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Tue, May 04, 2010 11:03:07
Face-covering in Islam Face-covering in Islam BY TANVEER JAFRI

            The face-covering Islamic veils or Burqa worn by the Muslim women usually remains under controversies. The passage of the bill by the lower house of Belgian parliament restricting face-covering or veils in public places has once again heated the debate regarding Veils. It is to be noted that of the 0.5 million Muslim population of Belgium, only 30 women wear Veils. In the name of security, this bill is passed keeping in mind those 30 women only. This bill was passed without any single vote against it. Most of the parliamentarians were of the view that support of the bill was necessary because of security reason, while the some members are calling face-covering or burqa a symbol of subservience of women. If this bill is also passed by the upper house, then probably by June or July it will become a law. And thus Belgium will then become the first European country to enforce such a law.

        Among the Muslim women, Veils, Hijab or Burqa tradition which has been accepted by the Islam religion, has again become a subject of controversy, these days. Some time back the Burqa controversy was came out from the statement of former foreign minister of Britain, Jack Straw. After that the government of Netherlands has decided to make a law that bans the Burqa tradition there. Face covering Veils Hijab, Naqab or Burqa, all are almost the same things, by which a women hides her face from other men. In Islam, this tradition is known to be a direct command received from God. Regarding it, the Muslim religious leaders that advocate for this tradition say that God has clearly ordered in Quran Shareef, ‘Say to your wives, daughters & women to cover their head with the veil so that they are not recognised & are not open to cruelty. As the religion Islam came into existence, on the land of Arabs, so the ‘Naqab’ prevalent there should be seen as real Hijab. But as a chance, the difference & the paradox regarding this tradition, in Islam is so much that the Muslim world is in a fix that if Burqa tradition is accepted & women of the family are asked to act upon it then what type of veil should it be, as it is in Arab or in Iraq. Should it be Hijab adopted by the British or the American women? Or Burqa as prevalent in India, the Naqab worn in Pakistan or that openness as it has been accepted by Benazir Bhutto, Begam Khalida Zia, Sheikh Hasina Wajid, Shirin Ibadi & Sania Mirza & other Muslim women of world fame.

                It’s well known that after the terrorist attack of September 11 on America, the Muslim world is passing through a tough test. Now a day if a finger is pointed towards Islam or its beliefs, the whole Muslim world seems to take such effort, very seriously. And if this finger is from such countries as America, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium or Denmark, then the Muslims of the world start to think it as a direct attack on the Islam or Islamic beliefs. But in reality this is a matter of discussion not only in Europe and America, but a great part of the Muslim society which is also not in favour of keeping its women veiled or face covered.

                It is a bitter truth that almost all the traditions & beliefs of all the religions are mostly formed under the main role of male society. Obviously this male dominated society, while framing religious rules of the society used its dictatorship & double standard in which they kept themselves free & tied the women in many troublesome ties such as to keep their faces curtained. It is a matter of sorrow, regarding veils of a woman, there has been given a reference of the God’s command in Quran Shareef & accordingly ordered them to remain veiled so that they are not open to cruelty. But there is nothing for the man to stop them from doing cruelty.

                We may accept that at the time of embodiment of Quran Shareef or the time when the Islam religion came into existence, the Hijab tradition may have been useful. But can this tradition be accepted so meaningful, in this modern age of today, as it was fourteen hundred years ago. Great Muslim lady leader Late Benazir Bhutto had the power to handle the political leadership of a Muslim country like Pakistan & had given successful leadership to Pakistan, as a successful Prime Minister. Shirin Ibadi of Iran has proved by winning the Noble Peace Award that a Muslim woman even behind a veil & being a housewife, when comes out of the veil can win the greatest award of the world, that is the Noble Peace Prize.

                Indian Tennis Player Sania Mirza, also gives this type of message. Sania Mirza is far away from wearing the veil. Now the question is that even today the Muslim men have kept the right of deciding it with themselves, if the Muslim women should wear the veil or not? Why can the women not decide it themselves whether they should wear Burqa or not? A Muslim woman can feel it better, if to act upon the veil tradition is useful for her or a hurdle in her progress.

                I am not in favour of Belgian parliaments restricting face-covering decision neither against the veil tradition among the Muslim women in Islam. But I feel that it may prove an obstacle in the race of their career. Today it is a common talk in the world that the main cause of being conservative & fundamental of the Muslims is lack of literacy among them. It is a proven fact that if the mother is educated, the children have better chances of getting education. But if the mother is uneducated, she can neither understand the importance of education nor encourage her children to get education who can deny the fact that wearing Burqa is a great impediment in getting the freeness, education & progress in life.

                It may be that the fresh statements of the leaders of the western countries, regarding the veil of the Muslim women, may revive the thought among the Muslim society that if the Christianity is against the Islam. But in reality, the entire Muslim world is not unanimous regarding the veil tradition. There are also different ways prevalent to veil among the Muslim women in different countries, somewhere the head is covered & face is uncovered. At some places a cloth when wrapped solves the purpose. The educated Muslim society, wherever they may be living in the world, today doesn’t consider it necessary to veil the women. This elite class understands it that Burqa is an obstruction in the mental & educational development of women. The Muslims who belong to this class don’t force the women in their families to cover themselves with Burqa. And even the Muslim women of these educated families don’t consider it compulsory to wear Burqa in this modern age.

                Now the time demands that every controversial matter should not be viewed from the angle of the Christianity or the Islam. The merits & demerits must be seen & that too without prejudice. If either in the Islam or in any other religion, there is something that is not beneficial for the society & hampers the educational, intellectual & mental growth of the society, then it should be done away with & the religious leaders or the responsible group should not stand in its way. The Belgian parliament’s decision of restricting wearing burqa in public places can also be seen with this angle. Islamic veils


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