‘The Niqab has no place in Islam’


by Sunny
27th January, 2010 at 9:25 am    

guest post by Shaaz Mahboob of British Muslims for Secular Democracy

Discrimination of any form is considered unacceptable is all civilised societies. The burqa or the niqab does just that. It allows one person to remain anonymous during face-to-face communication, thus depriving the right of the other to reciprocate whilst registering the changes in facial expressions, which is vital in such communication, in conjunction to voice that is used for everyday communication.
Whether in public offices, educational institutions or out on the streets, the disadvantage to those who are required to deal with women covered under a niqab or burqa is immense.

Furthermore, to all the men out there, it is insulting since it implies that every man on the street would somehow get aroused by the sight of a woman’s face and in therefore to protect these women, they must be put behind a suffocating layer of thick clothing.

This might be true for certain societies where men rarely get a glimpse of women’s faces or skin altogether, and any such sight might awaken their natural instincts.

Whereas in Western societies, especially within the French society, this rationale does not hold much weight since members of the public are exposed to significant display of the skin of the opposite sex, which perhaps renders them immune to any such mental state where they would readily pounce on a woman upon seeing her uncovered face.

The argument put forward by individuals and groups that somehow covering of women’s face is a religious obligation for the reason of their safety from the lewdness of men, falls flat on its face when recalling the etiquettes during Hajj.

It should be remembered that during this holiest of pilgrimages, worldly pleasures and distractions have been removed by the Almighty, thereby allowing the pilgrims to concentrate on their prayers and associated rituals.

During the Hajj, Islam forbids women from covering their faces, whilst at the same time removes segregation on the basis of sex during the days that men and women, who are otherwise strangers to each other, spend many days in close proximity to each other.

No wonder even amongst the vast majority of women who do choose to cover themselves, only a fringe element finds the niqab or burqa a religious obligation, while the rest are content only with a hijab.

Whether it’s security at airports, identification in banks or during job or dole (income support) interviews, it is the right of the authorities and businesses to be certain of who they are dealing with on the basis of identity and communication.

Furthermore, it is perfectly reasonable that the general public feel reasonably secure about the persons sharing the same public sphere. Not knowing whether an individual amongst them is a man or a woman due to their attire is deeply unsettling and any such anxieties must be addressed by the relevant changes to law.

Burqa or niqab neither has a place in Islam nor should it obtain a place in civilised Western societies where women are equal to men and public safety of all is paramount.

—————–
This was written first for Al-Jazeera


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  1. pickles

    Blog post:: 'The Niqab has no place in Islam' http://bit.ly/dgfZGk


  2. James Cowley

    RT @pickledpolitics Pickled Politics » ‘The Niqab has no place in Islam’ http://bit.ly/cmLnHQ


  3. Jacob Lister

    The Niqab has no place in islam; Pickled Politics; by Shaaz Mahboob ; http://bit.ly/aOgQOS [this is very controversial but very interesting]


  4. George Allwell

    RT @pickledpolitics Pickled Politics » ‘The Niqab has no place in Islam’ http://bit.ly/cmLnHQ




  1. Amit Sodha - The Power Of Choice — on 27th January, 2010 at 9:32 am  

    I’ll be debating this on my radio show this Sunday from 6 – 8pm on Westside 89.6FM so feel free to tune in and have your input on the niqab.

  2. The Common Humanist — on 27th January, 2010 at 9:43 am  

    “”During the Hajj, Islam forbids women from covering their faces, whilst at the same time removes segregation on the basis of sex during the days that men and women, who are otherwise strangers to each other, spend many days in close proximity to each other”"

    So occasionally Saudis do allow adults to be adults?

    But the rest of the time its infantile segregation and religious wannabe fascism. Interesting.

    Mandatory pop at the Saudis done!

    Anyway, great article.

    TCH

  3. Dontmindme — on 27th January, 2010 at 9:47 am  

    “Burqa or niqab neither has a place in Islam nor should it obtain a place in civilised Western societies”

    The Nuns habit is not mentioned in the New Testament as far as I know., but I would not deny the monastic order its right to where whatever ‘uniform’ it likes and for it to endow that ‘uniform’ with whatever religious significance it want to.

    Equally the catholic vow of chastity for priests has no biblical foundation.

    Equally much of modern Jewish practice has no foundation in the Torah.

    In every case though, devout practitioners have chosen to honour their faith by sincerely held interpretation of texts that are otherwise silent or vague on x y or z.

    Likewise if some parts of Islam out there places religious significance on Burqa or niqab then it is up to them, and I see no reason to intrude on their faith.

    I have seen Niqab wearing women reveal their faces to airport security and the like, so I see no conflict their either.

    If women are truely equal to me as a man, then I should have no right to tell women of faith that they can not wear a particular item of dress.

    There is a separate issue of women who may not want to wear it but feel family or community pressure to wear the burqa or niqab. But this is irrelevent to the above in the sense that the law should protect the rights of all from any faith or none from such pressure. Indeed it is that principle that should apply either way.

    The individual woman should feel free under the protection of the law to choose to wear them or not.

    Whether you, as an individual see it as Islamic or not should therefore be irrelevent.

    Do you not agree?

  4. Yakoub — on 27th January, 2010 at 9:52 am  

    “Burqa or niqab neither has a place in Islam…”

    Because, of course, BMSD speaks for all Muslims, erm, I mean some Muslims, erm, I mean a few liberal Muslims who despise conservative Muslims, and we should therefore take their views as representative of the entire ulema and the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims, well, as more representative than Anjem Choudary. Because BMSD’s Taj is an Imam, well, he doesn’t have a dars-i-nazami, but he’s got a PhD… in history.

    Please note that, given BMSD includes at least one Islamic Studies academic in his core membership, it would never discuss Islam as an essentialised category which defines and legitimizes what all Muslims do or should do. That would be intellectual dodgy if not willfully ignorant, wouldn’t it?

    And, of course, BMSD are not a group whose views are defined by anything else except their love of God. They’re not the least bit politically motivated in their views, and no one has ever described them as a bunch of weak-kneed, grovelling chumchas bent on promoting the kind of integration many people on the far-right dream of. Not even slightly. Now please don’t litigate, Taj! Taj!! I was only kidding…

  5. lemontea — on 27th January, 2010 at 9:53 am  

    Pickled politics running out of stories? This issue is getting boring why are middle aged and old men always commenting and banging on this issue like a broken record? Let the women who wear it decide we live in the UK where people have the right to wear what they want, Shaaz mahboob get a life!

  6. The Common Humanist — on 27th January, 2010 at 10:00 am  

    Dontmindme,

    With respect I think you are missing the point. In the UK context the burqa and niqab are deeply alien, offensive to non muslims as well as a large proportion of muslims and demeaning to women as a whole.

    They are simply a means of controlling and limiting the activities of women. Something that simply has no place in the 21st Century.

  7. lemontea — on 27th January, 2010 at 10:07 am  

    The common humanist

    speak for yourself i am non muslim and i am not offended by it. I am rather offended you claiming to speak for the entire non muslim community!

  8. douglas clark — on 27th January, 2010 at 10:25 am  

    TCH @ 6,

    There was a huge thread, it’s still the most popular ever on Pickled Politics,

    http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4963

    where all the arguments pro and anti were discussed.

    The consensus appeared to be that it was up to the woman herself, as it is next to impossible to determine whether it was a deeply held religious modesty or something less savoury.

    What is almost certainly required, in my view, is the emancipation of muslim women, but that might take a while…and that is up to them.

  9. Dontmindme — on 27th January, 2010 at 10:26 am  

    The Common Humanist

    I think I understood the point just fine.

    The Punk hairdo was alien when it first appeared. I did not like them then and I dont like them now, but because I find it alien and offensive is no reason for me tto have the right to tell Ms Punk Rocker how to dress or what colour here hair can be.

    You say it is “simply a means of controlling and limiting the activities of women”. Yet some/many women say it is a fundamental part of their religious and cultural identity. I prefer as a matter of principle to favour the latter over the former. This is because in protecting the latter I in the long run protect myself from such as yourself who would try to impose on me how to live my life.

  10. The Common Humanist — on 27th January, 2010 at 10:40 am  

    Douglas

    “The consensus appeared to be that it was up to the woman herself, as it is next to impossible to determine whether it was a deeply held religious modesty or something less savoury”

    Thats why it should be banned – apply the pre-cautionary principle and aid those on who it is imposed and the ‘devout’ can wear a hijab.

    Dontmindme
    Clearly you are more tolerant of reactionary religion then I am.

    But as Douglas pointed out there is a huge thread on this with many arguments on show.

  11. Dontmindme — on 27th January, 2010 at 10:58 am  

    The Common Humanist

    I am tolerant of many world views. Especially if they provoke the kind of reaction and views you are representative of.

    There seems to me to be a rise in ‘intolerant liberalism’ a world view that seems to say that Western Eurpoean liberal thought is so obviously superior to any other philosophy we should suppress any contrary view.

    This is how we end up with the French seriously contemplating a legal ban on an item of clothing.

    Does this not strike you as being the least bit anti-liberal?

  12. douglas clark — on 27th January, 2010 at 11:07 am  

    TCH @ 10,

    Thats why it should be banned – apply the pre-cautionary principle and aid those on who it is imposed and the ‘devout’ can wear a hijab.

    That has the potential to be deeply illiberal. No, really, it does.

    I agree with dontmindme @ 9. I don’t like it. But so what?

    Why the heck should my standards be universally applied to what is a personal decision?

  13. The Common Humanist — on 27th January, 2010 at 11:09 am  

    DMM

    I am a liberal, tis the only place to be.

    Isn’t it illiberal to insist that reactionary religious practices be imported into a liberal society??

    There is nothing illiberal about defending enlightenment values.

    “There seems to me to be a rise in ‘intolerant liberalism’ a world view that seems to say that Western Eurpoean liberal thought is so obviously superior to any other philosophy we should suppress any contrary view”

    Yes, the suppressing on contrary views is ripe in the UK…..

