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!


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sadia said...

well i live in the US and i wear niqab. and i'm the only female member of my family who wears it. I chose to do it on my own. No male relative enforced it on me. I believe that its a good thing to do for religion. Theres nothing wrong with full covering if you want to and thats what the women in egypt are doing. on their own. it seems that people say that niqab was enforced by men and now they are forcing them not to wear it even though we want to...whats the difference? Wearing niqab is just simple. I dont know why people make it such a big deal.

Ask Alyxsa said...

It saddens me that you choose to use the word "radical" when associating the niqab to the muslim women. No, it is not mandatory it is a choice, that I have chosen for myself BEFORE I married. I am not a radical muslim nor an extermist. I was born in America raised here all my life. Both my parents are American. I love my religion and the niqab which is a symbol of my modesty and my personal relationship with the creator. Just because it may not be for you or someone else does not make it "radical".

Manisha said...

Alyxsa, I did not use the word "radical" anywhere in the context of the niqab.

I appreciate its a matter of personal choice but I think you missed the crux of the post - the fact that the niqab arises out of tribal practices rather than something laid down in a religious text, and, must therefore not be blindly enforced / followed.

Most clerics tend to mix the two and much from what I have read, discussed with other Muslim friends, much of their rhetoric is also part of a power play which is the case with clergy across religions not just Islam. I suspect it goes with the job :-)

While you can, at a later more mature age, determine to wear the niqab or not as a cogent, thought through and desirable decision, but at the tender age of school going kids, I really wonder how much of an informed personal choice it is to wear a niqab? At that age, it is what you are told to do! Which is why Tantawi's comment is refreshing.

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