MumsnetGuestBlogs (MNHQ) Wed 23-Oct-13 11:57:17

I'm a Muslim, but I won't wear the niqab

Over the last month the niqab, or full-face veil, has repeatedly hit the headlines. Last week, Sahar Al-Faifi blogged about why she chooses to cover up; here, Mumsnet blogger Aisha Ashraf, who's a convert to Islam and blogs at Expatlog, explains why she doesn't.

Read her post, and let us know what you think on the thread below.

Lead photo
Aisha Ashraf


Posted on

Wed 23-Oct-13 11:57:17


A woman wearing a full-face veil, or niqab

Of all the things we get heated about where Islam’s concerned, it amazes me that a piece of cloth is the subject of such passion and debate.

Recently, British judges had to decide whether a woman giving evidence in court should be required to show her face; and a Birmingham college ignited controversy when it requested students remove all hoodies, hats, caps and veils while on the premises so they were easily identifiable. While David Cameron held that educational institutions should be able to "set and enforce their own school uniform policies", Nick Clegg claimed the bar had to be set "very high" to justify any prohibition on wearing a veil. Why is this piece of cloth so potent? Because it’s a religious requirement of course. But is it?

Veiling is a pre-Islamic cultural tradition that takes the form of hijab (covering the hair), burka, or niqab (covering the entire body and face). Used to differentiate between free and enslaved women, it was a socio-economic practice said to protect a woman’s modesty and safeguard the honour of her male relatives.

When I began researching Islam I was struck by its attempts to confer rights and protections on the vulnerable in a barbaric tribal society. Suddenly it wasn’t OK to bury your baby alive because she was a girl. Suddenly women had a voice; marriage was no longer about "status" but a "contract", in which the woman's consent was imperative. They gained rights to inheritance, education and security. Islam sought to solidify women’s financial independence and push back patriarchy. There’s no mention in the Qur’an of the need to keep hair covered and the idea is starkly at odds with the thrust of the above.

My research led to my subsequent conversion (more on that here), and while I was prepared to accept the obligation to cover, I didn’t find evidence to support it. Thinking I must have missed something obvious, I looked harder. Ten years on I’m still looking. 

The hijab, burka or niqab – let’s just call it covering – has become the poster-child for today’s Islam. An entire industry surrounds it. Buy into it and you get a special name, ‘hijabi’, and myriad style options to suit whatever look you rock, whether it’s ‘top-of-the-heap pious’ (plain and austere), ‘trendy’ (fuscia-tinted leopard skin) or ‘ethnic free-spirit’ (tie-dyed, beaded). For all those who claim it frees them from society’s shallow preoccupation with appearance, there are an awful lot of websites, magazines and boutiques devoted to it. And for those claiming it’s an expression of autonomy, there’s nothing independent or self-directed about following the crowd.

Instead of debating whether the niqab should be banned, which lends it a legitimacy it lacks and stokes the flames of righteous indignation, the question we should be asking is "why protect this practice?"

Still, no need to wrestle with slippery definitions and messy implications when you can slip into the straitjacket of a readymade identity (coincidentally held out for you by centuries of male superiority, enthusiastically endorsed by extremists everywhere) and reassure yourself you’re part of the sisterhood – muslimahs doing it for themselves!

But are they? Can covering really be empowering when it supports the patriarchal view of women as mere receptacles for male status and honour?

As a white, unveiled convert I’ve seen what’s on both sides of the veil: superiority from covered ‘sisters’ who stoop to personal insults when I try to further my understanding, and arrogance from those who assume from my skin-colour I’m kaffir (an unbeliever). I don’t think anyone’s taken in by the idea that headwear is a direct representation of your level of modesty.

The older generation can claim social conditioning, but the rest? In this information age they persist in propagating the lie that covering is a religious obligation, making claims unsubstantiated by Islam’s primary religious text. The result? An entire set of beliefs reduced to empty symbolism and political posturing.

The word hijab means curtain, partition or screen, and occurs eight times in the Qur’an. In none of those is it used in the sense conventionally understood among Muslims to refer to a piece of cloth covering the head. There are metaphorical references to a barrier dividing inhabitants of Paradise and Hell, or the way God communicates with mankind – through revelation or from behind a veil (think ‘burning bush’ in Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat) - but nothing about the shamefulness of female follicles.  

The verse cited as the revelation regarding covering (the hijab verse) is 33.53.

“O ye who believe! Enter not the dwellings of the Prophet for a meal without waiting for the proper time, unless permission be granted you. But if ye are invited, enter, and, when your meal is ended, then disperse. Linger not for conversation. Lo! that would cause annoyance to the Prophet, and he would be shy of (asking) you (to go); but Allah is not shy of the truth. And when ye ask of them (the wives of the Prophet) anything, ask it of them from behind a curtain. That is purer for your hearts and for their hearts.”

Depending on which translation you read (Assad, Pickthall and Ali are reliable but there are others, distributed extensively, often for free, whose wording is compromised by their aggressive Wahhabi bias - sadly, tweaking the Quran here and there to bolster an ideology is not a leap too far for some) it’s obvious the passage concerns specific people, in a specific situation, in a specific time. Quite simply, it asks visitors to the prophet’s home not to outstay their welcome and to respect the privacy of the inhabitants. No mention of women’s haberdashery. Just... none.

Two verses in the Qur’an refer to dress, (24:31 & 33:59) but their discussion of form is general and vague. What is clear is that the objective of modesty is incumbent upon everyone, not just women. By ignoring the requirement for both sexes to dress modestly, and to lower their gaze from the inappropriate, the hijabi brigade lays the burden of moral responsibility exclusively on women everywhere.

By supporting the patriarchal assertion that women are shameful and inadequate unless they conform to a cultural tradition totally absent from the Qur’an, they subject all women to male scrutiny; a direct inversion of what the Qur’an seeks to end. But hey, women everywhere have been subverting one another to secure male approval for like, EVER – it’s a girl thing, right?

We’ve ascertained covering is a restrictive, divisive practice with origins in murky misogyny, unsanctioned by Islam’s central text and irreconcilable to the essence of the faith.

Instead of debating whether it should be banned, which lends it a legitimacy it lacks and stokes the flames of righteous indignation, the question we should be asking is ‘why protect this practice?’

In a secular country where the separation of church and state is recognised as a bulwark of equality and social cohesion, what grounds are there for a small minority who validate their personal choice with a fallacy of religious obligation, insisting it earns them the right to special treatment?

If security checks, testifying in court or job requirements trump your personal views then ‘suck it up, Buttercup’. These structures exist to serve the needs of the wider community, which is exactly what Islam set out to protect. It’s time to expose the veil for what it is: a manifestation of misogyny, a symbol of status - NOT a religious requirement.

By Aisha Ashraf

Twitter: @aishaashraf1

SirChenjin Wed 23-Oct-13 13:15:28

Excellent post - I agree with everything you've written. As a non-Muslim I've struggled to convey my opposition to coverings, but you have summed up perfectly what they represent in a measured, intelligent way. Thank you.

