Friday, July 16, 2010

What lies beneath?

I have been following the various feminist, political, and racial debates that the French proposal for ban on the Islamic full veil or hijab has fanned. Read the latest on it here.

My feelings, stance and opinion remain unsorted and confused. A lot of questions diffuse my attempts at any kind of understanding, and I share them here.
  • Does Islam really mandate the wearing of a veil that covers the face in its entirety? Doesn’t the holy Quran refer to the hijab in its broader sense of modesty and not necessarily a physical piece of clothing to be worn? If it is modesty and social propriety, is a piece of cloth enough to ensure the same?
  • Is the enforcement of the mandate of the full veil a fanatic religious measure to keep women entrapped in the dark shadows of illiteracy and ignorance - do the extremists actually believe that women need to be protected, or hidden, or maybe just put away?
  • Is the proposal to ban the wearing of the full veil in France pro open-faced democracy, and in the interest of the security of the nation, and the feminist endeavor for greater rights and freedom for women?
  • Is the problem with the veil that it covers the full faces and hence poses security threats? Have there been incidents of misuse of the veil by criminals?
  • Is the proposed ban against the institution of secularism? Does it indicate religious intolerance and racial bias of the xenophobic “west”?
  • Do Islamic women see the burqa or the hijab as a cultural identity that empowers them as unique individuals or thwarts their efforts at any kind of progress?
  • Do Islamic women wear the veil out of coercion or of their own free will? Is their will free or conditioned?
  • Is the hijab the only form of expressing religious belief? Why should only women carry the burden of religious identity?


  1. I am not a religious person but one thing I know for sure and that is religious dogmas and antiquatedness can be broken by patience and intelligence,hence abrupt government rules can never achieve that. This simple thing must be known by the French Government so I dont think the rule made is an effort to empower women or something like that..It might either be an act of West's superiority or might be just a simple effort by the govt. to maintain uniformity(the second probability sounds insane,right?)

  2. That is a very good point u make. Yes, I agree with u.

  3. Naturally, there will be varied opinion on this subject.I support the French decision on burqa ban and we must learn from this decision, for security reasons.

  4. The answers to the questions can be argued from both ends. But the truth remains..
    These things are done only for political gains.
    In my opinion, religion should be less fanatic and government should not interfere too much on religious beliefs. I do agree the security part of it which is very important, but I guess unless the so called religious leaders realise that burqa is not a mandatory thing, this argument will go on.
    Of course there are muslims in India and Pakistan who does not wear veils. So are they not muslims then?

  5. @Chowlaji: True, Security should never be compromised. and it is a fact that the burqa can be misused.

    @Ram: Yes, the politics and the fanaticism in religion sometimes makes an obvious understanding obscure/

  6. i like ur questions :D
    ill give you some answers, for the rest, i will leave it to u to go and search for them :P

    hijab does not include/mandate the covering of the face, it is only in some cultures that this act is practiced.

    Islam ask for ladies to cover their whole body except for the face and hands, the manner you chose to cover it (with burqa/abaya or with other type of clothing) is entirely up to you.

    and yes, hijab is more than just clothing, it also includes that you act behave modestly :)

    men do have their own hijab, they are to cover themselves from neck till ankle, when theyre in public and should not wear colors that are too attractive, of course this applies to women as well :). and they have their own set of decency to follow
    why this set of hijab is not emphasised, i do not know. call it male chauvinism, if you have to :P

    even children have rights in Islam, this too is believed non existent by the ignorant. :(

    the superior ones have always had a way with keeping ones that they consider less important, less important. we've seen this in all religions :)

  7. Hi Shimmer - thank you for taking time out to write your opinion here. I really value it. Thank you for sharing how hijab applies to men also but how this is conveniently brushed under the carpet.

  8. Wonderful post!

    It reminded me of Naseeruddin Shah's famous speech towards the climax of the movie 'Khuda ke liye'.

    The religion, sacred texts and scriptures have always been about tolerance, mutual respect and love, its the interpretations which turn ghastly!

  9. Thank you Calvy - it is indeed sad that we go against religion in the name of religion

  10. nice article.. dont really agree with the view of so many who claim that these empower them.. I dont see how. But discriminating against them (xenophobic west) on that basis alone is even more sad... I'd have preferred the right to wear what you want provide it doesnt hamper others lifestyle.

    Is their will free or conditioned ? I would have to say "definitely conditioned"... I'd like to see atleast one veil wearing women step out without one and then see the reaction of her fellow peers and family..

  11. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your opinion!


I appreciate you taking out the time to share your valuable opinions! They mean a lot!


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