Friday, July 9, 2010

The Veil and the Hijab

Photo Credit: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2010/07/your-veil-is-a-battleground.htmlThe subject of women veiling and wearing the hijab (headscarf) is a source of endless debates and controversy in this world and has been the topic of many news articles and blog posts in the past few months. While some countries like France, Belgium and Turkey are bellowing to make head scarves illegal - for identity purposes and for women's safety - Muslim women in those countries are in an uproar because they insist that wearing the hijab is their choice and is required by their religion. And in other countries like Iran where Muslim women are forced by law to cover, the veil has become a battleground where women are objecting and saying that it should be their choice whether to cover or not and that it shouldn't be dictated by the government. Oy vey!




So what is all the fuss about? Why do women cover in some places in the world anyway? And why is the West so uncomfortable with Muslim women wearing scarves on their heads and so adamant against women covering? In Islam, the religion clearly states that women should "guard their modesty" and to not make eye contact with men (lower their gaze). But Islam also clearly demands the same requirements for men. So why is it that women in religious countries are the ones who get these clothing restrictions placed on them for their protection while men are allowed to pretty much dress as they please? One of the reasons why women in Saudi Arabia all dress alike in black from head to toe is so that they will not draw unwanted attention to themselves from men. Yet even though women cover up and most of them even veil in KSA, reporter Afifa Jabeen wrote in this Saudi Life article about how Saudi women still attract gawks, gazes and forward advances from men who seem to be oblivious to the Islamic rule about lowering their gazes.





When I'm in the states, almost every day I have seen women wearing the hijab while driving, while jogging, while working, while shopping. But instead of making them less visible in the West, to me the hijab seems to make them stand out and actually attract more attention, which seems to be defeating the whole reason for wearing the hijab in the first place. While on the one hand wearing the hijab is supposed to ensure a woman's safety and protection, on the other hand, especially in Western countries, it is in fact seeming to do the opposite and makes her a target of suspicion, ridicule and harassment. This interesting interview of Dr. Umar Faruq Abdallah talks about women wearing the hijab in the West and the ramifications it can have. He also talks about how Muslim men are able to blend in better when they are in the West, while Muslim women can't if they wear the hijab.





I remember after 9/11 when we were living in Florida, seeing a Muslim woman in the grocery store wearing her hijab and thinking to myself how brave she was and what strong faith she must possess. Such strength! I smiled at her and said "Salaam alaikum." I could sense that she appreciated my gesture and it made me feel good. I'm of the opinion that people should be free to dress as they wish, within the realm of good taste and appropriateness. I recall being at a toy store when my son was maybe 4 years old. There was a woman shopper there wearing a skin tight very low cut top with her boobs hanging out - very tacky, not in good taste and definitely not appropriate - and seeing her dressed like that in front of my child actually made me uncomfortable. That kind of dress should be objectionable to people, not a woman wearing a scarf.





It's confusing that the West expresses disdain for the headscarf being worn by women for religious reasons yet other religions like Christianity have historically commanded women to cover their hair, but modern Christians have rejected this despite their religion. One would think they would have understanding and compassion for women covering their hair for religious reasons. Learn more about the history of the hijab in this article from 2006 that explains how covering the hair has been a source of contention and discussion for centuries.

77 comments:

  1. beautiful post. and you summ it all in the last two paragraphs.
    It was and will always be a choice.
    and a pieace of cloth shouldn't be a problem. But some have problems actually with probably islam itself so they attack the most famous pillar of it. maybe.

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  2. salam

    liked this post


    actually muslim woman here in europe are the ones that *represent* Islam (or are visible as muslims) the most .

    I always find it difficult to accept that we drag more attention to us than needed.
    what i often hear nowadays is that muslim woman wanti it to be like that... muslim women cover to make a statement that they are better then others..."etc etc.

    I think its still easy for us , thanks to god.

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  3. I really liked this post Susie, it is lovely to see your opinion on this. I agree with both you and Wafa, that when it comes down to it hijab needs to be a choice made by the woman.

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  4. I agree with you Susie, it should be a choice.

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  5. I think there is is a mistake. France and Belgium are trying to forbid the face veil (niqab and Burqa)and not hijab (headscarf)
    and it will only be forbidden to go to public buildings ,like towhall....Also Spain is trying to follow them.

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    1. Dear Zahra.
      Niqab, Burqa, Hijab, Sari, Scarf,... It doesn't matter what anyone would call it and how much it covers... Should be a choice. Who are those very "small" countries, such as France, Belgium or Spain to "dictate" what could be wore or not? I call them "small" countries in comparison to the ones who represent more than 80% of the world population. Yes, indeed, more than 80% of the world population ware in a way or the other traditional, religious, historical, folkloric and/or something alike type of head to toe scarfing (If I may call it that) from China, Indonesia, India, Russia, Pakistan, Middle East, Asia, Africa, Latin & Central America... Who are those "little" countries to forbid what Sarah wife of Abraham, Marry mother of Jesus, Khadija wife of Mohamed wore? Even though those little countries who claim to defend freedom of expression, freedom of religion, democracy, liberty and justice for all have dared to make a move on this, it's my believe that it wouldn't last for the reasons I've stated above. My wife doesn't ware any of the "hijab-like", is conservative in her clothing, and I would support whatever SHE decides to wear as long as it's appropriate. And I agree with Susie, showing "tacky" skin is inappropriate and not the other way around. Again, the bottom line is, it should be a CHOICE.
      Cheers.

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  6. I wanted to clarify something about France - while I know they banned any sort of Muslim headscarf in public schools I wasn't aware that they were looking to ban the hijab in public, only the burqa and the niqab. For me, as a non-Muslim woman, I can see the covering of hair as a way to express one's modesty but any more than that I think is stifling and putting the bulk of the burden on women to be the pious ones.

    So true about the gawking though! I'm originally from Canada and I used to be able to count the amount of times I was gawked at on one hand. Living in France for the last year it's so commonplace any time of day anywhere unless I'm out with males, and I'm not surprised it happens in a society like the one in the KSA. Appearance doesn't seem to matter, whether you're pretty, ugly, having a bad hair day, dressed modestly, dressed provocatively, wearing makeup or not etc; being female seems to be the only constant requirement.

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  7. Hello Susie:

    I’ve been enjoying your observations and comments on KSA for a long time.

    In my observation, there are two major reasons that Muslim women veil.

    They do not veil or wear hijab for religious reasons. There is nothing in the Qur’an that states a woman must veil. They veil, as you correctly stated, to not get unwanted attention from men.

    The question should be why can’t Arab/Muslim men control themselves? Why are they so sexually obsessed, undisciplined and disrespectful toward women, veiled or unveiled? If men worldwide behaved the way all too many Saudi men do toward women, then perhaps most women would veil. That however, would not stop the bad behavior, as Afifa Jabeen has pointed out in her article.

    I have suffered plenty of disrespect from Arab males since my university days. One can always tell a western man to “buzz off,” unfortunately many a Muslim tends to not take the hint. In my experience aggressively meeting the gaze of such disrespectful men and staring them down works quite well. Asking them if they would treat their mothers or sisters in such a manner is another way to get them to back-off. Taking a photo of a misbehaving man works wonders.

