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Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Fatwa on Purdah

Islamic Ideology
22 Jun 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com

A Fatwa on Purdah

A Fatwa on Purdah

فتوى على حجاب

Unveiling niqab, burqa, chador and hijab

كشف النقاب ، البرقع ، الشادور والحجاب

Dhushara

 

 

Contents

 

1.     Introduction: Not Being a One-eyed Woman

2.     Does the Qur'an Require Women to be Veiled?

3.     A History of the Prophet's Statements on the Veil

4.     Nine Reasons why Muslim Women Might Adopt the Veil

5.     Abrogating Violent Punishments for Adultery

6.     Ending Sequestering of Women

7.     Sexual Biology, Human Culture and Religious Oppression

8.     Parallels and Differences: Islamic, Christian and other forms of Patriarchal Oppression

9.     Abrogating Hadith on Veiling

 

Sister sites: Sakina Ka'aba   Sakina.org   Islam, Jihad and Sakina 

1.     Introduction: Not being a One-Eyed Woman

 

Afghani girl practicing a one-eyed niqab

 

This article is a fatwa to unveil the veil and liberate the world from violent and lethal punishments for adultery. It is designed to be explanatory, for Muslims, and non-Muslims alike, on the status of the veil, and its more oppressive forms.  If you are a Muslim, it is set out as a valid religious opinion. If you are not a Muslim, its grounds are human common sense and compassion. It includes scientific and biological arguments, which are valid for all human beings, traversing all human cultures, and have implications for the practices of other religions as well as Islam. In religious terms, this is a fatwa rejecting the claim that, under Muslim teachings, women are required to wear the veil, or that it is desirable to do so.

 

It has come about now, because a conservative Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia has called on women to wear a full veil, or niqab, that reveals only one eye [1]. Sheikh Muhammad al-Habadan, an influential ultra-conservative cleric [2], known for cursing the Olympic games as showing 'obscene scenes' and giving a fatwa that permits the killing of the owners of satellite TV stations who show "immoral" content, who was answering questions on the Muslim satellite channel al-Majd, said showing both eyes encouraged women to use eye make-up to look seductive.

 

Although the one-eyed niqab is part of an older tradition, noted in the hadith, when a religion gets to the point of issuing a command that half the people on the planet are to be allowed to see only through one eye, whenever they go out in the world, it brings that religion into disrepute.

 

To cut out one eye from being able to perceive the world at large, is an assault on the most basic integrity and autonomy of the human being. The need to cover the woman entirely comes from a mistaken notion that because women are beautiful and attractive, they are entirely awrah (sexual parts), and thus must be entirely concealed, even to covering one eye, or they will pose a shameful threat to themselves and to their family, through being uncontrollably attractive to strange men.

 

This is an assault, not only on women, the sex who bear the living generations of humanity, but on men, social trust, the natural world, and our access to it.  It stands alongside dire punishments, such as stoning women for adultery, which are an affront to the basm-allah بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم "Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate". Neither niqab, nor stoning, are in the Qur'an, so it is a time to take stock and make the way clear, so women will not continue to be oppressed.

 

Having two eyes is a fundamental adaptation of all living organisms. There is not one animal that has only one eye, from vertebrates, through insects to molluscs. Having two eyes when going out in the world is pivotal for survival, because it enables binocular depth perception. If God made all the animals in this way, it was for good reason, it is inconceivable that He would deny it to the females of the human race, who bear the live young of the next generation, simply because they are, and must needs be, attractive to men, for the generations to prosper and survive. To deny this to a woman in the world at large because she may be attractive to men is a diabolical punishment invented by male jealousy, not God.

 

A fatwa is a religious opinion on the law by an Islamic scholar. The clarity and authority of this argument stems from our broad scholarly experience of Islamic, Christian, Jewish and pre-Islamic cultural and religious traditions, without being bound to the restrictions, or beliefs, imposed by one sect, or tradition, such as Shia or Sunni.  The argument is also clear, in terms of natural biology and female reproductive choice, as a foundation for the emergence and evolution of human intelligence and the passage of the generations to come. In Qur'anic terms, this fatwa is a 'clear argument', in terms of Sura 43:61-63 concerning Isa (Esau) [3], to "make clear to you part of what you differ in".

 

 Although women wearing niqab can cut a fearsomely unwelcoming image as a political statement, the niqab cannot entirely conceal the beauty of a woman, no matter whether two eyes or one show

 

Despite the assertions of some conservative Islamic scholars that niqaab is waajib (fard) or mustahaab (obligatory or highly recommended) there is no basis in the Qur'an for this claim. While conservative scholars try to finesse the Qur'an and Hadith together (see later) into a tortuous justification for imposing these assaults of women's sovereignty, all independent authorities confirm there is no basis for these restrictive claims. Moreover the idea that God, or al-Llah, prefers women veiled, or that a woman's entire body, or that everything except face and hands, is awrah (pudenda) to be ashamed of, or that women need to be veiled to protect themselves from the ravages of men, and society from immorality, is a false teaching, used by men to control female reproductive choice, and to limit women's access to educational, social and political independence.

 

The dehumanization of personal identity. God did not ordain that women, who are the bearers of the generations of humanity, should be reduced to depersonalized ghosts.

2.     Does the Qur'an Require Women to be Veiled?

 

The internet encyclopedia About.Com poses the following question: [4] Does the Quran Require Women to Wear the Veil? 

 

One of the most visibly contentious issues in Islam as well as in the Western world is women's wearing of the veil. To western feminists, the veil is a symbol of oppression. To many Muslims, it can equally be a symbol and an act of empowerment, both for its explicit rejection of Western values and its implicit meaning as a status symbol: many Muslims see the veil as a sign of distinction, the more so because it evokes a connection to the Prophet Muhammad and his wives. But does the Quran, in fact, require women to cover themselves--with a veil, a chador or any other form of head covering?

 

Answer: The quick answer is no: the Quran has no requirement that women cover their faces with a veil, or cover their bodies with the full-body burqa or chador, as in Iran and Afghanistan. But the Quran does address the matter of veiling in such a way that it has been interpreted historically, if not necessarily correctly, by Muslim clerics as applying to women.

 

The veiling of women was not an Islamic innovation but a Persian and Byzantine-Christian custom that Islam adopted. For most of Islam's history, the veil in its various forms was seen as a sign of distinction and protection for upper-class women. Since the 19th century, the veil has come to represent a more assertive, self-consciously Islamic expression, sometimes in reaction to Western currents - colonialism, modernism, feminism.

 

Initially in Muhammad's life, the veil was not an issue. His wives didn't wear it, nor did he require that other women wear it. As he became more important in his community, and as his wives gained stature, Muhammad began adapting Persian and Byzantine customs. The veil was among those.

 

Veiling goes back to the Assyrians, for whom veiling was not mandatory but a privilege of wealthy married women. The prescribed requirement was the reverse - that prostitutes and slave women should NOT be veiled [5]. This polarity, in which the unveiled are regarded as licentious loose women, has continued in Muslim traditions, leading to harassment and violence against unveiled women, in both traditional Muslim and Western cultures.

 

There are two passages in the Qur'an referring to the veil, 33:53, 55 and 24:30, 31 whose origin we shall examine in detail next. Neither says specifically that women in general should wear the veil, or that they should be covered from head to toe, or prevented from seeing or being seen.

 

Varieties of veiling in Afghanistan, illustrate regional and tribal differences, dominated by the burqa.  
Even when feverish with malaria in hospital the woman mid-left centre had to be covered in a veil.

