shared responsibility between men and women.

This means stability. World peace.

crunchybargalore Fri 18-Oct-13 16:50:23

Yes noted swallowed.

However given the very poor h and safety record for this type of garment I think it would be extremely dangerous to allow the wearing of the niquab in many work situations if it was a religious obligation.

crunchybargalore Fri 18-Oct-13 16:51:06

Just as wearing of high heels is not allowed on building sites iykwim.

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Fri 18-Oct-13 16:53:32

we cross posted on your last post, I was responding to why people compare it to disability or race. But good for you anyway. Maybe you can answer if it is really true that hiring somoen wearing a veil is discrimination against deaf people because that's why disability was being discussed.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 16:55:36

Ban the niquab and attain world peace. Simples.

Seriously. If the mother is highly educated but is working a menial job as she is wearing a face covering, even more reason to not like this practice.

crunchybargalore Fri 18-Oct-13 16:56:55

Colder - if you hired someone with a disability then you would have to ask the person you hired if another colleague wearing a niqab wold impede them and if so address what they need.

It would depend if they were expected to work closely together etc.

peacefuloptimist Fri 18-Oct-13 16:57:01

I am sure God is more interested in what you do for others than if you are wearing a black dress and covering your face

I absolutely agree with you alemci but maybe some other posters need to do the same.

At my university there was a niqabi who had been offered a PhD studentship in engineering. The university didnt care about what she looked like. What they cared about was that she had done some research in the university for her masters which had produced something that could have made the university a lot of money. Her research would have benefited those who were dependant on kidney dialysis.

The university were able to look past her niqab and look at what she could do for others and I think people need to instead look at what is in their heads and hearts not whats on their faces.

By the way one question I have is are people against people wearing niqab in public facing jobs (i.e. teachers, nurses, bank tellers) or are you against people wearing it in public in general, so even if they are wearing it going about their own business, shopping or dropping their kids at school?

no disability was raised several times before - re: comparing a child being scared by a lady head to toe in black to being scared by someone in a wheelchair.

if the deaf person was there first and the muslim was employed afterwards in a role where she needed to communicate with others and they needed to understand her in order to do their jobs then i suspect the deaf guy would probably have a pretty good case against his employer for having been disadvantaged on account of his disability. however if the employer had employed her after her coming to interview in the veil and knowing she wore it they'd be in an awkward place. if she hadn't worn it to interview and at time of offering the job she could be made to remove it or give up the post.

in reality they wouldn't employ her if they had any common sense because they'd see that coming.

crunchybargalore Fri 18-Oct-13 17:03:45

Peaceful - I would expect the uni to look past the niqab - however honestly how would teach with a niqab.

It must be incredibly restrictive.

IHaveA Fri 18-Oct-13 17:08:08

I find niqabs very unfriendly and very old fashioned.

I am an athiest and I don't understand why religious people think any God would care about what they wear as long as it's reasonably modest. Do displays of loyalty and faith always have to be so public. Covering every bit of your body just seems a bizarre and extreme thing to do in the 21st century.

If I was wanting to feel closer to God I don't see why wearing something so outdated would help. Surely, your relationship with God should be more about what's in your head.

I admit that I don't like skimpy tarty clothes either.

Btw I would never assume anything about someone who was wearing a niqab, I would treat them exactly the same as everyone else. I do find it unusual for someone wearing the niqab to be friendly back to me but I suspect that is because they get accustomed to people not being as open and friendly with them. IYSWIM

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 17:11:58

Peaceful optimist.

When I was at university, there was a student who was very Islamic.

He was about to complete his PhD. I was to share his lab. As soon as he found out I was to use the same lab, he made our lecturer get him another lab. He was asking the lecturer to whet the interviews he was being asked to attend lest there be a women.

Isn't he limiting his choice or economic height/options? As a best case?

How impractical is that in the uk. Don't want to sound like, 'why don't u go back to where you/your grandparents came from but', he would have been better working in SA.

We need to empower Muslim women. They are not at a stage yet where empower means wear a niquab. They first need to attain equal value in their own society before they can deploy 'it's a free society' card

GoshAnneGorilla Fri 18-Oct-13 17:13:39

Swallowed - you need to stop lecturing Muslim women about their own religion.

Niqab wearing is classed as a sunnah act, something that is voluntary. This is the religious definition of how the act of wearing niqab is viewed. Extra prayers and fasts on certain days are also classed as Sunnah.

This is opposed to fard (obligatory) actions such as the five daily prayers, fasting Ramadan and wearing hijab.

Wearing niqab is an Islamic practice, that it may be more or less popular in certain countries does not change this, nor does it turn it into a solely cultural practice.

You concerns about niqab wearing being bad for Muslim women is not shared by the majority of Muslim women on thread. In fact we have told you of the corrosive effect anti-niqab sentiment has on Muslim women as a whole.

Or do you know what Muslim want better then we ourselves do? How liberating that is for us!

crunchybargalore Fri 18-Oct-13 17:14:41

Honestly where do niqab wearers who live in the UK get their bit d?

Gauri. - what country did you do your phd in?

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 17:17:40

Uk. In fact in London.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 17:17:40

Uk. In fact in London.

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Fri 18-Oct-13 17:19:13

swalowed sorry, that was me about the wheel chair, I said wheelchair because it loosk different it could have easily have been emo/goth/punk/

no one should have to apologise for looking different.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 17:20:48

A person in a wheelchair does not have an option.

A person wearing a niquab is choosing to look different.

fikel Fri 18-Oct-13 17:21:01

In Iran they wear the hijab by the way!! Do we really know what the majority of these women feel wearing the Niqab, by its nature it is oppressive and acts as a natural barrier to communication. I would find it impossible to strike up a lighthearted conversation with a lady wearing one, if we were in a queue or a waiting room for example. This I perceive as a potential worry, as far as integration is concerned and also makes me wonder if behind the full veil, the lady is happy, healthy and has the support network should she need help

crunchybargalore Fri 18-Oct-13 17:22:03

Wow I am ah coked about the uni.

I meant to say where do niqab wearers in the UK get their vitamin d from?

crunchybargalore Fri 18-Oct-13 17:23:01

Sorry I am shocked about uni ... Silly keyboard.

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Fri 18-Oct-13 17:24:20

I just don't understand why people have such strong feelings on such a very tiny minority of women, if we are going to worry about the effect it has on other women why not start with the majority of women in the west who dress in ways that are "lettin their sisters down"

if I don't shave, I'm a hairy freak.. women who do shave are letting me down by making my natural body hair a culturally unacceptable thing to have.

I don't see half as many people worried about what they do everyday that lets the side down. It's only minorities we get out underoos in a twist over.

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Fri 18-Oct-13 17:26:14

SO you think goths should apologise for choosing to look different Gauri? Fat people should apologise because your kids shout fatty at them?

Just teach your kids some manners. How about that, it's super easy to see what you can do yourself to change an awkward situation

MistressIggi Fri 18-Oct-13 17:27:17

Is wearing hijab really obligatory? I'd always thought it was just a general modesty rule, I didn't know a veil was specified. (Genuine question)

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 17:30:24

Fikle, exactly. The niquab wearing is only popular in SA, Afghanistan and some Parts of the Pakistani/Bangladeshi communities in the UK.

Further, you will not find financially and socially well off communities in the uk promoting the niquab.

Most other Islamic countries promote equal education and rights for women (per Islamic tradition). This means a moderate approach in everything they practice. They may wear the scarf but do not hide face. I.e., Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, UAE.

alemci Fri 18-Oct-13 17:30:28

I worked with a deaf student and it was vital she could see my face and that of the teacher.

She could not help being deaf but the person wearing the Niqab doesn't need to wear it and I think it is slightly selfish.

Wouldn't God look more favourably on the latter for removing the face part of the veil so the student could lip read. That is helping other people and putting them before yourself.

Just don't understand.

SocksinBoots Fri 18-Oct-13 17:38:43

Can I ask a question to the niqab wearing posters please?