  14. platinum786 — on 27th January, 2010 at 11:38 am  

    I’m really getting annoyed by these Brown Sahib Muslims who claim to be “liberals” politically speaking but are intolerant to religious choices people make.

    First of all as someone said, who cares if the Niqab or Burkha or gay rainbow parades are Islamically correct or not, if we are living in a secular society they are the right of those who choose to adopt them as their own.

    To the say the Niqab has no place in Islam first and foremost is a blatent lie. The vast majority of Islamic scholars (99%) of them, will tell you covering your face with a veil is not an Islamic requirement, however none of them will tell you it’s contradictory to the Islamic principle of purdah (modesty). Please note this concept is not defined only by clothing. The Wahhabi school of thought does consider it an Islamic requirement.

    I respect their right to practise Islam as they see fit. Why do these self declared Muslim “liberals” deny people that right? It may suprise some of you that wahhabi’s would probably consider me outside the fold of Islam, as I beleive in the sufi practises of asking dead saints to pray to God to intercede on our behalf, something wahhabi’s consider associating others with god, they call it shirk. Yet i still support the right of Wahhabi women to wear the Niqab.

    Also this point about the Hajj is irrelevant. During the Hajj period Muslims also don’t shave/cut their hair or toe nails, yet these people wouldn’t suggest that is normal Muslim practise, that is simply practise used during the pilgrimage. Catholic kids taste wine at church, they don’t have some with their sunday lunch afterwards. Hindu’s bathe on mass together in the Ganges for the Kumb Mela festival, yet in normal day to day life women and men will not bathe together publically. Why use exceptional events that are used at pilgrimage as the norm? It’s a blatent attempt to twist religion to suit their own agenda, to help them backup the soundbites the people funding them want them to provide and it undermines their reputation and effectiveness as an organisation.

  15. platinum786 — on 27th January, 2010 at 11:43 am  

    Regarding the point of security. In a situation where it is required to confirm security, then of course people should be willing to remove the veil, just whilst their identity can be confirmed.

  16. Random Guy — on 27th January, 2010 at 11:47 am  

    What, this again? Godamn, if I had a penny for every niqab/burkah story, I would be retired by now.

    So, the BSMD have decided to come out and decide what has/has not got a place in Islam. Before I LMAO let me point out that we already have scholars and ulema who are…ahem….slightly more qualified (and credible) for such a discussion.

    *Random laughs manically for a few minutes.

    Right, so where were we? Oh right, some random bunch of people deciding what has a ‘place’ in Islam. Like we haven’t seen that before a million times before.

    Dontmindme @ #11 hits the nail right on the head. Some people have their heads so far up their asses with this notion of “superior enlightement”, that they have forgotten what the real world looks like.

  17. Dontmindme — on 27th January, 2010 at 11:56 am  

    “Isn’t it illiberal to insist that reactionary religious practices be imported into a liberal society??

    No one is sugggesting such a thing (well with the exception of global Caliphate promoting jihadists).

    I am saying that a woman may wear whatever she damn well pleases. If that is a Burqa than thats fine by me. If that religious practice of choice of clothes offends you, then so what? Be offended, engage in argument, and make your case. But be ‘liberal’ enough to accept that it is OK for someone to fundamentally diagree with you, and still have a legitamate right to that point of view and style choice.

    “Yes, the suppressing on contrary views is ripe in the UK…..”

    If this is meant to be ironic, then it is misplaced – I cited France. Though examples from Holland and other Eurpoean countries can also be cited.

    If this is not meant with irony, then I dont understand it.

  18. MiriamBinder — on 27th January, 2010 at 12:01 pm  

    I’ll try and address the various reasons given in turn:
    • Discrimination of any form is considered unacceptable is all civilised societies. The burqa or the niqab does just that. It allows one person to remain anonymous during face-to-face communication, thus depriving the right of the other to reciprocate whilst registering the changes in facial expressions, which is vital in such communication, in conjunction to voice that is used for everyday communication.
    Whether in public offices, educational institutions or out on the streets, the disadvantage to those who are required to deal with women covered under a niqab or burqa is immense.
    Disregarding the axiomatic statement regarding the unacceptability of discrimination the attempt here is to claim that the wearing of a burqa or niqab can be considered as enforcing inequality on the non-wearer of a burqa or niqab. This can be taken two ways.
    1. Am I less equal to my counterpart in conversation because I wear a mid-calf length skirt, a pair of ankle boots and a long sleeved, high necked top and my counterpart is wearing a mini-skirt, sling backs and a boob-tube?
    2. Do we not consider the limitations of a blind counterpart in a conversation and adapt our mode of transmitting meaning accordingly? Is it so inconceivable that women, wearing burqas and niqabs, as a matter of personal choice, as being aware of the limitations and therefore will adjust their mode of transmitting meaning accordingly.
    • Furthermore, to all the men out there, it is insulting since it implies that every man on the street would somehow get aroused by the sight of a woman’s face and in therefore to protect these women, they must be put behind a suffocating layer of thick clothing.
    1. Surely the notion that a man is insulted by the wearing of a burqa is in itself an expression of cultural prejudice. The article has addressed the paralinguistic aspects of communication. Though a large element of paralinguistic communication is instinctive and therefore involuntary, there is another element which is obtained through the process of socialisation and therefore culturally specific; politeness being a case in point. Rules of politeness differ from community to community, society to society. What is considered polite in one would be tantamount to an outright insult in another. Is a slight perceived where non is intended the fault of the perceiver or the sender?
    In some circles it is the custom for married women to cover their hair; hair being considered the crowning glory. They cover their hair leaving the sight of their crowning glory for their husbands only. Are other males slighted by not being able to catch a glimpse of this ‘crowning glory’? Are they way deprived by this lack; deprived they are without doubt but is this depravation in any sense real?
    2. The implication that by proscribing the wearing of the burqa or niqab we are somehow ‘rescuing’ women from being put behind suffocating layers of thick clothing is patronising at best. First there is the implication that no woman would voluntarily seek to wear the burqa or niqab; thereby effectively stating that all those women who do, do so under duress.
    Whether the burqa or niqab is comfortable or suffocating is really not a legitimate concern to the wider public; anymore then whether tottering on 7 inch high heels is comfortable or a skin-tight PVC jumpsuit restricting. Just as those people who elect to wear the latter could quite legitimately claim that the comfort or otherwise is entirely their own concern, so can those women who wear the burqa or the niqab.
    I’ll address the matter of inconsistency within religious practise as a matter in general terms; for inconsistency is by and large an issue that affects most, that is not to say all, organised religions to one extent or another. Is the inconsistency within one specific religion sufficient reason to proscribe what is considered by a minority as a necessary religious obligation; for admittedly not all Muslims consider the wearing of a burqa or a niqab as a necessary religious obligation anymore then that all Christians consider the taking of communion as a necessary religious obligation.
    • Whether it’s security at airports, identification in banks or during job or dole (income support) interviews, it is the right of the authorities and businesses to be certain of who they are dealing with on the basis of identity and communication.
    1. The issue of security is a wonderful emotive red herring. If security is indeed a legitimate concern then there are ways by which the issue of ensuring identity can be accomplished without needing to proscribe the wearing of a burqa or niqab by law. The same procedure can be followed by other governmental authorities such as the DWP, Police and Judicial courts. Banks do not rely on visual identification as they rely on signatures, pin numbers and other means such as security codes in the form of terms and responses to given questions.
    Businesses have no right to identify whom they are dealing with. They are under no obligation to deal with anyone; though it would be rather counterproductive for a business that sells settees to refuse to sell a settee.
    • Furthermore, it is perfectly reasonable that the general public feel reasonably secure about the persons sharing the same public sphere. Not knowing whether an individual amongst them is a man or a woman due to their attire is deeply unsettling and any such anxieties must be addressed by the relevant changes to law.
    1. The assumption that the general public is less secure because of a certain number of women wearing a burqa or a niqab is as reasonable as the assumption that because women wear short skirts and halter necks they are asking to be sexually assaulted.
    2. The implication that because a given individual may elect to wear clothing that is counter to his gender, all those who wear such attire should be suspect runs counter to all that underpins a free and democratic society,
    Given that the article starts with the premise that “Discrimination of any form is considered unacceptable is all civilised societies.” it is rather incongruous that it ends on such a discriminatory note.

  19. platinum786 — on 27th January, 2010 at 12:13 pm  

    Well said!

  20. Sunny — on 27th January, 2010 at 12:17 pm  

    test comment

  21. marvin — on 27th January, 2010 at 12:21 pm  

    I think the UK has far more Saudi ‘friends’ than France, with the Saudi elite owning various properties in West London, around Hyde Park etc.

    With these powerful ‘friends’ of ours I should imagine such a ban in the UK far less likely anyway.

    This reminds me of Hyde Park in the summer, and for one of the oddest sights of around, 10 or 15 niqabbed women all in a uniformly spread in group on a hot summers day. Looking like a Python sketch, no one niqabbed women was in control and none seeemed to be able to take a lead, so when going in a direction they seemed to generally start shifting in that direction, like a slow thinking hive mind…

  22. Paul Garrard — on 27th January, 2010 at 1:41 pm  

    I agree with the article above.

    I have never understood why any religion should dictate what you wear.

  23. Random Guy — on 27th January, 2010 at 2:02 pm  

    @22: “I have never understood why any religion should dictate what you wear.”

    And I have never understood why common sense is not that common.

  24. platinum786 — on 27th January, 2010 at 2:10 pm  

    @22: If religion should not dictate what you can wear, why should government?

  25. persephone — on 27th January, 2010 at 2:24 pm  

    As ever, I would like to see niqab/burkha wearing women comment on this. Their absence means they are hostage to being portrayed as at @21.

  26. Muslim — on 27th January, 2010 at 2:34 pm  

    What exactly are Shaz Mahboob’s qualifications to say what is and isnt Islamic? He’s a doctor not a scholar. Will Imams and vicars now be performing surgery?

