Saturday, 31 March 2007

The Issue of the Veil

On Saturday evening I received a phone call from a friend. ‘We need a niqaabi to go on the radio and discuss the niqaab!’

Apart from my daughter being unwell – hence very cranky, I wasn’t too keen. For a start I thought to myself, what would I say? And is there any point? I declined the invitation.

Its obvious that people will always ask us about issue’s that they find extremely hard to comprehend. And of course they would, as even many Muslims find issues such as polygamy and niqaab very hard to comprehend.

If someone asked us why do some women cover their faces or why are men allowed to marry four women? How many of us would be able to answer them in the correct way? How many of us actually are aware of the beautiful wisdoms behind these issues?

If we don’t then now is the time to find out. Not only for ourselves, to increase our faith with knowledge of Gods perfect wisdom, but also so we can teach these pearls of wisdom to others.

I remember reading ‘Polygamy In Islam’, By Dr Bilal Philips and Jameelah Jones.

After reading that book I actually WANTED to be a co wife! I’m sure you won’t hear that from many women, especially women who have been brought in the west.

Then after learning about it from, ‘A principle of Shariah’ point of view it only served to strengthen my conviction in Gods supreme Laws.

Likewise with the Niqaab. People always assume I'm wearing it because my husband told me to and are often very surprised to hear that I was wearing it for a very long time before I married my husband.

Even my In - Laws who are not Muslim still seem to blame it – amongst other things - on my husband – poor thing.

If I say ‘no thank you to a cup of tea or cake, he even gets scolded by his mum, ‘aww let her have a slice of cake’.

‘I couldn’t stop her eating if I tried’ he laughs. But she seems not to hear.

Recently one of the questions that was asked to a sister on a radio discussion was, ‘I bet you can’t wait to take it off when you get home?’

I found myself thinking, Yes, in the same way many women can’t wait to take off their high heals after work or an evening out. Or a man loosens his tie when he is in a more relaxed atmosphere, or when a lady pulls her hair back into a pony or a bun so she can Chillaax! And yes, so that I can greet my husband and daughter or my loved ones with a warm smile.


Four years ago, soon after I graduated I attended a training course where I had to spend 2 weeks working with a mixed group of about 15 men and women.

Throughout the first session their was A LOT of flirting going on. Then during a break when the women left the room for a drink the men started backbiting and making lewd comments about the ‘appearance’ of the women. I thanked God so much for my Niqaab that day!

These women had no idea because the men were so ‘nice’ to them. It kind of got too much for me though, as they were using very foul language, (maybe they thought my veil meant I couldn’t hear or something). I told them ‘very’ politely to mind there language and they all started apologizing profusely


The next day on the way to training I saw one of the men on the bus and he recognized me. Again he apologized to me and said he’s sorry if he offended me. He said, ‘I’m really sorry, I don’t normally swear’. I asked him, ‘Is it just coz you’re with the guys?’ He just looked down embarrassed. He then started to talk about career prospects, it came up in conversation that I had just graduated from the school of Law Needless to say, he looked absolutely shocked.

I felt he had treated me with a lot of respect because of my full Hijaab and Niqaab, respected me for my speech and thoughts rather than treated nicely for the way I looked.

But although he respected me, he still didn’t understand my way of life or why I chose to dress the way I do.

I think the fact of the matter is, no matter how much dawa we give, talk or answer questions about Niqaab, or other things in Islam. One cannot fully comprehend this matter or understand it unless they understand our relationship with God.

If someone cannot count, how will they understand algebra? Likewise full comprehension and understanding of Niqaab and other such issues will only come with going back to understand the basics.

That is full comprehension of God’s Oneness, His Unity, and His divine Laws – the Shari'ah and its Principles. Only then can one understand our full Obedience to Him as our creator and sustainer and Law Giver.

I would advise All Muslims and Non- Muslims alike to look at it from this angle first.


Part 2.

I’m often traveling here and there, from study sessions to shopping and visiting friends and family. I use public transport a lot and have often been out in the summer during the numerous heat waves we’ve had. On the whole I’ve enjoyed wearing my veil with a few negative experiences with ignorant people from time to time – but I had just as many, if not more negative experiences before I wore my veil and even before I wore my Hijaab! The problems are in the society we live in – with Muslims and non Muslims alike – not the veil.

I have never had problems communicating with people, men or women. Although as a Muslim woman I will refrain from talking to men unnecessarily, regardless of whether or not I cover my face.

During the summer I’ve noticed people in town, on the buses looking really hot and bothered. They strip down to cool themselves, using the ‘Metro’ as a fan. I just sit there quite comfortably head to toe in soft cotton. I make my own chadors so I get to choose what fabric I wear and obviously certain fabrics are better than others for different seasons. And because they are so loose and flow, they allow a breeze and feel quite cool.

Women have often asked me if I feel hot, when I’ve let them feel the fabric of my Hijaab, they’ve often replied things like, and ‘Wow that does feel cool!’ Or, jokingly, ‘Can I borrow it?’

Regarding my career I chose to work with special needs children and teach. I’ve had several different jobs where I was able to wear my Niqaab. I’ve also worked in a couple of state schools where I did remove my Niqaab in the classroom, in the presence of just the children or female teachers.

With regard to Aisha Azmi’s case I feel that disallowing her Niqaab and consequently sacking her, is denying children their right to a full education! An education of understanding faith and diversity.

Recently a friend of mine graduated with a 1st class honors from Uni. In full Hijaab and Niqaab, one would assume a certain degree of communication was needed, in her tutorials or presentations for her to achieve that result.

I can understand though, why persueing certain other careers with Niqaab would be difficult in this country. Like being a doctor for example. Mainly due to lack of understanding and Education. But I don't think it would be impossible.

My husband and I visited Sweden last year, and if it wasn’t for the weather and the exceptionally high Tax rates - I would want to live there. It is said that 95% of the lakes are so clean you could actually drink from them! Not to mention the public toilets, they reminded me of a scene from a DAZ advert.

Whilst we were there I met up with Umm Anas – a Swedish national whose husband is in prison in France under the so called war on terror. (Read about her campaign on www.cageprisoners.com).

She is probably one of a few Muslim women in Stockholm who wears the Niqaab and as I accompanied her in running some errands I thought we would in the very least get a few stares, as it’s so rare to see the Niqaab or even many Muslims there. But nobody looked at us or treated us any differently, it was as though we weren’t dressed the way we were.

And why are the Swedes the way they are? Their education system.

I think there is much we could learn from the Swedish people. From a young age right at the beginning stages of their education they are taught to respect. Respect nature, respect people, and respect each other.

5 comments:

A said...

Interesting. Thank you.

Islamic researcher said...

Dear sister,

I appreciate what you have written, but niqab is not a religious characteristic nor it is recommended in the muslim lands. As for the west, it would not make Islam more approachable. Also black does not help, as Allah subhanahu wata'ala likes the whites.

Jazakum Allah khair, wallahu a'alam

Anonymous said...

Salaam sister, you are a strong woman and i appreciate you sharing your views and experiences. Allah reward you inshallah

Anonymous said...

AS-salaamu alaikum,
Masha'Allah I just found your blog today. I have really enjoyed what I have read so far, alhamdulillah.

Jazak Allahu Khayran

Anonymous said...

LIKE. Dearest Sister, Thank you for this post. May Allah reward you. :)