I would like to know how you feel about your general interaction in public and how it takes place. Do people stop you to ask directions, natter about the weather, make a point of saying hello if you pass in the street everyday etc?

If they do, is their interaction welcome or not?

If they don't, does it upset you? Would you like people to engage you more?

TIA (no agenda, just curious)

crunchybargalore Fri 18-Oct-13 17:41:04

I would also like to know if weares have young children and do they try pull off the garment?

And do you be in public?

Also who suggested to you at you should wear it?

crunchybargalore Fri 18-Oct-13 17:41:33

I meant do you bf in public?

QueenoftheSarf Fri 18-Oct-13 17:48:47

Fuzzywuzzy, if she was motivated to become a geneticist by her wish to please her God, that is an entirely opposite motivation to altruism. Indeed, it is entirely selfish. Most religious people wish to show devotion to god solely in order to ensure they get to heaven. Any acts carried out to demonstrate devotion are therefore motivated purely by self preservation. If some benefit to others results, that's purely incidental. It's not the overarching motivation.

True altruism is demonstrated by people who do things when there is nothing in it for them. The definition of altruism is actually "willingness to do things that bring advantages to others, even if it results in disadvantage for yourself"

nicename Fri 18-Oct-13 17:49:56

In Iran they wear the hijab by the way!

They wear headscarves (minimum) because they are forced by law to do so. Mostly the minute they are out of Persian air space they come off. Just watch them coming through customs in a flash of colour, fashion and loveliness. I do love my relies.

Pre-revolution it would have been (some of the) old ladies who wore black (no faces covered) or those viwed as 'peasants'. They would have been teased for dressing like an old Arab (which we know Persians are definately not).

I have some very religious types in my family. Theologians even. The men give me a friendly hug/squeeze my arm. (Late) great grandpa would kiss my cheek and tell me off for eating too many sweets (which he used to bring me!). Aunty was a senior lecturer at a (mixed) uni in the old days, another was a musician... All pretty normal stuff really.

None of the woman wears a scarf outside of a muslim country. The thinking is (as a very wise and very religious great grandma used to say) 'you cover so that you don't stand out - why cover to stand out?'.

When I go to a mosque I wear pretty much what I'd wear going into the Vatican I guess - covered knees to elbow, no bare shoulders/clevage and scarf on my head.

We all struggle with moral decisions sometimes. If a woman decides that her path - in her heart of hearts (no force, no politics, no eff you) - lies in dressing in clothing which origiated from the ME then fine. It doesn't make her worse for it and certainly doesn't make her better.

As the bible says - you are judged by words, thoughts and deeds (not a scrap of cloth).

NCISaddict Fri 18-Oct-13 17:58:19

What a brilliant and eloquent post nicename obviously written from an in depth knowledge of Islam. It makes perfect sense.

PrincessFlirtyPants Fri 18-Oct-13 18:00:07

Gosh, I have to say that there seems to be an unhealthy obsession with Islam at the minute.

"Ah, look how they are dressed. What if they are a terrorist!"
"My children are scared of them"

Wow, it's honestly like I have been transported back to the 1950's. why is everyone so scared? The fear of the unknown?

I do find it funny that some people insinuate that Islamic women do not want to integrate with society, have you ever tried to integrate with Islam? Maybe, get to know some Muslim people and then make your mind up?

I know a lot of Muslims, in a number of workplaces I have been the only non-Muslim. I have only ever had 1 bad experience out about 100 and he was just a nasty person. Lets get some perspective.

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 18:05:08

No one is scared of Islamic people. A niquab is scary as it covers the face.

That is NOT being anti Islamic.

It is not being islamaphobic. We are not even saying the niquab wearing person is a bad person. Just that the outfit they are wearing means they cannot fully engage in society in the UK nor develop to their full potential economically

IHaveA Fri 18-Oct-13 18:09:20

Excellent post nicename.

In fact there are lots of excellent posts on this thread. Its really making me think.

peacefuloptimist Fri 18-Oct-13 18:20:29

I agree with GoshAnne, you need to stop lecturing muslim women about their own religion Swallowed. You may know equality law but you dont know Islam so please stop the patronising.

There seems to be a lot of fantasists on this thread.

the husband who gets more prestige because his wife wears the veil therefore must be a better muslim woman and off runs his work colleague to apply the pressure to his wife to wear the veil.

What makes you think all muslim men want their wives to wear niqab. Muslim men in general (like all men) want an easy life. They don't want to be put in a position where they have to prove their un manliness by having to defend their wife from some racists. I have two friends who struggled to find partners because they wore niqab and one of them was asked if she would consider stopping it if she married the guy. There are certain muslim men who would like a wife who wears niqab and to be honest they would look for a woman who wore it before they got married rather then deal with the hassle of convincing their wife to wear it after marriage. See they just want an easy life.

Wouldn't God look more favourably on the latter for removing the face part of the veil so the student could lip read. That is helping other people and putting them before yourself.

Are we talking about a real life example here or is this pulled out of the depth of your imagination. Even in this fantastical scenario there are two solutions. Yes a) she could remove her veil so that the student can lip read or b) she can learn to use sign language so that she can communicate with the deaf student. However I think a point was made earlier (I think it was from my sister GoshAnne) that most niqabis do not seek public facing jobs. I do actually know three niqabis who are teachers, however they teach arabic to children and women and remove their veils when they are in front of their class.

How do you run fast? How do you teach your children how to pronounce words well? How would you bf?

grin This was my favorite. You know I dont wear niqab but I still can't run fast. Thankfully I havent encountered a scenario yet where this has been an essential skill that has been needed and my lack of having this special power has caused me serious problems. Niqabis can still speak you know. Just because you cant see their mouth doesnt mean its disappeared. They probably teach their kids pronunciation when they are at home, where incidentally they can also breastfeed their babies. I dont wear niqab and I still wouldnt breastfeed in public and im sure many others wouldnt either. It takes a special kind of guts to pull out your breast in a room full of strangers.

Most other Islamic countries promote equal education and rights for women (per Islamic tradition). This means a moderate approach in everything they practice. They may wear the scarf but do not hide face. I.e., Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, UAE.

Gauri one second your saying muslim women need to fight for equality in muslim countries next your saying they already have it. Which is it? Muslim women do need to fight certain battles in muslim countries but hijab and niqab is not one of those battles. For us these are just religious symbols not symbols of inequality. i dont wear niqab. I will never wear niqab. But I will support the right of any muslim woman to wear it if thats what they want.

crunchybargalore Fri 18-Oct-13 18:27:44

I am glad I made you smile. But you seemed to confirm that if you wear the niquab you are not able to run fast. Many people find running an absolute joy and to have that denied because of your sex seems so sad to me.

Sad so sad about breastfeeding and being confined in doors.

crunchybargalore Fri 18-Oct-13 18:28:56

Oh and being able to run or run fast is not a super power ... Although it does sound near impossible if you were a garment which restricts your movement and what you can do.

Shallishanti Fri 18-Oct-13 18:29:52

OK, lots of interesting stuff here (along with some quite ignorant stuff- and I can see how Muslim women must be fed up with hearing the same old stuff)
I have a question which I'd appreciate feedback from a woman who wears the niquab. On my street are a few women who wear the niquab. I don't have the opportunity to meet them, other than passing in the street. With my other neighbours, I can judge if they would welcome a greeting/moan about the weather/question about whether the bin men have been. From there, it's possible to build a freindly relationship, by repeating this. But with these women, I don't even know if I'm seeing the same woman I saw yesterday? I get that in more structured situations, barriers to communication may be addressed, but this is something very casual- and the niquab does seem to me like a barrier to developing neighbourliness. And DP (male) feels even more inhibited. Your thoughts?

Gauri Fri 18-Oct-13 18:45:10

Muslim women have more equality in some countries such as Malaysia than other such as Afghanistan.