    The second reason to cover is to feel superior to other women who are not veiled. Muslim women are at once inferior (to their men and society under sharia) yet, superior to infidel, especially western women who dress as they themselves choose. Contrary to Saudi inferences, wearing what one chooses does not make a woman a whore. If a man can’t control himself among normally dressed women, then he needs a shrink!

    I was recently in Europe where I observed many young Muslim women who wore skin-tight, short manteaux with tight jeans and high heels or tight, knitted, stretch coverups. One waiting at a bus-stop was very pregnant, still she wore a skin tight knit-jersey leggings and long, tight top. The baby bump was extremely visible as were all her other feminine attributes. She was lovely in black and very visible.

    All people on the streets could see every curve of the body on these women, but they had on a head scarf. So much for Islamic female modesty!

    “Turkish designers pioneer 'Islamic fashion'” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8614752.stm

    “Figure hugging, but still concealing,” said the reporter. If these Islamic fashions are modest then I am the queen of Sheba.

    Beautiful, young Sinem Kayaoglu of the Ribas Collection stated: “Muslim women want to be covered, but to still feel that they are women. If you wear red lipstick, black eye-makeup and a red head scarf you will certainly get noticed. Red is sexy wherever you wear it.”

    Get noticed? Sexy?

    You must know that even in Saudi Arabia women wear bells on their ankles and walk in a cloud of perfume, just to drive the nasty boys crazy.

    Oh, the hypocrisy of it all! lol

    Harassing women is not just a Saudi problem. Egypt has an epidemic at this time. Turning women into shapeless, black sex-objects is disrespectful and dehumanizing! Islamic society will never be looked up to in the world until they treat their women with respect and make them equal under the law.

    Alexandra

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  10. Hi Susie,

    I live in the Seattle area and I saw a family at the beach on a hot day with the woman dressed in the full black covering while the man had on shorts and a tank top. It was probably in the 80's. It bothered me for a couple of reasons: 1) I didn't know if the woman was dressed that way because it was her choice or because she was afraid of her husband and 2) she looked absolutely miserable - it was clearly impossible for her to enjoy the day since all she could do was sit in the shade while her husband and children went swimming. It was so sad I actually left the park because I couldn't watch it anymore.
    While I agree that some women in the west dress way too provacatively (and I appreciate your story about the woman in the toy store!) I don't understand a religion that forces women to hide themselves away to the point where they can't enjoy God's green earth. I think it's possible to dress modestly without having to cover yourself completely from head to toe. I also think men should bear some responsibility for themselves and be able to control their own behaviour.
    One last thought, I think by covering thier women up and not allowing men and women to be together socially the Saudi's have actually set themselves up for the kind of behaviour they are now seeing -- they've turned women into the "forbidden fruit" which is all the more tantalizing to the men, especially the young men.

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  11. Very insightful, and thought provoking. I am still amazed how a piece of cloth can bring about so much discomfort in the west. People are speaking about human rights, freedom of expression, free will and etc. yet somehow rather, they're unable to find it in themselves to digest this religious calling.

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  12. I think part of the problem is that we have become uncomfortable with people making it plain what their religious identity is. Muslim women in the West by their effort to conceal are shouting.

    If it is about modesty, why do they cover the face?

    They are also sending a message that they are better than us. Is that the best way to get along in another culture? Yes, it is their right, but that doesn't make it a good choice.

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  13. I think hijab and especially niqab are not appropriate attire in western societies and it is disrespectful for visitors or immigrants to wear it.

    I am not willing to run an experiment in the West to see if our freedoms will decay and respect for women will decline if we adapt to this custom.

    It is enough for me to see that in many Muslim societies, e.g. Egypt, women face continual harassment in the street. Veiling seems to create problems related to sexual repression. Rather than protecting women - only respect and the law can do that - it creates unhealthy sexual repression and a climate of acting out and frustration. In all Muslim societies women have less freedom to move freely and independently than in the west. This is not a welcome import!

    You are in Saudi Arabia, advocating tolerance for 'the veil'. How ironic! Saudi Arabia is hardly tolerant of unveiling.

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    1. Minka, you're mixing between religion (Islam) and Saudi Arabian laws. Those governing in Saudi Arabia are nothing but poppets to our country and government. It's actually ironic that you advocate intolerance for the veil while doing nothing to stop our country back those same Saudis you criticize. Let's not mix politics and religion, and let's remember instead our great constitution... Freedom of religion, speech and equality for all...

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  14. Hi Wafa' - Thank you for your comment. There are many more important issues in the world than women wearing scarves on their heads. The controversy in so many countries around the world is disturbing.

    Hi Hind - Thanks. Interesting point about some women might think they are better than others who don't wear hijab - I still like to think that even they would believe that it should be a woman's choice though.

    Hi Ellen and Angel - Thanks - it definitely should be up to the woman individually.

    Hi Zahra - I tried not to get into too much detail about the specifics of what countries are trying to do what - just the fact that there is so much controversy goin on about it. Thanks.

    Hi Erica - I wonder why men gawk like that, even when woman is modestly covered. I think you're right that they are going to gawk no matter what - sick!

    Hi Alexandra - Thanks so much for your comment. I've written before about my feelings regarding how men in KSA are not held responsible for their actions and aren't expected to control themselves - yet women seem to always be the scapegoat for bad things that happen.
    It is weird about Muslim women wearing hijab outside of KSA but nothing else about their dress is really modest. I don't get it.
    Thanks again.

    Hi Anon @ 6:56pm - I do get upset when I see Muslim women wearing the long black abaya, hijab and veil on a brutally hot day, and the man is wearing shorts and a tank top. There is something wrong with a picture like that. I do not believe that we were put on this earth to cover up and not be able to experience the glorious feeling of wind in our hair or a gentle breeze on our faces. I totally agree with you - men should be responsible for their behavior. And your last paragraph is absolutely true. Thanks!

    Hi Hajar - Me too! Thanks!

    Hi Jerry - You have a point there. I don't care for extreme religious fanatics and maybe people in the West perceive hijabis as just that. I've always felt that religion is something very personal to me and wearing hijab does put it out there. Thanks, Jerry.

    Hi Minka - When you look back in history and realize that America was founded by people seeking religious freedom and tolerance, then considering niqab and hijab as inappropriate and disrespectful in the West just doesn't jive with the ideals the USA stands for. I personally hate wearing the hijab, yet I wear it in KSA for my husband. I believe that it should be a woman's choice, and clearly it is not MY choice. I don't have a problem with other women wearing it though if that is their choice. I do agree with you that veiling can create more problems than it tries to prevent. Thanks so much for your comment.

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  16. http://thebrirafile.wordpress.com/2010/07/04/ignorance-is-bliss-says-who/

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  17. also..

    http://amalalmalki.com/archives/abayya-yes-abayya-no

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  18. Hi.

    Great post!

    I have/love to wear the veil but I don't believe in it. I don't believe in the hijab either. I still wear them though. Yeah, am a hypocrite.

    I agree with you on your response to Wafa'.