    His arguments are truly feeble

    “It should be remembered that during this holiest of pilgrimages, worldly pleasures and distractions have been removed by the Almighty, thereby allowing the pilgrims to concentrate on their prayers and associated rituals.

    During the Hajj, Islam forbids women from covering their faces, whilst at the same time removes segregation on the basis of sex during the days that men and women, who are otherwise strangers to each other, spend many days in close proximity to each other.”

    Women are also banned from marital relations with their husband during Hajj so by this idiotic logic this is and all other worldy pleasures also banned outside Hajj.!!!

    To argue the Niqab has no place in Islam is simply false. It was worn by the Prophet’s wives (may God be pleased with them) !

    Here are some sites outlining the Islamic evidence for niqab

    http://www.muhajabah.com/niqab-index.htm

    http://muttaqun.com/niqab.html

    Whether it should be encouraged is another issue but its highly illiberal for any society to start banning such clothing. Everyone accepts that where security issues are involved women should show their faces. But a society which dictates what people can and cant wear is no different from Iran or Afghanistan under the Taliban.

    This is the actor Steven Berkoff’s brilliant argument

    Veil puts fashion slaves to shame
    Sir: Oh dear, what a huge palaver about the Muslim veil. For everyone, it touches some little flame of anxiety.
    For Jack Straw it concerns his ability to read the mind on the human face. Can the voice alone not carry infinite shades of meaning? Was poor blind Mr Blunkett that much less capable of reading the inner thoughts of others? For the articulate Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (9 October) it carries an unending proliferation of horrors from sexual repression and slavery to the inability to go swimming. If that is what they wish then let them be, since I have to admit that they are still far more elegant and dignified than some Western women whose sense of self-respect and dignity has long been eroded by their slavish following of the most absurd iniquities of fashion. When I see young women in the street with their buttocks hanging out and their thongs almost obscenely exposed, it hardly inspires admiration, more, I’m afraid, a feeling of revulsion.

    I have to admit that the veil does not do this. Archaic it may be but certainly not sluttish or repulsive. There are so many abominations of human dress in the West that we may have just become adjusted to our own slovenliness. I would certainly put the fashion police on our own tacky style but I suppose everything’s up for grabs now in our terror-ridden society.
    STEVEN BERKOFF
    LONDON E14

    This is Dominic Lawson
    “Banning the burqa is simply not British”
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/dominic_lawson/article6999908.ece

    as he says
    “how is it compatible with “Britain’s values of freedom and democracy” to use the force of the state to prevent a small number of law-abiding women from wearing an item of clothing they regard as part of their religious observance, and to arrest them on the streets if they persist in exercising their conscience in a way that harms nobody?”

    Shaz Mahboob
    “Discrimination of any form is considered unacceptable is all civilised societies”

    Except against women who want to wear the niqab

  27. Muslim — on 27th January, 2010 at 2:35 pm  

    What exactly are Shaz Mahboob’s qualifications to say what is and isnt Islamic? He’s a doctor not a scholar. Will Imams and vicars now be performing surgery?

    His arguments are truly feeble

    “It should be remembered that during this holiest of pilgrimages, worldly pleasures and distractions have been removed by the Almighty, thereby allowing the pilgrims to concentrate on their prayers and associated rituals.

    During the Hajj, Islam forbids women from covering their faces, whilst at the same time removes segregation on the basis of sex during the days that men and women, who are otherwise strangers to each other, spend many days in close proximity to each other.”

    Women are also banned from marital relations with their husband during Hajj and men banned fromwearing stitched clothing so by this idiotic logic these are also banned outside Hajj.!!!

    To argue the Niqab has no place in Islam is simply false. It was worn by the Prophet’s wives (may God be pleased with them) !

    Here are some sites outlining the Islamic evidence for niqab

    http://www.muhajabah.com/niqab-index.htm

    http://muttaqun.com/niqab.html

    Whether it should be encouraged is another issue but its highly illiberal for any society to start banning such clothing. Everyone accepts that where security issues are involved women should show their faces. But a society which dictates what people can and cant wear is no different from Iran or Afghanistan under the Taliban.

    This is the actor Steven Berkoff’s brilliant argument

    Veil puts fashion slaves to shame
    Sir: Oh dear, what a huge palaver about the Muslim veil. For everyone, it touches some little flame of anxiety.
    For Jack Straw it concerns his ability to read the mind on the human face. Can the voice alone not carry infinite shades of meaning? Was poor blind Mr Blunkett that much less capable of reading the inner thoughts of others? For the articulate Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (9 October) it carries an unending proliferation of horrors from sexual repression and slavery to the inability to go swimming. If that is what they wish then let them be, since I have to admit that they are still far more elegant and dignified than some Western women whose sense of self-respect and dignity has long been eroded by their slavish following of the most absurd iniquities of fashion. When I see young women in the street with their buttocks hanging out and their thongs almost obscenely exposed, it hardly inspires admiration, more, I’m afraid, a feeling of revulsion.

    I have to admit that the veil does not do this. Archaic it may be but certainly not sluttish or repulsive. There are so many abominations of human dress in the West that we may have just become adjusted to our own slovenliness. I would certainly put the fashion police on our own tacky style but I suppose everything’s up for grabs now in our terror-ridden society.
    STEVEN BERKOFF
    LONDON E14

    This is Dominic Lawson
    “Banning the burqa is simply not British”
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/dominic_lawson/article6999908.ece

    as he says
    “how is it compatible with “Britain’s values of freedom and democracy” to use the force of the state to prevent a small number of law-abiding women from wearing an item of clothing they regard as part of their religious observance, and to arrest them on the streets if they persist in exercising their conscience in a way that harms nobody?”

    Shaz Mahboob
    “Discrimination of any form is considered unacceptable is all civilised societies”

    Except against women who want to wear the niqab

  28. Sofia — on 27th January, 2010 at 3:23 pm  

    Burqa or niqab neither has a place in Islam nor should it obtain a place in civilised Western societies where women are equal to men and public safety of all is paramount-

    I find that statement and most of the tone of this article to be pathetically patronising. Also, am I to assume from the above statement that burqa and niqab have a place in uncivilised western societies? And if you want to do research on islam and purdah as well as face covering then you need to look at the Prophet (pbuh) wives who covered their faces, so in actual fact it does have a place in islam. The question arises as to whether it was proscribed for other muslim women.

    I’m no huge fan nor advocate of the niqab but I do believe that people have the freedom to express their beliefs where they are not causing harm to other people.

    There are lots of ways in which to argue for or against niqab but I find the author’s arguments to be lazy and regurgitated.
    “Furthermore, to all the men out there, it is insulting since it implies that every man on the street would somehow get aroused by the sight of a woman’s face and in therefore to protect these women, they must be put behind a suffocating layer of thick clothing” well if this is your argument against niqab then it should be your argument for any type of clothing which people are wearing for reasons of modesty as defined by their religious beliefs, including hijab…

    “Whether it’s security at airports, identification in banks or during job or dole (income support) interviews, it is the right of the authorities and businesses to be certain of who they are dealing with on the basis of identity and communication.”
    I’m sure that women who do wear niqab would understand this and remove their niqab where required.

    This so called ‘debate’ on niqab is no such thing. Why arent’ we asking questions of the women who wear it? The French, for all their liberte egalite and fratenite are approaching this issue totally wrong. So if the author agrees with what the French are doing with the face covering, does the author also agree with the banning of hijab in schools?

  29. Don — on 27th January, 2010 at 3:42 pm  

    I think BMSD have picked the wrong battle here, even their natural allies, for the most part, cannot support this.

    Only the most over-riding and urgent of reasons can be put forward for something as draconian as telling people what they can and can’t wear. There may very well be good reasons for restricting the wearing of the niquab in very specific circumstances but a blanket ban?

    Much as I dislike the garment I would actively oppose such legislation.

  30. bananabrain — on 27th January, 2010 at 5:19 pm  

    dontmindme #3:

    Equally much of modern Jewish practice has no foundation in the Torah.

    this is absolutely wrong. even if it was right, it is such a sweeping generalisation and so poorly worded that it cannot possibly be defended. either provide a few examples (i’m not even going to quibble at your use of “much”) so i can show you how incorrect you are, or retract, because even if the examples you give are correct of islam and christianity (and i’m not expressing an opinion here) the statement about judaism is unsubstantiable.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  31. Old Pickler — on 27th January, 2010 at 7:10 pm  

    During the Hajj, Islam forbids women from covering their faces, whilst at the same time removes segregation on the basis of sex during the days that men and women, who are otherwise strangers to each other, spend many days in close proximity to each other.

    Now that is interesting. And it proves that wearing the niqab is a political act rather than an act of piety.

  32. MiriamBinder — on 27th January, 2010 at 7:20 pm  

    Why is that Old Pickler? Because thou sayeth so? All it does prove is that during specific periods certain prohibitions are lifted for the duration of that specific period.

  33. Don — on 27th January, 2010 at 7:38 pm  

    OP,

    As my favourite christmas pressy T-shirt says, ‘I think you’ll find it’s more complicated than that.’

  34. sonia — on 27th January, 2010 at 7:38 pm  

    good article.

    yeah its not about ‘telling’ some individual woman not to wear something or not, individuals should always be free to wear something bizarre if they want to. Point is its about social norms and discussing what these norms should include. even in majority muslim countries, women who go to the extreme lengths are considered that – extreme. most people assume they have extremely religious families and that’s why they have to. they’d be just as confused as people here are – if they thought it was voluntary!

  35. halima — on 27th January, 2010 at 8:48 pm  

    lemontea, i think you said it earlier ‘ get a life’ , i couldn’t agree more.

  36. dontmindme — on 27th January, 2010 at 9:27 pm  

    Bananabrain.

    I trivial example but it illustrate the point.

    Nowhere in the Torah does it say that you cannot turn on and off a light bulb on the sabbath. However the prohibition against work that is originated in the Torah is interpreted by some Jews as prohibiting turning the lights on and off.