As an example (extreme example) most Indonesians or Malaysians or Iranians do not have 4 wife's, wear the niquab,etc... They have evolved their form of Islam to be moderate. They are tolerant of other cultures. Economically they are better off than most other Islamic countries. They are achieving or have achieved an equilibrium with religion and practical socio economic factors. This is what the Islamic society should be aspiring to.

Wearing a niquab and expecting others to tolerate you shouldn't be your lifes purpose.

Being a Muslim women, who achieves success I.e. Better education for children, care for elderly, better economic level should be the goal in sync with practice of Islam.

This niquab issue is such a petty issue to waste so much time and energy over.

crunchybargalore Fri 18-Oct-13 19:06:07

I am not so sure it is a petty issue.

It is right that it is discussed.

it is extreme to wear the niqab.

KaseyM Fri 18-Oct-13 19:46:42

Shallishanti I asked that questions ages ago to no avail.

LaLaLeni Fri 18-Oct-13 19:57:58

Gauri, just as an FYI - I have hand and head tattoos, yet I work with disabled staff and customers in a white collar, high pay grade corporation.

I've worked with people with hearing impairments for almost ten years now, and I was originally employed to provide a tool in all situations where lip reading might be difficult. There are many situations where this happens - it could be as simple as trying to lip read a bank cashier through reflective glass, people who turn away frequently, or have a beard. Others are just impossible to lip read full stop. None of those situations involve the other person having a disability.

I just wanted to point those facts out from experience.

peacefuloptimist Fri 18-Oct-13 20:33:05

Thanks LaLaLeni for helping us sort out fact from fiction. grin You can work in high paying jobs if you have a tattoo on your face so Im sure there are some niqabis in high paying positions too.

Shallishanti, I am not a niqabi but I know a lot of niqabis. If I were you I would just start with saying hello and nodding or waving. Dont be surprised or offended if they dont respond. When I was in Next today I tried to speak to the woman behind the till as I was paying and she completely rebuffed my efforts to make conversation probably thought whats the point she's already bought something. I just assumed she had a long day and just got on with paying for my purchases. In Islam we have this saying where we say you should make 70 excuses for people rather then jumping to the worst conclusion about them. So just brush it off if you dont get a response first time and try again. You never know they might have been waiting for their chance to get to speak to you. As for how will you know who you are talking to as there are a few on your street, well I think you should be able to distinguish by features such as voice or body type or face shape etc eventually. I have quite a few friends who are niqabis (this thread has made me realise just how many niqabis I know - I wonder what that says about me grin) and I could distinguish them all from a line up quite easily just because after a while they become very familiar as you learn mannerisms and become accustomed to recognising their features.

Herisson Fri 18-Oct-13 20:38:03

This is really interesting.

I am particularly interested because there's a woman who lives down the road from me who has children at the same school as mine. She's really nice. I haven't known her very long (a couple of terms) but we got talking while waiting at the Pelican crossing one day and I am on friendly terms with her. We say hello and have a short conversation if we are walking the same way. We seem to have a reasonably similar sense of humour and both like to crack a joke at the expense of the school or moan about the latest dressing up demand.

At the beginning of this term, she started to cover her face. I had not previously known she was a Muslim and wouldn't have cared anyway (my dad was brought up Muslim although he's no longer religious, so I am certainly not anti-Islamic) but it brought up some interesting things.

1) the first time I saw her, I wasn't actually sure if it was her or not and so I didn't wave or speak to her as I would normally have done. I don't know her well enough to have recognised her immediately from just her eyes. Possibly she thought I was being unfriendly, but I genuinely didn't realise it was her. It was just an anonymous person in black to me.

2) I felt a bit odd about speaking to her when I did realise it was the same person. She looked so different that it didn't seem like the person I know a bit about. Previously she'd always worn jeans and sweatshirts etc (like I do) and now she is sweeping about in floor-length black robes with only her eyes visible.

3) It made me realise that if she'd always worn that I would probably have not talked to her in the first place. I'd never have been able to catch the look of amusement that originally made us get talking.

4) Obviously I'm not going to stop talking to her because of what she wears, but I feel distanced from her because she's made a very public proclamation that what everyone else wears (and she wore until recently) kind of isn't good enough.

5) I feel like I can't ask her about it without coming across as judgemental so I haven't. So we probably won't go on to be actual friends now, rather than coinciding school run mums (and I think we might have done). I am, in fact, slightly judgemental about the whole business because I honestly can't see the benefit to anyone, being a confirmed atheist.

Just a few observations.

humphryscorner Fri 18-Oct-13 21:27:33

Excellent post nicename

To me the niqab represents extremism and extremists of anyvk

humphryscorner Fri 18-Oct-13 21:30:17

Excellent post nicename

To me the niqab represents extremism and extremists of any kind are worrying as they have no wish to join out society .

LaLaLeni Fri 18-Oct-13 21:47:21

My boss is visually impaired and he doesn't communicate with his eyes. I've managed to adapt to this perfectly well, as I have with the 5 other people who have similar impairments that I've worked very closely with in the past ten years.

At the beginning I felt uneasy because I wanted to forge functional relationships with my clients (and I work 1 to 1 with them, day in, day out). It didn't take long for us to get to know each other - and in exactly the same way as any other relationship, working or otherwise.

I have friends and colleagues with whom I have never had eye contact or even heard their voices. I probably know them better for that bit of extra effort required to form those relationships. I can perhaps draw parallels to this debate from that...

i do know islam and studied with an imam for a long time in an islamic country. you don't have to be 'be' a muslim to know islam or have opinions on it or differ in interpretations of the koran, which i have read and could recite you a few surahs from in arabic.

i also know a fair bit about christianity, hinduism, buddhism - i've studied lots of religions and explored them in a more personal way through my own spiritual path of trying to work out my own beliefs and values.

i stand by my remark that in no way is wearing a veil the same as extra fasts - extra fasts are done in private to have any worth - the person doesn't let people know they are fasting so they receive no worldy rewards like status etc for doing it - it is between them and god. even on that basis it is entirely different. some muslims will see it the way you do, others not, scholars will have different views.

your view of your religion is not the only view.

for example some muslims look to the hadiths almost with equal unquestioning obedience as the koran. others see this as problematic as the koran is meant to be the revealed word of god for all time and the hadiths were written by people in their historical, cultural and power contexts and so are fallible.

if you can quote for me where in the koran it says that wearing a veil is equivalent to extra prayers or fasts i would be grateful.

as an aside i had a really interesting conversation with a local imam the other day who felt that muslim sisters in the uk had much harder lives than in muslim countries as they were often so isolated. for immigrants coming in the assumption that they will stay home, not work, not socialise with men etc was really tough as we live in such isolated domestic units here rather than cultures where women have a much more shared home life and community around the home in which to support one another.

he is working really hard to ensure that his mosque is welcoming to women and runs lots of classes and social interaction opportunities for these sisters. he is also trying to promote the importance of these women being able to integrate into british society and to interpret islam in this place and time rather than be weighed down by cultural baggage from home countries such as the veil and overly strict interpretations of koranic teachings.

i really don't pull my views entirely out of my arse you know.

UptheChimney Sat 19-Oct-13 09:21:18

Interesting imam -- what is his view of the ministry of women?

You see, I don;'t have much time for any religion treating women as less than human: being required to stay away from places when they're menstruating for example, or being "churched" [purified] after childbirth, or having to cover their hair.

The Quakers have accepted the ministry of women as equal to men for quite some time; the Church of England is slowly getting their heads around the fact that women are fully human. What is the position of Islam?

CoteDAzur Sat 19-Oct-13 09:44:49

In Islam, women are definitely not equal to men. Women are treated with respect (if "proper" Muslims, all covered, outwardly pious etc) but they don't have equal rights.

But they do have rights and always have - since 600 AD, Muslim women can own property & other assets, work and make money, and divorce their husbands even when husband has done no wrong, and keep their babies & small children.

I have only realized that this wasn't the case in Europe when I read a book about the history of feminism and was shock that women in the UK couldn't do any of the above well into the 19th Century! My ancestors never had to fight and win these rights the hard way.