    Regards,
    NCP

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  19. This is such a highly politicized topic. I do agree with Jerry that the whole point for a Muslim woman is to be modest. That means not calling attention to oneself so in my way of thinking if you are in a country that does not wear hijab than to wear it you are making yourself a target and saying quite plainly "I am different". Feels akin to me like a Christian wearing a huge, can't miss it cross around their neck. Hey they have a right to if they want but Anybody looking at them especially in a Christian minority country is not going to notice the person but rather the cross and wonder" what are they saying?" Would I walk among the Amish in a mini skirt and high heels and expect them to view me as not different? I am making a statement and I know it and so do they. And I am sure some women do wear it in defiance and others do it because they feel it is a requirement of the religion...which of course is a matter of personal belief. Here in the West we are used to seeing hijab and I kind of get surprised that it still causes a ruckus. But it is very true that often the young Muslim women wear fashionable clothing that shows their figure...some a bit tighter than others. Not revealing, but worn with distinction and flair and it never ceases to amaze me that they wear a hijab with it. What's the point? I always think it is a bit of an oxymoron...if I, as a woman, am looking at her fashion and not her hijab is anyone REALLY looking at her hair? Or maybe it is a way to say to men "I am stylish, I am modern, but I am not Western/nonmulsim and therefore unlike them, I am NOT available." Don't know, just a thought.

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  20. I think it is easier to argue about a symbol than it is to discuss the problems underlying the symbol. It shouldn't be a problem to wear a veil if the woman chooses to do so. Most Western woman wear a veil at least once in their life (during a wedding). I agree with the comments about does the veil attract attention or keep attention away - people should really think about what they want and dress in accordance with that. The women who are probably bothered the least in the USA wear long, plain, loose fitting dresses with a kerchief (think Amish), no makeup, and lace up boots. That still doesn't keep attention away from a pretty woman, but it minimizes the chances that she will be considered pretty. I think the Amish probably do a better job of actually living what they believe (everyone lives it). Men still do make a lot of the primary decisions, but people choose if they want to be Amish - including the women. Both men and women drive in the Amish world, I believe; they just drive horses only - lol. And you won't find them reading this blog or my comments :)...

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  21. Susie says: “I personally hate wearing the hijab, yet I wear it in KSA for my husband. I believe that it should be a woman's choice, and clearly it is not MY choice. I don't have a problem with other women wearing it though if that is their choice.”

    Wow! Do you realize what you have said above, Susie?

    You are clearly not wearing hijab by choice and I sincerely doubt that most Muslim women who wear it do so by choice. The threat of disapproval, ostracization and even violence is always there. It is difficult to imagine “voluntarily” wearing hijab or anything uncomfortable in the climate of KSA.

    In Turkey hijab is outlawed for government jobs and universities. The great Mustafa Kemal Atatürk knew what hijab meant, the subjugation and oppression of women by men and society, and he rightly outlawed it. Atatuurk cleverly stated: "Prostitutes must wear veils." So, that induced Turkish women to unveil.
    The “Veil originated for women in Sumer and it was their compulsory duty to have "sex" to worship the mother goddess. Prostitutes dedicated to the fertility Goddess were working at the Temples of the fertility Goddess in Canaan. One can see same tradition of prostituting for goddess- in Greeks and Romans and for this the women have to take veil and thus one can understand the use of veil by women. The veil is thus a symbol of prostitution sanctioned by a religion some 7000 years back.” http://www.hindujagruti.org/news/?action=fullnews&id=1238

    A Turkish Constitutional Court ruled in 1989 that permitting the headscarf on campus was a "breach of the principle of secularism." The current government is doing its best to reverse that ruling. Those sorts of machinations send shivers of fear down the spine of the EU! They see it as creeping sharia.

    Since Saudi Arabia makes no claim of secularism the oppression and subjugation of women is clearly very legal and socially accepted.

    It seems to me that the only way that Muslim women will get their God-given equal rights is if they, themselves fight, bleed and die for them. The very idea that Muslim men can wear whatever they want, even western clothing, while their women must shroud themselves defies the laws of God, man and logic.

    Hijab is at once an in-your-face statement of inferiority and subjugation as well as one of perceived supremacism. That is why the rest of the world is concerned with the Islamic veil. The free world does not want the hard-fought equality and secular way of life to be usurped by the subjugation of women and non-believers via the veil.

    I have observed many a European giving disapproving looks to veiled women, whether merely in hijab or in full abaya, chador, etc. In a lifetime of travel to Europe I have never, ever spoken to a European who approves of the veiling of women. Westerners are very much aware that the veil is the toe-hold of supremacist Islam and they do not want that in their democracies!

    President Nicholas Sarkozy of France has said: "The problem of the burka is not a religious problem, it's a problem of liberty and women's dignity. It's not a religious symbol, but a sign of subservience and debasement. I want to say solemnly, the burka is not welcome in France. In our country, we can't accept women prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity. That's not our idea of freedom."

    Other than that, most people couldn’t care less what others wear no matter how stupid, offensive or crass it looks.

    The veil is clearly a way for men with personal problems to control and subjugate women. It makes women sex objects. It forces people to look at them and say, “Oh, covered up, must be hiding something forbidden.” Clearly, the exact opposite of what was intended. The ancient Jews and Christians did the very same thing. They have moved beyond that, at least in the clothing department.



    Alexandra (unveiled) ;)

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  22. I like the respectful way you put your views, especially considering that you dislike wearing hijab yourself. Thumbs up for Susie!

    About the tight clothes + hijab...plenty of hijab sites point out that the Quran says for women to 'not show their adornment except what is apparent of it', and this means clothes must be loose so as not to show your figure/body. Not to mention that the Quran, in the same verse, reminds women not to strike their feet so that their hidden adornment, such as the bells that Anonymous mentioned, are not revealed. I have seen MANY sites that call on Muslim women to not wear perfume outdoors around men due to a saying of the Prophet Muhammed.

    Just a note...just because a abaya is black doesn't mean it's hot. I've worn lovely, cool abayas at home because my pyjamas are hotter than they are! But I agree that it is hypocritical and ignorant of a man to wear shorts while his wife wears black from head to toe, as is pointed out in this blog;
    http://ohbrother-hijabformen.blogspot.com/
    By the way, there are very sweet hijabi swimsuits out there, and I own one! (not the skin tight ones either)

    And really;where in the Quran does it say women must wear black and always be separated from men? Yet again, moderate Muslims and more traditional ones argue hotly over this. Different Muslims have different interpretations, e.g. I believe that 'lowering the gaze' means not looking at what is forbidden to be seen of others or checking someone out. So yes, when a guy stares at me I stare right back so he looks away.

    Sorry for the long comment but I felt that I had to correct some views seen in the other comments.

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  23. Hi Susie,

    I think the reason for banning the full burka in some parts of the west is because men are using it as a disguise to commit crimes. quite a few have been caught. And of course there are the security issues, identification needs a face.

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  24. Hi Suzie,

    As a Christian I recognise an increasing disregard for standards in dressing. I have come to respect Muslim women all the greater for covering their bodies for only their husbands (and those who need to see them) to see. I now prefer wearing long jeans and roll-neck jumpers with long sleaves, because I don't like people looking at my body. Although I do sometimes don't cover fully from the neck down when going out for a night out, if I'm wearing a skirt I'll have tights or wool tights on underneath. I say these things to emphasise that some of the Christian youth haven't lost their standards.

