Monday, October 5, 2009

Egypt cleric to ban full veils

Egypt cleric to ban full veils

The niqab has become increasingly popular among Egypt's Muslim radicals
Egypt's highest Muslim authority has said he will issue a religious edict against the growing trend for full women's veils, known as the niqab.

Sheikh Mohamed Tantawi, dean of al-Azhar university, called full-face veiling a custom that has nothing to do with the Islamic faith.

Although most Muslim women in Egypt wear the Islamic headscarf, increasing numbers are adopting the niqab as well.

The practice is widely associated with more radical trends of Islam.

The niqab question reportedly arose when Sheikh Tantawi was visiting a girls' school in Cairo at the weekend and asked one of the students to remove her niqab.

The Egyptian newspaper al-Masri al-Yom quoted him expressing surprise at the girl's attire and telling her it was merely a tradition, with no connection to religion or the Koran.

Just read this article on BBC and it gladdened my heart. Not because I believe wearing a niqab is wrong, though I certainly feel that that it is onerous, but because he has finally articulated what a lot of less fundamentalist people have been saying - it is not mandated by religion or the Koran. It is a tradition born out of tribal practices which a male dominated society has continued to enforce. And I am glad that a cleric has chosen to finally clarify this.

It makes such a wonderful, sensible and saner change from people like Sheikh Muhammad al-habadan who has called on women to wear a full veil, or niqab, that reveals only one eye. According to the man, showing both eyes encouraged women to use eye make-up to look seductive. Clearly a man wearing colonge, or shaving or getting a facial done (all of which is quite common in Saudi)is not aimed at looking better or "seductive". Or perhaps the Sheikh believes that Saudi men are bereft of any sex appeal, so all of this wouldn't make a difference anyways!