CoteDAzur Sat 19-Oct-13 09:56:18

swallowed - re Quran & Hadith:

Quran says it is "complete, perfect, and fully detailed" and all you need to know to be a Muslim. If I were the believing type, I would no doubt be Muslim and then I would believe Quran when it says the above.

Besides, Mohammad is on record in the Hadith as saying that women's face and hands must be visible. So there is no justification for the veil from the Quran nor the Hadith.

he is interesting and also the only imam i've met llocally who is really committed to trying to create a mosque that is for all muslims of all nationalities - all the other mosques round here have a real tribal edge re: all of bangladeshi background go to mosque x etc and there is very little integration between muslim communities of different heritage.

if i was a muslim i'd go koran only - to look at the hadiths seems to contravene the message of the koran about other holy books and religions entirely.

ChildrensStoriesNet Sat 19-Oct-13 10:46:28

I would be suspicious of anyone with a covered face in town, I would be wondering is this another robber as it's traditional for such people to conceal their faces.

The problem for the Niqab is you can't tell who's underneath.

A Dubai police chief claims in the media that...

"...some women in ‘niqab’ were found to be behind shoplifting from a number of malls. Though the ‘niqab’ made their identification difficult..."


So apart from the other problems, it seems Niqab wearing people by default put themselves under suspicion of crime, even though that would not be true for the majority, concealment is the tool of the robber.

MistressIggi Sat 19-Oct-13 10:50:17

Swallowed, do you know the answer to my earlier question? Goshannegorilla said that hijab was an obligatory action: I had honestly thought it was not specified in the Qur'an, just modesty.
I know quite a lot of Muslims through work, and they are very mixed in terms of wearing hijab/not wearing it. None wear a face veil, it's very rare to see that where I live - possibly due to the cultural background of the Muslims living here.

Venushasrisen Sat 19-Oct-13 10:54:36

Thanks swallowedAfly it's very helpful to have the views of someone with genuine knowledge of different religions.

And the point about incomers being more isolated here in the UK than their own communities abroad is worth thinking about. It must be very lonely.

it's not obligatory no mistress. only obligatory to cover to below elbows and knees (same for men) and for a woman to cover their hair. it actually goes a lot deeper but most ignore the deeper messages - re: not wearing ornaments or trying to draw attention to yourself or stand out from or compete with other women.

alemci Sat 19-Oct-13 11:16:53

also from Children's post, it seems to contradict the idea of spirituality. If you are shoplifting wearing this attire then you are bringing your religion into disrepute and being holy so I question this as being a reason. Seems more like a disguise so you can get away with things and be anonymous.

I know this isn't the case for everyone

tbh i'd put wearing the veil in with adornments and trying to draw attention to oneself if i was god and judge it a sin of vanity. the key spirit of the writings on women's dress in my opinion was the spirit of equality and non compete. the veil - the adding more on top of what's asked - undermines that spirit.

it's funny though how really it's built into all the major religions that your acts of piety should be on the inside and win you nothing in the world of man re: give to charity in secret, say your prayers in private, don't make a song and dance of fasting etc and yet religious people always manage to ignore that and focus on the worldly expressions instead.

MistressIggi Sat 19-Oct-13 11:50:03

Thank Swallowed. It is interesting there are differences of opinion about the veil, never mind the niqab.

peacefuloptimist Sat 19-Oct-13 12:28:25

if you can quote for me where in the koran it says that wearing a veil is equivalent to extra prayers or fasts i would be grateful.

Swallowed Islam is not a monolithic religion . There are lots of different interpretations that are acceptable on the same issue so the point that me and Gosh were making is that you do not have the authority to state that niqab is not part of the religion because there are legitimate legal opinions stating otherwise. Even though I may not subscribe to that particular opinion I can not deny that it exists and that someone else has the freedom to follow that interpretation.

One of the things I love about Islam is that it is holistic. There is not just one way to please God or draw closer to God, Islam offers multiple possibilities. For example, a person may be involved in recycling or conservation work and say that they are doing this to please God. Now you could say where does it say in the Quran that recycling pleases God. It doesnt say that exactly. However, the person doing that is basing it on a principle in the Quran which is that human beings have a role to play on Earth, which is to be caretakers of the Earth or guardians of it. Therefore doing any action that will help preserve the environment or improve it for later generations is an act of worship. In the same way you could say that polluting, littering etc are sinful acts because you are going against this Islamic principle of taking care of the environment. Modesty is a principle in Islam. “Modesty is part of faith.” "Modesty does not bring anything but goodness.” [ Hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim]. Therefore if a person wants to do more to be modest then they should have the liberty to do that. The blogger and others may feel that wearing niqab helps them draw closer to God. Just because I may not feel that way and let me make it clear I don't subscribe to that view that you need to wear niqab to be modest however, I respect their right to make that decision.

if i was a muslim i'd go koran only - to look at the hadiths seems to contravene the message of the koran about other holy books and religions entirely.

I categorically have to disagree with you and Cote on this one. The hadith is vitally important to understanding the Quran because the hadith give you context. Without the hadith you dont have the context and without the context you lose the meaning. Now some liberals prefer that because they can apply any meaning they want to the verses in the Quran without hadith but for me that is extremely dangerous because then extremists can do the same thing. I will give one example. In the Quran there is a verse that states.

"And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents." Holy Quran, Chapter 17; verse 23

Now someone could use that verse as a justification for forced marriages stating that God says in the Quran you must be dutiful to your parents. I interpret that as being obedient to them so marry the person I want you to marry. How would you challenge that interpretation? Well if you follow the hadith you can challenge it easily.

'A woman came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, my father married me to my cousin in order to raise his social standing, but I do not want to be married to him.” The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave her the option of annulment. At this point, she said: “I have already reconciled myself to my father’s decision, but I wanted it to be known that women have a say in the matter.”

The Prophet Muhammed PBUH didnt even say she needed to divorce the man she had been forced to marry, instead he say she could have it annulled. Annulling a marriage is as though it is completely erased - legally, it declares that the marriage never technically existed and was never valid.

The Prophet PBUH also said, "A non-virgin should not be given in marriage except after consulting her; and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission."

Explicitly saying that permission from the woman needs to be obtained from the woman before a marriage can be agreed. There is a whole chapter in Sahih Bukhari which is a collection of hadith called “No father or mother or any close relation can force his/her children to marry any one against their free will and consent” which has more hadith that emphasis this point.

I hope that makes sense. Many extremists will totally ignore the context of Quranic verses and use that also to justify indiscriminate violence. Again the hadith is vital in repudiating them as it makes it clear the verses are talking about a specific group of people in a particular historical context and they only can be applied in the same context i.e. defending yourself against an oppressive aggressor.

Plus in the Quran it says

'Say, [O Muhammad], "If you should love Allah , then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful." (Holy Quran, Chapter 3, verse 31)

"O you who believe, obey Allah and His Messenger ... " [Holy Qur'an Chapter 8: verse 20] "Say: obey Allah and obey the Messenger ... " [Holy Qur'an Chapter 24:Verse 54]

Certainly did Allah confer a great favour on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error. (Holy Quran Chapter 3, verse 164)

“……And whatever the Messenger (blessings and peace be upon him) gives you, take that and whatever he forbids you, abstain (from that) ……..” (Holy Quran Chapter 59, verse 7)

Therefore I think it is erroneous to deny that the hadith are part of Islam or needed. Yes the Quran is perfect but how do we understand it without the Prophet Muhammed PBUH who explains to us the practical implementation of the verses. The Quran makes it clear that the Messenger's job is not just to convey the message but also to explain the message and that can only be found in the hadith.

peacefuloptimist Sat 19-Oct-13 12:45:18

By the way if you are against niqab, actually one of the main reasons why scholars dont consider the niqab to be obligatory is also because of the hadith. I will copy and paste a point that another mumsnetter Crescentmoon made us aware of on the muslim tearoom thread when we were discussing a similar issue. The italics bit is the start of Crescent's post.

some interesting hadith iv been reading recently....