Thank you for sharing.

The whole debate about the niqab seems to centre around women's rights and how women are viewed.

There doesn't seem to be any dialogue about why, in the UK, many people are uncomfortable with the niqab, simply because, like hoodies and balaclavas, it covers the face. Hoodies and balaclavas also get a bad press, so I don't think it really is about pro/anti Islamic views. It's about the British culture of a covered face belonging to someone who is (probably) up to no good.

Add in the misogynistic origins of the garment and it's perfect Daily Mail fodder. Regardless of what we think of the Daily Mail, it remains the most widely read newspaper in the UK.

VelvetStrider Wed 23-Oct-13 13:29:44

Agreed. The Qur'an's teachings and 'tradition' seem to have become blurred when it comes to religious clothing.

Aisha, if you're reading this thread, I would be interested in hearing your views on Muhammed's life. The thing that struck me most (as a non-Muslim who knows very little about Islam) about the pro-niqab blog and the discussions on the thread that followed were aspects of Muhammed's life - the multiple wives, the concubines, the slaves, divorce requests when a wife became old and plain, but most of all his marriage to a 6 year old apparently consummated when she was around 9. As a Muslim woman very aware and passionate about equality and women's rights, how do you equate this with presumably holding Muhammed and all he stands for in high esteem (worshiping?)? Do you struggle with this issue or put it down to society at the time he lived?

Redtartanshoes Wed 23-Oct-13 13:57:27

Very interesting and well written. I have certainly learnt something!

eurochick Wed 23-Oct-13 13:58:36

I think from a culturally christian point of view, many people probably struggle to understand covering as it is visually similar to a traditional nun's habit, which does speak of a level of withdrawal from society. So hearing women who cover protest that this is not what they are doing is at a discord with the visual cue.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Wed 23-Oct-13 14:33:23

Most of us from The western tip of the maghreb to eastern ouigur provinces of china do NOT wear it or ever contemplate to do so. Lets not forget that essential reality.

SirChenjin Wed 23-Oct-13 15:04:29

Please forgive my complete ignorance here MasterOfTheYoniverse....why do you not wear/contemplate wearing it?

TeaJunky Wed 23-Oct-13 15:08:16

Op, I think I love you thanks

ummunono Wed 23-Oct-13 15:08:35

Actually I find your post very demeaning and reductive towards Muslim women who do consider hijab to be a religious requirement, I object to hijab, niqab and burka all being thrown in the same bag, and I don't see much difference between your article and others written by non-Muslims who also conclude that covering women are not clever enough to make their own clothing choices and reject the veil as 'a manifestation of misogyny". You don't want to cover- fine, that's your call, who am I to tell you otherwise. You think covering is not an obligation for practicing Muslim women- again, fine, I have met some women who share those views. However, it is also my right to consider hijab and modest covering a religious obligation (note: not niqab, as most Muslims only consider it to be 'recommended' in some circumstances). I am also a white, educated convert, I have also spent time researching this specific matter, and as the overwhelming majority of Muslims who follow the four main schools of Islamic Law, I believe it is a requirement. It doesn't mean I will go around telling women to cover, but it is my personal call, my choice over how I cover MY body. I feel insulted by your dismissal of the veil as a fashion choice; I see it as a reflection of my faith, but I am also free to express my identity by wearing different styles of dress or different coloured hijabs if I feel like. Not that it makes me better than a woman who doesn't cover: again, it's my personal view, my personal interpretation of the Quranic verses and other literature.
Regarding your final sentences, they are re-hashing daily mail stuff about niqabi women being a security threat: I have never, ever heard of any woman who refuses to remove her veil in court or in airports or wherever identification is needed, apart from silly stories in right-wing newspapers. It is actually a requirement in Islam to identify yourself in those situations, and I'm sure niqabi women (who are not all illiterate products of patriarchal domination, you know) are well aware of this. The choice to dress modestly and to wear a veil is as respectable as the choice not to, for whatever reasons.

SirChenjin Wed 23-Oct-13 15:13:07

So given that it's not specifically mentioned in the Qur'an - why do (some) Muslims see it as a religious requirement?

tethersend Wed 23-Oct-13 15:26:29

Excellent blog.

Something being a woman's choice does not stop it from being misogynistic by virtue of it being chosen.

realme Wed 23-Oct-13 16:38:35

totally agree with ummunono . in the Qur'an it says "bring your veil over your chest". how does that translate to "no need to cover at all?"
also agree that just because someone decides not to cover ,that doesnt mean those that do cover didnt research the matter but just followed talked about hijabis that feel superior for covering....well ,from your post it seems like the opposite its true.
and to presume that a white,non-hijabi is not a muslim is not arrogance,would you not assume a woman in hijab is muslim?there you go then.

SirChenjin Wed 23-Oct-13 16:49:50

How does "bring your veil over your chest" translate to "women, cover your hair/faces/whole bodies, but men, meh, wear what you want"? The Qur'an and other holy books say lots of things (Velvet's earlier post is interesting.....) but there seems to be a lot of picking and choosing going on - especially when it comes to what women should and shouldn't do. Interesting....

realme Wed 23-Oct-13 17:14:39

erm...who says men wear what you like?what do men wear in pakistan?saudi?north africa?balls-skipping shorts and a bare chest?don't think so.modesty is mentioned for men and women alike.where do you see picking and choosing?i would like to know where did you get all this knowledge.some people try and follow at their best,other dont.some people have different understanding of the same verse/chapter.
i dont believe the face veil is obligatory,but i think the hijab and loose clothes are.just because people dont like it, it doesn't mean it's misogynistic.

Klingyston Wed 23-Oct-13 17:38:17

frankly, who cares? this is being done to death and it's so boring

SirChenjin Wed 23-Oct-13 17:44:10

We're not talking about Pakistan etc - we're talking about the UK (and incidentally, there are a raft of clothing options between coverings and balls skipping shorts and a bare chest...). Are you seriously trying to tell me that Muslim men and women cover equally here? Of course they don't - it comes down to picking and choosing, as I said.

As for the idea that they (coverings) exist to protect a woman’s modesty and safeguard the honour of her male relatives - you don't see that as misogynistic or that this notion should be challenged??

NumptyNameChange Wed 23-Oct-13 17:47:49

thank god - a voice of honest sense and true reflection of the koran and it's spirit. maybe as a muslim she'll get less abuse than i received - doubtful though as the aggressive hijabi brigade (modest my arse) will just say she's not a proper muslim as they say imams who dare to criticise anything in british muslim culture are not proper imams but tools of the evil islamophobes.

i totally agree it is a divisive and competitive practice.

humphryscorner Wed 23-Oct-13 18:25:04

fantastic insightful post.

also second sirchen post, why do they wear it when its NOT a requirement?