    You might be fair in picking on my use of the word foundation. That was a poor choice.

    But it is a fact of the undeniably obvious that the Torah is not a comprehensive document that covers every situation in human existance. Therefore new develoments in human life since the Torah was completed have to be ‘adjudicated’ on by humans who necessarily will disagree and variations in practice evolve across the Jewish people as different interpretations are arrived at.

  37. Shatterface — on 27th January, 2010 at 9:45 pm  

    It’s possible to detest the burqa and all it stands for while still defending the *right* to wear it *by choice*.

    I have no more respect for anyone who chooses to wear it than if they wore a t-shirt that says ‘I’m a second class and all men are rapists’ but I wouldn’t ban that either.

  38. dave bones — on 27th January, 2010 at 10:11 pm  

    I am in agreement with Doug as usual. Neither choice of clothing nor nudity offend me as much as imposing dress or choice on others.

  39. MiriamBinder — on 27th January, 2010 at 10:47 pm  

    @ don’tmindme # 36 – the prohibition on labour during the sabbath is based on Exodus 20:8-11: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

    To use the national grid requires other individuals to be working. Using it therefore effectively means that you condone their working on your behalf and that is expressly prohibited by the above. In that sense it is merely adapting the intention perceived within the passage to modern circumstances.

    Sidetrack and please ignore …

  40. The ghost of Joe Strummer — on 27th January, 2010 at 11:03 pm  

    Anyone wearing anything because of some weird belief in a man in the sky needs to get with the programme.

    It’s the fact that people defend this because it’s a ‘faith thing’ that really hacks me off.

    Oh, and a word to the guilt-ridden middle classes: brown people can be facsists too, and it’s okay to point it out.

  41. persephone — on 27th January, 2010 at 11:07 pm  

    I think it is healthy to have the BMSD write publicly on such issues. We (as in regular group of commenters on PP) may think this subject has been oft covered, but to a wider public it goes toward eroding the messaging that Islam4Uk are propagating as universal muslim views.

    On the BMSD website is the following: “ the move to too much credence is still given to ultra conservative Muslim groups who advocate hard-line religious practice and sectarianism.”

    And the wider perception is that the niqab constitutes hard-line religious practice & sectarianism. From that perception are made other connotations (and suspicions) of other extremes such as terrorism, sharia law criminal punishments, caliphate aims.

  42. douglas clark — on 27th January, 2010 at 11:19 pm  

    the ghost of Joe Strummer @ 40,

    Anyone wearing anything because of some weird belief in a man in the sky needs to get with the programme.

    Sure, but they are entitled to any foolishness they like in a liberal democracy.

    Here is a chap:

    http://www.excatholicsforchrist.com/images/rowan.jpg

    I think he looks equally ridiculous.

    ——————————-

    This site has discussed the sorts of issues you raised with this:

    Oh, and a word to the guilt-ridden middle classes: brown people can be facsists too, and it’s okay to point it out.

    Try checking out the archive.

  43. douglas clark — on 27th January, 2010 at 11:41 pm  

    persephone @ 41,

    Of course BMSD should write publicly on these issues. I just don’t think they have a particularly persuasive argument in this case.

    We have been down this avenue already and there is no evidence one way or the other.

    It is moot.

    It is a statement of, frankly, illiberal principle.

    What dontmindme said @ 3, 9, 11, 17 seems to me be definitive of a liberal view on this.

    If we want to look into this further, then we’d need to consider:

    The real argument that ought to be addressed, at least I think so, which is the extent to which women are being used as proxy adverts for male muslim extremism. In other words is there a correlation between the degree of radicalisation of the men in the relationship and the degree of covering up that their women are expected to adopt. Perhaps with a frisson of patriarchy.

    I’d think that any such research would be impossible. It is not easy to o eliminate the social and otherwise externalities.

  44. dontmindme — on 28th January, 2010 at 7:41 am  

    Miriam Binder

    Actually its not a side track in this sense. That intrpretation is one interpretation. Its not the only one. It is a sincerely held (by many) interpretation of the text by which many Jews live as a part of their fundamental religious and cultural identity. Many other Jews dont sign up to this interpretation. And that is what this thread is about.

    I chose the light bulb as an example because it is utterly trivial to a non Jew whether a Jew wants turn of a light bulb or not and no business of anyone elses.

    Likewise it is utterly trivial whether a Muslim woman chooses to wear a burqa or not and no business of anyone elses

  45. MiriamBinder — on 28th January, 2010 at 8:34 am  

    @ the ghost of Joe Strummer # 40 – Get with the programme? What programme and perhaps more importantly, whose programme?

    I see very few, if any on this thread defending the wearing of either the burqa or the naqib on the basis that it is a religious requirement. What I do see is many defending the right to self expression and self determination.

    Self expression and self determination is just that; and that includes the right to swathe yourself in a burqa or naqib, totter about on 7 inch heels or use yourself as a sketchbook for an aspiring tattoo artist (yuckity yuck!) … it means being free to chose your own road to perdition, being accountable for your own choice and accepting the limitations, inconveniences and consequences of your own choices.

  46. MiriamBinder — on 28th January, 2010 at 8:46 am  

    @ don’tmindme # 44 – it was a side track and you missed my point, or maybe didn’t miss it but chose to ignore it; that being that it is the application of a perceived intent to modern circumstances.

    Personally I would not wear a burqa or niqab; if I need light, I will switch it on regardless of what day of the week it is and I would quite happily munch a juicy steak on Good Friday.

    It is because I do, or don’t as the case might be, all those (and more ;) ) and I want to be able to continue in that vein, that I defend the right of others to elect to do otherwise.

  47. Dontmindme — on 28th January, 2010 at 9:06 am  

    MiriamBinder

    If you read my earlier posts you will see that I could not agree more.

  48. pesephone — on 28th January, 2010 at 11:28 am  

    Douglas @43

    “is there a correlation between the degree of radicalisation of the men in the relationship and the degree of covering up that their women are expected to adopt. Perhaps with a frisson of patriarchy.”

    There are expectations of women having to cover up/dress modestly, to differing degrees, across most Asians communities.

    The ‘evidence’ seen the public are the statistics & media coverage behind the levels of asian women who suffer from abuse (domestic violence, forced marriage, honour killings). As to whether those who are covered up more are a higher or lower portion of that it is not clear.

    The view from posts 3, 9, 11, 17 are admirable & equitable. The telling difference is that those with punk rock hairstyles, Caucasian women who dress in religious dress etc do not, I think, appear as a group that suffers such abuse. So whether a stance is labelled illiberal or liberal does not figure in my mind.

    Until more women start to come forward to detract all of this and the cases of abuse start to decrease I believe the niqab (and even other forms of cultural/religious dress) will be associated with oppression. Those are the things I would like changed, not necessarily the banning of the niqab, even though I am not a proponent of it.

  49. over yonder — on 28th January, 2010 at 11:38 am  

    I’m surprised by Shaaz Mahboob’s comments. The rulings of Islam cannot be rewritten to suit our own desires. The niqaab has an established place in Islam,most scholars either regard it to be obligatory or highly recommended. Mahboob is suggesting that niqaab is not relevant in western society. Muslim women who wear niqaab are aware that western societies are a little different to more conservative societies but she will not give up her niqaab based on this as she follows the guidance of Allah, not self rationalisations or self justifications.

  50. pesephone — on 28th January, 2010 at 11:42 am  

    over yonder

    why do many speak on behalf of niqaab wearers? From your comments you are not a niqaab wearer/female?

  51. over yonder — on 28th January, 2010 at 12:00 pm  

    pesephone,
    What does my gender matter? I am making a point about following Islam vs making an idol of our own desires. For the record, I am female.

  52. Dontmindme — on 28th January, 2010 at 12:47 pm  

    pesephone

    Some women are oppressed. Some women wear the burqa. There is no evidence to link the two except your predisposition to believe it. Therefore any woman who wears the Burqa is a symbol of oppression because you beleive it to be so. Is that your position?

  53. pesephone — on 28th January, 2010 at 12:48 pm  

    over yonder

    thanks for responding. i raise it because the women concerned do not seem to comment. i also raise it because the gender impacts here – ie only women wear niqaab, burkha, hijab and it seems the desires in question appear to be only male

    on this issue gender is key

    excuse the personal question but do you wear niqaab, burkha or hijab?

  54. pesephone — on 28th January, 2010 at 1:10 pm  

    Dontmindme

    In addition to what I have mentioned earlier, I have doubts about the equalities of freedoms & religious observance because:

    1) We have covered this issue here many times and the lingering question remains as to why this applies to women only.
    2) The dearth of wearers taking part in such discussions
    3) a commenter provided some text/scripture to support the rationale & it related to all being modest & lowering their eyes in modesty and was not gender specific.
    4) And yes I do see a link to controlling female sexuality through dress and I do see an expectation for women to be responsible for male reaction given how they are dressed.

    To me that is oppression

  55. Dontmindme — on 28th January, 2010 at 1:52 pm  

    pesephone

    Yet many women of faith consider themselves freed by the very same practices you call oppression. Just because they are wrong in your world view hardly invalidates there right to believe and dress as they please. Surely?

  56. MiriamBinder — on 28th January, 2010 at 2:32 pm  

    Just because veiled women choose not to come on Pickled Politics or, if they do, elect not to highlight their mode of dress for Pesephones’ benefit does not mean that there are no sources on the internet discussing the way in which the veil is regarded. Oh, the two I have elected to bring up are by women …

    http://www.islamicgarden.com/article1020.html

    http://www.muhajabah.com/faceveil.htm

  57. over yonder — on 28th January, 2010 at 3:18 pm  

    pesephone,
    i do wear a headscarf.As to the niqaab, I worn about 10 years ago but chose to remove it shortly after September 11th for reasons of personal safety. I have since worn niqaab only in Muslim countries. Having said that, I do still consider it a religious duty. In the past, I have myself attempted to justify not wearing it, using arguments such as that it’s counterproductive to the acceptance of Muslim minorities in the west. It made for less guilt on my own part. To do this, I’ve realised, is to place my judgement about an issue over that of God.
    There is, to me, a wisdom in all of the commadmnents, even if they are not immediately apparent.