Sahih Bukhari Book 74 #247.

Narrated Abdullah bin Abbas: "Al-Fadl bin Abbas rode behind the Prophet as his companion rider on the back portion of his she-camel on the Day of Nahr (on the Farewell Hajj), and Al-Fadl was a handsome man. The Prophet stopped to give people verdicts. In the meantime, a beautiful woman from the tribe of Khath'am came, asking the verdict of Allah's Apostle. Al-Fadl started looking at her as her beauty attracted him. The Prophet looked back while Al-Fadl was looking at her; so the Prophet held out his hand backwards and caught the chin of Al-Fadl and turned his face to the other side in order that he should not gaze at her. She said, "O Allah's Apostle! The obligation of performing hajj enjoined by Allah on His worshipers has become due (compulsory) on my father, who is an old man and who cannot sit firmly on the riding animal. Will it be sufficient that I perform hajj on his behalf?". He said, "Yes".

that when the companion couldnt help but stare at the beautiful woman who came to ask the prophet (pbuh) for religious knowledge, the prophet (pbuh) didnt tell her to go and cover her face because of temptation, he took the chin of that sahabah and turned it aside. because he was rude in staring! now a minority of our brothers in these times would blame the woman for causing a fitnah rather than tell the men its your problem!

another hadith (found in ibn Majah, Abu Dawud, Tayalisi, Baihaqi, Ahmad, Tirmidhi, and Nasai and it is judged SAHIH by Albani)...

Silsilat al-Ahadith as-Sahih #3472.

"Ibn Abbas said: A beautiful woman, from among the most beautiful of women, used to pray behind the Prophet. Some of the people used to go to pray in the first row to ensure they would not be able to see her. Others would pray in the last row of the men, and they would look from underneath their armpits to see her. Because of this act, in regard to her, Allah revealed, "Verily We know the eager among you to be first, and verily We know the eager among you to be behind" (Surah al-Hijr ayah 24)

so in the hadith a woman again is engaged upon a religious observance, in this case prayer, and yet the verse of the Quran makes a point of the actions of the men, not her going about her prayer. nowadays some people might say 'she's deliberately trying to attract attention', whereas the Quran focuses on why those men prayed in the later lines and those prayed in the first lines:

'Verily We know the eager among you to be first, and verily We know the eager among you to be behind' (15:24).!!!!

Crescents point was that the Quran and the Prophet Muhammed PBUH did not command either of those two women who were attracting alot of attention because of their beauty to cover up more. Instead the focus is on the men correcting their behaviour. This combined with the hadith that Cote mentions (which I cant find right now) is the main reason why I personally do not think that niqab is necessary for modesty.

However, who am I to force my opinion on someone and if a woman is allowed to wear hot pants in this society I think its unfair to ban women from wearing niqabs. You may find it offensive but I find it equally offensive to see the curve of some strangers bare backside as I am going about my day.

alemci Sat 19-Oct-13 12:49:20

Peace thanks for your post and explanation.

the verse about being dutiful is similar to honour your parents in the old testament. I agree it is vague but do you need another book? to me it means respect your mum and dad. in the bible there is another verse about parents not winding up there dcs so it cuts both ways.

to me the hadith seems a bit like the appocraphe which I believe Catholics refer to but other denominations do not think it is part of the bible and disregard.

crescentmoon Sat 19-Oct-13 12:54:55

hello alemci, can you tell me what the appocraphe is?

crescentmoon Sat 19-Oct-13 13:02:48

also peaceful, thanks for your posts i think they explain things really well. i totally am of the opinion that its when women are ignorant of hadith just as much as being ignorant of the Quran that they lose from it. sometimes its staring one in the face. eg the hadith about the prophet (pbuh) turning the mans face to the side as he was staring so much, that hadith is used for another point of religious law: that one is able to complete the Hajj pilgrimage for one's parents whilst they are still alive if they are frail. but its the scene of the hadith and the context that is also used by scholars to show that niqab is not obligatory.

alemci Sat 19-Oct-13 13:14:08

hi Crescent

Apocrypha - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

haven't mastered android c&p

but accepted by catholics but disputed by protestants as it was not in original Hebrew scripture.

Martin Luthers real bugbear was purgatory which was not biblical but to do with the apocryphe

peacefuloptimist Sat 19-Oct-13 13:21:09

I wouldnt equate the hadith with the appocraphe. I heard a non-muslim theologian once say that if the rules the muslims used to certify hadith was used on the bible most of it would be thrown out. One central principle of collecting hadith is that you ascertain who the people are who are narrating the hadith and what their character was like. So a hadith can be classified as weaker if the person narrating is found to be lacking in some aspect of their character and they can be classified as completely fabricated if you cant verify who the person who actually narrated it was. I hope that makes sense. Hadith science is a very precise science.

Their are lots of beautiful hadith that enrich the religion to be honest.

For example

'The best of you is he who is best to his wife'

Is one that many muslim women love to quote to their husbands as well as the ones describing how he use to help out around the home with housework grin

There are hadith describing how the prophet Muhammed PBUH never hit a woman or child. That is another useful one to combat domestic violence.

My personal favourite is the Prophet Muhammed PBUH's farewell speech which adds so much beauty and depth to our understanding of what a muslim should be.

Im just scratching the surface here to be honest but I definitely think we would be worse off if we got rid of the hadith for the central reason that people would interpret Quranic verses any way they want. There are actually people who use that particular verse I mentioned to demand unquestioning obedience from their children so having the hadith to back up that it actually doesnt mean that helps challenge that interpretation.

ChildrensStoriesNet Sat 19-Oct-13 13:28:07

Apparently having a mask (face concealment) can be considered
"Going equipped for stealing" - Crimes Act 1958 - SECT 91

(1) A person shall be guilty of a summary offence if, when not at his place of abode, he has with him any article for use in the course of or in connexion with any burglary, theft or cheat.

(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable to level
7 imprisonment (2 years maximum).

(3) Where a person is charged with an offence under this section, proof that he had with him any article made or adapted for use in committing a burglary,
theft or cheat shall be evidence that he had it with him for such use.

There's a lot more recent on the web about this, I'm just illustrating there's a long history to the law's view of masks and concealment of identity.

peacefuloptimist Sat 19-Oct-13 13:44:06

Some other hadiths that are priceless.

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Beware of the prayer of the oppressed person, even if he is an unbeliever, for there is no barrier between it and Allah.” - warns muslims against oppressing others.

“None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”

Narrated Anas: Allah's Apostle said, "Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, "O Allah's Apostle! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?" The Prophet said, "By preventing him from oppressing others."

"A funeral procession passed in front of the Prophet and he stood up. When he was told that it was the coffin of a Jew, he said, "Are they not a living being (soul)?"

I'll probably think of other gems later but really need to get back to RL now.

ShreddedHoops Sat 19-Oct-13 13:53:19

Thank you again peacefuloptimist for your massively educational and well thought out posts thanks

alemci Sat 19-Oct-13 14:04:24

thanks Peaceful. like your quotessmile

Gauri Sat 19-Oct-13 15:04:24

nice posts peaceful.

if the kuran is giving such detailed direction on everyday life and mostly the message is peace and tolerance, why dont we see that in real life?

PrincessFlirtyPants Sat 19-Oct-13 15:08:45

if the kuran is giving such detailed direction on everyday life and mostly the message is peace and tolerance, why dont we see that in real life?

What makes you think that Muslims are not peaceful and tolerant 'in real life'?

Gauri Sat 19-Oct-13 15:09:17

very much liked your posts peaceful. saving this thread to read them.

Gauri Sat 19-Oct-13 15:13:01

I think you just have to turn on the tv to see that.

I dont mean to incite.

if you read the posts from peaceful, the teachings seems clear and very well tbought out. are the imams teaching what peacful is saying at at mosques?