    However, as Anon above said, I have noticed Muslim women headscarves but a very figure defining pants and top, and wondered.

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  25. Hi Susie!

    Just to clarify, the Bible does not advocate hair coverings at any time but in public prayer corporate prayer. It is a confusing passage that could say that woman's hair is itself a covering. Some new Christians then were prostitutes with shaved heads.

    Jesus and His disciples were in constant contact with the women who also followed Him. They were never segregated nor given any injunction to 'protect themselves'. In fact, Jesus only mentions the topic in terms of how men who lust are exactly like adulterers in God's eyes.

    The hijab is fine, but the niqab hides the identity.

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  26. Nice post, Susie. This battle will never die, that's for sure. :)

    Wafa said:
    "But some have problems actually with probably islam itself so they attack the most famous pillar of it. maybe."
    Actually, this is the problem. The veil is not a pillar of Islam. The emphasis of Muslims and non-Muslims alike to focus on this physical symbol of the faith means everything else falls to the wayside. As long as Muslims focus on the veil as the most obvious symbol of Islam, then what choice does the west have but to do the same?

    On another note, Susie, when are you and Adam coming to Abu Dhabi for a visit?? Spare rooms are ready and waiting...

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  27. Hi Susie. Very interesting observations in this post on the hijab. And great photography also. I hope all is well.

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  28. This is such a charged topic.

    I just want to add that I live in the USA and have a Muslima friend who wants to wear hijab and stopped because she was getting negative stares and comments. Is that backwards or what? As Susie said, freedom of religion is fundamental to our society. I definitely believe many women choose to veil -- and should have that right.

    At the same time, I can understand schools and governments placing restrictions on veiling the face. It would be really easy to cheat on exams and perpetrate a variety of frauds if one were entirely concealed. It would also decrease ability to see while driving if the veil covered parts of the face.

    It's the 21st century. Surely we can find a solution to our problems without making negative assumptions about one side or the other. There could be better ways to identify modest women, there could certainly be better manners expected of all of us.

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  29. I wear the hijab on occasion by choice. When I don't wear it, is when I am visiting my family, because they hate it. It's the reverse scenario of what most people imagine.

    I read through the comments here and was shocked to find that some people think hijabi's see themselves as "better" than the infidels/those who don't cover/"westerners". When I wear hijab, it serves as a constant reminder to be kind and compassionate to those around me, because I am sending information about my whole belief system in my every action. I never ever think about how much better I am than the cashier that is checking me out or the woman down the aisle in capris, on the contrary, I am generally a bit overzealous in my attempts to get her/him to like ME, because I generally go in expecting to be misunderstood/judged.

    I think it's understandable to ban niqab in government buildings for security reasons. Anything further than that, in either direction (making it mandatory or disallowing it), is just wrong.

    Also, in regard to the comment about the family on the beach...I don't live near any ocean, but I just went to the lake (hence, there was a "beach") with my husband, son, brother in-law, and his mother, sister, and father. I chose to wear a black saudi abaya (I'm in the US) rather than modest western clothes (jeans or maxi skirt and tunic) because it is honestly sooo much cooler because the fabric is thin and you can catch a breeze. Of the other two women, one had on an abaya, as well, and the other was wearing black jeans and a white shirt dress over a black long sleeved top. She probably appeared the most "approachable" and "empowered" of we three, yet I know she was the most uncomfortable in the heat. I had on a pink hijab, though, in case that matters to anyone reading this.

    My BIL had on jeans and a t-shirt, his father had on long pants with a long sleeved button down shirt (hooray for a man practicing modesty, as well!) And my husband, sadly, was the most disrespectful to we covered women wearing shorts and a short sleeved polo. He doesn't seem to get that it appears rude to people for him to dress that way next to me fully covered. He is saudi so he firmly believes that hijab is 100% mandatory, but he's letting me come into it slowly on my own. AND never even mentioned me wearing it until I converted by choice 2 years into our relationship.

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  30. There's a movement amongst the ultra-conservative Christians in the US to have women wear headscarves as well. For what it's worth, I agree with you. Covering or not should be the choice of the individual. If a woman feels a conviction that covering is what she should be doing, then she should cover. If she doesn't feel that she should cover, she shouldn't be forced to.

    I've been honked at, hooted at, whistled at, etc., but usually a quick extension of my middle finger gets them to back off pretty quickly. The nice thing about living here is that men are expected to keep their hands to themselves unless otherwise invited, and nobody is going to say a thing about it if a woman rather firmly tells a scumbag to get lost.

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  31. Just today, here in sunny, southern California there was a woman with a hijab and fully clothed from wrist to ankles in black pants and long sleeved swimming top at the pool!

    She came in with a gray short sleeved sweater over her shirt too, but the life guard asked her to take the grey sweater off. For good or for bad, this really brought attention to her. Everyone else was in bathing suits or bikinis!

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  32. I have no problem with a woman swathed from head to toe in black if that is her choice.


    But here in Canada it DOES make her stand out and be noticed. Not really the goal they were looking for is it?

    Swathed and wrapped in fabric? Head covered only eyes visible. Prepare to be stared at and judged.

    I can totally respect ones religious freedoms. As long as they are not biased totally on men being the more important and dominant gender.

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  33. Great Post!

    I do agree... If someone chooses to wear the hijab.. then the whole 'oppression of a women' is ruled out... Same way that if a women is forced to remove her hijab this action should be seen as 'oppression of a women'.

    The problem with most people is that they believe that ONLY their way of life is right, and that everyone else is wrong.

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  34. Good post Susie!

    I think the responsibilty of representing Islam in western world is almost totally on the womens shoulders..Muslim women are the ones that have to behave decently and bare the burdens the hijab sometimes creates.
    Musim men on the otherhand dress in western style clothing and don't have beards so they are not recognizable as muslims. Also it's not seen as such a bad thing for a muslim guy to out to party and have fun then for the girls, totally frowned upon!

    I wrote a post about this a while ago called "the woman's right to uncover vs the right to cover"
    http://blueabaya.blogspot.com/2010/06/womans-right-to-uncover-vs-right-to.html

    more on my thoughts on the subject, very much what you were saying here also :)

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  35. I read the original article in Saudi Life a couple weeks ago ("Covered but still checked out") and came to the conclusion that the writer is a victim of her own paranoid delusions of princess-ness. I wasn't there at the incident where she was supposedly "checked out" but there are so many red flags that one has to wonder why she's the only one that the "perverts" were looking at, and how a woman in full MBO mode (Moving Black Object) can even tell how people outside her direct vision are looking at her. And, unless her abaya was one of those un-Islamic figure-betraying styles...what on earth were the perverts checking out?

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  36. The main question is how much is woman's choice to wear the hijab/nijab?

    I have a bookstore and a couple of day ago a muslim father and her daughter entered to ask for direction, the child was no older than 6/7 and she was wearing the hijab, I'm wondering in 10 years will she be able to go outside without wearing the hijab? I don't think so.