3.     A History of the Prophet's Statements on the Veil

 

Wiebke Walther [6] notes [7]: 'Closely connected with the veil is the exclusion of women from public life, based on a verse in the Koran which refers only to the wives of the Prophet':

 

"When ye ask them (i.e. the wives of the Prophet) for any article, ask them from behind a curtain; that is purer for your hearts and for theirs" (33: 53, 55).

 

'An Arab historical work dating from the ninth century claims this revelation originated at the marriage of Muhammed to the beautiful Zaynab Bint Jahsh the former wife of his adopted son Zayd Ibn Haritha. Muhammed had once seen Zaynab in her undergarments as he was about to enter Zayd's house and had coveted her from then on. Zayd wanted to divorce her immediately so that Muhammed could marry her, but Muhammed did not want to accept Zayd's offer. But Zaynab had been married with Zayd against her will and now displayed a clear lack of affection for him. In the end, her marriage with Muhammed took place. Toward the end of the wedding feast, the guests showed no signs of departing. This shows that Zaynab's attractiveness for her guests was considered to have been very great. Muhammad impatiently left the room several times and went out into the courtyard, hoping that he would finally be left alone with his new bride. But this was not the case. It was now that the verse quoted above was revealed to him'

 

Mohammed fell in love with this woman and asked Zeid to divorce her and he married her in the year 628. She was 38 years old. Koran 33-37 gives the prophet the right to marry his adopted son's wife as an example to those that should follow:

 

"When Zaid had accomplished his want of her, we gave her to you as a wife, so that there should be no difficulty for the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished their want of them; and Allah's command shall be performed." (33.37)

 

Medieval Female Muslim Imam traveling without a face veil and unaccompanied by a male family member.

 

Two Muslim opinions that universal veiling and curtaining of women is not prescribed [8]. [9]   "the so-called legal scholars assume positions that it is categorically forbidden for a woman to travel by herself for any purpose, so you mean to tell me that all these masters, who were women Imams, who traveled the Muslim world, they were teachers in public - some of them were on the minbar (mosque pulpit) themselves" ... "And her face was uncovered?" ... "Was she old? Some say when a woman is very, very old" "No she was very young" "The women of Medinan society were more revolutionary than their granddaughters in the modern Muslim world. "Dr. Tariq Suwaidan "In many places in the Muslim world, tradition has taken over ...  If we take a deep look at what was practiced in the life of the Prophet ... then we will see very clearly that there were no walls or curtains separating men from women except in one case and that is the wives of Muhammad ... unfortunately many of the scholars and later on many of the masses have taken what is for the wives of the Prophet (our mothers) and applied it to all Muslim women and thus should not talk to them except from behind a separation like a curtain."

 

"O Prophet! say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their over-garments; this will be more proper, that they may be known, and thus they will not be given trouble; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful" (33.59).'

 

This does not say specifically that a hijab الحجاب , or more extreme covering of everything, but the eyes, or one eye, such as niqab النقاب , or burqa البرقع , is obligatory. Nor can one fairly claim this is a command of God, or al-Llah, because it has an origin in simple propriety when going to the toilet. Moreover there are clearly major differences of interpretation and cultural expectations of dress style among Muslims in the world today, so it cannot be mandatory in Islam, nor the will of God.

 

Islamic opinion and the translations of this passage are varied and used in misleading ways to imply face cover. In a web site advocating the niqab the verse is first translated as follows:

 

'O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks ("Jalabib") veils all over their bodies (screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way Tafseer Al-Qurtabi) that is most convenient that they should be known (as such) and not molested: and Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful."

 

The Arabic text of this ayah is, "Ya ayyuha an-Nabi, qul li azwajika wa banatika wa nisa al-muminin yudnina alayhinna min jalabib hinna; dhalika adna an yu'rafna fa laa yu'dhayn. Wa kana Allahu Ghafur ar-Rahim", which literally translates as, "O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (jalabib) close around themselves; that is better that they are recognized and not annoyed. And God is Most Forgiving, Merciful". There are actually a number of opinions given in the tafsir about what "draw their jalabib close around themselves" means. Among these are, "she should bring the jilbab close to her face without covering it" (reported by ibn Abbas in the tafsir of Tabari, and graded as sahih by Shaykh Albani), and, "Others believe that the women have been directed to secure their jalabib firmly on their foreheads" (commentary of Tabari in his tafsir of this ayah). Thus we can see that it is a valid opinion that the jilbab does not have to cover the face.

 

An early Arabian historian explains that Muhammad's wives had been bothered by his opponents in Medina when they left the house at night to 'relieve themselves', because they took unveiled women for slaves (Walther). This ties in with Assyrian traditions in which it was mandatory for slaves and 'available' women to be unveiled and veiling was a 'privilege' of the wealthy married women. It is known that noble ladies of the trading city of Mecca wore veils even before Islam. There is no specific mention of veiling the face.

 

In a hadith in Sahih Bukhari (1.4.149) Muhammad allowed his wives to go out in the desert, in a secluded spot under the sky, to answer the calls of nature hidden under the trees and shrubs, though he restricted them to the night hours only. In Sahih Bukhari (6.60.203) we also read that performing sexual intercourse in the open sky was quite common. Nevertheless, Umar, the second Caliph, urged Muhammad to change this. Umar used to watch these ladies and requested Muhammad to cover his wives with veils whenever they went out to do their business in the open field at night. At first, Muhammad ignored Umar's plea. But when Umar kept pestering, Muhammad turned to Allah for His suggestion, resulting in sura 33:59.

 

Malaysian girls give the sign of peace. The problem with the milder forms of the hijab which do not cover the face is that they are the thin end of the wedge, perceived by conservative 'scholars' as the lesser of a greater religious commitment in the niqab, causing increasing numbers of women to adopt the more restrictive dress as fundamentalist agendas gain influence.

 

Thus there is no valid claim that can be made by Islamic scholars that the veil is somehow ordained or preferred by al-Llah, or that women are pudenda over their entire body, and so must be secluded and their shame covered, even to the extent that they can see only through one eye. It is simply a tradition that Muhammad instituted for his wives, both out of impatience at undue interest in a new wife he desired to consummate his marriage with, and a concern at the vulnerability of his own many wives in public.  These are the very last reasons a woman should give credence to, to justify the imposition upon their autonomy, of a requirement to cover themselves from head to toe.

 

The most eminent tafsir (exegesis) writer, bin Kathir comments on this verse [10]: Here Allah tells His Messenger to command the believing women - especially his wives and daughters, because of their position of honour - to draw their Jibes over their bodies, so that they will be distinct in their appearance from the women of the Jahiliyyah and from slave women. The Jilbab is a Rida', worn over the Khimar. This was the view of Ibn Mas'ud, 'Ubaydah, Qatadah, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Sa'id bin Jubayr, Ibrahim An-Nakha'i, 'Ata' Al-Khurasani and others. It is like the Izar used today. Al-Jawhari said: "The Jilbab is the outer wrapper. 'Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn 'Abbas said that Allah commanded the believing women, when they went out of their houses for some need, to cover their faces from above their heads with the Jilbab, leaving only one eye showing. Muhammad bin Sirin said, "I asked 'Ubaydah As-Salmani about the Ayah: (to draw their Jalabib over their bodies.) He covered his face and head, with just his left eye showing.'' (That will be better that they should be known so as not to be annoyed. ) means, if they do that, it will be known that they are free, and that they are not servants or whores.

 

However the flip-side of this ruling is dire and violent - NOT wearing the hijab equates a woman under the Qur'an and Islamic law to slaves, or whores. They are thus meat for abuse, or even rape.