IndigoTea Wed 23-Oct-13 18:42:50

OP, thanks for your post but it is a great shame that you haven't represented in your article the voice of the majority of Islamic scholarship who state that not only is the niqab a Muslim tradition that has roots in the Quran, but it is in fact something highly recommended to wear in the Islamic faith, and many scholars consider it obligatory to wear. If you want to debate the legality of the niqab within the Muslim faith, then this really isn't the place to do it. The place to do that is within Muslim scholarship circles. Almost all Muslim scholars believe that it is recommended and a good thing for Muslim women to wear niqab, and some may argue that the majority also say that it is obligatory for Muslim women to wear niqab. If you disagree with that, that's fine, but please don't use your difference of opinion to demean and degrade women who do choose to follow traditional muslim scholarship.

IndigoTea Wed 23-Oct-13 18:47:24

Humphrey, it is a misconception that niqab is not obligatory at all in the Muslim faith. Some schools of faith within the Muslim faith (like the hanbali school for example) do believe it is obligatory. I myself do not follow the hanbali school and do not wear niqab, but I do know that it is extremely extremely difficult to wear niqab in this country, and it's only women who are very strong in their faith and character who are able to. Seriously, Muslim women are not stupid and would not be wearing it if they didn't believe that it bought them closer to God and is something that they will be highly rewarded for, despite however difficult it may be for them to wear niqab.

NumptyNameChange Wed 23-Oct-13 18:48:05

it is not recommended at all in the koran. this 'highly recommended' business is pulled out of the air and no one seems to be able to back it up.

it's not a muslims job to represent the majority view if the majority view has no grounding in islam but is a cultural practice that serves men not god.

NumptyNameChange Wed 23-Oct-13 18:48:50

it's incredibly difficult to wear heels imo yet some women do it. doesn't mean it's a requirement.

IndigoTea Wed 23-Oct-13 18:51:47

OP, the 'hijabi brigade' as you call it do not just pick on women. Men have hijab too, they have their own dress code. They also cannot wear (like women) tight fitted clothes, see through garments, and trousers below the ankle etc. So your assumption and dare I say accusation is clearly incorrect.

In conclusion OP, I think this debate is inappropriate on a majority non-Muslim and non-scholarship forum. If you want to have this debate, take it to a Muslim scholars forum!

NumptyNameChange Wed 23-Oct-13 18:53:49

so here we go - muslim dares to say something that others don't agree with and gets told to go away. so ridiculous.

wonder if they'd treat a man the same

IndigoTea Wed 23-Oct-13 18:54:58

Numpty, that's just nonsense! Of course the niqab is in the Quran and sunnah, to deny it is just ridiculous. All the four schools of the Sunni school believe in niqab, so that's the majority if Muslims. If you don't want to believe in it, that's fine, but if others want to, please let them do so in peace, and respect them for their own steadfastness to practice what their believe is correct.

IndigoTea Wed 23-Oct-13 18:57:47

Numpty, I haven't told anyone to go away. I am encouraging OP to have this discussion, but have the discussion in a forum with Muslim scholars because if they are convinced of her arguments, then it'll be a million times easier to convince the rest of the Muslim population.

SirChenjin Wed 23-Oct-13 18:59:21

Men have hijab too, they have their own dress code. They also cannot wear (like women) tight fitted clothes, see through garments, and trousers below the ankle etc.

Interesting. Do the men know this? Because there seems to be a general lack of awareness that they are supposed to adhere to the same rules as women when it comes to coverings.

NumptyNameChange Wed 23-Oct-13 19:01:47

you're ttelling her it's inappropriate to say what she's said here and she should say it somewhere else. clearly she feels differently as does mumsnet and it's bumptious to say the least to tell her she should discuss it elsewhere and be the judge of what's appropriate.

mumsnet gave voice to a pro veiling blogger the other day and now they are balancing it with the other view. seems perfectly fair to me.

below knee and elbow for man iirc.

ummunono Wed 23-Oct-13 19:09:52

Thank you Indigo! At the end of the day why are you people so concerned with what is mandatory or recommended for Muslim women? I don't personally care how people interpret the Qur'an, I choose to cover my hair, I would still do it if it was not a religious obligation because it makes me feel more confident and empowered, and I don't see why I (or any Muslim woman) would need to justify herself because she wants to keep her body private. Nobody told the OP to go away and her opinion is valued, I just wished she would have expressed herself in a more respectful way, and not relied on clichés like veiled women refusing to identify themselves, or getting a 'special treatment'. That's not helpful.

JacqueslePeacock Wed 23-Oct-13 19:17:20

I am not a Muslim and I object to the niqab on similar patriarchal grounds to those expressed in the OP (although I would defend any woman’s right to wear it if she wants).

HOWEVER - I also didn't like the tone of the post. It sounds very condescending towards most Muslims, both men and women, and I agree that the last few sentences could have come from the Daily Mail.

I'm surprised to find myself saying this as logically I agree with much of the argument against the niqab.

Any Muslims care to respond to the point I raised in my third paragraph?

Thanks everyone for contributing your thoughts, here are a few things that occurred as I read through:
Velvetstrider, little is known about Muhammad, he lived 1400 yrs ago in a tribal desert society whose curation of information took the form of oral transmissions committed to memory – that leaves scant evidence for historians to piece together, so any information that boasts certainties and specifics is highly questionable. A knowledgeable book that builds a picture through background, historical context and an objective understanding of Islam is Karen Armstrong’s ‘Muhammad – A Biography Of The Prophet’.
Obsessively copying a person to within an inch of their lives sounds like ‘shirk’ which means worshipping another besides God and is forbidden in Islam. While the Qur’an says it’s desirable for Muslims to mirror his admirable qualities of character, it’s my guess growing a beard or sleeping on a certain side aren’t the focus when it comes to developing our capacity for love and compassion.
Here’s a link to an interesting article about Muhammad and Aisha -

Ummunono, you’re not telling me anything new, by all means continue to follow “the majority of Muslims who follow the four main schools of Islamic Law” (?) while simultaneously protesting about those who think you “not clever enough to make their own clothing choices” (your words, not mine). That’s your choice, but it’s one that the country as a whole has no duty to protect.
“I have never, ever heard of any woman who refuses to remove her veil in court or in airports or wherever identification is needed, apart from silly stories in right-wing newspapers.” If you expand your reading beyond British right-wing newspapers you’ll be better informed; ( & )

Realme, “bring your veil over your chest” means cover your boobs to me; unless you have a hairy chest I don’t see how you can make the leap to hair and head-covering.

TeaJunky, thankyou for the flowers!

Indigo Tea, I don’t wish to debate the legality of niqab. “Almost all Muslim scholars believe that it is recommended and a good thing for Muslim women to wear niqab” Not surprising – they’re MEN. And I particularly object to your inference that there are limits to who can discuss this matter and where. Are you an undercover male Islamic scholar?

