Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Illegal Aliens, Jilbab

The Conservative government of Canada is deporting thousands of illegal workers, mainly Portugese and Italians, from Canada. Many have come on a visit visa, some ten years ago, and have stayed on. They worked in mostly construction projects, paid taxes and generally did not leech off the Canadian welfare system. Yet, many are now given less than two weeks notice to depart Canada. As usual, the left is out crying "Amnesty", or the construction industry claiming deporting thousands of workers will hurt a booming sector. The right is leading with sloguns such as "follow the rules" or "join the line" or "illegal is illegal".

I am generally to the left of center, but here I would have to agree with the right. When my dad decided to move here with his family, we paid an exorbitant landing fee, went for an interview, got our skills evaluated, went for a medical exam, waited months, before getting the nod. After coming here, it was another struggle to assimilate, gather experience, education, transfer skills before being integrated into the social fabric. Illegals jump the queue. They come here under false pretenses, get a job and settle down. Then, when found out and ordered to leave, they point to their very act of breaking the law as reason for amnesty.

Illegals also steal jobs. It's no use saying no Canadian wants the jobs. If there is a shortage of Canadians to do the jobs, the government should bring in guest workers under a specific plan, so that employers follow the rules (minimum wage, safety standards and so on). An employer can hire an illegal alien, pay them lower wages, turn a blind eye to safety and workplace regulations, and the illegals won't complain. This also creates a class of work which now has a stigma so that no local will do the job. Witness the US immigration problem, where illegal Mexicans now pluck their fruits, make their beds, wash their cars and so on. Their illegal immigration has grown to such an epidemic that it is now impossible to deport illegals. Canada is doing the right thing by coming down firmly on these workers. I don't doubt their honesty, sincerety and hard work, but you can go back and reapply to come to Canada legally.

In another piece of news, the British Law Lords, Britain's highest court, has ruled against Shabina Begum's right to wear the 'jilbab' to school. The school she originally attended implemented a school uniform, and the jilbab was found contravening the school code. The Lords took into consideration the fact that the school implemented a policy acceptable to most mainstream Muslims, as the uniform was designed in consultation with representatives of Muslim students, who made up more than 79% of the student body. The shalwar kameez was permitted, as was the scarf. Again, I see nothing wrong with this ruling.

In a recent post, Muslim blogger Abu Sinan said women who wear the hijab but also extremely tight, revealing clothes (in other words dress like a whore with a hijab on) cause a disservice to thousands of Muslim women who are trying to win the right to wear the hijab to work, school and so on. I would postulate that women in the other extreme, who fight to wear the nikab, jilbab and the Afghan burkha on their driver's licenses, school and work places also cause a disservice to thousands of mainstream Muslim women who wear the simple hijab. I fail to see what was Shabina's problem, especially when the school took the pains as it did to design a school uniform to fit mainstream Muslim needs. If she indeed believed her religion required such extremism, she should go to a religious school that fits her needs.



Anonymous said...

Well with regards to Shabina's issue, I think she did the right thing by raising the issue in the lower courts. Its unfortunate that the upper law court overturned the decision and let the school win the controversy of wearing a jilbab. Maybe Shabina is a muslim who practices Islam to the max. Maybe she doesnt watches Movies, maybe she doesnt go clubbing, maybe she doesnt miss a single day of prayers and is very effective in practing her religion. Maybe Shabina's family has had a history of wearing jilbabs and covering their body a bit more than what regular muslims do. All those cant be held against her just because she is going one step ahead. Considering all of those "Maybe's" , I think Shabina did deserve to be granted permission to wear the jilbab (even if it meant covering her entire body and just revealing her eyes only). For someone who might practice their religion to the max, I think they deserve to wear as long as its not offensive. With regards to Mezba's suggestion that she goes to a private school, MAYBE her family is not that well off to send her to a private school (after all, public schools are much cheaper and affordable than private schools and that explains why majority of students go to public schools).

But in the article it mentions that Shabina has since then shifted schools and is currently attending a school that allows her to wear a jilbab (which is great for her coz its evident that wearing a jilbab to her meant a lot as she isnt a regular muslim).

Not a lot of people have guts to follow things that existed during the times of the Prophet, but if someone is coming close to living in that era by their actions/dressing sense, then I think that person should be applauded rather than criticized.

Having said all this, its true and unfortunate that some girls do wear hijab's and do party like anything, wear revealing clothes and give a totally new meaning to this 'hijab' and 'covering yourself' policy. But then not everyone is alike.. For some women, maybe hijab has become a fashionable means rather than a religious implication. But for the rest of them (like Shabina), hijab, jilbab, nikab all hold the same meaning and importance they once had during the times of the prophet and what islam preaches is the ideal way of living life for a muslim woman.

(I hope my post doesnt raise some eyebrows and controversies).


Anonymous said...

With respect to Behbood, I dont agree.