 

When violent rape of non-Muslim Australian girls by young Muslim men took place in 2007, Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, then the nation's most senior Muslim cleric, compared immodestly-dressed women who do not wear the Islamic headdress with meat that is left uncovered in the street and is then eaten by cats. [11]:

 

Addressing 500 worshippers on the topic of adultery, Sheik al-Hilali added: "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it … whose fault is it - the cats or the uncovered meat? "The uncovered meat is the problem." "If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab (veil), no problem would have occurred."

 

In 2009 Austrailian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told the cleric Samir Abu Hamza to apologize in public, and repudiate his remarks, when the sheik said men have a right to force their wives to have sex, questioning how rape can exist within marriage, and encouraging "light beating" of disobedient women. He was replaced as Mufti of Australia in 2007 over the previous statements. (Cleric 'must deny' views on rape BBC 22 January 2009).

But he was simply quoting what the Qur'an says - that God prefers men over women and that women are to be beaten, if their husbands merely fear their perverseness:

 

"Men stand superior to women in that God hath preferred the one over the other ... Those whose perverseness you fear, admonish them and remove them into bed chambers and beat them, but if they submit to you then do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great" ( 4:34)

 

Outlining the sexual discrimination in even the Qur'anic provisions, these restrictions on women's modesty are far more detailed and severe than for men. Nevertheless basically these are just provisions for physical modesty generally and do NOT say a woman has to wear a hijab, niqab or burqa or that her face or eyes should be covered.

 

Men: "Say to the believing men that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts; that is purer for them; surely Allah is Aware of what they do" (24.30).

 

Women: "And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or those whom their right hands possess [slaves], or the male servants not having need (of women), or the children who have not attained knowledge of what is hidden of women; and let them not strike their feet so that what they hide of their ornaments may be known; and turn to Allah all of you, O believers! so that you may be successful" (24.31).

 

Essentially women are regarded as sexually so provocative and sensual that unless they are completely regulated they will either entice men into fornication or they will become helpless victims of male ardour. This is confirmed by the way a woman who is no longer sexually enticing is exempt:

 

"And (as for) women advanced in years who do not hope for a marriage, it is no sin for them if they put off their clothes without displaying their ornaments; and if they restrain themselves it is better for them; Allah is Hearing, Knowing" (24.60).

 

Thus the source of veiling and chaperoning is the idea that men cannot control their sexual desires and that this is a woman's fault for being 'shameful enticing pudenda over her entire body', so that even if it is covered entirely by an abaya with only their two eyes showing, the beauty of their eyes alone might seduce a man who is not their husband, brother, father, or uncle, essentially and centrally a defence of tribal honour, so that a woman should have to see only through one eye wherever she goes, outside the seclusion of the zenana, or women's quarter in the home.

4.     Nine Reasons why Muslim Women Might Adopt the Veil

 

A notable Muslim website [12] claiming the niqab is desirable but not compulsory, lists the following six reasons why one must wear hijab and why being shrouded in a niqab is even better:

 

Hijab is haya (shyness, privacy)  Niqab is a better screen of privacy

Hijab develops taqwa (higher god consciousness)  Niqab helps develop more taqwa

Hijab is a jihad that purifies the soul  Niqab is a greater jihad

Hijab is a protection for sisters  Niqab is a better protection

Hijab is an assertion of Islamic identity  Niqab is a stronger assertion

Hijab is fard (obligatory)  Niqab is mustahabb (highly recommended)

 

We will examine each of these reasons and their arguments in detail and why they are misleading and also other reasons and why obligatory veiling can lead to unsatisfactory outcomes.

 

A: To support one's Religion and Culture is the Easiest Course.

 

It is easy to understand why women in Muslim societies continue to use the veil when it is a universal aspect of the culture in which they exist, but it is important to separate cultural tradition from religious imposition.

 

While fewer Muslim women wear headscarves in countries like Azerbaijan and Tunisia, and Turkey debates whether the hijab should be allowed in universities, Saudi Arabia and Iran make it obligatory for women to cover their hair, and sometimes their faces. Ikbal Gharbi, a professor of Anthropology in the Institute of Sharia and Religious Principles at Zeitouna University in Tunis, comments: [13]

 

"It's not a simple garment,"  "The horrendous thing is that without the veil, women should be ashamed; that she should run the risk of exciting the men … It is pathology."

 

The cultural justification for hijab and niqab is based on modesty and feminine privacy common to most cultures, but it is taken to an extreme in regard to its imposition on women in conservative Muslim societies, based on fabricated religious grounds:

 

"The word "haya" is often translated into English as "shyness", but this does not really give a very good idea of its meaning in Arabic. A better, if longer, translation of its meaning might be "keeping private what should be private". Islam places a very great importance on privacy, and on keeping private what should be private. Hijab is in fact part of a larger code of conduct, and constitutes only one aspect of haya. Allah SWT has through the Shari'a clearly distinguished between public and private space and placed a screen (i.e., hijab) between them. Private space is physically divided from public space and strongly protected against any incursion (Surah an-Nur ayat 27-29). The same rule applies to the physical person, as what is not necessary to be displayed for some task should be covered (or, as the Quran says in Surah an-Nur ayah 31, women are "not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it"). From this, we can see that hijab is a screen of privacy, an act of haya. Clearly, it is mustahabb to screen our privacy even more than has been commanded and we can protect our own privacy more carefully through taking extra steps in modest dress, in avoiding physical contact and khulwa with non-mahrams, and in keeping conversation with non-mahrams to the minimum. For sisters, as stated above, that extra degree in modest dress must and can only be niqab and gloves."

 

This argument is seditious and illustrates why hijab alone becomes the slippery slope to niqab and burqa, and an oppressive occlusion of the female in her entirety, which interferes with many aspects of expression in employment, and in the establishing of ethical trusting relationships in the wider society.  This is harmful and has a high cost to both women and men.

 

Seen in the context of Arabic society, rather than the wider Islamic community, one can appreciate that this screening goes a lot further than the hijab and forms a cultural 'iron curtain' separating women and men, as well as the private and public spheres of life.

 

David Gutmann, emeritus professor of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago expresses the problem of this isolation this way [14] :

 

"The Niqab brings to mind the conformation of the bedouin tent, designed for mobility, concealment and protection. Thus, even as the traditional Arab woman walks abroad, she remains shrouded, confined within her "house". Even within the traditional Arab home, the women of the house do not encounter men from the outer world. These are met and given hospitality by the men of the house in a kind of transitional zone - the Diwan, the room for receiving guests - and the women are only muted voices sifting through from the distant "feminine" spaces of the dwelling. Wearing the Niqab as she ventures forth the Arab woman remains an extension of her closed domestic space, which she carries with her. The Niqab then functions as a kind of immune system, one which maintains the inner world, the domain behind the fabrics, in a stable, predictable state. Even as the Arab woman ventures out into a world characterized by flux and change, she carries within her Niqab -- a token of the stable domestic world."