IHaveA Sat 19-Oct-13 18:00:57

Nuns dressed up in their habits don't look half as unfriendly as women dressed in niqab because you can see their faces. ( It helps that nubs often seem quite smiley people too. )

Shallishanti Sat 19-Oct-13 18:06:53

thanks peaceful optimist for your answer I will try and make more effort in future! I think Jesus said something similar about forgiving people 70x7 (dim memories here), also very enlightening re hadiths. I would think the reason 'muslims are not peaceful and tolerant in real life' would be the same reason christians, jews etc are not peaceful and tolerant in real life- everybody sometimes falls short of what's expected of them.

IHaveA Sat 19-Oct-13 19:11:03

I wonder if people in the UK are uncomfortable with women wearing the niqab because they subconsciously associate people who cover their faces with scarey people such as masked intruders or scary Halloween Characters
(non scary images used)

IHaveA Sat 19-Oct-13 19:12:20

I wonder if people in the UK are uncomfortable with women wearing the niqab because they subconsciously associate people who cover their faces with scary people such as masked intruders or scary Halloween Characters
(non scary images used)

Not so much subconsciously as consciously. Intruders wear a mask so they can't suffer the consequences of their actions. They want to act in a way unacceptable to society so they cover their faces.

joanofarchitrave Sat 19-Oct-13 20:46:28

Ihavea, why should a woman have to seem 'friendly' to everyone in order not to be actively threatening - can't she just be neutral? The requirement for women to smile all the time is one of the things I can imagine the niqab liberating a woman from tbh.

you don't need to go to the hadiths to know forced marriage is disallowed as the koran clearly states it without need to look outside. the whole point of the koran being kept in it's original state and such cares being taken to keep it intact is due to allah, within it, stating it to be the full, total and final word of god. bizarre to then go against that and use other texts to 'interpret' it.

the example you give must have been in bad faith as i'm sure you're aware the koran makes very clear that forced marriage is not allowed and that you are to honour god above your parents meaning if your parents want you to do something against your religion, or obeying them would mean dishonouring god you have full permission to disobey them clearly stated in the koran and iirc it also compares itself to the early abrahamic religions there and makes clear the distinction that obedience to parents never comes above doing what is right.

crescentmoon Sun 20-Oct-13 09:56:27

"the example you give must have been in bad faith"

what does that mean swallowedafly, given in bad faith? that she was taught it in bad faith or that she is conveying it in bad faith?

the Quran should be taken on balance of the whole content not just one verse. as for obey your parents it says as long as they do not ask you to 'worship' other than God, or disobey God. common sense should be enough to know that its not for every little thing. but if a young woman is taught that verse from the Quran, then is being forced into a marriage against her will it would be portrayed to her as a religious obligation she must see through. no knowledge of the hadith would make one think then one has to follow her parents in every order they make as long as its not to do with belief or religion, but actually, the hadith optimist noted earlier outline the boundaries on the issue of 'what if my parents ask me to obey them by marrying the man they've chosen for me?'. other hadith also highlight the boundary to men between rights of the wife and the rights of the parents if they come into conflict otherwise.

the difference between feminists coming from the secular pathway and from the religious pathway is that the latter fight misogyny from religious scripture and texts by either bringing into light less quoted verses/hadith or historical facts/ figures. other hadith also highlight the boundary to men between rights of the wife and the rights of the parents if they come into conflict.

"bizarre to then go against that and use other texts to 'interpret' it"

the Quran presents guidelines, 'fast ramadan', 'pay the zakat', 'go on hajj', but the detail and intricacies of those rituals are found in the hadith. the Quran gives the outline, the least/ or the basis, but the sunnah - garnered from hadith - gives the extra.

so, most sunnis pray the daily prayers according to the sunnah - in 5 lots - whereas the Quran says they can be done in 3 parts of the day which is what shia muslims do.

the sunnis also do the ablution before prayer according to the 7 steps in the sunnah (from hadith) whereas the Quran gives the 'minimum' 4 steps...

"O you who believe! When you intend to offer As-Salât (the prayer), wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to ankles..." (5:6).

IHaveA Sun 20-Oct-13 09:59:50

joanofarchitrave. I didn't say that women wearing Niqub should look friendly hmm confused and I have no idea where you get the idea from that there is a 'requirement for women to smile'. Certainly not from my post.

My posts were exploring reasons why so many people in the UK seem unsettled by women wearing the niqab. Is it because of people's views on oppression/extremism/'foreignness' or is it more simply because wearing something over the face is unfriendly looking or even a bit scary looking?

crescentmoon Sun 20-Oct-13 10:02:36

likewise, optimist referred to two hadith that explain why the majority of muslim women do not see the niqab as an obligation, the one about 'face and hands' also was quoted, this is part of the method of debating from scripture.

crescentmoon Sun 20-Oct-13 10:07:02

"because wearing something over the face is unfriendly looking or even a bit scary looking?"

i reckon its because of the colour of the niqab, i bet if they wore lavender or forest green or white niqabs it would seem less scary, because in the west the colour black, like being left handed, was always considered sinister. people have got over it sufficiently enough with black/dark skinned people, but the colour is often used to denote a evil/bad person in a film. yet to religious people, nuns and priests from the christian tradition as well as niqabis or abaya clad women, wearing the colour black is to do with self abnegation/simplicity/ sparseness. but i think the black the niqabis wear is seen in the way as goths were black.

well obviously if she hasn't read the koran she might believe one verse taken outside the whole - i'm sure you'll agree therefore that it is very important that girls are educated. don't obey your parents over god is pretty clear - so is the koran's teaching against forced marriage - i repeat there is absolutely no need to go to the hadith to find this out unless you don't know the koran very well in which case we're back to cultural behaviour and social conditioning rather than religion again.

the koran is very clear on the unreliability of texts written by man and what it has led other religions to. it's pretty central. the koran is meant to be seen as the holy book - the rest are men's accounts of stuff. quite clearly one is the authority and the others must be taken with a great big dose of intelligence, historical and cultural awareness and critical analysis if you believe in the teachings of the koran.

anyway i thought we were talking about how liberating and wonderful is islam is for women and yet we seem to have come round to you talking about forced marriage...

crescentmoon Sun 20-Oct-13 10:21:40

"great big dose of intelligence, historical and cultural awareness and critical analysis"

developed in analysis of the hadith, because, as you said 'the rest are men's accounts'. and womens also ,there are something like 8000 women who narrated hadith too. there is a large discipline within mainstream orthodox islam of the scrutiny and criticism of hadith and is the reason why 4 schools of religious law developed in islam (5 including the shia Jaafari school). but still, the rules for collecting even the hadith were far more stricter than the rules in the collection of other religious books.

"yet we seem to have come round to you talking about forced marriage..."

optimist was trying to explain to you how hadith actually help in understanding the rights of women in islam, not just the quran, and she used the topic of forced marriage as an example.

peacefuloptimist Sun 20-Oct-13 10:24:09

you don't need to go to the hadiths to know forced marriage is disallowed as the koran clearly states it without need to look outside. the whole point of the koran being kept in it's original state and such cares being taken to keep it intact is due to allah, within it, stating it to be the full, total and final word of god. bizarre to then go against that and use other texts to 'interpret' it.

The Quran does not explicitly state that forcing your child to marry someone against their will is wrong. I have read the Quran back to front several times and I can not think of a single verse that even mentions forced marriages so I dont know which one you are referring to. The Quran is complete and has been preserved, however the Quran is general. It leaves the Prophet Muhammed PBUH to go in to specifics. For example prayer. We are told to pray in the Quran it even mentions briefly how we should prepare for prayer and when we should pray but the actions that muslim's perform when they prayer, the words we say etc are all derived from the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammed PBUH. His hadith is what actually teaches us the actions of how we must pray. Its the same with hajj. Muslims are told to go on the pilgrimage and some of the rites of the hajj are explained generally but it is in the hadith of the Prophet Muhammed PBUH that we get the fleshing out of all the detailed rites you need to do.

I think the only example I can give really of why you need the hadith to interpret is when you compare it to laws. The government passes laws but it is the judges who must interpret the law and actually set precedents on how that law is implemented. Therefore the actual wording of the law is general and its a judge who makes it specific. I hope that makes sense.

