22 August, 2007

Job prospects and the niqab

Reuters has a longish article about the difficulty women who wear the niqab finding jobs with face-to-face contact with the public. Dubai features prominently. Some excerpts:
It is common to see Emirati women in the workplace, most wearing elegant robes and head coverings, but those wearing the niqab which leaves only the eyes uncovered are rarely seen in front offices.

"Women in niqabs do not sit at the counter. They take administrative jobs," said Abdullah Naser, a manager at a Dubai post office. "Clients need to know who they are talking to."
...
In Dubai, the most modern emirate where multinationals keep their regional hubs and expatriate non-Muslims make up a large proportion of the population, women who wear the niqab find it hard to get jobs.

"Some companies have a policy preventing women from wearing their niqab during work hours, such as banks for example," said Nora al-Bidour, public relations manager at Tanmia.

The niqab has also caused controversy in Egypt, the most populous Arab country, where an increasing number of women are wearing the veil. In June, a court ruled that a U.S.-accredited university was wrong to bar a female scholar who wears a face veil.

In the United States, Saima Azfar, an immigrant from Pakistan, plans to wear her niqab when she interviews for jobs once she passes her medical board exams in Chicago.

"There are Muslim women doctors I know who went through the licensing process here," explains Azfar, 34. "They told me that if you have the talent, then nobody will deny you a job for wearing a veil."

Here's the whole thing.

46 comments:

Veiled Muslimah said...

Personally I feel Women should be allowed to wear the Niqaab and be given work. [Although atleast over here Women who wear the Niqaab are *still* given jobs - but desk or administrative jobs ] Some Countries don't even allow that. Honestly, one needs to realise that wearing a face-veil will not rid the inividual of their talent or creativity or well they can do their job.

Sadly enough, when my Sister [She wears the Niqaab] had gone for a checkup at one of the hospitals, her nurse told her she had wanted to wear it at the hospital too, but like they say, the hospital doesn't allow it.

Veiled Muslimah said...

how well*

fellow atheist said...

I would never, ever, ever, employ someone with the niqab. A person who believes that covering their entire face is the 'right' thing to do, has such a fundamentally different view in life. It becomes a simple incompatibility.

Not to mention that while everyone is happy to smile and show their face, the woman hiding behind her Niqaab is ... who knows what she's doing? She's covered head to toe.

Sad really. This is not Islam, even. This is just a bizarre tradition.

oynk said...

Most individuals who wear the niqab cite "religion" as the reason why they choose to dress that way, suggesting it is a religious compulsion, not a personal choice.

One sees wide ranging differences in dressing styles between various indivduals within the same religious group, making it difficult for others outside the group to accept the claim that it is a religious requirement. For example, a Muslim woman in the UAE may wear a niqab, but a Muslim woman in Bosnia may wear tight, low-slung jeans and a skimpy T-shirt. Of course these two opposite examples may be seen in the same country even, sometimes together. Thus, others begin to see the niqab as merely a personal choice in dressing. Of course, one must agree that it is in fact a different interpretation of certain stipulations in the religious text.

As far as personal choices are concerned, it must be accepted that certain choices may have certain results, which the indivdual making the choices must be prepared to accept.

For example (I'm male), if I were to go to an interview wearing the mask of Zorro and a black sombrero, and claimed that it would not rid me of my talent or creativity, I might still have to accept the fact this choice may result in my not being considered for the job of an electrical salesman. I might be good at sales talk and engineering knowledge, but nevertheless my personal choice in dressing may put me out of the running for the job. Simply because that style of dressing would be generally considered "inappropriate" for that particular position.

I could, of course, argue that my interpretation of my religious texts compel me to dress that way, but it won't hold much water if others of the same religion don't follow the same interpretation.

As far as the nurse in the hospital wanting to wear a niqab is concerned, I think many patients have already seen too many horror movies involving hospitals and nurses and dark shadows in the night, to be very comfortable with such a thing. I presume this in some way influences hospital policy.

rosh said...

The accounting firm I worked at whilst in Dubai, sent out a memo to all staff (who comprised of Arabs, Asians and Westerners)- stating, business formal (as in suits) and corporate casual on Thursdays, as acceptable attire at work place.

The memo was to address, traditional sub-continental attire (a casual cotton shalwar Kameez or Kurta & flip flops) worn by women and to those with the Niqab.

Two women who wore Niqab left the firm in a few weeks - others, just followed policy.

I suppose such changes are harder to accept if not from within oneself?

In today's corporate world - how you present yourself, counts as much as your skill set.

al-republican said...

Actually, I have no problems with women wearing the niqab. But, I find it confusing, too, how women who wear the niqab would want to do a job where the entire purpose of the niqab would not be served? But, that is just my opinion and I am sure others can tell me otherwise.

I know a lady at work who got a promotion into a sales position, but turned it down because her husband was not comfortable with her meeting male clients etc. I was really impressed by the magnanimity of this lady and how there are still women who happily accept what their husbands recommend to them. She is pretty cool about it, too.

