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The niqab is just clothing

(35 Posts)
onagar Thu 08-Oct-09 14:41:14

"Egypt's highest Muslim authority has said he will issue a religious edict against the growing trend for full women's veils, known as the niqab.

Sheikh Mohamed Tantawi, dean of al-Azhar university, called full-face veiling a custom that has nothing to do with the Islamic faith"

" Sheikh Tantawi was visiting a girls' school in Cairo at the weekend and asked one of the students to remove her niqab"

BBC News

So that's settled at last and someone owes Jack Straw an apology.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Thu 08-Oct-09 14:47:43

what do you mean 'that's settled then'? I can't understand your point. Are you taking the egyptian cleric to be the last word in Islamic law?

The niqab is only clothing, and as such it should be up to the individual whether they want to wear it or not.

[baffled as to what your point could be]

BiteOfFun Thu 08-Oct-09 14:51:30

When you've got Saudi clerics who think like this, it's an uphill battle, surely? [boggle]

ilovemydogandmrobama Thu 08-Oct-09 14:54:34

Fair enough I suppose if one is Muslim asking another Muslim to take niqab off....

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Thu 08-Oct-09 15:11:34

Ummm not fair enough. Not ok to dictate to women what they are allowed to wear, ever.

illgetyoubutler Thu 08-Oct-09 16:15:37

oh riiighht(!)...
this ''sheik'' is the authority spokeperson for every muslim, male and female on the planet? so because HE says it has 'nothing to do with islamic faith', then he MUST be right..because he is speaking as a MUSLIM?!

onagar Thu 08-Oct-09 17:59:38

BiteOfFun, What they are going to show off the WHOLE eye? :D

My point wasn't about him banning it really. I think it's ludicrous to let a religion or its leaders to pick your clothes and you shouldn't stand for it, but when Jack Straw made the mild suggestion to a woman that they might be able to talk more easily without her niqab it was deemed to be racist, abusive, perverted - you name it.

If the highest/most respected muslim cleric in a country can say it then although others might still debate and disagree on the finer points it can be none of those things can it.

BobbingForPeachys Thu 08-Oct-09 18:35:25

Well it could be- its quite opssible to be those things and sahre them as well, silly as it seems.

But I see your point generall and I do think it is just clothing- in both the sense that nobody should be offended by a suggestion of removal, neither should they be prevented from wearing if they choose.

haven't seen you on here in ages Onager smile

HerBeatitude Thu 08-Oct-09 20:07:47

There's no such thing as "just clothing"

What clothing you wear, how you wear it, makes a statement about you. It's not neutral, ever. (At least, not in developed societies where it is more than just covering/ warmth/ protection from sun.)

Clothing is designed to elicit a response/ say something about you. Even trying to blend in with the surroundings is sayng something about you. ("I dn't want to be noticed") People who choose to put on unflattering, horrible clothes say "I don't care if you judge me on my looks" (or just "I'm doing the gardening today"). It all makes a statement.

Have you never watched Trinny and Susannah? wink grin

illgetyoubutler Thu 08-Oct-09 21:42:46

hate to break it to you, but there are many 'muslim sheiks'. this particular ''sheik'' is not the highest cleric, nor is this man the most respected within the islamic community. so i dont really believe many practicing muslims will be rushing to hear his views on islamic law.

SomeGuy Thu 08-Oct-09 23:05:54

Of course it isn't just clothing. In many parts of the world women are expected to wear it, or similar items of Islamic dress, and may be sexually assaulted, arrested, or worse, if they do not.

This sort of clothing is nearly always worn as a result of pressure from others and will frequently be enforced upon people who would rather not wear it.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Fri 09-Oct-09 09:28:18

The vast majority of egyptian women have been sexually assaulted in the street. The vast majority of women wear at the very least a hijab and abaya. What they wear has nothing to do with the likelihood of sexual assault.

Of course there is something very wrong with a society that enforces any sort of clothing rules on its members. It is terribly wrong to force women to dress in a niqab, or hijab, but it is also terribly wrong to force women not to.

A society where women can choose to dress head to toe in concealing black, or in a bikini and heels (much like Britain) is about right. Muslim societies clearly don't have that level of freedom and things do need to change. But Muslims, ordinary people, scholars and politicians, have always disagreed about what is 'truly Islamic' and always will. There has been massive internal discussion about the niqab for years and years, it's not an orthodoxy by any means (apart from places like Saudi and Afghanistan which are not typical of muslim countries)

Wahaabism (such as practised in Saudi) is vastly different to Sunnism and Shia(ism?) and it's a mistake to think Islam is a homogenous group of ideas or people.

NewPenName Fri 09-Oct-09 09:31:14

just clothing?! Bollocks!

fircone Fri 09-Oct-09 09:36:03

I don't get it.

There is a mother at dd's school. She wears the full deal: flowing robes, gloves, and a mask which covers all her face. She accompanies her husband and walks several paces behind him.

This is not just an outfit. It is an insult to her gender.

NewPenName Fri 09-Oct-09 09:39:02

I agree, fircone. While i feel sorry for the poor downtrodden wearer, I feel incensed and insulted when I see a fellow women encased in a niqab!