  58. MiriamBinder — on 28th January, 2010 at 3:23 pm  

    “I worn about 10 years ago but chose to remove it shortly after September 11th for reasons of personal safety”

    What a sad reflection on what purports to be a society that values individual freedom …

  59. Tory — on 28th January, 2010 at 3:54 pm  

    You really have to admire the French when it comes to culture and society. They are much more forward thinking than politicians in Britain. Like a host of governments in the middle east, they also see the veil is used as an expression of hatred for non-muslims and democracy. They see that Islamists are using the veil to weaken national identity and ghettoize sections of the community. The French ‘progressive’ is usually on the side of liberty, securalism and France. The British leftist ‘progressive’ can often be found accommodating the bigotry of the subcontinent, or finding a way to live with Saudi inspired extremism.

    Demographics alone show that a certain of amount of Islamification is going to be inevitable. The thing is the French aren’t going to go down quietly like the snivelling English.

  60. Sofia — on 28th January, 2010 at 4:01 pm  

    Tory – you really are funny…

  61. Sofia — on 28th January, 2010 at 4:06 pm  

    Over Yonder – it’s sad that the only reason you felt you had to take your niqaab off was because you felt threatened…you should not feel guilty because you’ve done this especially as your personal safety is important and I’m sure there is provision for this within Islamic doctrine.
    In my opinion,dress is only one small component of what being a muslim is. There are many many other things that make up the muslim character and identity.

  62. over yonder — on 28th January, 2010 at 4:44 pm  

    There are a number of blogs run by niabis. I recently came across an article by a niqab wearer called digital niqabihttp://digitalniqabi.wordpress.com/2009/07/29/for-what-good/ who counters an argument, by another female Muslim blogger, Organica,http://organicmuslimah.blogspot.com/2009/06/niqab-is-it-veiling-true-message-of.html that niqab shouldn’t be worn in the West.

  63. sonia — on 28th January, 2010 at 4:49 pm  

    the french are a bunch of cultural authoritarians heh they like to enforce homogeneity in the same ways traditional muslim societies do. you can wear all manner of outrageous outfits and not get raised eyebrows in camden but in paris..the chic people will give you looks.

    over yonder, so you’re saying the majority of women in muslim majority countries who don’t wear the niqab – are going against islam? I don’t think so somehow. the niqabi wearers are a significant minority.

  64. over yonder — on 28th January, 2010 at 4:51 pm  

    There are a number of blogs run by niqabis. I recently came across an article by a niqab wearer called digital niqabi who counters an argument, by another female Muslim blogger,Organica,
    that niqab shouldn’t be worn in the West.
    http://digitalniqabi.wordpress.com/2009/07/29/for-what-good/

    http://organicmuslimah.blogspot.com/2009/06/niqab-is-it-veiling-true-message-of.html

  65. over yonder — on 28th January, 2010 at 4:53 pm  

    sorry for the double posting.

  66. sonia — on 28th January, 2010 at 5:00 pm  

    anyway if people want to dress up as ninjas that is neither here nor there. people can wear what they want. the weird thing is when people think that their religion requires them to do so – and don’t think this a strange aspect of their religion. by all means people should encourage the individual to wear what they like. no reason why we can’t do that – and simultaneously point out how silly it is for a religion to require 0.5 of the population in such heavy disguise! (if indeed the case be so). Really of course the point is that within ‘Islam’ and countries that are muslim majority – this has always been a contested issue – whether covering of the hair is really required – and then the question of the face. there isn’t agreement apart from a ‘general modesty requirement’ and what constitutes modesty is always going to vary from culture to culture. From example, while in many parts of the Middle East, a niqabi will raise no comment, but in Dhaka, a niqabi is quite likely to get more harassment from the roadside youths because of it. ‘oh you must be hiding something really good’ and try and whip it off her. Most girls don’t want to draw such attention to themselves. Having a ‘dopatta’ is considered sufficient for ‘ladylike’ modesty purposes

  67. sonia — on 28th January, 2010 at 5:09 pm  

    And about the French attitude to the veil, i think Raphaël Liogier says it very well. they’re paranoid about losing ‘their culture’ and getting into a panic. They are so illiberal and not bothered about individual liberties -trying to enforce a dresscode for public places – and not realising they are worrying about some amorphous whole which is shifting anyway.

    sure to backfire – all sorts of people will want to dress up like ninjas now!

  68. sonia — on 28th January, 2010 at 5:21 pm  

    re: my comment at 65 -this what is modesty question still being negotiated – Nesrine Malik’s article @ Guardian is a really good read .

    Following the victory of four women in Kuwait’s parliamentary elections, Islamists attempted to prevent two of them from taking their seats in the house for not wearing the hijab. After a legal battle, the country’s constitutional court ruled that the women in question were not obliged to wear the Islamic attire.

    Egypt has been at the centre of its own contentious debate, this time about the niqab, or face veil. The niqab, traditionally worn in parts of the Gulf and associated with Wahabi/Salafi Islam, has recently become popular in less-conservative Egypt.

  69. Jai — on 28th January, 2010 at 5:22 pm  

    The British leftist ‘progressive’ can often be found accommodating the bigotry of the subcontinent

    The majority of Muslim women in India along with major cities like Lahore in Pakistan do not wear the niqab.

  70. Tory — on 28th January, 2010 at 5:37 pm  

    Jai, thats the irony of it course. The multiculturalist Left created enviroments and promoted values which encouraged newcomers to be *more* fundamentalist than communities back in the old country. Leading to the mountain of opinion surveys suggesting young British muslims are more supportive of fundamentalist views than many of their brothers overseas. Just goes to show how absurd Sonia’s argument is I guess. Not satisfied with weakening British national identity and creating religious ghettos, some people now demand the French give into this paradise like us.

    Please find somewhere else for your crazed cultural experiments and ghettoization policies. It must be someone elses turn by now I think.

  71. MiriamBinder — on 28th January, 2010 at 6:31 pm  

    @ Tory # 69 – So please tell us, what is this British national identity that has been weakened?

    Of course it could just be a nice emotive but essentially empty phrase you have decided to throw into the mire.

  72. Tory — on 28th January, 2010 at 8:17 pm  

    MiriamBinder, it really isn’t that hard to understand. It is a common history, culture and values. Its a people with a common language or ethnic origins who live in a particular area. There is an Indian national identity for instance. The Indian national idenity is no less real or imagined than the English one. Do you deny there is an Indian national identity? There is also a French national identity that exists as a result of French experiances throughout history. The French will protect that identity, as will the Indians. The English idenity is as real as the rest. The only difference is that its very fashionable to say the English simply do not deserve one.

  73. MiriamBinder — on 28th January, 2010 at 9:24 pm  

    @ Tory # 71 – I haven’t denied anything … I am trying to get to the bottom of what you perceive as this English national identity. But from your answer I see it is just an empty phrase shored up by some more empty phrases.

  74. persephone — on 29th January, 2010 at 12:53 am  

    Over yonder

    Thanks for answering.

    What do you feel about covering up not being adopted by men?
    _______________________________________________________

    Thanks for the links – a few raised a few themes:

    Cool red: “ how are we meant to believe God would make the life difficult for women in even suggesting covering their faces when out and about in society. What purpose does it serve truly? Men are demanded, ordered and threatened to lower their gaze…as are women …simple. If they do not then the sin is theirs but it in no way becomes our fault or responsibility to prevent that gaze from being lifted on to our bodies…as long as we are observing modest behavoir and modest attire…then we are fullfilling the requirements of Islam.”

    Agreed what purpose indeed.

    “as a Muslim woman,to base my mode of dressing on how others might respond is both unrealistic and impossible.”

    This contradicts ano blogger who cites Arabic text that a woman must cover herself to avoid undue attention.

    Yumna:“ women are very privileged in islam because they dont have to earn unless they are extremely needy. it is a man’s job. women are supposed to take care of kids, learn about their deen and spread it to fellow sisters. so its ok if they dont get a job somewhere or people avoid them. because to talk to a non mahram is definitely a no no in our religion unless out of necessity and since in the states you are surrounded by men and you have to deal with them.so either way niqab or no niqab being a muslim and especially a women, you have to be stern and strong when talking to a non mahram man and talk only if required rather then laughing and getting all friendly.. you have to look at the bigger picture that you are pleasing Allah rather than people.”

    Ok,Yumna’s views on working sound old fashioned. But it is sad that a religious edict directs a woman not to laugh or be friendly. To me this appears extreme application. It forces wearers out of simply engaging.

    Suroor: “it all goes back to thousands of years where an ‘uncovered’ woman was a bonded woman whether into slavery or prostitution and today a Muslim man’s honour cannot bear that thought because he has no clue why veiling started and why it is no more necessary – at least in the West“

    Given the provenance of face covering, is it relevant today?

    أبو سنان said: “It is my experience, both in America and when I lived in Europe, that the majority of women who wear niqab were not actually born in the Muslim world. They are usually converts or 2nd or 3rd generation Muslims. Where I live there is a huge Muslim community, much of immigrant from all over the Islamic world, yet I can tell you almost always when I run into a niqabi, it is someone who is probably American born.”

    If this growth of wearers is becoming more prevalent in the West is the driver more political than religious – though the rationale for it is noramlly a religious one.

  75. MiriamBinder — on 29th January, 2010 at 7:55 am  

    @ Persephone # 73 – Cherry picking is a very useful tool when trying to ensure that the evidence you present supports a given agenda.

    Have you heard of the ‘Black Swan’ principle?