Gauri I was thinking about your question for quite a long while. To be honest its probably a question that is beyond my capability to answer comprehensively. I think if we knew the answer to that one we would be able to solve these problems. My personal opinion is it is a mixture of factors. Part of it is as Shalli said people of all religions sometimes struggle to live up to the teachings of their religion. Another reason is what Crescent hinted at which is that women are unaware of these hadiths. My MIL had a forced marriage and though she divorced her husband years ago when I mentioned to her the hadith about forced marriage she was shocked. She had never heard it before even though she is in her late 50s. I think it is very important for muslim women to become educated and learn about their religion because otherwise we are reliant on men to tell us what our rights are and we know that it is not in their interests to do that. Levels of literacy need to be improved so that women can not only read the Quran but also understand what they are reading. Its the combination of women not learning about their religion and men choosing not to tell them things that would lead to them challenging them. There is a growing movement now where women are seeking out religious education for themselves and organisations have been set up by prominent women scholars where they make religious learning accessible to the muslim female masses (e.g. Farhat Hashimi in Pakistan with her Al Huda organisation and number 7 on the list of 100 most powerful arab women Sheikha Munira Qubeysi who has a network of schools for women throughout the Middle East teaching about 75,000 students).

Its interesting as in the past Islamic female scholarship was very strong.
There is an Imam in the UK called Sheikh Akram Nadwi who wrote a 40 volume work on female scholars of hadith. In his book he writes about the lives of more than 8000 female muslim scholars dating from the 7th century to the present, from the earliest women scholars such as Prophet Muhammed's wife Aisha and the wife of one of his companions (for muslims when we say companion we mean something similar to disciple) Umm al Darda. The majority of the women mentioned taught men and they were consulted on a wide range of jurisprudence issues.

female scholars in Islam

This is a part of our history which I can honestly say is kept hidden from the vast majority of muslim women and it makes my blood boil. The good thing is we are reclaiming our history and I was pleased to see that in Palestine the first muslim woman Islamic court judge was appointed a few years ago. I have no idea of the number of female Islamic court judges globally but hopefully this number will grow as we need more female judges to get a much fairer representation of women.

peacefuloptimist Sun 20-Oct-13 10:24:45

After watching the documentary on 'The Ottomans' on bbc iplayer (link below) I realised that one of our major problems is lack of a central authority.

In Islam we dont have a central religious authoritative figure like the pope. This is a strength in some ways as it allows the religion to adapt to the different countries it has spread to rather then having one person dictate what is and what isnt Islam. This is what I mean when I say Islam is not monolithic. We have consensus on certain issues but there is room for a diversity of opinions. The problem with this though is who gets to tell people who interpret hadiths or the Quran incorrectly that they are wrong. They do not have to listen to any of the muslim scholars who have told them their actions go against Islam. In the past we had a central political authority in the person of the caliph and that role used to be filled by the ottoman sultan. Even if he had no real power in distant muslim lands he would still have a symbolic role that is he is recognised as some sort of figurehead. Whenever extremists would crop up in the past the caliph and his army would deal with them militarily because you cant expect ordinary citizens to deal with a group that is armed and prepared to use violence. It has to be dealt with by the state. When the ottoman empire fell it left a power vacuum. All the muslim governments will police their own borders but who is going to take responsibility for a country like Somalia or Afghanistan where there is no stability? This is a major problem that Muslim countries need to work on but most muslim leaders are too corrupt and are more concerned with holding on to power in their own country and are unwilling to do anything to solve any of the problems muslims face. In some countries you might not even ever hear the Imam in the mosque mention those hadiths about injustice because the governments do not want people to challenge their corrupt oppressive regimes. Anyway this is just my own opinion but I don't really know the answer.

CoteDAzur Sun 20-Oct-13 10:26:47

Coming back to the niqab - Both Quran and Hadith agree that Muslim women are not supposed to wear the veil. So why does OP think it is "not compulsory but highly recommended" in Islam?

crescentmoon Sun 20-Oct-13 10:40:56

ahh, no no no my dear cote, it doesnt say they are not supposed to, those verses and hadith are used to argue they do not have to. my attitude towards the niqabi is how an ordinary catholic woman would see a nun or a priest, i admire them for their seeking a harder path whereas i usually go with the minimum i have to do!

as for that link peaceful, umpteen thanks, im going to make a donation.

CoteDAzur Sun 20-Oct-13 11:13:02


CoteDAzur Sun 20-Oct-13 11:16:21

Mohammad's Hadith saying a woman should cover everything except hands and feet sounds pretty much like 'shouldn't cover face' to me.

So there is nothing in the Quran that says the face needs to be covered. And there is Hadith saying "cover whatever except face", so why does OP think the veil is "highly recommended" in Islam?

It really makes no sense.

nicename Sun 20-Oct-13 11:30:22

I met a convert who insisted hands and feet were to be covered, but not her face.

CoteDAzur Sun 20-Oct-13 11:35:35


CoteDAzur Sun 20-Oct-13 11:36:51

Gah. That was a mistake on my part, obviously.

Mohammad's Hadith says a woman should cover everything except hands and face. And that sounds pretty much like 'shouldn't cover face' to me.

iii. a. In Surah Nisa Chapter 4, Verse 19 (4: 19)

“Oh! You who believe, you are forbidden to inherit women against their will!”

b. Islamic law requires the consent of both the parties before marriage. In matters related to marriage a woman cannot be forced by anyone including her father.

nicename Sun 20-Oct-13 12:13:33

But in some cultures a family will force consent (emotional blackmail and threats).

Isn't it sad that this has been frowned upon - in writing, direct edicts from God - for centuries, yet it still goes on.

You're right nicename. But with this, and the issues of terrorism and extremism, it is important to make the distinction between the faith and its holy writings and tenets, and the things that people do in the name of that faith.

Some people are stupid, cruel, bigoted and full of hate - that is not the fault of their religion or faith. But the religions and faiths do have a responsibility to ensure that they preach the right way, so that the cruel/extremists/bigots are pointed up as being what they are - and the religion has condemned their beliefs and actions (but not them, as I believe we should hate the sin but love the sinner - so that there is the chance for change and rehabilitation.

they do indeed have that responsibility and to speak out and defend their faith from such actions and to do so loudly.

UptheChimney Sun 20-Oct-13 12:33:48

It really makes no sense

Religious belief rarely does ...

crescentmoon Sun 20-Oct-13 12:36:38

"But the religions and faiths do have a responsibility to ensure that they preach the right way, so that the cruel/extremists/bigots are pointed up as being what they are - and the religion has condemned their beliefs and actions "

may i ask you to flip this around. did the catholic church have to make an announcement everytime an IRA bomb went off that this was not from the catholic teachings? does the Anglican church here in the UK have to answer for the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda? should an ordinary pakistani christian be punished for the bombs american christians drop in drone attacks. how much is one to answer for the wrong actions of coreligionists? theres no pyramid authority structure in islam - everyone is on the same level so who would the non muslim accept to speak on behalf as SOOOO many imams and muftis have made statements but they are just shrugged aside. what about the wrong actions of one's fellow citizens? does it make a difference if its a democracy versus a theocracy versus a dictatorship? how much am i an individual as much as part of a group? how much am i culpable for the actions of the aberrent members of the group? is race the same as citizenship the same as religion?

yes the respective church's did have to speak out and work in the peace process and they did.

crescentmoon Sun 20-Oct-13 12:43:34

"yes the respective church's did have to speak out and work in the peace process and they did."

ok how was it different to what muslim organisations do currently? what did catholic individuals in the rank and file do that muslim individuals are not doing?

UptheChimney Sun 20-Oct-13 12:44:10

No-one's answered my question about Islamic views on women as religious leaders. Are there any female Imams?