    I find the nijab and burka a mean to anhilate the woman and her identity. I always say that they look like moving tents.

    Women in the western world coverd their hair ONLY when they went to church, when the mass was over they took it off.

    Women that wear hijab attract more attention than the ones who doesn't.

    I'm for the total ban of the nijab/burka here in Europe.

    Muslim women who want to attract less attention (one of the reason for wearing the hijab) could wear long skirt and loose fitting blouse/shirt.

    In the last days it hotter than hell here but I see women wearing long tshirt/skirt/socks/hijab and of course their husbands is wearing short pants and tshirt.

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  37. I must say, that it is fascinating to read all the reasons that women give to be “superior” in their self inflicted inferiority.

    God made two genders; only one can further the species. Male sperm can only impregnate. It takes a woman’s womb to carry a child. Why should that one gender be made to feel inferior to the other? Prior to monotheistic religions, in the days of the Goddess, women were seen as “superior” because they could bring forth children. How is it that so many women have the need to be the lesser gender and claim that it is their “choice”?

    The notion that the veil is somehow more modest than other female attire such as the western business suit or a saree or any number of international female costumes is bizarre to many people. It is rather a supremacist statement. “I dress more modestly than the non-believer, therefore, I am a better person in the eyes of my god.”

    The fact that terrorists have dressed in burqas, abayas or chadors, etc. to commit their crimes makes it all the more dangerous and unacceptable. Such attire is rather “modern.” The Qur’an does not demand veiling, but all too many failed Muslim males seem to demand it. It appears that when a male can’t be successful in the world, he must exercise his dominance over the female.

    Alexandra

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  38. "yet other religions like Christianity have historically commanded women to cover their hair, but modern Christians have rejected this despite their religion. One would think they would have understanding and compassion for women covering their hair for religious reasons."
    again one who never saw what is written in NT about hair covering, or, what may be worse, willfully equates the hijab with the command of covering of hairs during the mass/worship.
    in the whole bible you do not find one exhortation where woman is required to cover her hair.
    so any discussion about commanded hair covering based upon bible has very weak and shaky grounds.
    Even nun can be nun without habit and veil.

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  39. A Canadian ReaderJul 12, 2010, 9:06:00 PM

    Although I strongly believe in a woman's right to choose, I am always offended and angry to see a woman covering her hair or worse yet, veiled.

    Alexandra has made many salient points that I will not repeat, but to me, the hijab, the burqua, the niquab, whatever are simply the clearest sign that women are abased, feared and hated in the societies where this type of clothing is the norm.

    I have never gone up to a covered/veiled woman and insulted her. Perish the thought. But I am sickened by the misogyny behind this custom.

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  40. There are two reasons for a woman to wear a hijab - one is in order not to attract sexual attention (let us not exagerrate, muslim women are not religiously expected to be invisible, that's cultural cr*p). The other is to be instantly recognizable to other muslims. Living in the west hijab creates instatnt connection, the feeling of belonging to the muslim community, the Ummah. It's small but the one smile from another hijabi, the quiet "salam aleikum" can brighten your day :) I'm not saying other people are unfirendly, I live in the most friendly city in the world but the feeling of belonging is nice...
    Sabah

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  41. There were a spate of robberies in Jewellery stores in India by men wearing full face covering clothes.

    So how do the supporters of full face covering tell us to find those robbers ?

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  42. Hey Susie! Long time no comment, but I check your blog out all the time, even though I get so frustrated by the moral and social quandaries which seem to pop up more and more- is it ethical to 'push' immodesty on women who are happy- is it truly happy or just a bit of brain washing mixed with fear and religious zealotry.. I don't know, I am not that person... So much of what I feel is 'correct' is based on what i grew up- which means thats exactly where these women are coming from. You are full of good issues to think about...

    Anyways, I just wanted to mention that Saudi Arabia got featured in a recent Vanity Fair (the one with angelina jolie on the front looking like a scary flesh eating martian (or pretty, depending on your opinion of her)) And was wondering if you have seen it, read the article, what your take is... Always looking for perspective!

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  43. Wearing a full face covering veil is not a simple choice of religion..

    To my knowledge, no country it is going to be banned in your private spaces.

    In public spaces, personally I do not care,
    But how about allowing a fully face covered woman into a Bank ?

    Should the Bank have a right to refuse service in this scenario
    (remember stores in USA already can refuse service to anyone for example
    No shoes or shirts --No Service)..

    what if a store wants to refuse service ?
    Will muslims sue that store ?

    It is fine if you can segragate woman like in Saudi arabia.

    It will create more problems in a normal societies with constant legal recriminations..

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  44. Hi Susie! It has all beeen said and very well by the other comments. I understand, for identification purposes, countries banning the veil. The Hijab should be by choice. In reading several of these comments, I will say
    I am insulted being called and infidel. And what does the Qur’an say about infidels? Not a flattering term indeed!

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  45. Very apropos of this topic:

    Why, even if you hate the niqab, you should hate the French "burqa ban" more

    Inspired by the French morning news. Unsettling to say the least.

    All are welcome to read and comment.

    Sorry Susie, I saw this post after I commented on the more recent one.

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  46. Susie thank you for this response:

    "When you look back in history and realize that America was founded by people seeking religious freedom and tolerance, then considering niqab and hijab as inappropriate and disrespectful in the West just doesn't jive with the ideals the USA stands for."

    I respectfully disagree. I think America does not privilege religious customs and edicts over basic human rights. Islam allows polygamy; we do not, regardless of freedom of religion. Ditto for sharia law and punishments. Can you imagine an American system allowing amputation or stoning?

    In Islam, these are religious customs.

    I think burka and niqab are intended to erase women and that is a violation of human rights. It should not be tolerated or respected in the west.

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  47. You know, during Hajj, women are actually ordered NOT to veil their faces?
    The whole veiling thing makes no sense and even prominent Muslims have spoken out against it. (You should watch Tareq Sweidan or Amr Khaled with someone who knows Arabic Susie, they have intelligent and logical things to say). It's a cultural thing, and a very useless and degrading one at that.
    Anyways, you don't need your hair. You do however need your face (how are you gonna talk to people, eat, drink, even SEE?)
    It's something that you can't just cover up and be over with it.

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  48. >You know, during Hajj, women are actually ordered NOT to veil their faces?

    Very interesting.
    Can someone post more info and links and the basis for this ?

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  49. I have a question specifically about hijab (head scarf). Why should women cover their HAIR to be modest? Is hair some kind of sex object? I understand not wearing low-cut tops or short skirts but why is hair such a big deal? Covering the entire face makes more sense if I was to explain covering for modesty but if you are going to expose your entire face and just cover the hair by a hijab - what's the point of such cover?

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  50. Syria bans full Islamic face veils at universities

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100719/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_syria_islamic_veils;_ylt=AgKJhZMDCBJpCxHQSzvbAaZvaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTJuazNsa3RvBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTAwNzE5L21sX3N5cmlhX2lzbGFtaWNfdmVpbHMEY3BvcwMxBHBvcwMyBHNlYwN5bl90b3Bfc3RvcnkEc2xrA3N5cmlhYmFuc2Z1bA--

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  51. When you cover a woman like a tent, you are objectifying her. She is no longer a human but an object that needs to hide. Their identity now is gone and she is just a black piece of cloth.