NumptyNameChange, LOVE YOU! Why don’t they hear me when I say it?

And still, despite what I’ve read here, no one has been able to supply me with proof that hijab/niqab is a requirement, so if that’s the best you can come up with...

If you want to debate the legality of the niqab within the Muslim faith, then this really isn't the place to do it

IndigoTea, did you post complaining that this wasn't the place for the pro niqab thread?

ummunono Wed 23-Oct-13 19:37:49

Well again a condescending post, so much for Islamic sisterhood. Obviously nobody was trying to convince you that covering is a requirement or not, because as Indigo said it's not the place for it, and because frankly I'm not interested if you cover or not. Many Muslim women don't cover, it doesn't make them disrespectful towards others. I do feel the state should protect my right to cover my hair though, as it should protect women who don't. Maybe I'm too much of an idealist.

garlicvampire Wed 23-Oct-13 19:51:08

Declaring ignorance from the off - I thought the injunction to women to 'cover' themselves came not from the Quran (which I have read), but from another thing? Isn't there a text that comprises centuries' worth of judgements, discussions, prophecies & revelations by various esteemed scholars?

Needless to say, those would have been made by men and they would have been working within the conditions & culture of their time. An awful lot of the bible is similar: it tells us, for instance, that men may rape enemy women as long as they take them to 'wife' afterwards. I don't see many christians espousing that as a contemporary ideal. This, in fact, is where my main gripe with Islam lies, and I don't think I'm alone. Islam seems dead set on maintaining standards appropriate to the Middle East in the year 1200. (It actually seems set on a more restrictive interpretation than early islam, but let's not go there.)

The relevance of this to female coverings, and to your wives/curtain quote, Aisha, is that women in those days were traditionally separated from the men - particularly at meal times. This was true in most cultures back then. Jesus was considered pretty shocking because he allowed women to join in stuff. English wives in 1200 were kept indoors, generally locked up unless they were on business. The prophet's wives would literally have been behind a curtain at dinnertime. It would have been incredibly rude of a man to barge through.

Women may not have been wearing their concealment, but they were shrouded by physical barriers, such as the curtain in the prophet's home. It's not much of a stretch to argue that letting them out in public, as long as they wear the curtain, is rather liberal.

The real issue, then, is islam's frantic adherence to ancient mores: not the consequential issue of women's clothing.

realme Wed 23-Oct-13 20:08:58

Yes,covering your boobs with your veil...that women used to wear on their heads already anyway,just not over their chest/neck.oh,so following the sunna is now shirk!alright.don't even know why I still bother posting on this threads.oh well,we all will answer for our actions and intentions,that's all what I can say.
sirchenji I used those country as an example that the traditional muslim clothes for men are very similar to the women's in modesty eg:loose,long sleeves,in saudi they even have a cloth on their head!are they oppressed too?

Very good post opthanks!

You make some very valid points and i am totally in agreement.

Strumpetron Wed 23-Oct-13 20:52:20

Thankyou for sharing! thanks brilliant post.

SirChenjin Wed 23-Oct-13 21:14:01

I know you were using those countries as examples of traditional muslim clothes Realme - but as I said, we're specifically talking about the UK and the very obvious discrepancies between how UK Muslim women and men dress/are expected to dress. The countries to which you refer are hardly known for their equality laws though, are they?

SirChenjin Wed 23-Oct-13 21:16:54

What comes through all this for me is - if the religion orders we are familiar with were being established now what would we accept and embrace, and what would be challenge and reject as being misogynistic, having no place in 2013?

TheABC Wed 23-Oct-13 22:01:41

A genuine question to Muslim posters on this thread;

As I have been told, Muslims who undertake hajj wear a very specific costume around the holy places, consisting of white garments, leaving the hands and face uncovered. Is this correct? Is this choice of covering also based on choice and tradition? Do women who use the full veil feel comfortable showing their face in these circumstances? If it is correct, why would the modesty requirements for pilgrimage be less stringent than normal life?

Sorry, several questions. I look forward to the answers...

defuse Wed 23-Oct-13 22:53:55

I disagree with many points made in the article. To copy Muhammad in all aspects of his life does not equate to shirk. It is an incorrect statement to make wrt to muhammad (saw) That is a very strong statement to be making and certainly copying muhammad (pbuh) in all his actions could never amount to shirk or be even close to shirk. In fact, if you want to avoid shirk, then it is imperative that you stick very closely to the teachings and the way of Muhammad.

You demean the niqab and hijab - yet the wives of the prophet covered. Muslims consider the wives of the prophet on the same level as their mothers, yet Allah commanded that they still cover - as you quoted from quran.

The Quran by itself does not provide us all the answers - Allah made his prophet Muhammad vital in the transmission of the message and essence of quran. You must look to the sunnah too. For muslims, belief in Allah is not enough until you believe in muhammad too. And what that entails is his way of life, his mannerisms, his commands and his actions. Belittling the hijab, the niqab, the beard, the sleeping is not very helpful. If it is not so something that you chose to do, then that is your choice, but for the muslims who strive to do those things out of love and compassion and their devotion to their beloved prophet, who asked of the believers to do so, to mock them is not in the spirit of islam either.

Islam is all about submission to Allah. That envelopes a whole load of things, including, but certainly not limited to, the hijab, the beard, the covering, the prayers, the lowering of gaze - total submission to a compassionate Allah. We as humans have shortcomings, muslims know they must pray 5 times a day - without fail. We might not do it, for a whole load of reasons, but we do not deny its importance.

There is the hadith about the woman who worshipped lots, but showed no compassion to others. Muhammad stated that this woman would not enter paradise. This hadith does not make it ok for us to stop worshipping as long as we show compassion and love does it. Islam is total submission. It places an importance on worship and compassion, beard and hijab, mannerisms and piety. The best way to ensure that you are doing it right, is to emulate Muhammad and to obey his commands because he did not command anything that Allah did not.

It is your choice not to wear the hijab, i have no issue with that. Allah knows what is in your heart. But to declare that it is not a part of islam is not a correct view, very short sighted.

it is your opinion - a choice you have made. You are entitled to that. You holding that view does not legitimise not wearing the hijab. That command of Allah and his prophet still stands.

realme Wed 23-Oct-13 23:23:02

Defuse:masha'Allah,very well said.
TheABC hajj is a particular place,with particular rules.that's why mecca is call the haram,because many things that are otherwise allowed are not allowed when doing hajj.

dollius Thu 24-Oct-13 06:49:25

I live in the Middle East in a country which is a popular transit point for people undertaking the Hajj.

When I moved here, I honestly thought I would become more understanding towards the veil. In fact I have become less so.

I completely agree with everything in the OP. In this country - and every other middle eastern country I have been to - I see many women fully covered, while the men wear jeans, T-shirts and leather jackets. In fact, in the more conservative areas (read deprived), the contrast is even more pronounced.