I dont find my Islam saying the women who covers the face is 'more Muslim' than one who doesn't. All that is mandated (the minimum) is modest clothing, which most scholars say the simple scarf hijab does appropriately. Is there any indication that Prophet's women (his wives and daughters) wore clothing that covered their faces, their eyes (and remember they had the strictest conditions than any normal Muslim woman)? In Hajj we are not allowed to veil our face.

I cannot say someone who is wearing a jilbab is 'ahead' or practising Islam 'to the max' than one who doesn't. Islam is more than a piece of cloth.

Shabina ofcourse had the right to go to court for whatever reason she deemed fit. I just dont agree she is 'more Muslim' than a normal hijabi woman.

- Farah.

Anonymous said...

Farah - I didnt say she was MORE OF A MUSLIM than the others. I just said, she practices religion to the *MAX* and there isnt anything wrong with that if she likes practicing it that way and if her family has no objections. Like I said, maybe her family has history of covering to the max, so if thats the case then I see it appropriate for her to have taken the matter to the courts.

- Behbood

mezba said...

Behbood said,
(I hope my post doesnt raise some eyebrows and controversies).

LOL. Me too.

This is always going to be a touchy topic. The media will now portray her as the Muslim who cannot fit into society. I don't know how her jilbab situation would translate into Canada, given it's recent ruling on the kirpan. I find a lot of similarities between the two situations (kirpan and jilbab). Both are not practised by mainstream followrs. The main difference is ofcourse that while the kirpan is a religious requirement (Sikhs may disagree but it is a requirement), jilbab is not.

NAB said...

Just to shift the discussion around a bit: do these illegal aliens NOT deserve at least more than two week's notice? Or should they at least not be given special consideration - have their applications reviewed and such. Some of them have lived here longer than we have. This is their home. Why should their children be at a disadvantage when it's their parents who aren't educated enough to qualify for immigrant status?

I am sorry, but the entire idea of a nation "booting" people out just doesn't sit too well with me.

About the jilbab issue, I def. can't see Shabina's side in this matter here. But mad props to her to be willing to fight for her what she believes in. Maybe she can help free those illegally detained Muslim-Brit prisoners now. We need strong-willed people like her.

Anonymous said...

I just dont like people assuming because someone is covering up to an x-degree they are more pious than the other girl who is not that covered up. Sorry Behbood if I understood you wrong.

I dont have a strong view on the illegal immigrants issue either way but i doubt they were given as short as two weeks notice (that may just be the worst case). besides arent their kids (who r born in canada) citizens? so the kids can return any time they want.

Anonymous said...

yea Mez, its a sensitive issue and you can see it did raise some eyebrows and a possible topic worthy enough of a debate...

On an other note about illegal people, I have a question here...

If you are an illegal immigrant, how do u manage to get government cards like (the social security card or the social insurance card, the health card, etc etc)?

It puzzles me coz Canadian rules and regulations are so tough as is for you to apply for a SIN card or a health card if you have valid documents, then how do illegal people survive for decades and decades?

Yes, but the 2 week period to tell them to get out of Canada is a bit rude considering the fact that these people lived here like normal citizens paying their taxes and adhering to the rules and regulations of the country. These people (who are being set to be deported) should see if they have an option to file some sort of immigration/refugee status applications. hint: see the east/west connections directory and call one of the desi immigration specialists..they might be able to do something ;)

- Behbood

Aisha said...

Is it just me or all blogs coming out funky with firefox right now?

Mariam said...

Illegals jump the queue.

I agree with you on this as one of my relative landed in Canada a while ago. It's been very dificult for them to find a decent job. They are thinking about taking advantage of social welfare (is this you call it) so their kids don't go hungry. It's so ironic that they left their jobs for better life and ended up worst than their previous country. Is this a norm for a doctor or they've landed in a wrong place? Can you fill me in on this issue?

Abu Sinan said...

Interesting post. I have talked on a similar subject on my blog recently. I dont know a lot about this case. I know the school had given the girls right to wear hijab. The problem here is that the hijab means a lot of different stuff to different people.

Did their hijab involve wearing pants? Many Muslimah's reject the idea of wearing pants on many grounds. How loose did they allow their hijab to be?

As to what is normal for most Muslims, I think you'll find that her desired mode of dress is normal in many parts of the Islam world. What is normal in one Muslim area is not normal in another.

I personally think the only reason the school should have banned her attire is if they could prove it would cause some sort of real issue in school. I dont think this is the case.

I think schools should allow, as much as possible, the freedom to practice their religion as long as it doesnt interfer with school.

I see no reason why she shouldnt be allowed to wear it. Heck, maybe she can wear one in the school colours with the school emblem on it.

mezba said...

Behbood: I too am puzzled by just HOW the illegals manage to buy a house, get health cards, driver licenses and other documentations. As for the refugee claims, I was reading in the Star that most of these guys had already submitted many refugee/amnesty claims over the years (which kept on getting rejected) so had some warning that they could be asked to leave. It is just not a very black-and-white issue.

Aisha: Working fine for me now.

Mariam: Doctors have it the toughest. And Canada's management of doctors is amongst the worst anywhere in the world. Most doctors I know from the so-called third world had to start below the ladder than their qualifications. Recently the government has pledged to move on this issue but it won't be a fast resolution. Generally, all first generation immigrants suffer.

