Now before we get ourselves all worked up, let's examine and debate the issue a bit.
First, read Maliha's letter to an Imam who suggested in a khutba that women in the West should wear the Niqab. She also posted an update later.
Mr Straw's statements seem to be directed at the niqab which covers the whole face. In fact, I will come out with a stronger statement.
I wish all Muslim women would STOP wearing the niqab and the burqa. Simple hijab, yes. Niqab, no.
There, I said it. I think the Niqab is old fashioned, outdated, un-Islamic, and not helpful to practicing your religion at all. It has nothing to do with being pious. It's a piece of cloth. Some Muslim women are the first to say, judge me not by what I wear but what I am. And they are the first to pass judgment on a women not wearing the hijab. The courtesy of such a judgment extends both ways, sister.
The Quran discusses hijab here:
"Say to the believing man that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them; and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands..." (Qur'an 24:30-31)From the verse, we see that Allah has only loosely defined the meaning of the word modesty. That's for the better, as different situations require different applications. In Saudi Arabia, where some men are lecherous pigs who do not know how to behave with a women, the niqab is a necessity. In the West, the niqab is a barrier.
In fact, there appears to be a hadith that contradicts the niqab.
Ayesha (R) reported that Asmaa the daughter of Abu Bakr (R) came to the Messenger of Allah (S) while wearing thin clothing. He approached her and said: 'O Asmaa! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this. He pointed to the face and hands." (Abu Dawood)From the rules of pilgrimage, we know that a women must NOT keep her face covered while on Hajj. Clearly therefore, Allah does not think that a women who does not cover her face is immodest. Why then, must a women cover her face?
People forget that Hijab is not merely a covering dress but more importantly, it is behavior, manners, speech and appearance in public. Dress is only one facet of the total being. I have seen many hijabis (and I mean MOST hijabis I have encountered) to forget this fact. I don't mean a slight on any sister, but sometimes it is better for these women to NOT wear the hijab. They are not ready for it, and crave the attention that the hijab denies them. Therefore they seek attention in other ways, more sinful than had they just left their hair uncovered.
Having said all of this, however, recall that last November, Imperial College of London decided to ban hijabs and hoodies. In addition, conditions for hijab wearing women in Europe have been worsening. Schoolgirls in France cannot wear the headscarf anymore, while several Dutch and German constituencies prohibit the women teachers in public schools from wearing scarves. Therefore, should the Minister's statements be seen in the context of this new anti-hijab mentality?
Reflecting on the issue for a bit, I don't think so. Given that I myself (and some other Muslims) say the same thing, it would be hypocritical of me to criticize him. Mr Straw has said he just wanted a debate on the issue within the Muslim community in the larger context of integration, and we should take him at his word. Allah has asked us several times in the Quran to not spy or suspect each other, and the Prophet has asked us several times, if possible, to take others at their word and believe good of them. Therefore we should show maturity and debate the issue.
Given the radicals that seem to be present in the British Muslim community, I am not too hopeful of this, though.
PS. BBC has good pictures of a hijab, niqab, almira and chaddor, along with descriptions.
Tags: Niqab Hijab Jack Straw British Muslims