Yes, they should, crescentmoon. I deliberately worded my post to make it clear that I was talking about all faiths, not just Islam. I think every faith has the responsibility to speak out against evil done in their names.

agreed SDTG and i agree your post very clearly wasn't worded as an accusation or an attack on muslims so i'm not sure why the defensive/attacking business in response.

i personally think it's time to go properly secular and stop all the special treatment for religions re: exemptions that allow them to lawfully discriminate against protected characteristics.

religion as a personal matter is fine but it's time to ditch society having to treat it as a hallowed ground imo. believe what you want to believe, don't be discriminated against for having beliefs but no more with the cotton gloves and pandering to practices against human rights and the law of the land. hell even mohammed told people to obey the laws of the land they are in - as did jesus.

crescentmoon Sun 20-Oct-13 12:53:12

what about evil done in the name of nationalism? or done in the name of democracy? or in the name of race supremacy? if im proud to be british do i own everything done in the name of britain, or did in the past, is that a condition to sharing in the good actions?

"why the defensive/attacking business in response."

there isnt that in my response at all swallowed, but just a request to see that requirement in a different way. and its something i think on often myself.

alemci Sun 20-Oct-13 12:59:46

but look what happens when the Muslim Leaders do speak out against the terrorism. The guys in GB now have death threats and police guards for daring to criticise the assasins in the Kenyan shopping centre.

I don't like this at all and it scares me that people who think like this are amongst us here.

I think with the IRA and other atrocities carried out by christians, I don't think they are practicing their faith otherwise they would not do this. They are born into the faith i.e. their parents are Irish Catholic so they are catholic and they support the Irish cause. Some christians do support a just war but only in defence and to free people from opression. e.g. World War 2 against Hitler. The UK did try to negotiate and appease.

Also I think UK has been secular to an extent for the 200 years' and religion isn't tied up in the state in quite the same way

Yes, crescentmoon, wherever evil is done in the name of a faith, religion, ideology, belief system or whatever, we should speak out against it.

What, from what I actually wrote, makes you think I would believe anything other than this?

we're not secular here and we still give massive privileges to religion in law.

the northern ireland issue was a localised one based on conflict over colonisation essentially. islamic terrorism is rather different - being international and in the minds of many involved in it about intolerance of literally everyone expect those who live by their religion and law. it isn't about wanting to get one's land back but to colonise lands actually. it's very different.

except not expect confused

islamic terrorism just doesn't compare to that of northern island which actually was not about religion but what one group saw as the illegal colonisation of it's land and it's culture by an incoming group and religion offered privilege over that of the native people. they were divided religiously because of their heritage backgrounds - british, protestant/irish, catholic. it wasn't about religion or a war between religions but one between those who wanted n.i. to stay british and those who wanted to join the republic. religion was coincidental as such.

for islam it is truly about religion, albeit 'their' interpretation of their religion and there does seem to be something about islam, or perhaps the areas it orginated from, that lends itself to being interpreted in brutal ways that are intolerant of other perspectives, modern laws, heterogenorous societies etc.

crescentmoon Sun 20-Oct-13 13:27:23

upto, as for your question on "Islamic views on women as religious leaders."

in orthodox sunni islam the religious leadership positions a muslim woman can hold are as
an alim (scholar that has studied advanced religious academic disciplines),
a faqih (scholar with a speciality in religious law),
a qadi (a judge in a religious court)
a mufti (someone who can give rulings/fatawa on religious matters),

these are positions in the administration or making of religious law. unfortunately, because of cultural restrictions not religious, there are few women who go into those fields, many did not know they could go into those fields, but as evidenced recently not just in Gaza but also Egypt with female qadi appointments to religious courts this is now changing.

as for being an imam in a mosque the Quran doesnt specify either way but the majority viewpoint is that women may be imams only for other women based on hadith. in china there have been women only mosques for many years with female imams. recently there has been a debate about women imams of mixed congregations which in orthodox islam was previously unheard of and thought to be forbidden. the scholar Amina Wadud argued based on the hadith of Umm Waraqah that women should be allowed to lead mixed prayers - a hadith not previously used in weighing up the topic. the grand mufti of Egypt weighed in to support her

and its still a topic of debate. not one im into though honestly.

again showing hadith is written in the context of power relations, historical and cultural context, etc.

i mean what part of the message that the koran was the final and perfect word of god did people not grasp?

believe me i level equal criticism at the way christians have ignored and misinterpreted and gone again the essential teachings of jesus.

religion can't seem to help itself.

believing in god and wisdom and truth is one thing - religion is another entirely sadly because it always turns into worldly shite.

by which i mean from what i have studied and experienced there is great, beautiful, just truths at the heart of religions but without fail they are twisted and turned into ugly, power orientated, divisive, tribal systems. and then the followers commit what i believe is the true blasphemy of worshipping their religion above allah, god, brahma, etc.

any religion that asserts that women are beneath men - whether they assert it brutally or with nice flowery words about how none the less the man should consult the woman or we are equally valuable but men have the greater capacity for x, y or z that basically means power CANNOT be from anywhere/anyone worthy of the word or concept of 'god'. i don't get how any person with any true sense or spirituality or belief in the concept of an all intelligent, benevolent, all knowing god can buy into and defend or go into nonsense apologetics for the blasphemy the religions commit in making god in man's image.

crescentmoon Sun 20-Oct-13 13:41:43

i think any issues to do with muslims, any topics at all, halal meat, hijabs, niqabs, even i saw ramadan now, praying, inevitably come round to this topic of extremism and terrorism. as optimist says, it is almost like one cannot be a full british citizen unless one denounces the muslim religion completely. or, wanting to practise islamic rituals is seen the same as supporting Al Qaida. its been said many times even here on this thread that some people think the niqab is political not spiritual.

"for islam it is truly about religion, albeit 'their' interpretation of their religion and there does seem to be something about islam, or perhaps the areas it orginated from, that lends itself to being interpreted in brutal ways that are intolerant of other perspectives, modern laws, heterogenorous societies etc."

i dont blame people for their impressions because if all i knew of Islam was what the media said then of course one would think so. that al qaida and their ilk are merely the 'shock troops', or the 'vanguard'. but, to me and the majority of the world's muslims, they are the enemies and the modern innovation - suicide bombings and terrorist attacks started in the 1990s. and the issues in muslim countries to do with dealing with extremists are just as nuanced and complicated, even more so, than in northern ireland. to do with social demographics, the drawing of borders after colonialism, poverty, wealth and resources.

"there does seem to be something about islam, or perhaps the areas it orginated from, that lends itself to being interpreted in brutal ways that are intolerant of other perspectives, modern laws, heterogenorous societies etc."

as for that, any objective reading of history will show this is a fallacy and that muslims lived quite tolerably with non muslims all around the middle east and beyond far better than in europe or european rule. i say objective, i dont say 'read books by muslim historians'.

there is a passage in the gospel, cba to go looking for a reference, where jesus comes back and the religious idiots are the first to hit the dust and they are horrified, 'but we called out in demons in your name' etc and he just says, 'i never knew you'.

it's one of my favourite parts grin because it makes SUCH sense to me.

imho if there is a god religion has ended up being the biggest sin against him/her - the biggest bloody blasphemy you can imagine.

right - that's my sunday sermon wink feel free to batter me with your loving peaceful spiritual selves.

lots of people on here, including myself, have actually lived in muslim countries. the whole 'ah you're just stupid daily mail reading idiots' business is not a mature enough or reasoned enough approach.

UptheChimney Sun 20-Oct-13 13:45:51

that muslims lived quite tolerably with non muslims all around the middle east and beyond

I think my Jewish relatives might dispute that: Muslims were as bad as Christians in that respect, in their experience ...

yes, i think all of those who fled india to become the romany and the roma (mass refugee flight to get away from the moguls) might also disagree.

i think i'm also coming to the point where whilst i'll always be on the side of friendly relations, inclusion, social cohesion, live and let live etc i find it hard to take anyone who believes that a being worthy of the name god would want people stoned to death for making a mistake, or being drawn to the wrong sex for example seriously and not think them massively spiritually and ethically deficient.