 

The over-arching assumption in conservative societies is that enforced extreme modesty is the only protection against women being exploited by men. Running through all the arguments is a tacit assumption that the unveiled are whores and that any society that allows their women to be unveiled, must be exploiting them sexually.  Saudi Arabian arguments why a woman should not be allowed to drive a car begin from the position that this will result in some uncovering of her currently completely concealed state and will lead inevitably to her mixing with unrelated men and women and to the loss of her 'honour and dignity', amid pornographic fantasies of Western men having ten or twenty lovers, over and above the four wives allowed, and unquenchable sexual appetites, asserting Western women are more exploited and oppressed than anywhere, because they have to flaunt their sexuality and will be raped or have to consent to illicit sex to survive – something which is a manifestly untrue deception. Dr. Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Fawzan made these points clear on Al-Majid TV June 17 2005 [15]:

 

In conservative countries like this blessed kingdom of Saudi Arabia -  which Allah be praised is the most conservative in the Muslim world - in which a woman maintains her honour, decency and modesty - and she does not reveal anything - not her hands, not her face, not anything - how can she drive a car? Those who call to allow women to drive according to what has been written - can be divided into two groups. The first group includes Westernized people, who want to Westernize society, to tell the truth. They want to destroy society, corrupt it, and drag it down into the depths of decay and permissiveness, like in Western societies. These people have been blinded by what they saw there when they studied or visited there, and they want our society to be like other societies. They want to be devoid of all values, morals and modesty. They want women to go out in the streets all made up like a harlot, with her face uncovered like they see in the West. They think that the shortest and best way to reach this goal is to allow a woman to drive, because if a woman drives she will reveal her face, drive without a male chaperone, will have an easy opportunity to meet all kinds of young men and women, and she will get all made up, will mix with men and so on. I don't think that any woman, throughout human history, has been as oppressed as the Western woman today - and they still claim they have given her freedom. They took her out of the home to exploit her, to exploit her honour and dignity. Furthermore in many countries, her salary is lower than the man's, but she works more than him. She does not get what she wants unless she sacrifices her honour, to her bosses or co-workers. How strange! Even though they have permissiveness there, and any man can satisfy his desires outside marriage, he is not satisfied with ten or twenty. Any girls he sees, who has certain features, he wants. If she consents - fine. If not - he rapes her.

 

One of the most eloquent counterarguments to the notion that Muslim societies are less licentious than Western cultures [16] comes from Ghada Jamshir [17], the world renowned Bahrani women's rights activist and an ardent campaigner for the reform of Sharia courts, currently under effective house arrest for her views, in which she decries both Shiite mut'a or temporary marriage and the Sunni misyar marriage [18], in which the wife gives up several of her rights by her own free will, such as living with the husband, equal division of nights between wives in cases of polygamy, rights to housing, and maintenance money, which can be used in a similar manner to mut'ah by the 'husband' later repudiating the wife in divorce.

 

We have a problem with family planning. We have no family planning in Bahrain. The Shiites in Bahrain have marriages for the purpose of mut'ah (pleasure). They bring multitudes of children into the world without thinking, who grow up in the streets. It is accepted for a man to marry a Filipino woman, a Bahrani woman, and a third woman from Iran, and then he takes 2 or 3 women in mut'ah marriage. How many children will he have?! Does the Islamic sharia authorize mut'ah marriages according to the following classification: "Pleasure from sexual contact with her thighs." They have: "Pleasure from sexual touching" "Pleasure from sexual contact with her breasts." "Pleasure from a little girl". Do you know what pleasure from a little girl means? It means they derive sexual pleasure from a girl of 2, 3 or 4. This constitutes sexual assault of the girl. What does "Pleasure from sexual contact with her thighs mean?" "It means deriving sexual pleasure from an infant." "How old is an infant? One year, a year and a half, a few months?" Is it conceivable for a grown man to have sex with an infant girl? And you people tell me the Islamic Shari'a authorizes this?

 

Forget about the mut'ah. Lets talk about the misyar marriages.  What do misyar marriages mean? A man marries a woman from another town and goes to visit her once a month. He "visits" her. He calls her his "wife". This kind of marriage, this kind of behavior diminishes the woman's honour as a human being.

 

Given these factors, which are cultural and based on the patriarchal reproductive imperative and paternity anxiety, rather than the will of God, one can see that even in countries where the veil is not required by law, social conventions will continue to make the veil desirable or obligatory for many women. The shadow of this mentality leads to a false attitude on the part of woman defenders of hijab and niqab that the veil somehow makes them more able to be recognized as a human being, with a personality and commanding genuine respect, rather than a sexual object, without realizing this is really only valid in societies where the veil is a token of such realities and that the reverse can be true in the West, as well as promoting social division and reducing genuine means of establishing mutual trust in society.

 

B: To submit to authority, because one may otherwise be beaten or imprisoned.

 

 

Summary Beatings over 'Islamic Dress Codes': Left Iran, Right Afghanistan

 

In both Shiite countries, such as Iran, and Sunni countries, from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan, women face penalties, from imprisonment to beatings, for not conforming to dress codes.Women who do not conform to the demands to adopt the veil can also be subject to death threats, particularly in regions where radical Islam is a central part of the political agenda.

 

Niqabs, Hamas Rally

 

"Hamas considers the unveiled as collaborators of a kind.

It is our religious duty to execute collaborators." Hamas Graffitti, Gaza [19] 

 

In two news reports [20], [21] women TV reporters are threatened with beheading if they don't wear the veil and a senior Iranian cleric says the unveiled should be severely punished, in the same way as thieves or murderers, because they will turn men into beasts:

 

Wear a veil or we'll behead you Gaza 5 June 2007: Women working in Palestinian television in Gaza have been told to avoid walking alone in the street after radical Islamists threatened to behead them ff they did not dress in religious garb while on air. The threat from the extremist fringe group, The Righteous Swords of Islam, is being taken seriously by female journalists. Anti-vice vigilantes have bombed Internet cafes, music shops, pool halls, a restaurant and a Christian bookstore in recent weeks. The group warned that it would strike the women with "an iron fist and swords" for refusing to wear a veil on camera. "It is disgraceful that the women working for the official Palestinian media are competing with each other to display their charms," it said in a leaflet distributed in Gaza. "We will destroy their homes. We will blow up their work places. If necessary, we will behead and slaughter to preserve the spirit and morals of our people."

 

Mashad, 10 April 2008 (AKI)  - A top Shia cleric in Iran has said that unveiled women are a serious danger to Iranian society as they cause men to be "transformed into beasts". "Women without the veil are a danger that the authorities underestimate," said Hojatolislam Seyyed Ahmad Elmalhoda, a powerful cleric who leads the Friday prayers in Mashad, a site considered sacred for Shia Muslims as it houses the shrine of Imam Reza. "This situation is very serious in that if men see these bad women, they will turn into beasts, and then the whole of society will have to pay the consequences." According to the Shia cleric, women who do not respect conservative Islamic dress rules are "sources of all that is bad in society." "Respecting the chador (a long, black cloak that covers the arms and legs and is usually worn with a hijab) is the law of the state and the authorities must severely punish anyone who does not respect this law, in the same way that they punish thieves and murderers," said Elmadhoda.

 

The situation of oppression and violence against women in Basra for not wearing the veil is described as nauseating [22], [23]:

 

Violations of 'Islamic teachings' take deadly toll on Iraqi women Arwa Damon CNN Baghdad - The images in the Basra police file are nauseating: Page after page of women killed in brutal fashion -- some strangled to death, their faces disfigured; others beheaded. All bear signs of torture. The women are killed, police say, because they failed to wear a headscarf or because they ignored other "rules" that secretive fundamentalist groups want to enforce. Basra, is a stronghold of conservative Shia groups. As many as 133 women were killed in Basra last year -- 79 for violation of "Islamic teachings" and 47 for so-called honor killings, according to IRIN, the news branch of the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. "I think so far, we have been unable to tackle this problem properly," he says. "There are many motives for these crimes and parties involved in killing women, by strangling, beheading, chopping off their hands, legs, heads." "When I came to Basra a year ago," he says, "two women were killed in front of their kids. Their blood was flowing in front of their kids, they were crying. Another woman was killed in front of her 6-year-old son, another in front of her 11-year-old child, and yet another who was pregnant."

