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  Global Views
Veils & the Muslim Women
By Tanveer Jafri
Contributing Writer
An Arabic women peers out of her burka (also burqa of hijab) as she waits on a roadside in Kabul.

Hijab or Burqa tradition among the Muslim women, which has been accepted by the Islam religion, has again become a subject of controversy these days. The Burqa controversy that came out from the statement of former foreign minister of Britain, Jack Straw hasn't yet lost the ground when the government of Netherlands has decided to make a law that bans the Burqa tradition there. Hijab, Naqab or Burqa, all the three are almost the same things, by which a women hides her face from other men. In Islam, this tradition is known to be a direct command received from God. Regarding it, the Muslim religious leaders that advocate for the Burqa tradition say that God has clearly ordered in Quran Shareef, 'Say to your wives, daughters and women to cover their head with the veil so that they are not recognised and are not open to cruelty. As the religion Islam came into existence, on the land of Arabs, so the 'Naqab' prevalent there should be seen as real Hijab. But as a chance, the difference and the paradox regarding this tradition, in Islam is so much that the Muslim world is in a fix that if Burqa tradition is accepted and women of the family are asked to act upon it then what type of veil should it be, as it is in Arab or in Iraq. Should it be Hijab adopted by the British or the American women? Or Burqa as prevalent in India, the Naqab worn in Pakistan or that openness as it has been accepted by Benazir Bhutto, Begam Khalida Zia, Sheikh Hasina Wajid, Shirin Ibadi & Sania Mirza and other Muslim women of world fame.

Undoubtedly, after the terrorist attack of September 11 on America, the Muslim world is passing through a tough test. Now a day if a finger is pointed towards Islam or its beliefs, the whole Muslim world seems to take such effort, very seriously. And if this finger is from such countries as America, Britain, Netherlands or Denmark, then the Muslims of the world start to think it as a direct attack on Islam. But in reality this is a matter of discussion not only in Britain or Netherlands, but a great part of the Muslim society is also not in favour of keeping its women veiled.

It is a bitter truth that almost all the traditions and beliefs of all religions are mostly formed under the main role of male society. Obviously this male dominated society, while framing religious rules of the society used its dictatorship and double standard in which they kept themselves free and tied the women in many troublesome ties such as to keep their faces curtained. It is a matter of sorrow, regarding veils of a woman, there has been given a reference of the God's command in Quran Shareef and accordingly ordered them to remain veiled so that they are not open to cruelty. But there is nothing for the man to stop them from doing cruelty.

It may be that at the time of embodiment of Quran Shareef or the time when the Islam religion came into existence, the Hijab tradition may have been useful. But can this tradition be accepted so meaningful, in this modern age of today, as it was fourteen hundred years ago. Today Benazir Bhutto has the power to handle the political leadership of a Muslim country Pakistan and has given successful leadership to Pakistan, as prime minister. Shirin Ibadi of Iran has proved by winning the Nobel Peace Prize that a Muslim woman even behind a veil and being a housewife, when comes out of the veil can win the greatest award of the world that is the Noble Peace Prize.

Sania Mirza, an Indian Tennis Player also gives this type of message. Sania Mirza is far away from wearing the Burqa but even her tight clothes while playing Tennis, became a subject of controversy and many Muslim scholars raised their fingers at her. Now the question is that even today Muslim men have kept the right of deciding it with themselves, if the Muslim women should wear the Naqab or not? Why can't the women decide it themselves whether they should wear the Burqa or not? A Muslim woman can feel it better, if to act upon the veil tradition is useful for her or a hurdle in her progress.

I am not against the veil tradition among Muslim women in Islam. But I am worried that it may prove an obstacle in the race of their life career. Today it is common talk in the world that the main cause of being conservative and fundamental of the Muslims is lack of literacy in them. It is a universal truth that if the mother is educated, the children have better chances of getting education. But if the mother is uneducated, she can neither understand the importance of education nor encourage her children to get education who can deny the fact that wearing the Burqa is a great impediment in getting the education and progress in life.

Undoubtedly, the fresh statements of the leaders of the western countries, regarding the veil of the Muslim women, may revive the thought among Muslim society that Christianity is against Islam. But in reality, the entire Muslim world is not unanimous regarding the veil tradition. There are different ways prevalent to veil among Muslim women in different countries, somewhere the head is covered and face is uncovered. At some places a cloth when wrapped solves the purpose. The educated Muslim society, wherever they may be living in the world, today doesn't consider it necessary to veil women. This elite class understands it that Burqa is an obstruction in the mental and educational development of women. Muslims who belong to this class don't force the women in their families to cover themselves with a Burqa. Even the Muslim women of these educated families don't consider it compulsory to wear Burqa in this modern age.

So now the time demands that every controversial matter should not be viewed from the angle of the Christianity or Islam. The merits and demerits must be seen and that too without prejudice. If either in Islam or in any other religion, there is something that is not beneficial for the society and hampers the educational, intellectual and mental growth of the society, then it should be done away with and the religious leaders or the responsible group should not stand in its way.



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Mr.Tanveer Jafri, who serves as contributing writer for The Seoul Times, is a noted columnist in India. He writes in a variety of issues including world peace, anti-terrorism, and national & international politics for numerous news dailies and portals in India. As a devoted social activist he is a member of Haryana Sahitya Academy & Haryana Urdu Academy.

 

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