    I as a muslim woman personally agree with French decision as half the women who "choose" to wear hijab dont even know why they are wearing it other then "god said so".If you take away the "god said so" part of it, how many women do you think would want to go out in a black tent while men are allowed to walk around in watever they want?

    Also with every one woman who "chooses" to wear hijab, i can give you a 100 if not thousands of women who are made to wear hijab by the men of their house.

    Regards,
    Fare

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  52. Hi Oby - I totally agree with your thoughts on this subject. Thanks.

    Hi Alexandra - Yes, I do cover my hair in KSA because it is my husband's wish, not my choice. So I am one woman in KSA who wears the hijab not by choice. But I was raised in the West and didn't ever cover my hair for 55 yrs until I moved to KSA. The majority of Saudi women are brought up to believe that they must cover their hair, so they believe that it is their choice to do so - when in actuality they feel it is something compulsory that they must do to be good Muslims. Thanks for your input.

    Hi Bayan - Thanks so much for expressing yourself here. You are always welcome.

    Hi AbuDhabi/UAE DailyPhoto - I am looking forward to the day when I will make it to the UAE - thank you for the invitation!

    Hi Nikki - Thanks for your thoughts on this subject. I too was surprised to hear about some hijabis having a superiority complex because they cover. I never really imagined that before. Your story about what the people in your party were wearing at the lake was interesting. Thanks.

    Thanks you to Everybody Else for your interesting comments. I think this debate will be around for a long time to come.

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  53. As a non-muslim American woman when I come to Libya I have to wear a headscarf on my husband's request. In Libya they think you are a prostitute if you do not cover your hair. Personally I could not care less what they think so I only cover to protect my husband's reputation.

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  54. Hi,
    There is a bias in your matter of fact opinion.
    You start off somewhere by saying that no where in the quran does not mention veiling but it does. The verse of the Qur'an goes and ask the believing women to cover using a jalabeeb... and the verb used is Ala' which generally refers to the words " on top of / over" .
    To explain this further we look at the actions of the companions of the prophet. What did the believing women do during the prophets time after this verse was revealed. they covered themselves head to toe as found in various hadith.
    So now we've established its found in the quran and sunnah.

    I live in the US and i wear niqab .I personally have a bias towards wearing all black with minimum to no color other than black. Do i draw attention... maybe? alot of women in chicago have decided this covering is something they want to do. But can i safely say that most of the attention i get is not the same kind as a women walking by in a bikini would get... yes!
    Additionally it is my understanding that Allah gave a command and i have to follow it. not the why's and whats....

    Do people here accept me. Amazingly the older generation find me more tolerable than goths and punks. And the younger generation is all about personal liberties.

    i do find it irrational for people to justify banning veiling in secular countries because countries like KSA which is no secular require it. KSA is a kingdom that follows mostly shariah law. cannot compare apples to oranges.

    I also find it irrational for people because of their discomfort with an item of clothing to consider banning it. I am uncomfortable with women walking around unveiled, nut your don't see me aiming to put legislation against it. personal choice.

    Then someone commented that why do women have to cover .... why is haya so unbalanced between genders. Its not.... men are required to cover their satar too. And while it might not be a requirement for him, no one is stopping him from wearing a sunnah style hat or a garment that covers most all the limbs.

    and how often does a women gawk at a man in the same way a man does?

    just my two cents...

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  55. I am a "bitter and hurt" wife of a man whose father left his mother and 8 siblings for wife #2 with whom he made a bunch more kids. Because my husband is the eldest son he has to support his family so he spends money on them instead of us. I hate his father with every inch of my body. He screwed up the life of his entire family, including mine and my future kids (that is if we can ever afford them).

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  56. Covering, hijab and niqab are not free choices. All women who claim it is their free choice are lying or confused.
    At the moment you are successful in making a woman believe the fantasy that there is a ''God'' who requires that women are covered, then there is no free will anymore.
    If you succeed in making women believe that if they don't cover they will go to burn in some place called ''hell'' after they die, then there cannot be free choice.
    If you are successful in making women believe that they are whores if they don't cover, or that being uncovered will make all men into sex-maniacs, or that you deserve being raped if you don't cover, then there is no free choice.

    Now you can argue if it is reasonable to outlaw oppressive customs, but there can be no doubt that veiling is never a free choice.
    Free choice is taken away by religious leaders who have invented the rules.

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  57. Free choice is used so loosely here.
    As a veiling woman: it is my free choice to believe whatever i want to believe be it i cover myself head to toe or prance around naked. ITs free choice to pick a religion and a God and a religious
    custom" which shall now be referred to as religious law and freely and whole heartedly follow it.
    It is oppressive for people to tell me what i should believe but even further oppressive for some people to force it down my throat. I am educated enough to make my own choice freely.

    Free choice is not something left o religious scholars. Free choice comes in when i decide whether i want to follow a certain tenet of faith or not.

    It is mind boggling how people whose minds are soooo closed try to take away MY right.

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  58. Though I completely agree with the freedom of choice, I am concerned with the apparent lack of of such "choice" in places like KSA where there seems to be little or no tolerance for non-veiled women, hence no choice.

    The writer, Susie, clearly states not liking to be veiled head to toe yet does so because it is her husband's choice, not hers.

    Therein lies the core of my disagreement. In that instance and therefore I assume in the instances of many in KSA, this is not a choice by any means, made by the individual.

    To me a woman or any society of women veiled head to toe, not by choice, speaks volumes about that community's view of women... But what does it say about the MEN? Neither view of the women or the men is based in reality and both are debasing.

    Are we really to believe that men are incapable of controlling themselves? Do we really believe that men have so little regard and respect for women that men can only view women as sinful temptresses seeking sexual pleasure from men therefore women need to be covered up? Do we really believe that men to be saved from themselves and that women need to be saved from men?

    I and most people I know simply do not view men this way. Nor do we view women this way.
    Thankfully none of the men I have known in my 50 years have behaved like that either.

    Some Other responders have minimalized the issue down to "just a piece of cloth that causes so much debate." In those societies/cultures where young women and girls are sold or traded off into marriage and where women's rights are few, if any, where rape is considered the woman's fault, the full veiling of women puts the exclamation point on how that society views its women AND its men. And the view is rather harsh, unrealistic and stunting.

    The problem with the issue for the West is that the majority of veiled women societies we have seen in the last 100 years have been, by and large, not by choice. Where there is no choice AND women are forced to bear the burden of a rather incorrect "perception" of the inadequacies of men, the veiled woman can represent many things that are anathema to most women. I agree completely with Sarkozy on that very important point.

    But again, the entire issue is as objectifying and debasing to men as it is to women. And so I struggle with the idea that religion is justification for a moral imperative created by men directed squarely at the very same women who are devalued in so many deeply troubling ways.

    I will repeat though my tolerance for the true "free choice" for any woman in a free society to wear what she wants... whether that be a tight, low cut top or a burka or anything in between. However, when I do see a woman in a burka here in NY, I do have to wonder... "Do you really think everyone will be LOOKING at YOU without it?"