Abu Sinan: You make some good points to think about. I still stand by my original statement though, that school uniform is uniform, her basic religious rights were looked after, and she had a choice of two other schools to go to. But as you say, what is religious requirements, are open to interpretation.

Crimson Mouzi said...

Wow, nice post on Hijab issue. Now, I was raised in Bangladesh, a so-called Muslim country and no in my school it was tough to wear a hijab! Even though it didn't cause any official threat, teachers constantly said things like how it doesn't go with the uniform and it's B.S. to have a scarf on.

Given that, I, first would like to recognize that in the western countries, we do have a better freedom to practice our religion the way we want.

But, I guess what is hard for me discern is the fact that we the western people claim to have something called "freedom" of expression. Yes I have seen women wearing super tight clothing and still wear a small head scarf. I, being a Muhajiba myself really don't see any point of doing such hijab (and I remind myself nefore anyone else, may Allah forgive us all)
Once we have attained the "minimum" requirement of hijab, i.e. covering your hair/head, ear, necks, and wearing loose outfit, now it becomes how much you are willing to sacrifice and what kind of relationship do you have with Allah? If someone wants to work hard and pass a class with an A, and not with aminimum grade of C, I think that person should be facilitated to attain his/her goal of getting an A! Right? When it comes down to Allah's command and the religion, I think it demands more sincerity on our side to try to get that A. And as a clear manifestation of effort, if Shabina wants to wear a jibab, SHE MUST BE ALLOWED TO DO SO, yes, in the name of WESTERN FREEDOM that all of us so happily enjoy.

Last weekend, Shaykh Yusuf Estes ( came to town and we had a serious conversation about this. And there are serious evidences to believe the "necessity" of a Jilbab. That of course remains in the higher level of taqwa, so when I see another sister struggling to do the right thing however she interpretes it, it's my Muslim duty to defend her and stand up for her, hoping that when I will be in need, someone else will do the same. MOreover, if 79% of the population is Muslim in that school, it is SIMPLY insane not to let her do that. That school is a Muslim-majority school and it just doesn't sound right.
Oh, and I think we need to be careful about the word "extremism". These are innocuous clothing. They don't cause any violence. We really need to be MORE open towards accepting these clothings (jilbab, niqab) within the Muslim community first, so that the non-Muslims don't see it as abnormal or taliban. I have personally gone through crazy expererience just because I had a scarf on. If we, muslims, don't even welcome these practices, the western world will not and of course the western world will think any manifestation of religious practice is extremism, which certainly is not the case. Some people do believe that Hijab requires Niqab (that argument is really strongly established by a verse in the Quran, even though I don't wear it, I can quote it later if you want. The verse is open to different interpretation). I have personally experienced that, even though I don't regularly wear a jilbab, jilbab/abaya/jalabiyyah is the only easy way to cover your body the way it should be covered in an Islamic manner. When someone wants to do it, I really don't see any extremism in there. It's really that she is trying to Ace the life-class whereas people like me who does the minimum amount are simply getting C's or less, assuming that the person in question is not doing for anyone but for the sake of Allah only.
All right, khalas!

I hope I didn't offend anyone. I didn't mean to comment on this, but I just figured it wouldn't hurt! :-)

Anonymous said...

Illegal Immigrants - I think everyone is missing the point here by saying "They have lived here for oh so long, and paid taxes?" They are illegal, and hence work cash jobs because they do not have working permits or SIN cards. So, they do NOT pay taxes.


Anonymous said...

If anyone comes to another country they need to respect the laws of the land. If they want to change laws and demand rights, they need to start with their on country.

Anonymous said...

Im a muslim who wears a scarf if your a true muslim you dont need to wear it, the Quran says if you dont live in a muslim country fallow the rules of that country.

further more how come she came to a meeting with out a scarf on forget the hijab she didnt even have a scarf on, she only did to gain pulicity thats it.

Belif is within your mind
& hear.


Anonymous said...

You make some good points. But I will start with my criticism on your view of what constitutes acceptable "dress" code. If you are saying that "the UK government" went out in "pains" to allocate for Muslims, then I think we are only repeating the obvious. What should be more of concern today is, should British Muslims, the recipients of great British "pains" be "completely" content with what was offered in the past by way of addressing their needs? Before you formulate an answer, let me rephrase it with a parallel of Black Rights in America. Blacks were not given "complete" freedom in "an Instance", there was a evolutionary pattern where more freedom was warranted from the U.S government and more tolerance was expected and gained from the people that necessarily played key roles to affect change. That is, it seems rather ingenuous to be uncomfortable with the idea that British Muslims are trying set the boundaries that they feel are part and parcel of any transitory society. Just because our definition of acceptable modesty has fallen down to the extreme standards of dressing like "Brittany Spears" or "Posh Spice", we shouldn't be flabbergasted or offended when the trend moves towards a more centric position of dressing modestly. Perhaps more writing is warranted here, but my laptop is running low, so I'll end this expose'.