Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
20 May 2019
facing Muslim females wearing Niqab/Burqa, the tip to toe body cover concealing
the person's identity, must be reviewed from various aspects. But most
importantly Muslims in the West, must resolve whether it is Quran's/Islam's
ordinance or edicts of Religions?
stressed here that Islam which the Quran propagates as universal Code of life -
is not similar to what various Churches propagate as their different
women's head and face covering became a dress mode decades after the
compilation of the Quran. Muslims having followed the Book's ordinances
contemplatively as required by it, had established an egalitarian and gender
equitable society for a while. But soon regressed into stratified society of
male dominated, minority ruling aristocratic wealthy class, establishing harim
for their women; and the underclass majority slaving for them. This was in
keeping with other dominant societies and their cultural and Religious
practices to which the Muslims were exposed to and influenced by.
though, many of these regressive factors were diluted in practice or discarded
by the West over times, as can be seen by how little influence is exerted today
by Religions and traditions, having undergone many upheavals of change. Muslims
on the other hand have become entrenched in Religions and visible in their
practices, brought from 'back home', and so self inflict the majority's hatred.
Islam-bashing -- the common-or-garden Islamophobia, it is the female Niqabi who
bears the brunt of it in the West. Yet only very few of the front line female soldiers
have come out to debate the issue in open that affects their sisterhood. Thus
largely leaving the battle field open to the male counterpart to engage in it
as they please.
conservative Religious element, for their vested interests have manipulated
verses of Quran to consolidate their position by covering up the women. Hence
all Muslims are branded by the 'other' under Islam of chauvinism; not
withstanding that some of the Niqab is themselves insist that it is their
religious duty, choice and Human Right to don it.
But HR has
Reciprocal obligations. The reaction from others to ones action in society is
an important feature. HR also carry an obligation of reciprocity. For example,
the legislated Traffic Code compels us to drive a vehicle on a particular side
of the road. Although it denies one the Right to drive on the wrong side if one
wishes, but all law abiding citizens have an obligation to ensure the safety of
other road users. This obligation is imposed by the State on all as a necessity
in civilised society and that imposition is done under State's obligation to
safeguard its citizens.
The Issues In The West Are:
cover, just like balaclava is always associated with evil people such as bank
robbers, be they male or female. Hence a despised element. When escorted by
police, miscreants always try to cover their faces from media for that reason,
to avoid recognition.
that a fraction, however small, of the Muslim women conforms to full face
covering, it is never the less confronting and considered alien by the majority
'other'. For in their midst it depicts inequality of female, in an enlightened
society that is evolving there over centuries.
of Niqab generally is considered as display of overt “holier than thou”
attitude of the wearer, looking down on the not so religiously inclined general
public. The case in point is of a British convert Niqab in Luton England,
confronting a normal decently dressed non-Muslim British lady reporter;
accusing her of being dressed like a slut.
demonstration of male/female segregation in public is commonly seen in the West
as “oppression” of the female by misogynistic religion they equate to Islam.
current Islamophobic and terrorism laced atmosphere, the all important issue of
Security of Nation, full body covering Niqab, balaclava, hood and helmets with
dark visors that prevents identification of the wearer by law enforcing
authorities has become THE important aspect and the Muslim female Niqabi, quite
understandably so, is looked upon with suspicion.
tainted with all the above aspects, she becomes a dangerous person to be
reckoned with... a potential terrorist.
aspects are worthy of given serious attention by Muslims. The argument that
there is no hard data to back the above assertions is not valid. There was the
case of a Niqab wearing male gang of robbers caught on CCTV in Manchester
jewellery shop and many other examples of Niqab cover used for the purposes of
criminal acts. A male suicide jehadi wearing Niqab committing an act of
terrorism is on record. These are just few examples. It therefore opens up the
argument of Niqab's potential for committing terrorist acts and posing security
threats. For authorities charged with maintaining security these are real
aspects in today's highly charged atmosphere.
makes the subject too complex. Therefore it is discussed here only from the
point of view of Quran's references vs Religious practice of face cover.
women, who conform to face covering, and their male backers, often insist that Niqab
is Islamic ordinance to maintain female purity and virtue. Religion accepts
cultural, custom and rituals as its edicts and erroneously attributes it to
Quran. The problem is basically that of understanding the difference between
the two. Therein lies a very important community dilemma. Islam and Religion,
which are two separate and often contradictory entities juxtaposed
indiscriminately even by scholars.