 

A female lawyer in Basra contacted by the BBC by phone from London, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said attacks on women in the city were occurring "every two or three days". She told the BBC about a university student who had been shot in the legs for not wearing an Islamic headscarf, or hijab. The lawyer also said that graffiti was painted on walls warning women to cover their heads or "be punished". She said she had been told by a group of men that she should be at home and get married instead of working. "They said to me: 'If anyone's willing to offer a good price for you, we wouldn't think twice about selling you'," she said.

 

Under these circumstances, it is very difficult to justify the liberal notion that wearing the hijab, niqab, or burqa, is a free choice of women in the Islamic world.

 

C: Because one is told it is one's duty to God under His ordinance, and will gain the favour of al-Llah.

 

The belief that the veil is something the creator wants, or approves of and that He is watching and knows better for women than they know themselves permeates the thinking and beliefs of women wearing both the hijab and niqab in traditional and Western societies alike.  It underlies the defensiveness of Muslim women to any suggestion that they should moderate the use of the veil for social cohesion and is the foundation of claims that they are wearing the veil by choice and by right. In an interview with three young Muslim women, one wearing the hijab, another the niqab, and the third no veil or headscarf, the assumed preferences of al-Llah and the evangelical duty of Islam are at the very core [24].

 

Sumayyah Hussein: I have worn the hijab since a child.  I believe it because it's something my creator wants from me and I also believe its of benefit to myself. … Muslim women cover themselves because they believe God wants that of them and they believe that god knows better for them than they know.

 

Sheika el-Kathiri: I have been wearing the niqab for one year and I do it to please my creator and is part of completing my faith. By covering my face, I am honouring myself and I am presenting myself to the world as the sum of my character, as the sum of my personality, my contribution towards society and it just a little bit that I'm doing to enable me to go through this path of spiritual discovery and its something that I really feel glad and happy and wonderful for having done it and its just a spiritual choice.

 

Sonya Kahn: If I were wearing the hijab and covering my face I think you create more barriers. It's not you, it's the people around you. There are stereotypes - perceived notions. As a Muslim, you're a missionary at heart, you are supposed to actually attract people to you, not repel them. The Qur'an doesn't say to cover any particular part, except for the bosom, so I think it's about the humility of it and there's no implication of what item you need to wear. We need to integrate, we need to assimilate and we need to be able to move from one culture to the other without looking like something out of a different era.

 

The conservative Muslim argument goes as follows:

 

"Clearly, hijab is a command from Allah SWT and sisters draw near to Him through wearing hijab. And clearly, doing more than has been commanded is a way to draw still nearer to Allah SWT. When a sister is already covering everything but her face and her hands, and she would like to do something extra to seek the love of Allah SWT, the only things left for her to cover are - her face and her hands! Even if there were no other reason to wear niqab, surely this would be enough! How can it be "extreme" to wear niqab or gloves when her face and her hands are the only things the Muslim sister has uncovered in public to begin with?" 

 

Eid - Iran

 

This argument is incorrect and misleading.  The Qur'an does not say God ordained that women should be covered with a hijab, let alone niqab, chador, or burqa. The passages rather indicate that veiling was something Muhammad decided to adopt for his wives, following Persian and Byzantine customs. Moreover the argument here is abysmal. By claiming the female is already obliged to cover all but her face and hands it then asserts that the only thing she has left to give God for His love is to cover herself completely in utter submission.

 

The imposition of the veil, especially in its more restrictive forms is clearly unfairly and unjustifiably demeaning to the female.  It appears that Muslim authorities would happily declare that the women should be completely obscured and see through no eyes at all and be happy to do this for the love of God!

 

Hijab and niqab are also claimed to bring more taqwa (God consciousness) to the female:

 

"Sometimes the outward things help us develop the inner, by making us more aware of Allah SWT. This awareness that Allah SWT is watching us is called in Arabic "taqwa". Hijab can increase taqwa. When a sister sees her own reflection and her hijab, or when she becomes aware of it as she wears it, she may be reminded that she dresses like this because Allah SWT has ordered it, and because she knows that He is aware of what she does. These thoughts may inspire her to behave in the best possible manner."

 

Once again this is a deceptive misconception that God has ordered women to wear the veil. The idea that God is watching us and so there is no place we can turn or hide is a principal instrument of patriarchal religions to enforce religious codes [25]. It is also utterly fallacious that by covering ourselves in submission we become more conscious of the true nature of God. 

 

D: Because the Hijab is the law under Sharia and is thus Sunna

 

Regardless of the Qur'an, it is claimed that hijab is the law under Sharia – abrogated as noted below:

 

How has niqab been indicated by the Shari'a?

 

Sharia 1) For Ummahat al-Muminin (rAa), the wives of the Prophet (sAas), niqab is fard (obligatory). It has been commanded in Surah al-Ahzab ayah 53 and the hadiths confirm that Ummahat al-Muminin (rAa) covered their faces in obedience to the command in this ayah to screen themselves from non-mahram men.  Ummahat al-Muminin (rAa) are also a model to all Muslim women and this is another reason in itself that niqab is mustahabb.

 

The author includes the following justification, which again is specious:

 

If you claim that niqab "presents a bad image of Islam" or "is oppressive" - think! Would you say that if you saw Ummahat al-Muminin (rAa) wearing their niqabs? There is no dispute that Ummahat al-Muminin (rAa) wore niqab, and this fact alone makes it clear that niqab is part of Islam.

 

It is not established what form of curtain is implied by 53 or whether it is intended to be a curtain covering the face, or in a room in the house, which is also an implicit part of the screening from non-related males in Arab custom. The claim that the wives of the prophet are a model for all Muslim women raises all manner of issues.  This in no way implies the veil should be universal for all women. If the wives are to be a model this requires examining each of the prophets nine wives lives and their motives, autonomy and actions individually. Aisha's relationship with the patriarchy was anything but straightforward, as was her early age of betrothal at nine.

 

Child marriage: Roshan Qasem, 11, will joining the household of Said Mohammed, 55, his first wife; their three sons, and their daughter, who is the same age as Roshan.

 

This raises fundamental issues about the treatment of women and pedophilia implicit in Muslim tradition.  In Afghanistan, marriage to child brides of 11 is by no means uncommon [26], girls from 8 are married and divorced in Yemen [27], and Khomeini permitted girls as young as 9 to marry [28], so the problem is endemic to both Sunni and Shia traditions:

 

"Khomeini lowered the marriage age for females from eighteen to thirteen, but permitted girls as young as nine, even seven in some cases, to be married if a physician signs a certificate agreeing to their sexual maturity. 'In his book Tahrir Al' Vassilih, Khomeini writes about the legal requirement for having sex with children,' explained a woman lawyer who is concerned that child brides are dying since this ruling was instituted. 'In villages where child marriage is most common, doctors often don't even see the girl,' she told me. 'They just take the family's word that she is physically mature enough to marry. Consequently, we have had very young girls badly injured and when they have had what amounts to forced intercourse. Infection sets in and they have died.' 'Only with girls under seven did the Ayatollah say that sex was forbidden."

 

Khomeini has gone so far as saying sex with infants is acceptable [29]. The complete Persian text of this saying can be found in "Ayatollah Khomeini in Tahrirolvasyleh, Fourth Edition, Darol Elm, Qom":

 

"A man can have sexual pleasure from a child as young as a baby. However, he should not penetrate. If he penetrates and the child is harmed then he should be responsible for her subsistence all her life. This girl, however would not count as one of his four permanent wives. The man will not be eligible to marry the girl's sister."