I have really come to believe that the veil is little more than a patriarchal practice to denote ownership of women. In fact, the veil is little more than the flip side of Western porno culture - it is all about men's inherent sense of entitlement to the ownership of women's bodies. I feel sad when I see young girls wearing the hijab - as young as nine or 10 - because how can they be considered to have any sort of "sexuality" that should be covered up?

In all the posts here objecting (quite hysterically in some cases IMO) to the OP, not one has included an actual reference to the Q'ran where it states that a woman must cover her face or hair. "Draw your veil over your chest" does not count. It means cover your chest, with clothes. IE wear clothes. It does not say draw your veil over your head, or over your face.

NumptyNameChange Thu 24-Oct-13 07:02:25

defuse: "The Quran by itself does not provide us all the answers" <this i find stunning. it amazes me how people who see themselves as devout followers of 'religion' can so blatantly veer away from it in order to defend the cultural dogma of their group OVER the spirit and core of what they believe they've been told by god.

not just muslims.

'shirk' to me is when you worship religion and tribalism and dogma OVER allah.

The thing I find really confusing, in regard to both Christianity and Islam, is that if Jesus or Muhammed were REALLY speaking about an all-powerful God, why did that same God not tell them to write really, really clearly about what this God is supposed to have wanted people to do. Why doesn't the Bible actually say "In a few hundred years some of my followers are going to have a big fight with some followers of a (slightly maybe?) different God, called the Crusades. THIS WILL BE A BAD IDEA, DON'T DO IT. Or why did Muhammed not get told to write "Men, make sure you are nice to women? Female circumcision IS A REALLY BAD IDEA, DON'T DO IT. AND STOP WORRYING ABOUT IF YOUR WOMEN ARE PURE. DEFINITELY DON'T KILL YOUR DAUGHTERS JUST BECAUSE YOU THINK THEY HAVE BEHAVED BADLY".

Surely an all-knowing, all powerful God would have foreseen the problems that unclear writing causes?

I know someone will say it's just mans' interpretation of God's words, but then why didn't God put it so it could not be misinterpreted?

As a Pagan, I also cannot get my head around the whole idea of shunning the physical in order to get closer to the spiritual. If you truly believe that God made the Universe, then wouldn't getting closer to the thing God made actually bring you closer to God? When you see the Divine in everything (as I do) then there is no division between the physical and spiritual world, no need to shun one in favour of the other. (Sorry, gone slightly OT there.)

MasterOfTheYoniverse Thu 24-Oct-13 11:00:38

ni hao ma sirchejin with very much respect!
Since you are a self declared "white convert" may I venture that you have very little understanding of the socio economic reality of the very very vast humble majority of Muslim women for which this is not mere philosophical wanderings?
Your strident apology of the veil might be literally correct on a theological level but most people on this planet hope to think we are past that era and can just be counted as decent Muslims if we choose to to live a secular life and bring our children up into the age of reason?
Where "being humble" in Karachi or Tunis is just fine going to med school in jeans and a Tshirt without fearing an acid attack?
You are a fool.

CoteDAzur Thu 24-Oct-13 12:52:57

I have been telling MNers Muslims some of the stuff in the OP for years and still, OP managed to get even my back up with the contradictory & insensitive content shock

"Suck it up, Buttercup"??? hmm

hambo Thu 24-Oct-13 13:50:58

If you 'cover' yourself...can you cycle? Go swimming? Go for a jog, or climb a mountain? Can you rock climb, or ski?

It seems to me that being 'covered' stops people having full lives, and is going to stop children discovering their strengths, and the true joy of their bodies and just what they can do.

nicename Thu 24-Oct-13 14:29:10

"mere philosophical wanderings" that's a bit dismissive of her beliefs (plus a bit of a dig at her being a 'white convert'). A 3rd generation Iraqui muslim woman living in swanky Kensington will have little in common with a muslim woman living in poverty in Afghanistan who is one wife of several.

She seems to genuinly believe, so don't dig at her colour or background. Very 'un-sisterly' no matter how much you disagree with her.

Cherie Blaire's sister (I forget her name - Lauren?) and her little girls all wear scarves, and that's (her husbands and) her belief (therefore her kids belief).I didn't see any threads on here having a dig at her suddenly finding god and as headscarf (even though she came across as increadibly smug and irritating, but she always did so no change there).

defuse Thu 24-Oct-13 15:08:10

Numpty, the muslim declaration of submission translates to ' there is no god but Allah and muhammed is His messenger.' You must believe in muhammed too.
It doesnt make it shirk.

nicename Thu 24-Oct-13 15:27:48

. (Sorry duff screen hides previous posts)

NeoFaust Thu 24-Oct-13 15:42:36


Theologically, the response to your question would be that God wishes humans to possess free will. If we had clear evidence of the existence of a (judgemental) God, it would be fundamentally irrational to live in any fashion than a godly life. Being 'bad' would be impossible so being 'good' would have no value.

By maintaining mystery it permits humans to have a choice as to how to behave. The wars and prejudice are a product of the freedom we possess to be other than good.

I'm an atheist by the way, theology is just a game for me.

zeddybrek Thu 24-Oct-13 18:02:52

Great article. And it would be nice if everyone could remember there are 1.6 billion muslims in the world so of course there will be large variances in what people interpret. Especially when we're talking about 1 book revealed at a time when things were very different. Open dialogue and discussion is what we need more of.

wetaugust Thu 24-Oct-13 19:56:37

Goodness! Just watched Jasmine Alibai-Brown on C4 News debating this issue - she was very vehement in her dislike of the practice. Accused the niqab-wearers of virtually betraying the freedoms their mothers fought to get.

Good for her.

alemci Thu 24-Oct-13 20:00:14

glad I'm a Christian and feel free. to me islam is very legalistic and it is refreshing to read another perspective.

defuse Thu 24-Oct-13 20:05:40

Yes, we all know that there is a difference in interpretation. However, the article is not so much an open discussion - the closing statements are more in tune with DM's stance. Had the piece said hijab is not for me, thats fine, each to their own, but it actually attacks womenwho wear it for religious reasons as somehow being status seeking, piety grade seeking fashionistas, who cannot see misogyny for what it is. It is insulting to those women and implying that they are stupid. Thats not very supportive of the muslimahs who are truly 'doing it for themselves'.

YouSayPotato Thu 24-Oct-13 20:06:27

Ayshah reported that Asma' the daughter of Abu Bakr came to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) while wearing thin clothing. He approached her and said: 'O Asma'! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not properthat anything should remain exposed except this and this. He pointed to theface and hands."[Abu Dawud]

This clearly states covering the head.
As someone upthread stated, islam involves believing in the quran and believing prophet mohammad pbuh is him last messenger. His way of life, his sayings and actions are sunnah, which means a good muslim follows the things mohammad pbuh said and did.