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  59. I've just discovered your blog, thank you.

    As a single female living in KSA I do not wear a hijab. Some of my colleagues do, mainly to avoid the attention of perving men, but I feel it is a religious symbol of a religion I do not prescribe to and thankfully it is not compulsory like the abaya.

    Living here has made me very anti-Islamic, although I am most certainly associating it with many of the negative aspects of Saudi culture. There are positive aspects of Saudi culture, but being single, without a family (it's a very family oriented culture) and having grown up with complete freedom, this place seems like a prison. Even with a family I would be entirely at the mercy of my husband, having essentially no rights.

    I say anti-Islamic but I am aware that it is a fundamentally peaceful and tolerant religion in theory. It is the way that Islam has been taken and subjectively interpreted by men over centuries, and especially recent decades, to suppress women. And no, this is not the only religion that has been interpreted with terrible consequences. Like you say, the Qu'uran also says that men should be modest, but for some reason nothing applies to men. I agree with the comments of the huge sexual repression the burka has caused, having heard from burqa wearers who get followed around malls. I thought it was just me, the easy westerner, but it's women in general. Men truly seem to consider females as meat, and lust accordingly, subjugation bag or not, unless it is their mother or sister.

    I think that France is correct to ban the burka as France, since the Revolution, has been against any open displays of religion. I think other countries should promote choice (although I don't think many women have it), but ban the niqab in public buildings, as I'm quite sure any other type of face covering is banned or can be refused entry and it's not right to give special rules to be politically correct.

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  60. I have been following this blog for quite some time and I really felt compelled to comment on this.

    Saying that there is no way anyone, or very few people who would want to wear a headscarf, niqab, etc by choice is problematic. I believe that during the Shah's time in Iran, many women wore these coverings as a form of protest. Merve Kavakci, who was born and raised in Turkey, a secular nation, was kicked out of medical school and later out of Parliament due to her hijab. She now resides in the U.S. A reporter asked her after 9/ll "What would you do if the hijab was banned in America" and she replied, "America would no longer be America." She even went on to talk about how there is a sad reality of women forced to wear hijab but that there are women who wear it by choice, have professions, want to contribute to society, and wish to be respected all the same. There have been women in sports, law enforcement, and politics who wear hijabs and many of them come from the UK and US as well as Southwest Asia.

    I have seen many people argue that since women cannot dress freely in KSA, that there is nothing wrong with banning the hijab, niqab, etc, in "Western countries." I must say that I find this argument flawed. If we agree that it is an injustice to have something forced upon you, why would we agree to take away something that someone wears by choice in nations that pride themselves on various freedoms? Especially those of us who reside in democratic nations. Furthermore, if the KSA is seen as so backwards, why would those of us who live in democratic nations stoop to that same level of thinking in the opposite way?


    Thanks again Susie for posting this. I always enjoy reading your posts.

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  61. Assalamualaikum Susie I am from Jakarta Indonesia, and I really enjoy reading your blog. I am wearing a niqab now and definitely it is my choice. and the reason why I am wearing it because I believe everything that we did should be rewarded later. I used to be a very modern and fashionista girl who loved to go to the club but instead i feel empty inside. but since i learned about my religion more specific, i felt some blank of my life has filled with glory, i felt comfortable until now. I hope i could be committed for what i have chosen, Hidayah belongs to Allah and it's very expensive. you should be very grateful living in KSA it was my dream to be moving and living in there. look forward to read your next blog Suzie, barakallahufeekum

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  62. As-salaamu alaykum~

    Interestingly enough, I found this blog when doing a google image search for "hijab is strength." I'm a revert living in the US & am incredibly happy to be a Muslim by choice. I began covering in June 2010, alhamdulillah (all thanks & praises be to Allah) & it's been one of the best decisions I've ever made. Yes, Muslim women draw attention to themselves in the West, but it's not negative attention (AKA: you're not checking out my body, you're probably questioning my reasoning for veiling). I think it's great that people take a second look at hijabis because maybe they'll rethink why they do what they do or why we cover. & hopefully, people will begin to understand that it's liberation. I can honestly say that I feel so much better & more carefree when I'm covered in front of others; people aren't picking me apart with their eyes...women especially (jealousy is rampant in the US, I've noticed).
    Something interesting to mention is that although in Islam women sometimes wear a face veil (niqab, etc), it's been agreed upon that for identification purposes, if necessary she should remove the covering & after that confirmation she can put it back on.
    Another point I'd like to make is that Islam does not teach only modesty for women; men are required to be modest as well (by also lowering their gaze, not wearing tight clothes, etc.) The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa salam) has said, "Cover your thigh, for the thigh is [part] of the nakedness." [Narrated by : Tirmidhi, who graded it as hasan, and also by Abu Dawud, Ahmad, Malik and Ibn Hibban.] This applies to men AND women...modesty was never meant to be practiced on such a one-sided basis.
    Women covering is NOT lowering their status...it raises it. I don't really care what people say about that because I KNOW that's the truth. I lived the first 17 years of my life uncovered so I know what it's like to feel worthless (due to the standards women are expected to live up to, which are impossible), like an object on display...but I have never felt such security & happiness as I do now.
    To address the issue of sisters covering to show their "superiority"...I disagree entirely. Only Allah knows what is in the hearts of humans, but many (hopefully most) Muslim women choose to cover (including myself) because we want to earn the love of our Creator...& what better way to do so than to obey Him? -shrugs- Believe what you will. Muslim women can only try to convince you, but if you won't listen or believe the ones who are actually covering, then that isn't our problem...
    Lastly, I'd like to say, it's best to look at Islam (which is perfect), not the Muslims (who are human & imperfect), when trying to understand the religion.

    Salaam,
    Mary~

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  63. Hi Mrs. Susie :) In fact I can't find enough words to thank you. I really liked your post and the comments too. Thanks.

    Regards.
    Motaz.

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  64. Hi Susie,

    Nice post..i'm a Malaysian, profesional engineer and I wear hijab..I do not face any difficulty as we have freedom to practice religion eventhough most of my colleague was non muslim..I believe burqa and niqab was more to arabian culture rather than religious requirement..it makes confusion as most people thought it was a must for all muslimah..just wan to make a clear explanation..have a nice day =))

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  65. Assalam Alaikum.
    For you Susie, you are probably in your 50's and so I am sure its okay for you to not wear the hijjab if you were not living in KSA. Islam does allow a women after she has reached menapause and her hair is gray to stop wearing hijjab but it is my understanding that hijjab is fard, meaning it is indeed manditory.
    I have been Muslimah for over 18 years and never met one sister who wore hijjab because her husband made her rather they did so because they wanted to and so enjoyed it and we all had a blast.
    Allah knows best, I am not a scholar.

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  66. I don't see why Allah will reward anyone for following Byzantine dress codes but I do think people should be free to wear what they like.

    I feel very fortunate that I don't feel "worthless" not wearing Hijab. And I think people should work on their self-esteem because it seems some people's are totally tied up in their clothing even when covered.