 

Girl, 8, granted divorce in Yemen SAN'A, Yemen April 17, 2008 (AP) -- A Yemeni judge dissolved the marriage of an 8-year-old girl to a man nearly four times her age, and the girl's lawyer said Wednesday that the court also ordered the youngster removed from the control of the father who forced her into the wedding. The lawyer, Shatha Ali Nasser, said the girl is just one of thousands of underaged girls who have been forced into marriages in this poor tribal country at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. The girl's story has drawn headlines in Yemen because she took the unusual step of seeking out a judge on her own to file for divorce. She recounted her ordeal to reporters Wednesday, a day after the judge in San'a ended the two-month marriage. Judge Mohammed al-Qady said he had been moved by the girl's plight from the start. The girl said her father forced her to marry a 30-year-old man she identified as Faiz Ali Thamer. She charged that her husband constantly beat her and forced her to have sex. "I used to run from room to room to escape from him. But he would catch up with me," the girl said, her tiny frame swallowed in an oversized robe and head scarf, standing with her lawyer. In issuing his ruling Tuesday, the judge said he was terminating the marriage because the girl "had not reached puberty."

 

Muhammad took nine wives and a concubine after Khadja, more than the four plus slave concubines he permitted in the Qur'an, as eloquently described in "The Prophet's Women" in "Nine Parts of Desire" [30] summarized here by Occhiogrosso [31]:

 

"At age 50, Muhammad married again, this time exercising the Arab option of taking several wives, which he had not done while married to Khadja. In Mecca he wed the widow Sawda and was engaged to Aisha, the 6-year-old daughter of Abu Bake. He later married her in Medina at age 9, although the marriage was not consummated until she reached the age of womanhood in Arabic culture. Next he married Hafsa, the daughter of Umar, a notable Companion, as the circle of Muslims closest to Muhammad came to be called. Muhammad's marriage to Zaynab, the wife of his adopted son Zayd required some thought and several revelations. Zayd assured the Prophet that his marriage to Zaynab was not a happy one, and though Islamic law permitted yet disapproved of divorce as well as marriage to one's son's relations, Zayd and Zaynab were divorced and Muhammad married her. As the Prophet's revelations granted permission for his marriages, the outspoken Aisha remarked (according to oral tradition), "It seems that God is hastening to satisfy your desires"-demonstrating Aisha's remarkable freedom as a woman. Muhammad then married Umm Salama and two Jewish women, Raihana and Safiya, followed by Umm Habiba, a daughter of Abu Sufyan, a famously idolatrous opponent of Islam, and Maimuna, sister-in-law of his uncle and the aunt of Khalid, the great Quraysh military leader. Besides these 9 official wives, Muhammad took as concubine-over the objections of Aisha and his other wives-Mariya, a Coptic Christian slave girl who was a gift from the ruler of Egypt."

 

Other forthright women offered themselves freely to Muhammad in marriage and some demurred having sexual relations with him, indicating women were assertive in his time:

 

"this woman had offered herself in marriage to the Prophet himself, and it is said that she was not the only one to do so. This is proof of the magnetism Muhammed must have had for those around him. It is also evidence of a self-confidence on the part of women in Ancient Arabia totally lacking ... among Muslim women of later centuries. There are reports of other women who were married to Muhammed but who, when he came to them in the bridal chamber, said: 'I take refuge from you in God.' At this, so it goes, he had them sent back to their families without delay. This, too, shows Arab women at the time of Muhammed were assertive enough to make no secret of their desires or disinclination" [32]

 

The Prophet's 9 wives after Khadija may actually number 10, along with the additional gift wife, Marieh from the ruler of Egypt, a slave booty wife Rayhaneh he claimed after killing her husband, and 16 women he is said to have divorced as well as 7 others he 'may' have been married to [33]. If the veil is going to be a standard set by the wives of the Prophet as role models for women, where does this leave Zeinab, whom Muhammad fell in love with and took from his own son-in law, and the fact that Aisha was engaged to him at 6 and married at 9?  Does this mean the veiling of women is a mark upon them, to conform to such standards by the law of Shariah?

 

What kind of example is Zaynab setting for women? That they should have to be veiled for 15 centuries, because the Prophet coveted Zaynab in her underwear? How could this marriage have ever taken place, had she been forced to wear the niqab and never been attractive to another man than her husband?  Therefore how can the ruling be valid?

 

Sharia 2) It appears that during a time in Madinah when the Muslims were being persecuted (as mentioned in Surah al-Ahzab ayat 57-61), it was fard for all Muslim women to draw their jilbabs over their faces. Subsequently, this understanding of Surah al-Ahzab ayah 59 was superceded by Surah an-Nur ayah 31, which allows the display of the face and hands.

 

Persecution is a valid reason for concealment, but it is not a religious monopoly of Muslims and it is no justification for a perpetual legal requirement.  The fact that it is admitted that 24:31 allows for the face and hands to be displayed unravels the entire claim that niqab is mustahabb or fard.

 

Sharia 3) Even after Surah an-Nur ayah 31 had been revealed, ordinary Muslim women continued to wear niqab with the approval of the Prophet (sAas). This has specifically been mentioned for Umm Khallad (Sunan Abu Dawud Book 14 #2482), Asma bint Abu Bakr (Muwatta Book 20 #20.5.16), and some Qurayshi women who were visiting the Prophet (sAas) (Sahih Bukhari Book 54 #515). As well, the fact that the Prophet (sAas) had to tell women not to wear niqab and gloves in ihram (Sahih Bukhari Book 29 #64) means that niqab and gloves were well-known and worn by a substantial number of sahabiyat (rAa). Clearly this form of extra modesty has the approval of the Prophet (sAas) and that is another reason that it is sunna.

 

Custom is not legal requirement, and by its own nature, should be a matter of individual choice. It is contradictory and illegitimate to acknowledge that the Prophet had to tell women notto wear the veil and then use it as an inverted inference that the niqab is desirable or compulsory. It brings sunna into disrepute.

 

The descriptions of the dress of Ummahat al-Muminin (rAa), of the way that the jilbab was worn when Surah al-Ahzab ayah 59 was first revealed, and of the extra-modest dress worn by some of the sahabiyat (rAa) all clearly and unambiguously point to a face-cover. This makes niqab the specific form of extra-modest dress set by the Shari'a. As such, it is sunna as well as mustahabb.

 

Once again the argument lacks religious validity and smacks of patriarchal cultural tradition of the times. It is an argument generated by male Islamic scholars in conservative societies to justify existing restrictive customs of male control of women, which are not sanctioned in the Qur'an.

 

E: To avoid being harassed, or raped, by Muslim men, who consider unveiled women, Muslim or otherwise, fair meat for violation.

 

Muslim authorities put a positive spin on the hijab, on the basis that a woman's modesty is favoured by al-Llah, to be unveiled in the Muslim world is to open the gates to abuse, because, as noted in the previous section, Muslim men are taught by the Qur'an and the hadith that an unveiled woman is equivalent to a slave or a whore, and is thus fair meat, following sixth century traditions, so to not be veiled is an open invitation to self-righteous abuse. Basically the requirement to wear the veil is making women take the shame and blame for the men failing to control themselves.

 

Left: Woman gang raped by Muslims in Sweden on the pretext she was unveiled and therefore a legitimate target. Right: After a group of Muslim men were jailed for many years for gang rapes, Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, Australia's most senior Muslim cleric, compared immodestly-dressed women who do not wear the Islamic headdress with meat that is left uncovered in the street and is then eaten by cats.

 

Two commentaries in Europe [34], [35] illustrate how being unveiled can result in Muslim girls being cut from mouth to ear and non-Muslim girls violently gang-raped because Muslim culture tacitly assumes any unveiled woman, whether Muslim, or not, is provocative and thus fair game for rape.

