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The Issue of the Niqab

April 13, 2011

Right now because of what is happening in France with their Niqab law( a law that is squarely addressed only toward Muslim women) there is alot of debate and discussion going on. President Sarkozy would have one believe that he is trying to liberate the Muslim woman who is forced to wear the veil. Well how is what he doing liberating? By taking away choice, he demeans the Muslim woman. How so? He is forcing his beliefs onto them. How is that freeing? It isn’t.

I am a muslim woman. I am a convert to Islam. I do not wear the hijab or headscarf in English fulltime. I do have a great respect for those who do chose to cover especially here in the west. Why? Because here in the west we have many misconceptions still that are both voiced and unvoiced on a regular basis.

I have personally seen a woman wearing a hijab insulted at a bank here in Toronto by a bank manager. I just happen to be that Muslim woman. When wearing the hijab I a 10th generation Canadian have also been told to go home. I have had the looks, the comments, and yes even had the hijab ripped off me.

Women who wear niqab or hijab for that matter are simply practicing their faith as they best understand it. In a democracy we should have that right. When it comes to matters of faith there needs to be a separation of church and state. Most who choose niqab in the west are like me converts who as they try and walk closer to God find themselves taking up the niqab much like a nun might choose to wear the habit. Did you know Britain banned nuns for many years? Muslim women are not the first to take up the right to worship as they want. When a nun in habit first appeared back in Britian she was seen as a barbarian. Sound familiar?

Did you know historically until the 19th century the veil was NOT part of the average of the average Muslim woman’s life? Not even in the middle east.  It was done historically by the upper class. Till the British occupation many in Egypt were giving up the veil and moving freely amongst society. In fact it wasn’t until the British occupied Egypt that the veil came back into play. As well in the Quran and sunnah( the rules that Muslims follow) woman’s rights are very protected.

Why would a woman cover? Why do some chose it these days? Because they want to draw closer to God. They are not doing it the majority of cases out of force. Most women in the west who are niqabis chose it for themselves, and shouldn’t they have that right?

I am thankful for the constitution here in Canada that states we are free to worship as we see fit. This means if I ever wanted to wear a niqab I could. How I would be seen on the streets is a whole other question.

 

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2011 11:43 pm

    Very informative, and I’m always happy to hear from someone who is living in the middle of an issue, or who has firsthand experience of the issues in question.

    I’m deeply disappointed, though not surprised, that you have received negative attention and treatment when you have chosen to wear a hijab. I would be very shocked and offended to see someone remove a woman’s hijab, how disrespectful! Aggression like that does not belong anywhere in our society.

    We should be respectfully curious about how we are different, how we are the same and opening our minds to whatever is new.

    If the majority of women are covering up of their own accord, I wonder why the law, which seems to ignore many delicate layers of the issues involved, includes a $30,000 fine for anyone forcing a woman to wear a veil? More questions…. ; )

  2. Jodee permalink
    April 14, 2011 1:18 am

    This was a very interesting read hearing from your point of view. I am shocked someone would actually rip your scarf off your head… That is extremely rude and mean. I am sorry that happened to you.

  3. April 14, 2011 2:29 am

    It’s such a complex issue, Hollie, and I admire you for taking it on.

    First, also as a Muslimah revert (Alhamdulillah) I admit I don’t wear the hijab all the time either, but it’s worthwhile telling my stories. You’ve had some seriously negative reactions. I’m fortunate to have been spared that. Instead, people often assume I don’t speak English, but otherwise it’s pretty much business as usual. If I encounter a Muslim man (and it’s not near the mosque) he’ll rush to get the door for me or sometimes will even give me salaam while staring at the floor. Quite the thing, that little piece of cloth, no?

    As for the niqab, I understand that some sisters don’t feel they can go outside without it so I say, let them wear it. It’s like the barrier in some mosques; you wouldn’t catch me behind one, but in our mosque we have a partial barrier for sisters who come from countries where women aren’t even allowed in the mosque. They wouldn’t feel comfortable unless they were behind that barrier.

    If the woman’s face must be seen to vote, board a plane, be identified by police, etc., the sister can show her face to a woman. I have yet to be on a plane, in a polling station, or in a police station where there are no women. Did you know there was a backbencher’s bill before the House this year to ban women in niqabs (or any face covering) from voting? How silly. All that needs done, if need be, is for the sister to go behind the voting barrier and reveal her face to a female scrutineer. Problem solved, everyone wins.

    I believe the niqab to be cultural, not religious. However, the right of the sister to wear it, if it makes the difference to whether or not she feels comfortable to leave her home, must be protected.

  4. April 14, 2011 2:08 pm

    Thanks for good sharing. Hijab is very important specially for women.

  5. Danielle permalink
    April 14, 2011 3:16 pm

    Thanks Hollie for posting this. As a muslim who does wear hijab, the niqab is not something I am inclined to however I do know some people who wear it and absolutely none of them have been pressured to do so. They are bright young ladies who have made this decicion, and it is not even something their mother/aunts do, so there is a no element of pressure. I think though the major issue here are the misconceptions, that even our governments are helping to propagate. The idea that anything a muslim woman does, she has been forced to do. I’ll take an example, when I had a newborn I sometimes sat in the backseat with her, because she would cry and I could try and keep her calm. To anyone who has been led to believe muslim women are second class citizens, they think my husband made me sit in the back.. because of… oh would you look at that! Again misconceptions. 🙂

  6. April 15, 2011 1:38 pm

    Why do mosques in some places have barriers? Why are women not allowed in mosques in some countries?

    I apologise but I don’t have a good understanding of the religon or culture.

  7. April 17, 2011 2:01 pm

    The burka represented that absolute control of men over women in traditional Muslim society.This lack of freedom for Muslim women contrasts strongly with the freedom enjoyed by Christian woman in societies having a Christian memory or Christian roots. In the spiritual realm this is similar to the way that Satan often works.

  8. August 4, 2011 2:41 pm

    I’m an Australian woman and I wear the veil, and fortunately every Christian and non-Christian I’ve met have been polite and respectful. Now there were a few I heard say “go home” whilst walking by and I said it back to them as they weren’t ethnic Australians, but apart from that Australia is a very great country to live in. I’m proud to call it my homeland. There have been anti-Muslim politicians trying bring the anti-Muslimness to our shores from aboard, and I pray they get sued and sit in their homes if they can’t be civil and professional.

    You have a wonderful blog, regards from Australia.
    Sara
    Homeschool mum @ soundschooling

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