    Personally, I have gotten loads of remarks from "superior" hijabi women. Also in Islamic orgaizations a non-Hijabi's opinion is automatically not considered as valid as a Hijabis/ This despite the fact that Hijab is an innovation, and that the superior attitude of many hijabi's is not modest at all. Modesty, of course, being what Islam actually calls for.

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  67. I think western women feel uncomfortable when women are covered(with hijab) and they're feeling naked. so they dont like it. it makes THEM feel bad.

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    Replies
    1. Not at all I feel bad for women being covered from head to toe with their eyes showing in very hot temperatures. Modesty is a condition of the heart.

      Delete
  68. Hello I am a Kenyan Christian,Catholic,and my girlfriend is Muslim,of Arabic descent.I was attracted to her in the first place by her modesty.All the skimpily dressed girls didn't get my attention so do the math :)Only some of her sisters know we are together.I love her.Using the hijab, I believe should and must always be viewed totally as a personal choice.period. I doesn't make you any less of a Muslim if you don't and as it were,we will all be judged by how we acted,not what we wore.However,socially,modesty should always be taken seriously.
    Let's kill this debate about the ban on the burqa and niqab in some countries:IT IS ALL ABOUT SECURITY. With all the SILLY AND COWARDLY suicidal tendencies of the haters of Islam(because suicide and shedding of innocent blood is strictly condemned in the Quran), then it is understandable that governments want to protect their citizens and interests and you can't blame them for that-after all a government incapable of securing its citizens is more or less a failed state.So there it is.

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  69. Wow, so many comments - i began reading them, but couldn't get through them. great article yet again. thank you.
    I actually started wearing the head scarf - by the will of God - whilst reading the Qur'an. that was my choice and i am exceptionally happy for what i did. i felt i did it for the right reasons - not for culture or because i was TOLD to. The veil on the other hand i began wearing on arrival to jeddah upon request of my husband. he didn't and doesn't ever force me, its just all of the people he knows - their women folk veil, so he wanted me to. and to be honest i was okay about that. having said that...its not something i do in the uk and thats fine.
    i remember the first time i went out and about what hit me HARD were all of these veiled women (and me!) because i realised that there was no way i would be able to communicate with them! there was me - smiling at other women and then realising that they couldn't see me.
    how then was i supposed to stike a conversation with others.... well that was that...i wasn't going to.
    the isolation that i felt (and still do) being here was hard on me.
    my husband took me to the cornish for the first time in the evening (very hot those days)and all i could see were shadows of black - families having picnics and that upset me too! why are we deprived of the daylight to have picnics! yes - as some comments have said - its a shame women have to cover and men don't when they are on the beach, but again...for me it would be choice. i'm okay to be covered (minus veil) and chill out on the beach but pref. in DAYLIGHT!
    no wonder we're vit D deficient!!!!!!

    basically - women should have the choice - because if its a religious requirement then i would hope that a persons knowledge would be enough for them to make that choice - not being forced into it or any othe way.
    Umm Abdullah

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  70. Hi,

    I thought this monk explains it so well on sensuality and on covering oneself up -

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GV1f4G-hiDw

    I went to school (in Malaysia) and most Muslim girls wore the head covering only because they were told to do so by their family/religious teachers! But they are of course luckier than their Saudi counterparts!

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  71. Hello to all.

    First let me state that I have graduated from a Jesuit school where I have obviously learned first about Judaism and Christianity. I had to wait for my Master degree to study Islam and other religions.

    I am not sure people realize that the Hijab, Burqa, Nijab etc. existed way before Islam. Way before Christianity... Have we forgotten of the Virgin Marry Mother Of Jesus? Way Before Judaism... Have we forgotten about Sarah Wife Of Abraham?

    Anyhow, some Nations ware them for religious, some for cultural, some for identity, some for tribal, and some for legal reasons. But wait. Speaking of Islam; The Holly Koran NEVER mentioned anything about any Hijab or similar. The Arab word is "Istatirou", meaning "cover up". In our modern world, at least to me, it would mean to dress "conservative" and don't show your private parts in public.

    I believe that all this must be a choice. Our founding fathers lived between people of religious backgrounds who came to this great land for freedom. "Freedom" doesn't chose between people, but equality for all mankind, religions etc.

    I am totally against countries such Saudi Arabia forcing upon its citizen ridiculous laws. As an example; did Islam say anything about women's right to drive? I don't think history has ever recorded of any motorized vehicle at the time of Prophet Mohammed. What I am trying to say is that Islam also take the wrap and blame for man-made unfair laws.

    Having said that, Islam doesn't only ask of women to dress conservatively, but also of men as well.

    Last but not least, I've traveled extensively around the world and have seen women, some wearing shorts hand in hand with women wearing the hijab. It's the mosaic beauty of our colorful planet. I wouldn't mind at all women making the choice to ware or not to ware the hijab here, there or everywhere. It's their choice.

    Thank you for taking the time to read. God bless.

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  72. Hey girls...well firstly wow. Theres too many comments to read, however i skimmed through most of them and am quite happy with the decent conversations. I guess majority feel its all about choice no matter where you are. I stay in durban south africa-oh and tust me our summers get really hot! I wear the niqaab and am married to an alim(islamic scholar). I wear the niqaab out of Choice and for the love for my Creator. We go to the beach and yes i clad myself in black but my husband also wears the full islamic clothing. We practice islam as much as we can, my husband is not agrresive or unjust infact he is the most amazing man ever.

    Instead of swimming at the local beach we go to a private one where i can enjoy myself without worrying about my hijaab being compromised. We go for walks and hikes, swim the lakes and sea all with my hijaab. Men who abuse and use islaam to suit themselves are not true muslims. I know many men who love their women and push them to flourish within the bounds of sharia. Theres so much we can do...i have many friends who are staunch muslims but at the same time are doctors, teachers, artists and loving mothers!

    Well what i am trying to get across is when Islam is practiced properly it can be a means of a lot of happiness-unfortunately there is not one country which uses the laws of Islam without abusing them. Its not the beautiful religion, rather the disturbing ways its twisted by man to use to his advantage, we should criticize.

    Happy and content niqaabi:)

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  73. Hi Susie. I just wanted to throw my 2 cents in here..
    I personally don't think woman should veil. They should wear hijab/head scarf (as that is required by Islam) but should leave their faces open. I know there's this whole thing about "lowing your gaze" but is there really something so wrong with a man admiring a woman's face and thinking her beautiful?? I mean, admiring it in a way where he thinks "Masha Allah" and not in the disgusting sexual way.. With woman covering up in Veil, there is nothing to attract men to them.. so men tend to become attracted to other men leading to homosexuality which is really a much bigger problem compared to having a man look upon the face of an unrelated female.. and maybe if woman weren't kept away from men the way they are, men will be less likely to act like animals when they do happen to be in the presence of woman. Gender mixing can be done in an appropriate and modest way.. where young woman are either accompanied/chaperoned by their brothers or older married sisters and socializing is done in public.. I also feel that gender mixing is not a cause of illicit relationships/affairs between unmarried men and woman.. Its poor/weak character and an inability to maintain self-control that leads to people committing sin in this regard.

    Anyway, that's just my opinion...

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