 

"The German journalist Udo Ulfkotte told in a recent interview that in Holland, you can now see examples of young, unveiled Moroccan women with a so-called "smiley". It means that the girl gets one side of her face cut up from mouth to ear, serving as a warning to other Muslim girls who should refuse to wear the veil. In the Muslim suburb of Courneuve, France, 77 per cent of the veiled women carry veils reportedly because of fear of being harassed or molested by Islamic moral patrols."

 

"A friend of mine is a retired chief of police, who used to be in charge of the security of a major city in the south of France. He reported to me that his men had to face an average of 10 rapes a week, 80% made by Muslim young men. 30% being what we call, in French, a " tournante ", meaning that the victim is being raped by an entire gang, one after the other, often during an entire night. My friend reports that, in many cases, he was able to locate and arrest the rapists, often very young ones, and, as part of the investigation, call the families. He was astonished that, in most cases, the parents not only would back up their rapist children, but also would not even understand why they would be arrested. There is an instant shift in the notion of good and evil as a major component of culture. The only evil those parents would see, genuinely, is the temptation that the male children had to face. Since in most cases the victims were not Muslims, the parents' answer and rejection was even more genuine: how could their boys be guilty of anything, when normally answering to a provocation by occidental women, known for their unacceptable behavior?"

 

Such acts are by no means confined to Western countries, but in Muslim countries, rape is often not reported, or it is the victim who is punished, sometimes accused of indecency and executed.

 

Iran to hang teenage girl attacked by rapists [36] Tehran, Iran, Jan 2007 – An Iranian court has sentenced a teenage rape victim to death by hanging after she weepingly confessed that she had unintentionally killed a man who had tried to rape both her and her niece. She described how the three men pushed her and her 16-year-old niece Somayeh onto the ground and tried to rape them, and said that she took out a knife from her pocket and stabbed one of the men in the hand. As the girls tried to escape, the men once again attacked them, and at this point, Nazanin said, she stabbed one of the men in the chest. The teenage girl, however, broke down in tears in court as she explained that she had no intention of killing the man but was merely defending herself and her younger niece from rape, the report said. The court, however, issued on Tuesday a sentence for Nazanin to be hanged to death.

 

In August 2004, Iran's Islamic penal system sentenced a 16-year-old girl, Atefeh Rajabi, to death after she was accused of committing "acts incompatible with chastity". The teenage victim had no access to a lawyer at any stage and efforts by her family to retain one were to no avail. Atefeh personally defended herself and told the religious judge that he should punish those who force women into adultery, not the victims. She was eventually hanged in public in the northern town of Neka.

 

Tuesday, 17 October, 2000, Rape and murder on rise in Tehran [37] A government newspaper, Iran, has reported that in the past six months alone 30 women have been murdered - all of them victims of rape. The new statistics suggest that in every six days a woman in Tehran is raped and murdered.  The youngest victim was a 15-year-old girl who was apparently gang-raped and her mutilated body was then left on the outskirts of Tehran. The faces of all the victims were burned to conceal their identity. Experts told the paper that one of the main reasons for the higher number of female runaways was discrimination against girls in Iranian households. It is also believed that many girls who take to the streets are victims of violence at home.  Iranian officials have expressed grave concern in recent months over a rapid rise in prostitution and suicide among women.

 

Saudi gang rape sentence 'unjust' 16 November 2007 [38]A lawyer for a gang-rape victim in Saudi Arabia who was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail says the punishment contravenes Islamic law. The woman was initially punished for violating laws on segregation of the sexes - she was in an unrelated man's car at the time of the attack. When she appealed, judges doubled her sentence, saying she had been trying to use the media to influence them. Her lawyer was suspended from the case and faced a disciplinary session. She was subsequently accused of having an affair. After international outcry, King Abdullah issued a royal pardon in the public interest.

 

F: To Seek a Muslim Husband, or avoid non-Muslim Suitors.

 

Muslim men often seek religious women because they will be more faithful, less willful and more easily controlled.  The overt sign of this is wearing the hijab and particularly the niqab. Before deciding on wearing the niqab for this reason, a young woman should carefully consider the possible consequences.

 

Wearing a niqab indicates clearly to a prospective husband that a woman accepts all these tenets of Islam, and will submit herself to him in the way the scriptures dictate, beating included as an ordinance of God himself.

 

Muslim Mullahs lay down the law of beating, often with a fiery tongue [39], making no ambiguity about the desirability and even the necessity of wife-beating, as God's divine will:

 

"We must know that [wife] beating is a punishment in Islamic religious law. No one should deny that this was permitted by the Creator of Man and because when you purchase an electric appliance or car, you get a catalogue explaining how to use it, the Creator has sent down a book [the Qur'an] in order to show Man which ways he must choose. We shouldn't be ashamed before the nations of the world, who are still in their days of ignorance, to admit that these [beatings] are part of our religious law. We must remind the ignorant from among the Islamic Nation who followed the [West] that those [Westerners] acknowledge the wondrous nature of this verse."

 

"There are three types of woman with whom life is impossible without beatings. In America, six million women are beaten by their husbands every year. These are their own official statistics. 4000-6000 women die as a result of their husbands' beatings.  The London police every year answer 100,000 phone calls and complaints of attacks against wives. In France, their slogan is "Beat the wife morning, noon and night, and don't ask her why – she knows the reason". But they use their media to blow this out of proportion. They blow what is happening in Muslim countries out of proportion. They bring a woman from South East Asia with a swollen face and present her on TV claiming this was done by a Muslim who attacked his wife. They forget that Islam is a religion that forbids beating the face even of beasts. It is forbidden to beat even a donkey on its face. The intelligent people in the [West] admit that a woman does not feel comfort and is not happy unless she's under a man who commands, forbids, controls, and leads. This is the nature of people according to Allah's creation. Allah has created woman, whether Muslim or infidel, to be happy under a strong man who will protect her and live with her. It is not surprising then that a French woman came before a judge in the land of false freedom and equality and said "I don't want this husband". The judge asked her "Why?" and she replied: "He didn't lead me, didn't oppress me, didn't castigate me, didn't talk to me violently, didn't say: "Don't do this, do that". The judge replied: "Don't [his actions] support those who call for equality between man and woman?". The infidel woman answered, "No, no, I don't want him to compete with me, I want a man who leads and rules me". This is the nature according to which Allah created people, but they contaminated and replaced it with licentiousness and evil. A woman there knows that she has lost the battle and was misread in the worst way, and she became like gum the husband chews and throws into the filthy garbage can."

 

"[The Qur'an says:] "and beat them". This verse is of a wondrous nature. There are three types of women with whom a man cannot live unless he carries a rod on his shoulder. The first type is a woman who was brought up this way. Her parents ask her to go to school and she doesn't – they beat her. "Eat" – "I don't want to" – they beat her. So she became accustomed to beatings, she was brought up that way. We pray Allah will help her husband later. He will get along with her only if he practices wife beating. The second type is a woman who is condescending towards her husband and ignores him. With her too only a rod will help. The third type is a twisted woman who will not obey her husband, unless he oppresses her, beats her, uses force against her and overpowers her with his voice."

 

The passage clearly sets out an agenda of women submitting, under pain of beating, to the orders of their husbands.  Once again women are treated the same as domestic animals. As in the passage in reason 8, this passage treats Western women as bubble gum to be spat out by [Muslim] men, and once again, occurrence of illegal violence by a fraction of men in the West is used as an excuse for religiously ordained violence by all Muslim men. The figures quoted for beatings resulting in death in the West are wildly exaggerated. The quoted figures for the US homicide of a female intimate have declined from around 1500 in 1980 to around 1150 in 2005 [40]. Not all of these have arisen from beatings. Not actual depravity but sexual emancipation itself is regarded as licentiousness and evil.  Again the blame for all this is cast on the female who it is claimed desires to be dominated, oppressed, or even beaten.