LadyoftheBathtub Fri 09-Oct-09 09:41:25

I don't like face-covering clothes, as it does seem to me that there's something really alienating about not being able to see someone's face. However some women will want to wear this stuff, for reasons of culture. It's not always as simple as someone forcing them to (though that does happen a lot) - it's years of cultural forces. Banning women from wearing something just results in more control of women.

What leaders should do is work to make sure that it is very clear that legally no one has to wear them - and have very strong punishments for anyone who forces a woman to wear them or punishes her for not doing.

msrisotto Fri 09-Oct-09 09:50:17

I agree fircone.

Bleh Fri 09-Oct-09 10:38:04

For the BARKING Saudi suggestion (covering everything so you just see one eye?!) shows a remarkable misunderstanding by men (not just in Saudi, but world-wide) that women dress for them. Some do, but I bet the majority of the time, women dress for themselves or for other women. Women don't put on eye make up to (always) attract men, they sometimes do it to make themselves feel better, to feel attractive, to hide behind it, because they were bored. Men can be really egotistical and stupid sometimes, thinking that women just dress for them. Pscha

illgetyoubutler Fri 09-Oct-09 10:51:40

oh please! always the same arguement. ''i cant understand why any women would want to cover her face. therefore, the only conclusion i come up with is that she is forced to''[rolls eyes]
in my own experiance, not using examples from the newspapers, news reports, daily mail, dispatches, channel 4, or otherwise, from my own personal experience from living as a muslim revert, and mixing with muslims, who know thier religion and practise it properly and who come correct, i know more women who wear the niqaab than not. they choose to wear it. they want to wear it, and love wearing it. these women were not born muslim. they have never had men stand over them and beat them to wear it. they were never wrapped up in culture from the day they were born. i have a group of close friends, as diverse as they come, most of whom wear the face cover. some are not married, but single. 2 sisters come from a jewish backgroun, they are related. another is irish. the other like me, is jamaican yardy gal with gold teeth and braids. another is an asian sister, who used to be a hindu. another is malasian and recently graduated doctor. another one of our 'gang' comes from morrocco, married to a west indian revert to islam. all of whom wear niqaab. there have been times were i myself have chosen to cover my face. not for the pleasure of anyone else, but for myself, and for my own reasons, which in of itself is another discussion altogether, which i dont mind explaining to anyone who wants to know. agree with it, dont agree with it, of course that's your prerogative. nothing wrong in that. the point of writing this is not to make anyone agree, but just accept that shock horror! many women actually love, want and will keep wearing the niqaab as that is what they want to do! and that is one of the things that comes from living a way of life that is seen as extreamly strange to others who dont walk that particular path themselves. but to keep stating that all women are forced to covr themselves because you yourself cant imagine ever wanting to wear the niqaab, is so misinformed. and i emphasize again, i go from personal experiance, not what the TV or newspaper or 3rd party says smile

SomeGuy Fri 09-Oct-09 13:17:22

I wouldn't say that all women are forced to, just that many are, and that on balance it is a piece of clothing that is a symbol of opression. Just look at the places it is most worn, and see what rights women have there.

VirginiaLoveGlove Fri 09-Oct-09 13:23:51

has this kicked off yet?

BobbingForPeachys Fri 09-Oct-09 13:25:01

A great many women choose to cover up, it really is worth speaking to some British converts on this to get an interesting take.

It is an item of clothing, it is in fact a piece of fabric. However, to that has been ascribed certain menings and some of those are immensely important to the wearer, absolutely. And IMO someone with empathy and tolerance would normally choose to take account of that when viewing the significance and role in that persons life.

So with understanding it takes on a life separate from the primary function, much in the same way a crucifix or robe might to another person; and IMO the healthiest expression then is when it is viewed at that level- as a symbol of faith. There's no harm is suggesting someone might remove it although if that were forced it would be very different of course.

Naturally I am refferring only to this country; to equate the meaning of the Niqab in the UK with some of the strictest Islamic regimes wopuld be a joke, but a painfully unfunny one.

There's also an issue here about whether enforced religion, especially in terms of thsi sort of thing, stops being a faith and becomes a dictatorial wrong;my position would be that it does, and whilst we should respect faith as an individual prerogative, I am fiercely against enforced following of religion and or the enforced dispaly of cultural norms ascrined to that faith.

I bet that amde no sense whatsoever did it? LOL

Er- its fine if someone chooses to wear it, but not if they are forced or coerced into it by a figure of so called religious authority.

SomeGuy Fri 09-Oct-09 13:28:14

To be fair, the OP is about Egypt, not the UK, so anecdotes about strong-willed women in Britain choosing to wear the niqab are slightly less relevant.

BobbingForPeachys Fri 09-Oct-09 13:36:20

Perhaps in relation to OP someguy, but incredibly sueful in terms of overall understanding I think,esp. for those of us with a wider interest in the subject.

paisleyleaf Fri 09-Oct-09 13:42:13

There was a program on radio 4 this morning about this. One Muslim woman made an interesting comment that women who chose to wear it in the UK are actually making things a lot more difficult for women in parts of the world where they have to wear it.

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