Being a muslim is not just about reading the quran, it also involves following mohammads pbuh "sayings" as well. You cannot follow quran and but not the sunnah. When muslims convert, they recite thry believe in Allah and his prophet mohammad pbuh. So there is no question of whether his sayings or actions are less important or not relevant.

May I also state that where things that are ambigious in the quran, one should look at what the prophet said or recommmended in yhese situations. All these sayings have been verified by tracing them back over time untill they taillied up directly to the prophet.

Allah also said that non believers will not believe in islam even if the truth is given to them black and even if Allah said hijab is important in the wuran, there still woukd be ppl who wouldnt believe it and try to pick in to shreds.....thought I would throw that in!

YouSayPotato Thu 24-Oct-13 20:09:06

Where is nailak? She is usually very informative

kiriwAnyFuckerwa Thu 24-Oct-13 20:49:17

You can argue back and forth about the qur'an but it seems to me that what is clear is that Muslim women should cover their heads. Great, everyone does. It's a way of being devout while also being able to participate in society.

The niqab cuts you off. It means no one's going to invite you for coffee after school drop off. It means you can't have a cake at the school fete. It cuts you off from the avenues that most parents have for friends or support essentially.

I can't understand why any woman would choose to isolate herself to that degree

defuse Thu 24-Oct-13 21:03:24

^ “bring your veil over your chest” means cover your boobs to me; unless you have a hairy chest I don’t see how you can make the leap to hair and head-covering.^

because implicit in the quranic verse is the understanding that women were already expected to veil. However, unlike the practice at the time of leaving the scarf hanging down the back with the neck and cleavage exposed, Muslim women were to take it one step further and draw the veil over the neck and cleavage area.

Those who argue that the Qur'an says nothing about veiling are completely misreading this verse. Not only does the Qur'anic text make it clear that women are expected to veil, it also dictates the extent of the veiling, i.e., covering the neck and cleavage.

This point is elucidated by reports from Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, and other women of the Sahaba, who immediately implemented this verse by tearing up pieces of cloth and covering their hair and bodies.

I have taken this evidence from a website but cannot track which one, to reference.

nicename Thu 24-Oct-13 21:06:13

I've think I've just had an epiphany.

I was thinking about all the different interpretations about: cover, not to cover, partial cover, etc and I just thought about the shopping list threads around here. Ok, so it's not serious but everyone has an opinion of the list writer and their plans/activities, and everyone thinks they are right.

If it was unambiguous then all islamic countries would have the same rules regarding dress.

I saw two (aran) women today swathed in black. One had black lace sewn all down the black sleeves, the other had tiny chrystal beads sewn along the seams. Another arab girl wore a scarf covering her head to the shoulders with her well made-up face showing, over a thigh high belted raincoat and leggings (and Uggs). Earlier in the day I passed a British muslim women in the whole shibang (face veil, baggy black robes to the ground) going into an office (on the phone so I heard her cockney accent).

There is no single 'right' answer here.

wetaugust Thu 24-Oct-13 21:53:13

What you quoted about a girl approaching menstruation is not patrt of the Qur'an.

It's Haddith - someone's intrepretation of the Qur'an.

And interpretations can vary.

garlicfucker Thu 24-Oct-13 21:59:52

I think you're all bonkers grin I know, unhelpful! I may not be au fait with the ins and outs of shariah, but I know a hell of a lot about fashion. In the 13th century (CE) European women and Arab women wore very similar outfits, the Arab dresses tending to have more embroidered and fitted bodices. Some of our nuns still wear the customary dress of 1200. The rail, barbette, and wimple form a close-fitting head wrap, with loose fabric down the back of the head and wrappings from chest to chin.

Over the following century, both Europeans and Arabs shrank the head dress while making it more prominent. This effectively led to big, complex hats while the neck & chest went uncovered. Some styles added a sheer veil, as a nod to the traditional - this is our traditional wedding dress.

It looks to me very much as though the Arab clerics (men, of course) felt the women were being a bit uppity by showing off their hats & jewellery, instead of wrapping themselves up like they did in the good old days - this wasn't confined to the Middle East; Christian clerics made exactly the same fuss. It seems the muslims were more successful than the christians in controlling what women wore ... and went the whole hog by telling them to cover their faces as well. That'll learn 'em!

Here's a picture from a contemporary bible (Polish, I think?) showing European women's dress from 1100 to 1300, going from left to right. These were not wealthy women; more business class. The rich ones had gold thread, jewels in the seams, metal headwear, and so on.

garlicfucker Thu 24-Oct-13 22:08:55

The European rail and wimple were always white. AFAIK, there wasn't a colour code in the Middle East although blue seems to have been popular. I wonder why the Muslim clerics preferred black? Does anybody know?

taffleee Thu 24-Oct-13 22:50:04

Basics - I'm not getting into the 'intellectual' debate that seems to have taken over this thread, but what has happened here?? This is Britain, we are a small island, there is no integration because the government has allowed religion to segregate our country, allowing people from various countries to dominate small towns, even streets.

And how are we as a small island going to stop hundreds, even thousands of years of wars that has happened in their own countries here? We have invited their wars on our shores, and it is a religious war, which there will be no winners, because you can never change someone's beliefs, whether you think right or wrong.

So what is the answer? Giving separate religious schools, areas, laws?? Why?? This is Britain, we need to be Britain, and proud to be British. We are a great country here, what's the answer then??

GeekLovesANYFUCKER Thu 24-Oct-13 23:02:13

It could be that segregation occurs when people don't feel safe in mainstream society so seek to find like with like. We can all do our bit to help integration and it is really not helped by DM doom mongers who aim to spread fear and loathing of difference.
Having said that we can change opinion when we come together. Such as the fall out following the random murder of a pensioner coming back from Friday prayers lead to the EDL condemming such and act and Tommy Robinson relinquishing his role as head of the EDL.

When it comes to gender relations we must bear in mind that ownership of women's minds and bodies is not solely a Muslim or an Asian thing. We must do our bit to speak to those who are different and to break down the barriers of gender apartied.

taffleee Thu 24-Oct-13 23:19:43

Geek sorry, but when does the 'little man' have a say - stop the psychobabble and put in laymans terms, how do we all get along in such a small island?

garlicfucker Thu 24-Oct-13 23:33:47

That was a rude reply, taff confused Geek didn't post any psychobabble.

We get along the way we always have. We are an extremely adaptable nation. Brilliant evidence of that: chicken tikka masala is our favourite dish. There's also the fact that English is made up of French, German, Danish and Latin words (previous invaders) with a small handful coming from the old languages. Any high street has an Italian, Chinese, American and Indian restaurant. Most English people know about diwali and eid. Most English people know some reggae songs. There's no such thing as 'pure british' DNA.

I could go on, but I won't. Adaptability's always been our greatest strength. It perhaps hasn't been a strength of certain other cultures, and perhaps this makes them highly resistant to assimilation. But they're here, living on our adaptable island, and they will not be able to resist, because our style is to give way and reform.