 


G. Because one's Father, Family, Muslim husband, or his Family, Expect, or Insist on it.

 

Girls in Muslim families are expected to follow tradition and as they reach puberty assume the hijab or its more restrictive forms.  Fathers expect their daughters to conform for the honour of the family and given the honour-shame cultures of many Islamic societies, any deviation is deemed to bring shame on the family. It is thus difficult for young girls to step outside the ties of tradition, even when families migrate to settle in Western cultures which do not share these values.

 

Honour killings, which are rife in many traditional Arab and Muslim societies, can result not only from having a boyfriend not approved by the family, but simply from failing to wear the hijab as ordered by one's father. Although honour killings are rarer in Western countries, which do not turn a blind eye to the disappearance of family members, two cases illustrate just how severe and out of hand situations involving family honour and perceived shame can become.

 

In the first [41], a daughter is strangled by her father in Canada for refusing to wear the hijab, and in the second [42], a sister of a girl murdered by her father for having a Lebanese Christian boyfriend, who ran away from home at 16, and gave evidence against her father, has to hide in a niqab wherever she goes, out of fear of being murdered in retaliation by relatives. Many Muslim families have devoted loving fathers, and husbands, but these cases illustrate the pressures girls and women in Muslim families can be under to conform, a curse, which cannot be continue to be denied by the Muslim community.

 

Aqsa Parvez and Bekhal Mahmood

 

Canadian Father Murders Teenage Daughter Over Refusal To Wear Muslim Hijab Headscarf  Toronto December 11, 2007 - A Mississauga, Ont., cab driver has been charged with the murder of his 16-year-old daughter, who was attacked in the family home after clashing with her strict Muslim family over whether or not to wear the hijab, the traditional Islamic head scarf for women. Police sources said she was strangled. Aqsa Parvez was an ordinary 16-year-old Canadian teenager who dared to refuse to be subjugated as a woman according to Muslim religious law. She would leave her home dressed in a Hijab and then change her clothing at school. Her father found out and decided to make sure the "family honour" was preserved.

 

'Honour killing' sister breaks her silence 17 June 2007 Every time Bekhal Mahmod leaves the safety of her home, she wears the hijab with a black veil covering her face - even though she would give anything for the freedom not to have to. "My life will always be at risk," says 22-year-old Bekhal. "There are people in my community who want to see me dead, and they will not rest until I am. I will never be safe. I wear the veil so no one can recognize me." Bekhal, 22, ran away aged 16 rather than agree to an arranged marriage to a cousin in Iraq. She survived an attempted killing by her brother, but her sister Banaz, 20, paid the ultimate price for leaving her own arranged marriage and then falling in love with an "unsuitable man" of her own choice. On the orders of her 52-year-old father and uncle, Ari Mahmod, 50, she was strangled with a bootlace by Kurdish assassins, her body stuffed in a suitcase and buried six feet down in the garden of a house belonging to an associate in Birmingham.

 

For Muslim women to remain strong depends not only on their husbands and family, but the support of other women in a society where women have to struggle to maintain their strategic position in the world.  The fact that many Muslim women staunchly defend the religious and political agenda of resurgent Islam puts pressure on women who do not conform to tow the line and support the cause or find themselves out in the cold in one area where they cannot afford to be.

 

H: To make an Islamic Political Statement, and Maintain a Curtain of Separation from the Culture in which one Resides.

 

Unveiling the Democratic Process: The Leader of the British House of Commons, Jack Straw, has kick-started a national debate about the veil (more precisely the face-veil or niqab in Arabic) by suggesting that it has held back the integration of some British Muslims.

 

The hijab, and particularly the niqab has become a form of political statement, particularly in the West, of intransigent, resurgent Islam. The niqab is ideal to use in anonymous protest and has also been the basis of landmark court cases testing the religious tolerance of the West against issues of security and cultural integrity. These go beyond protest in the name of equality and lead to a harder line of cultural jihad by some Muslim women against the Western societies in which they reside.

 

The claim that hijab and niqab are sunna under Sharia uses this political argument as the law:

 

"As mentioned in Evidences for Jilbab, the purpose of the jilbab is to protect the Muslim woman and to assert her Islamic identity; clearly then, niqab is an extra form of protection and an extra step to take in asserting Islamic identity."

 

These political struggles are not confined to the West and also occur in countries, such as Turkey where there is a contest between Islamist agendas seeking to return to Sharia based attitudes and Muslim societies which have established their development on secular principles. Currently the headscarf is again banned in universities following the annulment of the government's bill by the courts [43].

 

Turkish headscarf rally

 

In Egypt, increasing numbers of young women are choosing to wear the veil as a political protest against the government and rules against full veiling in university, amid death threats against the claim that the niqab is not compulsory [44]:

 

Veil war breaks out on Egypt university campus  Ramadan Al Sherbini, Correspondent October 22, 2006 Last week, a female Muslim preacher was threatened with death after declaring the niqab was not an Islamic duty. Suad Saleh, a famous TV preacher [45] and a former dean of the women's college at the religious University of Al Azhar, told the private satellite channel TV Dream that it was wrong to consider the niqab an obligatory item of the Islamic attire. "There is no unequivocal text in the Holy Quran that women must cover their faces," she argued. Islamists have filed a lawsuit against Saleh and Dream TV over the remarks. "The niqab was common in the Arabian Peninsula centuries before Islam and was not imposed by this religion," said Amnah Nousir, a professor of Islamic philosophy. "The face is one's mirror. So why should the woman hide herself behind this black veil?" she told Gulf News. Her argument is supported by Jamal Al Bana, a liberal Muslim thinker, who said in a recent interview that "the niqab is an insult and he who calls for it is backward".

 

In defence of their sequestering, many Muslim women declare a position that Islam is a protector of women's rights, and that the hijab, and more restrictive niqab, is for their benefit, to prevent harassment, claiming that Western societies debase and exploit women as sex objects.

 

"Does Islam oppress women? No. On the contrary, 1400 years ago Islam liberated women. At that time in Europe, Christian scholars were debating whether women had souls, if yes, did they have animal souls or human souls? Until recently women were stripped of their last names to illustrate that they were the property of their husbands. As for Islam, women are equal to men in all acts of piety, they keep their last names, they are allowed to keep their own money, choose who they want to marry, have the right to seek a divorce, have the right to inheritance and have the right to be protected and maintained by their husbands. They have been dignified and exonerated by the Hijab (Islamic covering). In the West, women are portrayed as sex objects to be used and discarded. We see them being used to sell cars, alcohol and even bubble gum. In Islam, women have been elevated to a stature that surpasses the roles placed upon them by any religion or culture. Women are not to be abused or oppressed but they are to be respected and cared for. As a result, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world amongst women."

 

The difficulty with this kind of argument is that it ignores the frank oppression of women that does occur today in many Islamic cultures, both Shia and Sunni, as well as distorting the situation in the West, in a way which confuses the real gains made by women over centuries, with claims of Western decadence, when sexual exploitation, prostitution, rape and murder is worldwide, but in denial in Muslim countries, where cases are underreported for fear of inaction and retaliation.

 

It also depends on looking backwards to the distant past, when the world has moved forward, and must do so, to survive in a closing planet. While it is true that the West did have dark ages of repression, since the Renaissance, which began ironically wi