Thursday, 19 September 2013

Wearing the niqab.

Having inadvertently started a Twitter row yesterday the least I can do today is try to blog it.
The wearing of the niqab is a complicated subject. Those who simply see it as women being subdued by male domination are not grasping the bigger picture.
There are young women who want to wear it...They are strident in their determination to wear it...Often to the horror of their brothers who don't understand it. Oddly in some parts of the world it has become almost a fashion statement as opposed to a garment of restriction! The girls wearing it feel free to laugh, to enjoy the liberation of not being identified.
In the Middle Ages here a woman was sometimes required to take the veil on the death of her husband.... I am not sure this was religion or politics speaking but it gave the widow the freedom of a quiet life, unaffected by war or family feuding.
Nuns now take their wearing of the habit with grace and love....it is what as an adult they have committed themselves to. It's not the same as a teenage girl whose family try to force her into a niqab.
I am not sure how often that might happen in fact. Most of the young girls and women I taught in Rochdale would often cover their faces with silk scarves but pulled them to one side easily in conversation.
Some hard line Muslms do suggest a religious need to keep their young ones pure but what makes this feel wrong is when it's forced onto unwilling people....when they have no choice in the matter, then it become repressive and can fuel all sorts of rebellion.
Most women have minds of their own when they reach their teenage years....it's surely better to allow them the final say?
Anything prescribed takes on the status of something to fight. I remember very well my son, eager to demonstrate his punk credentials appearing one day covered in safety pins, doing up his fly, dangling from his ears....it was a phase....it didn't last long.
I hope this present phase of young girls wearing the full face covering niqab passes away soon but the bottom line here is that it should be a matter of choice rather than compulsion. And we of different
cultures are not in a position to judge those with different values.
If they want to wear a niqab, who are we to try to insist? We are all Gods creatures. We come in many shapes, sizes and colours. Lets try to celebrate our differences and not to judge those we disagree with!

1 comment:

  1. My understanding is that the wearing of such traditional costume is not laid down in the Koran, but was a later addition when some parts of it were edited by other Islamic authorities.

    I'm not sure of the cultural norms, but I understand that the Koran says that the Hair of the head should be covered, which is the wearing of the scarf, and all men and women are urged to dress modestly and to keep body parts covered up, including arms and legs. Nothing about the face being covered.

    I suspect that as you say, some women wear the niqab out of choice, while others might be coerced into wearing it. But I think that it would be sensible to establish norms for public wear, such as when giving evidence in court, when as a medical professional advising a patient and in every day conversation so that those you are talking with can see the facial expressions, smiles, etc that go along with every day social interaction.

    I'd feel intimidated if my doctor were wearing face covering such as the niqab. It's about establishing trust and if you are unable to relate fully to each other, it prevents building relationships or proper conversation.

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