- Islam's View
uses existing customs and practises to demonstrate and explain its commands.
Mankind was practising it as an age old custom of gauze veil as upper class
status symbol and rough sac hood over the head for punishment of criminals. The
Book therefore uses it as familiar example but to negate it:
10 -26: For those who do right is a goodly
reward, yes, more than in measure. No darkness nor shame shall cover their
faces! They are companions of garden, they will abide there forever.
10-27: But those who have earned evil will
have reward of like evil: ignominy will cover their faces......Their faces
will be covered as it were with pieces of like darkness of night. They are
companions of the fire, they will abide therein for ever. Note the difference.
12-107: Do they then feel secure from the
coming against them of the covering veil of the wrath of God...Refer also
to 80-40 to 42.
2-7: God has sealed their hearts and hearing
and there is a covering over their eyes...
covering applies for evil people as God's punishment of both genders in Quran.
It is therefore unfathomable as to how Niqab becomes a commendable hood of
purity and virtue, only for women, in Religion?
Or Hair Cover For Women
term Hijab, used to give it Islamic cover, concealing the hair of the Muslim
female, is just a beautifully colour coordinated head-wrap; which has always
been a simple scarf. Religious men, bald headed or not often wear elaborate
turban or cap for the purpose.
referred twice in Quran; in the ritual of hajj 2-192, and again grouped
together with fleece/wool in 16-80. Quran it appears has nothing to say of
concealing of hair -- beard, lock, tress and wig, dyed or not as good or evil.
of Quran, for example 7-31,32, 33 that encourage mankind to use the beautiful
gifts of adornments and sustenance that the Creator has provided and to be
thankful for it, but to shun extravagant display, indecency and pride. There is
no restriction in Quran on such things. This is another example of
contradiction between Quran's commands and Religious edicts.
It can be
surmised that the dominance of men over women, which was always there and is so
today to certain extent in human societies; Muslim male has consolidated it for
its selfish ends from Quran:
Qawwaamuna A'lan Nisaa as meaning “Men are established (as authority) over
their women”, to keep her 'in place' by isolating her from her rightful space
by covering her up.
not that Quran amply specifies dress code for modesty for both males and
females with due emphases on female bodily attraction to the opposite sex, that
should be covered for modesty and good manners 24-30, 31 etc. Nothing special
in that. Many a societies in the world prescribe it and have designed a dress
mode accordingly, but hardly if any of them cover the whole female persona head
to heel so as to obliterate her identity in public, as does the Niqab and Burqa.
display of piety and put-up holiness is frowned upon in Quran. It dislikes all
excesses 107-6, 4-171 etc. It extols Natural balanced harmonious system in its
ordained ad-Deen, as it exists in entire creation 30-30.
propagated as ordained by Quran, modern Hijab is a upgraded scarf, totem of
Religion. For that reason it causes consternation in public. However it does
not pose any threat to security as the wearer is fully identifiable facially.
The ban in some countries on security basis is therefore misguided.
symbolism for “evil” people destined to “hell”, is falsely construed under
Religious edict as virtuous attire for female only. Plus Niqab can be potential
apparel for criminals and terrorists and poses a threat to Security for Law
enforcement authorities. On these basis therefore there should be no objection
to universally banning it.
with their Religious displays in public are partly contributing to the hatred
of Islam and themselves. Yet these practises are contrary and alien to Islam.
The Believers of Quran have to resolve this dilemma to live in harmony and be
welcomed in their chosen homelands in the West. It is an ethical, moral and
legal obligation on them to make a paradigm shift in their lives, for:-
Haye Daryaa Hee Say Hai Gohar Kee Seraabi.
contributor to NewAgeIslam.com, Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer
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