    “In conclusion, I would like to note that I do not wear the face-veil myself (only the basic hijab) but that I do have enormous respect for the women who cover their faces. I was prompted to write this article after hearing from many of my fully-veiled sisters in faith that some of the harshest criticisms they receive are from within the American Muslim community itself and not from non-Muslims as they had anticipated before adopting the veil. I really think that all Muslims should realize how much courage and confidence it takes to veil one’s self in modern-day America and that we should be their best supporters in the struggle for the Muslim woman’s right to veil. ”

    from a link supplied in post # 56: http://www.islamicgarden.com/article1020.html

    and:

    “The basic point is that niqab is an extra degree of observance in something that is already done (in this case, dressing modestly.) It is recommended to Muslims, and beneficial for them, to do other extra observances, for instance to offer more prayers than are required, to fast days beyond Ramadan, or to give extra money in charity. Niqab as an extra obersevance is no different than this. This may seem odd or not make sense to non-Muslims, but it is a very real motivation for many Muslim women. At the very least, you should try to understand that it is an act of religious devotion, not part of some inferiority complex. Nearly all niqabi (face-veiling) women that I have talked with have adopted niqab completely by their own decision. They were not forced to it by their husbands or fathers, but chose it for themselves as a way to become closer to God.”

    again from a link supplied in post # 56:
    http://www.muhajabah.com/faceveil.htm

    The issue is not why some women chose to veil themselves but rather that they chose to veil themselves. That is the guiding principle behind Self Expression; and it is the right to Self Expression that a ban would take away from women.

    If there is a concern that some women may be coerced, against their will, to wear veil then that is a totally different matter and neither a ban on veiling nor a cherry picked ream of evidence will go any way towards supporting those women.

  76. bananabrain — on 29th January, 2010 at 8:50 am  

    dontmindme:

    Nowhere in the Torah does it say that you cannot turn on and off a light bulb on the sabbath. However the prohibition against work that is originated in the Torah is interpreted by some Jews as prohibiting turning the lights on and off.

    you are flying in the face of numerous problems with your operational definitions. it doesn’t tell you how to get married in the Torah, only how to get divorced. yet people seem to get married the whole time – so are we to assume that the Torah doesn’t include rules about marriage? the answer is the Torah includes two elements, the written Torah (“Torah she-bikhtabh”) and the oral Torah (“Torah she-be-al peh”) and when you say “nowhere in the Torah” you are referring to the written Torah, not the entire Torah. unless you are a scholar of these matters, i suspect you are not familiar with the oral Torah, where the subject is explicated as follows:

    1. it says “you may not work on the sabbath” in the written Torah.
    2. what do we mean by “work”?
    3. the taxonomy of 39 major categories of activity described as being used in the construction of the mishkan (“sanctuary”), the portable sacral structure whose construction is described in the written Torah and which was used until the construction of the permanent Temple in jerusalem (the “place of G!D’s Choosing” in the written Torah).
    4. of what do these 39 categories consist?
    5. how are we in this contemporary (i.e. when the oral Torah was written down as the mishnah and gemarah or talmud) period to understand those activities – what, for example, counts as “lighting a fire”, one of those categories?

    the prohibition, thus, has been established in the written Torah then explained in the oral Torah, which then gets updated with each new generation right up to the modern ruling that because a “spark” is generated in both lighting a fire manually and in sending an electrical impulse from a switch to an appliance and, furthermore, in most bulbs where a filament generates both light and heat. of course, if you could invent a light bulb that was not powered by a spark, nor generated energy that (if you put, say, paper on it) would cause a fire, you might have an argument for a light that you could turn on and off on Shabbat.

    as for “some” jews – it was accepted universally by anyone who follows the oral Torah that this is the logical interpretation. nonetheless, there are some people who think differently, although, arguably, there are rather larger differences of opinion that separate these people from the halakhic mainstream than the mere interpretation of whether filament bulbs belong in the category of fire-lighting or not.

    But it is a fact of the undeniably obvious that the Torah is not a comprehensive document that covers every situation in human existance.

    in fact, it is the interpretative process that shows precisely how the Torah (by which i mean the entire Torah) *does* cover every situation, once it’s been appropriately interpreted, that is how judaism works. so go on then, clever-pants – give me a situation it *doesn’t* cover.

    oh – and, by the way, i’m against any face-covering, as i’ve said before, not for reasons of modesty, but for reasons of security and the cultural norms of the society we live in. in fact, organica’s argument (thanks for the link, miriam) is pretty much the same as mine in a nutshell and, i am afraid, i am not impressed with the response from digital niqabi – i don’t think she’s understood the principle here and i think it’s pretty sad, incidentally, that she sees these essentially anonymising garments as layers of her “self” – i would have said just the opposite, they are ways of neutralising her self which i find inexplicable, but then again i am against uniforms in private life.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  77. persephone — on 29th January, 2010 at 9:31 am  

    Miriambinder

    Cherry picking – aren’t our very comments personally selected – its free expression :-)

    “The issue is not why some women chose to veil themselves but rather that they chose to veil themselves. That is the guiding principle behind Self Expression“

    You talk about choice – I question how that choice is set up, affirmed & becomes no choice – how an environment, culture, patriarchy put values on women to make that ‘choice’ (since religious observance as the driver seems to be moot). This exists in differing levels in a lot of asian communities – women are expected to be modest by dress, behaviour, speech, gender roles & thats w/t any religious edict. Things are slowly changing. This is from my own experiences in these communities so am surprised at it being labelled as Black Swanning. Referring to your cherry picked link, perhaps that’s why non asians are less critical – its easier to conceptualise & label it as ‘free expression’ without having to live it.

    Cherry picking from Sonia’s cherry picked link: “It’s never really about what women wear, but about the values that women’s dress implies – whether it is the niqab in Egypt, the hijab in Kuwait, or Lubna Hussein’s trousers.” As to the latter, that could be termed as a Black Swan – the State in question would like us to think so – it has nothing to do with the threat of flogging/jail to cull such exceptional militancy.

    And moving from Black Swan extremes to overwhelming magnitudes – why does this free expression not apply to men? I’m not cherry picking because of an agenda – others have asked this question on PP & other fora.

  78. Deep Singh — on 29th January, 2010 at 10:09 am  

    THE BLACK SWAN!!!

    Guys, with no disrespect, this concept (made popular by Nassim Nicholas Taleb – a great thinker IMHO) refers to low probabiltiy high impact events (fat-tails if you will), what the correspondence between “Miriambinder” and “persephone” seems to be hinged on is ‘data mining’ – which is something quite different (albeit Taleb addresses this in both of his books).

  79. MiriamBinder — on 29th January, 2010 at 10:41 am  

    @ Persephone # 76 – Persephone, if we are going to be pedantic about it, choice is always set up. It is set up by the limitations of personal knowledge and awareness. It is set up by available options. That I happen to be standing with my back to a wall and therefore can only chose to turn, left, right or forward is not in any way impacting on my right to determine my own direction in the same sense as were I to be standing in the middle of a field but a law prohibits me from choosing to walk backward.

    You claim that you have no agenda and I’ll grant you that you may well not think that you have one. However I have been reading your comments for quite a while and inevitably your contributions will highlight the disparity you perceive between men and women.

    The opening article on this thread relates to a (shabbily written) badly argued suggestion that the burqa or niqab be banned. This is clearly an issue that directly impacts on the right to freedom of expression by a specific group within society; and granted it is perceived as such by most of the initial contributors.

    We have the usual suspects of course who, whether in exactly those terms or not, suggest that when in Rome or otherwise bugger of back to where-ever … however in the main it is the issue of self expression.

    You in post # 48 state, and I quote
    “Until more women start to come forward to detract all of this and the cases of abuse start to decrease I believe the niqab (and even other forms of cultural/religious dress) will be associated with oppression. Those are the things I would like changed, not necessarily the banning of the niqab, even though I am not a proponent of it”

    You in post # 53 “on this issue gender is key

    excuse the personal question but do you wear niqaab, burkha or hijab?”

    and in post # 54 “In addition to what I have mentioned earlier, I have doubts about the equalities of freedoms & religious observance because:

    1) We have covered this issue here many times and the lingering question remains as to why this applies to women only.
    2) The dearth of wearers taking part in such discussions
    3) a commenter provided some text/scripture to support the rationale & it related to all being modest & lowering their eyes in modesty and was not gender specific.
    4) And yes I do see a link to controlling female sexuality through dress and I do see an expectation for women to be responsible for male reaction given how they are dressed.

    To me that is oppression”

    I could go on of course however I think that the above is sufficient evidence to point to you having a very personal crusade/agenda.

    If that is what floats your boat, you go for it as far as I am concerned. I would suggest however that you be at least honest with yourself about your motivations. I would further suggest that you be very careful what you wish for as once an illiberal law is established, be it the banning of the burqa or niqab for what is effectively a small group this will not only affect those women whom you see as wearing the burqa or niqab due to oppression but also those women who, for reasons of their own, elect to wear the burqa or niqab; in effect it would bring about another group of oppressed though this time it would be through the application of what purports to be a secular as opposed to a religious or cultural ‘law’.

    So there you have it Persephone. Had I your agenda, I certainly would not be arguing either for or against a ban on burqas or niqabs. Rather I would be organising a campaign to ensure that those women who felt ‘oppressed’ by wearing the burqa or niqab would be given all the support they need to empower them to lift the burqa or niqab ;)

    Oh, just for your information … the Black Swan is not an extreme but rather a useful little tool to put the brake on the tendency to run away on generalities ;)

  80. Dontmindme — on 29th January, 2010 at 11:11 am  

    Bananabrain

    Boy have you really have missed the point.

    I absolutely don’t care how you think the Torah should be properly interpreted, or how you think I do not understand its application and interpreation. Nor do I care how different Jewish scholars can arrive at different conclusions on the same subject, nor whether that meets your personal approval or not.

    Likewise I do not care how Islamic scholars arrive at different conclusions on womans dress.

    I do care that each and every subject of the crown be free to have liberty of tender consciences in religous matters, whatever their religion (including you obviously). I lot of people died in this country to get to this position. I care very greatly that it is kept that way.

  81. Jai — on 29th January, 2010 at 11:26 am  

    The multiculturalist Left created enviroments and promoted values which encouraged newcomers to be *more* fundamentalist than communities back in the old country.