By thinking in terms of "Them" and "their wars", you slow this process down. Be more British! Welcome everyone, borrow something, lend something, and Bob's your uncle (and Sunila's your aunty) smile

taffleee Thu 24-Oct-13 23:44:43

garlic didnt mean to be rude, apologies to you and geek

Being British has always meant being part of a multi-cultural society?? I'm not entering in to an intellectual debate, because obviously you'd win, i'm all for multi-culturalism, but that also means not separative religious schools, areas and integration for all, not allowing certain minorities to dominate certain areas?

If i'm wrong forgive me?

garlicfucker Fri 25-Oct-13 00:32:56

I'm not sure about 'allowing'. For instance we have Catholic schools, Jewish schools and Anglican schools.

We had a long-standing set of policies designed to prevent 'ghettoisation', where you get areas becoming entirely populated by people of one group/culture. These policies were unpopular because they sometimes meant people couldn't live where they wanted; I think they were quietly abandoned under Thatcher. Personally, I'm in favour of low-key management policies like this. We all get on better with folks who seem different when we come into daily contact; this works both ways, of course. Humans are more alike than different; sometimes we have to be pushed to re-discover this about our neighbours.

Political management notwithstanding, we can all do our little bit to help integration along. A very small start is to simply stop "othering" people by referring to them as Them. No group of humans is a homogenous mass - it's a collection of individuals.

garlicfucker Fri 25-Oct-13 00:33:50

... This has gone off-topic now. Apols to all. I felt you deserved a courteous reply, though, taff.

taffleee Fri 25-Oct-13 01:07:54

psychobable garlic its this sort of drivvle that stops a society being integrated - 'low key management' does not work, our society is proving that now - i have no idea where you live, but you need to stop trying to be so 'clever' and maybe come up with a 'solution'??

if not , shhhhhhhhhhh! lol

taffleee Fri 25-Oct-13 01:15:41

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

taffleee Fri 25-Oct-13 01:26:51

And when I say 'us' I mean every 'British' person, no matter what religion, background, country - you come to live here, you are a British person - we are a great country - We should be proud of that, not afraid to say so

garlicfucker Fri 25-Oct-13 02:10:40

OK, taff, you go back to your EDL meeting and I'll leave these women to carry on discussing their headgear. For the record, nobody's ever achieved peace by being an ill-informed & ill-mannered rude git.

OneLieIn Fri 25-Oct-13 07:15:51

The article is a really good read, thank you for sharing.

I am much more informed now, which is very very good.

Venushasrisen Fri 25-Oct-13 08:29:26

Well, it is obvious that the niqab and what it represents produces very strong feelings of disapproval in many people used to a western lifestyle, so the 'why I wear a niqab' blog writer, claiming she is pious and only following her religion is putting on a show of innocence, when she knows full well what a red rag it is.

She believes the Islamic teachings say she should wear the niqab, the beheaders, whose videos are now available on youtube, believe they are following Islamic teachings. Neither are acceptable in my view.

Venushasrisen Fri 25-Oct-13 08:35:08

Should also have said thanks, for this informative blog on why I don't wear the niqab which balanced things.

catsrus Fri 25-Oct-13 09:45:57

I think it really does all come down to the covering of the face - covering any other bit of the body is accepted by most people as personal choice - eccentricity or whatever. For many people in the west covering the face is perceived to be threatening or offensive - often both.

I have travelled in the East and carefully worn clothes that would not offend. I would not choose to live in many of the countries I have visited because I would not choose to live with that level of restriction on my choice of clothing - even though I consider myself a modest dresser.

I think the question about nuns and their clothing is interesting as I can't think of a single religious order that required full facial covering - even in medieaval times - though full hiding of the hair was the norm. The only cultural references we have wrt full facial covering are negative ones, robbers, bandits - even knights in shining armour are threatening figures with the visor down.

I have an elderly aunt in the midlands who told me how threatened she'd been in the local market when suddenly surrounded at a stall by fully veiled women. She was talking about it because she didn't understand her own reaction. She had been a teacher in an area with a lot of Muslim pupils who wore scarves, she is Mrs multiculturalism personified, working in her retirement with a local refugee /asylum seekers group. But she was scared. She is intelligent and educated and reflective enough to be able to talk about that fear and look into its roots - and challenge it in herself.

The reality remains that in our culture, traditionally, only the bad guys have disguised their faces. If you come to live in this culture, at this moment in time, then that's a reality I think.

I personally don't find it scary but as a feminist I do find Niqab deeply offensive?

YoniMatopoeia Fri 25-Oct-13 11:49:16

Ayshah reported that Asma' the daughter of Abu Bakr came to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) while wearing thin clothing. He approached her and said: 'O Asma'! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not properthat anything should remain exposed except this and this. He pointed to theface and hands."[Abu Dawud]

This says that the face does not need to be covered doesn't it? confused

NumptyNameChange Fri 25-Oct-13 12:00:04

yes but the poster was assuming it meant the hair should be - though why i don't know as pointing to the head could include hair.

louise88uk Fri 25-Oct-13 12:32:15

I think it's their choice to wear it or not. I really don't know why they're making so much fuss when a woman can easily take them in private to see their face when needed. People are different with different beliefs.

defuse Fri 25-Oct-13 13:25:02

louise my point exactly. This is a matter of choice. I dont care whether someone wears the niqab, the hijab or doesnt cover. It should always be a choice. Why are we, in Britain trying to restrict a woman's choice? We all know that women in some countries are not given the choice to remove the hijab.

We will be no different if we restrict a woman's choice by forcing her to remove her niqab.

garlicfucker Fri 25-Oct-13 15:18:04

I dunno. If you went into a cafe and everyone there was wearing a bag over their head, how comfortable would you feel? Humans (all primates) rely heavily on the face for social cues. Surely the niqab is intended to alienate others, keeping the wearer isolated in her personal shell? Its whole point is to send out a 'keep off' message, isn't it?

Numpty and Yoni, I didn't understand how that passage supported the niqab, either! It could easily have meant the whole head may be uncovered, too.

garlicfucker Fri 25-Oct-13 15:25:02

We all know that women in some countries are not given the choice to remove the hijab. We will be no different if we restrict a woman's choice by forcing her to remove her niqab.

This argument looks sound, but ignores the fact that niqab wearers are pressured to stay covered. They're under social, religious and family orders. I'm not at all convinced that it's wrong to apply reverse pressure from outside.

Obviously a piece of headwear isn't like domestic violence, but the argument is comparable. Until recently, beaten wives were not supported, or their men censured, because it was a 'private choice' - domestic. We now take it for granted that domestic arrangements do not override standards of common civility. We changed the law to reinforce that point.

defuse Fri 25-Oct-13 16:28:32

Garlic, if a british niqab wearing woman was to come and say that she is pressured into wearing the niqab, then i would be just as vocal about her having the right to remove it.