    The majority of Indian Muslim women in Britain along with British-born Pakistani women whose ancestral roots lie in major urban centres like Lahore do not wear the niqab, and neither are they “more fundamentalist” than communities back in India or Pakistan.

    Not satisfied with weakening British national identity

    The number one reason for “weakening British national identity” during the past 50 years has been the cultural influence from the United States, by far the dominant external influence on Britain. If you wish to “reverse” the situation to some kind of rose-tinted past then presumably you desire the termination or minimisation of the sale and/or availability of American films, music, television programmes, fashion, foodstuffs and restaurants. On a secondary level, attempting to counteract the considerable impact of affordable international travel to mainland Europe is also presumably an aspiration.

    Again, the dominant “non-British” cultural influence on Britain is American. The impact of the subcontinent or anywhere else in the world doesn’t even remotely come close.

    The multiculturalist Left…..ghettoization policies.

    I’m not part of “the Left” or involved in formulating or executing Government policies.

    crazed cultural experiments and ghettoization policies. It must be someone elses turn by now I think.

    The BNP and their counterparts in organisations such as the EDL and SIOE, I presume.

    It is a common history, culture and values. Its a people with a common language or ethnic origins who live in a particular area. There is an Indian national identity for instance. The Indian national idenity is no less real or imagined than the English one. Do you deny there is an Indian national identity? There is also a French national identity that exists as a result of French experiances throughout history.

    They’re not even close to being analogous examples. During the past millennium, large numbers of Indians have used a common language for the purposes of government and commerce — Persian in regions under Mughal rule or with political/historical connections to them, or Hindi and English post-Independence, for example — but the inhabitants of the subcontinent as a whole speak a huge number of languages amongst themselves. Neither are they ethnically homogeneous. And the level of cultural diversity is enormous. Furthermore, despite the region’s very long history, the notion of an “Indian national identity” is predominantly something which has arisen post-Independence, although its origins obviously lie during the Independence movement itself.

    A far more accurate example would be the following: In terms of size, population, and internal linguistic, ethnic, and cultural diversity, India is the equivalent of the whole of Europe or the whole of Latin America united as single countries respectively.

    In fact, the fundamental basis for Indian identity post-Independence is the same as that of the United States, namely “Out of many, one”.

    Not that any of this has anything to do with the issue of the niqab’s place in Islam, of course. Although as MiriamBinder correctly said in #72…..

    But from your answer I see it is just an empty phrase shored up by some more empty phrases.

    …..I guess using the internet to opportunistically voice empty rhetoric and grossly inaccurate soundbites is an acceptable way to pass the time from the perspective of some people.

  82. Deep Singh — on 29th January, 2010 at 11:49 am  

    Jai:

    “The majority of Indian Muslim women in Britain along with British-born Pakistani women whose ancestral roots lie in major urban centres like Lahore do not wear the niqab, and neither are they “more fundamentalist” than communities back in India or Pakistan.”

    I do hear you on this, however as a general observation, British-Born Muslim men of Pakistani and more so Bangladeshi origin often adopt dress codes which are clearly Middle-Eastern in origin rather than Pakistani or Bangladeshi.

    Whilst it is tempting to pin this on the ‘Saudi-funded’ mosques, I do not know enough about the matter at this present moment to make a conclusive statment – welcome those who can provide some further insight.

    [This matter has been highlighted to me by Muslim friends who are of Arab, Iranian or Spanish ethnicity and typically they have tended to hold a dim view of Pakistani and/or Bangladeshi youths in the West adopting such dress codes, hence my refusal to comment either way as I am not sure to what extent this matter of 'perceived' traditionalism is political, religious or social]

  83. Martin Sullivan — on 29th January, 2010 at 11:56 am  

    Still, look on the bright side! Not many of the enrichers in multicultural Britain go in for Female Genital Mutilation:

    http://www.amren.com/mtnews/archives/2010/01/our_daughters_s.php

    Getting excited about various parts of wimmin is a fine study in its own right!

    old-time Japanese … nape of the neck
    old-time Chinese … tiny [bound] feet
    Westerners … boobs
    black Africans … buttocks
    Brazilian Indians … calves

  84. over yonder — on 29th January, 2010 at 12:07 pm  

    Deep Singh,
    i will read the previous comments afterwards,just want to quickly make a point. I was of the same view (that men and women of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, in Britain, who adopt gulf Arab style dress are inclined toward a interpretation of Islam reliant on scholars associated with Saudi Arabia.However, I’ve since learned, since becoming more aquainted with my neighbours, that such people are just as likely to be from groups such as taglighi jammat (a proselytising group originating in India but with branches throughout the world and which the dominant scholards of Saudi consider to be partially in error)or sufi. Indeed I was invited to a gthering by a Bangladeshi woman dressed in a black niqab and veil and whose husband wears short trousers, beard and kufi associated with salafism to a very sufi gathering.

  85. over yonder — on 29th January, 2010 at 12:12 pm  

    i wonder as to whether the adoption of arab style dress by some desi Muslims might have to do with wanting to emulate people whom they consider stronger or more knowledgeable muslims. Note, i’m not saying this is the case.

  86. bananabrain — on 29th January, 2010 at 2:12 pm  

    Dontmindme:

    Boy have you really have missed the point.

    no, i don’t think so. i don’t think you understood the implications of what you said and i don’t care for my religion to be characterised as part of the problem here – because it isn’t. you just included it because, hey, you’re having a go at muslims and christians, so why not include the jews to be “fair”. well, let me tell you something. the difference between judaism and the other two abrahamic faiths is this: we don’t think we are the only people “going to heaven” (or however you define the reward for the righteous) nor do we maintain that being jewish is the only way to “be a good person”. we expect variability and difference in the human ecosystem as not only a fact of life, but as an imperative – and i don’t have to look too far to source this from Torah, namely genesis 1:28. that is one of the reasons we find it more than possible to integrate into non-jewish societies and make a worthwhile contribution – something of which the burqa and niqab – and, yet again, i don’t include the hijab, this is not about modesty for me – are the antithesis. so if you want to have a generalised go at crazy religious ideas, include Torah out.

    I absolutely don’t care how you think the Torah should be properly interpreted, or how you think I do not understand its application and interpretation. Nor do I care how different Jewish scholars can arrive at different conclusions on the same subject, nor whether that meets your personal approval or not.

    nor do i care whether you care or not – but i do care if you misrepresent where Torah is on this debate. certainly distinct dress for jews is mandated by Torah, but likewise working for the peace of wider society and functioning as a productive and appropriately integrated element in that society is also a Torah principle – in other words, we believe in our responsibility to that society. i believe that the niqab and burqa are fundamentally wrong because they are fundamentally selfish, self-aggrandising and chauvinistic and, moreover, they impose upon other people. judaism does not accept such things under the guise of our Right To Be Who We Choose – rather, we choose to work out a way in which everybody’s dignity can be safeguarded, which can sometimes mean that the rules and considerations of a civil non-jewish society must overrule that which, ideally, we would like. this is the opposite of the reasoning of the niqabis, which appears everywhere to be a chauvinistic rejection of the importance of others – and i don’t care for that one bit.

    I do care that each and every subject of the crown be free to have liberty of tender consciences in religous matters, whatever their religion (including you obviously). I lot of people died in this country to get to this position. I care very greatly that it is kept that way.

    as do i. i think you’ll find that jews have always been at the forefront of liberty of conscience; but i think you’ll also find (if you look at the exodus story) that we believe that “freedom from” inevitably leads to the question of “freedom to” – and we are unequivocally of the opinion that liberty’s best safeguard is personal and communal responsibility. i think you’ll probably also find that that is the precise opposite of the coercive, checklist-driven, suspicious society that has been created by the relinquishing of personal responsibility to the quarterly targets of the organs of state. i do not believe that surrender to the egoes of the islamist stupid society will contribute to this.

    over yonder: you might find the following article on the subject interesting, in that case: http://www.spittoon.org/archives/3501

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  87. persephone — on 29th January, 2010 at 2:46 pm  

    miriambinder

    To ‘know’ my whole thinking suggest you go wider on PP to get a fuller picture. Gender issues are ones I feel strongly about. Even wrote a post on it once -the ‘evidence’ of my ‘crusade’ is still on PP, not sure when debating such issues became a crime though..

    On PP we debate with various groups, including BNP reps, with their overt agenda (and foul language) but we engage even where they have been plainly abusive.
    If seeking answers to questions that are highly relevant to the topic is labelled an agenda, then you are coming across as stifling debate that you don’t agree with. To me, that is not honest or reflective of what makes this site credible.

    Resorting to labelling won’t stop these questions being asked in & amongst communities.

    “Had I your agenda, I certainly would not be arguing either for or against a ban on burqas or niqabs. Rather I would be organising a campaign to ensure that those women who felt ‘oppressed’ by wearing ..“

    You assign me the agenda that I want to ban coverings – not said that. Yes I want to delve into the rationale for covering up, as does BMSD & blogs are effective campaign vehicles. As to other campaigning see below comment.

    “secular as opposed to a religious or cultural ‘law’“ and “tendency to run away on generalities “

    From the Iran experience, it can go too far the other way too. My family lived in Teheran before & after Ayatollah Khomeni. It became too dangerous to voice disagreement, compounded by the portion of Iranians who had the capability & means to campaign left. First, coverings were forcibly introduced & over time a creeping social control took over in a manner of ways

    For a short time my family were considered ok if the women wore ‘modest’ salwar kameez – after being used to wearing western evening dress at parties there. Some female iranians started to suffer from agoraphobia because it was not just about being a wearer but seen as a female virtue not to be out.

    Its that social control I perceive pervading across.

    As you are against generalities, I take it you have personal experience or insight here? Please share as the trite rendition of freedom of expression, black swan tags don’t cut it.

  88. Dontmindme — on 29th January, 2010 at 3:14 pm  

    Bananabrain

    No really you dont get it. In this matter I dont care who worships or doesnt, to one god or to many gods. If you were a follower of Zeus, that would be fine by me.

    I did not mis characterise Judaism, nor did I equate or compare it with crazy religious practice. I only said something you disagree with. I assure you I know plenty of people I regard as practicing Jews who don’t see it your way. I would understand if you did not see such people as following proper worship or Jewish law. It is ultimately irrelevant

    You clearly care how your religion is represented to the world. you clearly have a passionate view on what is the ‘right’ Judaism. Equally clearly I do not.

    On a personal level I would be much more interested in your Zeus cult I just appointed you to, as clasical history is a particular interest of mine.

    Please do not confuse my lack of similar passion as disdain or disrespect. Quite the opposite. I absolutlely respect your religion, its history, and your right to believe and worship as you please.

    The same is true for my attitude to Islam.

    I wasnt commenting on your attitude to freedom. I was commenting on mine. You are obsessed with arguing about the proper basis of Jewish law. It really is irrelvant to this thread or my comments

    Please get it into your head. As far as I am concerned I dont care why you believe what you beleive. I only care that you should have the right to beleive it and express that belief by not turning on the light.

  89. bananabrain — on 29th January, 2010 at 3:24 pm  

    oh, fair enough. i like people to be clear about what they mean – and i like to be clear myself.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  90. MiriamBinder — on 29th January, 2010 at 3:50 pm  

    @ Persephone # 86 – Your personal life is your own as are your personal experiences. I for one do not hold with the habit some posters have, both on these and other foras I’ve commented on, of asking for the personal qualifications of individual posters to comment. In fact I object to it precisely on the grounds that I consider it dismissive at best, that is not to say oppressive.

    A ban on the burqa or niqab is merely another means ‘social control’ though this one would be supported by the rule of Law as opposed to the rule of custom/tradition/misogyny/patriarchy/etcetera and so forth …

    By all means discuss any aspect you like … far be it from me to determine what you should or should not discuss. However be aware of what you ask when you discuss these matters and the limitations that holding to principles of self expression and the right of individuals puts on one.

  91. persephone — on 29th January, 2010 at 4:57 pm  

    MiriamBinder @ 89

    I shared the specific background because you stated a “tendency to run away on generalities“ …..

  92. MiriamBinder — on 29th January, 2010 at 5:49 pm  

    @ Persephone # 90 – with reference to the black swan principle Persephone and its usefulness as a tool.

  93. over yonder — on 29th January, 2010 at 6:51 pm  

    bananabrain,
    Many thanks for the article.

    persephone,
    <>
    as i consider men and women to be differently natured, and that this also applies to their sexual drives, i don’t see it as relevant for men to be covered to the same extent as women. I feel that the wearing of niqab, especially and the hijab (if worn properly) to a lesser degree, might somewhat reduce a man’s sexual interest in the women who wear it if only by indicating a certain unavailability..Having said that, I think that that covering up properly (as opposed to the muhajjababe look) might assist a woman, in the way that it woukdn’t help a man to achieve state of self abnegation, a state where the desires of the soulfor wordly things are replaced with a love for and longing for God. Women are narcissistic in their desire, in that they desire to be desired. Covering takes away from women the pleasure that they would normally derive from man’s admiring gaze. Thus helping to free her from the prison that is her own soul.
    Covering up is for a womaan not just a man guard but something that suits her nature. I wonder if this is why a woman is required to wear hijab when she prays even in complete privacy.

  94. George — on 29th January, 2010 at 7:16 pm  

    I find it hypocritical that westerners feel (or pretend to feel) uncomfortable to see Muslim women covering or overcovering themselves.
    How come they and the Christian clerics don’t object to western females going about in provocative attire and near naked in the pop world?
    There was a time (in the 1950s)when the Catholic church banned women entering the church with their arms showing and heads uncovered.
    What’s happened to the concept of Christian modesty today? Succumbed to corporate pressures?

  95. Don — on 29th January, 2010 at 8:01 pm  

    Women are narcissistic in their desire, in that they desire to be desired.

    I know one or two women who might disagree with you there.

    …free her from the prison that is her own soul.

    An interesting perspective. One that I find bleak and utterly depressing, but that’s just my opinion.

  96. persephone — on 29th January, 2010 at 10:31 pm  

    Over yonder,

    Thank you for being so frank.

    “reduce a man’s sexual interest in the women who wear it if only by indicating a certain unavailability “

    Sometimes men see unavailability as an exciting challenge, in fact a motivator

    “state where the desires of the soulfor wordly things are replaced with a love for and longing for God”

    If a woman is destined to attain this spiritual love above wordly desires, does marriage not create a conflict to that state?

    “suits her nature”

    By nature do you mean biological instinct or personality – if the latter then I cannot see how it would suit all different personalities

  97. douglas clark — on 30th January, 2010 at 10:46 am  

    George,

    It is fifty years since the end of the 1950′s. Lots of things have happened since then. Perhaps the two most relevant ones here are firstly a decline in deference to religious authority and scope and secondly women’s liberation.

    These look to me to be irreversible trends.

    I’d even go so far as to say that they are trends that most people don’t want reversed.

  98. Jai — on 31st January, 2010 at 4:15 pm  

    Deep Singh,

    I do hear you on this, however as a general observation, British-Born Muslim men of Pakistani and more so Bangladeshi origin often adopt dress codes which are clearly Middle-Eastern in origin rather than Pakistani or Bangladeshi.

    You’re right (although I was specifically talking about women rather than men), but as I said earlier, it obviously depends on their specific ancestry along with the nature & origin of their dominant influences at the moment.

    For example, there is clearly going to be a difference between a woman who has connections to the more rural and/or conservative regions of Pakistan (and/or is presently subject to similarly conservative social influences) and a woman with ancestral roots in/connections to the more affluent & progressive sections of Pakistani society in places like Lahore and Karachi, cities which regularly hold distinctly niqabless events like the following:

    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/living/2009/11/10/watson.pakistan.fashion.week.cnn

    http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1937249,00.html

  99. over yonder — on 31st January, 2010 at 8:39 pm  

    pesephone,
    “Sometimes men see unavailability as an exciting challenge, in fact a motivator”

    of course, clothing alone is not going to prevent a woman from being seduced into an ilicit (as Muslims see it) relationship but they will give an authenticity to her words if she had to tell such a man that she wan’t interested. It wouldn’t be interpreted as her playing hard to get since the niqab is associated with women who wish to guard their modesty.

    “f a woman is destined to attain this spiritual love above wordly desires, does marriage not create a conflict to that state?”

    marriage is considerd to be half of the religion whilst muslims are taught that intimcy between a husband and wife will be rewarded by Allah. there are ample opportunities in marriage to practise patience,self-denial and charity.
    Women are encouraged to adorn themselves for their husbands (and the men likewise) thus giving free expression to womens’ desire for attention in a way that will not be harmful to herself or others. human beings are fallible creatures so they cannot be expected to have no outlet for their desires.

    “y nature do you mean biological instinct or personality – if the latter then I cannot see how it would suit all different personalities”

    i was referring to the inate predisposion with which people are born, known in Arabic as fitra, ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitra as opposed to the personality acquired through various familial and societal influences.

  100. Rumbold — on 31st January, 2010 at 8:55 pm  

    Interesting links Jai. Thanks.

  101. Serendipity — on 3rd February, 2010 at 7:04 am  

    I often wonder that so many muslims know so little about their religious tenets.

    In ‘The Reliance of the Traveller’, a classic manual of Islamic law section w23.0-1 (Women’s Obligatory Clothing) states that, apart from the Hanafi school, muslim women are required to cover fully when outside the home. The Hanafi school allows the hands and face to be visible on the street.

    The argument, especially by muslim women, that they have a choice, is spurious. Or do they just want non muslims to think that they are not really oppressed?
    Sorry, ladies, but Sharia Law has got you by the ‘you know whats’!

  102. over yonder — on 3rd February, 2010 at 9:46 am  

    serendipity,

    The 99 names of Allah is a list, which Muslims are expected to believe are the attributes of God.
    Amongst these names are Al-Hakim (The Wise), Al-Alim (The All knowing) and Al-Hadi (The Guide). A true believer places God’s judgement above their own so I would agree that the oft repeated, “well, as along she’s making the choice on her own..” is not really relevant. because even if there is no coercion from a male family member, she puts God’s judgement above her own. Having said that, the choice she does have is whether to accept Islam as a revealed religion, with the Quran as the literal word of God and Muhammad as a the final prophet who did not speak of his own desires. Some people do however indulge in self ratonalisations or even deny that God requires such and a such a thing from us when faced with rules they feel unable to comply with.

  103. Muslim — on 4th February, 2010 at 8:09 pm  

    Serendipidity

    I often wonder that so many muslims know so little about their religious tenets.

    In ‘The Reliance of the Traveller’, a classic manual of Islamic law section w23.0-1 (Women’s Obligatory Clothing) states that, apart from the Hanafi school, muslim women are required to cover fully when outside the home. The Hanafi school allows the hands and face to be visible on the street.

    The argument, especially by muslim women, that they have a choice, is spurious. Or do they just want non muslims to think that they are not really oppressed?
    Sorry, ladies, but Sharia Law has got you by the ‘you know whats’!

    You seemed confused between what a religion considers obligatory and what laws exist in a given society. Islam forbids Muslims from drinking alcohol yet in most countries in the world that Muslims dwell (including Muslim ones) alcohol is available. Muslims thus, in such societies, have a choice whether they drink or not.

  104. Muslim — on 4th February, 2010 at 8:12 pm  

    Deep Singh

    I do hear you on this, however as a general observation, British-Born Muslim men of Pakistani and more so Bangladeshi origin often adopt dress codes which are clearly Middle-Eastern in origin rather than Pakistani or Bangladeshi.

    Who cares as long as its voluntary? Many Muslims in say Pakistan or Bangladesh also wear clothes that are western in origin rather than Pakistani or Bangladeshi. Some people seem as obsessed as extremist Mullahs about what people do and dont wear.

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