We have stats on domestic violence. Can anybody bring forward any figures of niqab wearing women in britain who are in a niqab because they are forced? Has anybody actually met a niqab wearing woman in britain who has said that she is forced to wear it.

NumptyNameChange Fri 25-Oct-13 17:16:31

for me it's simple - it is not a religious requirement so if there was a ban it wouldn't be forcing anyone to not follow their religion and wouldn't represent a loss of religious freedom. it would also be ok to me if the state we are banning all face coverings be they muslim veils, balaclavas or motorbike helmets for security reasons.

it would not be like, for example, banning a sikh wearing a turban (a genuine religious requirement and one that represents no risk or sense of threat) or requiring muslims to eat bacon.

it could be banned without infringing on any real religious laws and without being 'targeted' at muslims but a general security rule for all. in which case people would have to obey or face the consequences.

i'm not saying it 'should' be banned but if it was it would be perfectly legal and non discriminatory and it would not cause anyone to disobey their religion despite all the 'highly recommended' red herrings that get thrown around.

NumptyNameChange Fri 25-Oct-13 17:18:30

incidentally i'm not even allowed to specify a female gynacologist for a treatment i have to have so the idea we'd have all these extra staff with time on their hands to be taking veiled women into private rooms for checks is a bit daft. imagine the extra bloody queues at the airport!

alemci Fri 25-Oct-13 18:03:32

I hope the ladies wearing these don't drive, surely it impairs your peripheral vision.

garlicfucker Fri 25-Oct-13 18:32:20

Thanks, defuse, and I don't know the answer to your questions! There are, though, many very public examples of clerics demanding that women cover themselves more* ... all about hijab, as far as I'm aware, but still an unacceptable (to me) expression of men's assumptions of rights over women's lives and bodies. A man who feels that entitled would probably see nothing wrong with excluding women from social support networks, based on his disapproval of their dress.

*outside of mosque - we all observe conventions in religious buildings

kiriwAnyFuckerwa Fri 25-Oct-13 18:34:49

But why wear something that isolates you from your peers? That's what I don't understand. And actually it seems pretty rude. The arguments for it are all a bit teenage goth - everso slightly precious and self-absorbed. And you cannot wear it and be unaware of the misogynist connotations.

defuse Fri 25-Oct-13 20:55:20

Where do you draw the line regarding misogynist connotations? I wear a hijab - tend to wear colourful ones, but yet some of my colleagues are adamant that i wear the hijab because a man has made me - referring to my husband. It is quite offensive really, especially when they know that my husband is quite a gentle passive kind of man and i am the loud one.

To my colleagues, the hijab has misogynistic connotations, to others, the niqab does. If you want to ban stuff with what you feel may have misogynistic connotations, then you are in effect rather simplifying matters and seeing it from just one angle.

Take for example, britain or france when women could only wear skirts or dresses - not trousers. Do skirts and dresses represent misogynistic connotations? Should we get rid of those because women battled long and hard for the right to wear trousers? Are the skirts and dresses a symbol of oppression?

Some are saying, niqab represents misogyny, therefore get rid. Others say hijab does. I am a law abiding citizen. I havent hurt anyone. Where is my right to wear what i want. Even wearing a hijab, i have to make extra effort to 'appear sociable'. I am a smiley person. Nobody strikes up a conversation with me unless i do first. I can relate to the difficulties faced by niqabis (excuse the pun) grin and i dont think that throwing so many statements at them - some vilifying them others victimising them, yet some saying they are victims but that they ask for it - it is not helpful at all nor does it achieve anything.

defuse Fri 25-Oct-13 21:03:34

I have no time for clerics who frown upon women but do not address men either.

On the flip side, a side that you do not see, is that many men are threatened by their daughters and wives adopting the hijab and niqab because they know that the hijab and niqab frees the women from the shackles of cultural norms and that the women can demand their rights that islam has granted them.

garlicfucker Fri 25-Oct-13 21:18:17

Well, yes, of course the rules about women not wearing trousers were misogynistic. Did you really ask that, or have I misunderstood? As to whether dresses are a symbol of oppression: you're on my turf here, and I could go on for weeks! Let's just say that some abusive/oppressive men do insist their women wear dresses - as I'm sure you know, so perhaps you're just being a bit goady? It is abusive to control what another adult wears in everyday life.

The hijab is a headscarf. When I were a lass, all the women wore headscarves or hats. They took them off when they were indoors in public. Headwear like this is little more than a fashion issue. I realise it means more to a woman in hijab but, then, so does a wig to women of certain jewish persuasions, as do the rail & wimple to a nun. Still, I wear a shawl around my head & neck in winter and that's a fashion choice.

Covering the face is a whole other matter. It has massive anthropological meaning. In terms of communication, it renders the onlooker blind. You hair doesn't tell how you feel, what you want to say, or how you're responding to others. Your face does. Without this information, I'm in the same position speaking to a covered woman as a blind woman speaking to me. We recognise blindness as a disability: why would this woman want to disable me?

garlicfucker Fri 25-Oct-13 21:27:58

I have a tiny anecdote: One summer, I got a really bad psoriasis attack on my face. It was so disgusting, I took to wearing a scarf over my face. The hostility this provoked in others was educational. It ranged from reserve to avoidance, but was absolutely real and startling. Even my friends, who obviously know my face well, were uncomfortable with it and preferred talking to my rash than my scarf.

I can't believe anyone would ask women to subject themselves to widespread hostility/avoidance, if they cared about those women.

kiriwAnyFuckerwa Fri 25-Oct-13 22:17:36

What garlic said. The hijab doesn't cut you off from the world, doesn't prevent you from having a cup of tea with other women, doesn't prevent you from interacting.

The niqab does all that. It silences women, it cuts them off and I cannot see how anyone can argue that is a good thing.

TheABC Sat 26-Oct-13 01:57:31

Thanks, realm. That does explain a lot....

JayPunker Sat 09-Nov-13 21:59:30

I cannot for the life of me understand why any rational person would even contemplate converting to islam. It's a barbaric practice. If Islam was just a religion, there would be NO issue, but it isn't. It's a socio-political ideology that masquerades as a religion, and as such, comes complete with it's own barbaric laws. Execution for apostasy, adultery, blasphemy, and homosexuality. Bare in mind that being a victim of gang rape counts as adultery. Yet anybody who speaks out against such bigotry is instantly labelled a bigot. There is kind of an escape clause in the execution though. It is said that if a prisoner escapes, that is the end of the matter. Personally I think that's just a way to let the men get away unpunished. Allow me to elaborate. A man is buried up to his waist for stoning. A woman is buried up to her chest. Who has the better chance of escape?

NotinIslamsname Wed 01-Jan-14 13:05:31

It is not in the Quran, nor sunnah this is a false misconception there is no face veil in Quran nor the sunnah. Its ridiculous to assert that their is. In fact the face vale originated from the Ancient Greeks and not from our Abrahamic ancestors.

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