Fellow atheist, would you employ a woman who was dressed in revealing clothes? It's surprising how these days the corporate dress for women entails them showing off their legs and barely enough cleavage to make every meeting lively. And what silly excuses I have heard such as "oh it's too hot in Dubai"! Well, then why are the men dressed in this same heat in suits AND a choking tie? Why can't they expose their skins? Obviously, a man showing off his hairy legs wouldn't turn on anybody and hence isn't "corporate" enough.

I am cool with women who admit that they wear such clothes because it is the way they are. They know how showing off their legs and cleavage is part of their "feminity". It sounds twisted to me, but it is a frank point of view.

secretdubai said...

I have no problems with women wearing the niqab (though I find it rather distasteful to see a niqab-wearing women walking next to her baseball capped, t-shirt wearing husband - it looks somehow disrespectful to her conservatism).

But I do not think that people covering their face should be in face-to-face contact positions.

If you cover your face it is because you follow a personal moral code that advocates some form of privacy and segregation from those that you are not related to. As such, you should be prepared - and frankly more happy - to work in position that does not involve public interaction.

I am cool with women who admit that they wear such clothes because it is the way they are. They know how showing off their legs and cleavage is part of their "feminity". It sounds twisted to me, but it is a frank point of view.

I wear lighter, less covering clothes in hotter months purely for comfort. I am not looking for attention and I do not believe my shoulders and lower legs are - or should be - some kind of red rag to a raging hormonal bull. (Fortunately most of the population appears to agree and leaves me in peace!) I wouldn't show my genitals in public, and for vanity reasons certain imperfect and far-from-slim areas will always be covered, but arms/legs from just above the knee, shoulders, back, these I allow to breathe.

But these days I certainly don't dress to impress or "entice" or show off my femininity. The fact that my sundress is usually crumpled and teamed with flat, clumpy, comfortable, ugly, practical shoes should be clue enough. For me, sensible shoes can be considered a kind of "western hijab" ;)

al-republican said...

SD, I agree with your point about niqabi women not taking up jobs that involve public interaction. However, I was just thinking over my opinion on this matter and trying to reason why a niqabi woman would want to do such a job.

I think the niqabi women do have a point here. Most public interaction jobs (such as sales or customer service) don't require a high skill set. It could be that these niqabi girls can find such jobs only due to their education or lack of experience. We all know how as young adolescents the best bet at getting a job for our pocket money were jobs that required engaging with the public. So why should these girls not be considered for such jobs for their "appearance"? Certainly, as a Muslim, I can't judge them because they may have financial reasons for doing so.

Veiled Muslimah said...

Fellow athiest you said:

Sad really. This is not Islam, even. This is just a bizarre tradition.

Pray tell, where do you get your information on Islam from?

Niqaab is a fundamental part of Islam. Not some 'bizarre tradition'. You'll find majority of the mainstream Islamic Scholars will say it is a part of Islam. And they'll present you with evidence from the Qur'an and the Sunna. What they do debate on is whether it is obligatory or recommended. [I'm leaving the 'Modernists' and the so-called 'Progressives' out of this] In fact I've heard the usual comments about Niqaab often enough that I was obliged to make a blog post about it sometime back. In it are the evidence for wearing the Niqaab, if you're interested. http://crazyblueh.blogspot.com/2007/06/on-niqaab.html#links

al-republican said...

Fellow Atheist:

I will second veiled muslimah here. What culture are you talking about that followed this "bizarre tradition"?

Pre-Islam Arabia had nothing to do with hijaab leave alone the niqab. In fact, Arabia sans Islam was all about women making a display of their physical appearances. Women were treated like a commodity in Arabia, which is proof from the REAL "bizarre traditions" such as temporal marriages that predate Islam.

Kindly elaborate what tradition you are talking about because I don't see niqab or hijab anywhere in the Arabian scene until the advent of Islam.

fellow atheist said...


Fellow atheist, would you employ a woman who was dressed in revealing clothes?


al-republican, of course not. Inappropriate dress at the place of business is a distraction (whether it is a niqab or mini-skirt).

I find it rather naiive of you to even suggest that.

fellow atheist said...

al-republican,

What makes you think that tradition can only start pre-Islam?

And really? Niqab is a fundamental part of Islam? Where exactly does it say in the Quran that a woman should cover herself from head to toe.. not even her face to show? What insanity is this?

Look, if you want to dress like that, it's your business. By all means, go for it.

SD, whenever my wife and I are out eating or having a cup of coffee.. we often spot those women in the niqab with the husband in the baseball cap, jeans and tshirt. It's not only distasteful.. it is sad when you see the woman trying to drink or eat. It just feels sad. Just... sad.

But as the 'niqab league' seem to agree, if you want to segregate yourself from society, stay away. We'll handle the work.

al-republican said...

fellow atheist:

You know what, that niqabi girl that you feel sorry for in the restaurant can see right through your pants and feel REALLY sorry for your wife :(

And why do you get disappointed at just t-shirt, jeans and basetball cap with a niqabi? I will take you to some homes where you will see a dishdash, bearded, turbaned and sandals husband with a fully exposed, highlighted hair, boddy hugging shalwar kameez all with low-neck and make up that would make a whore jealous. Something tells me in that particular case you won't feel as hurt. For God's sake, you haven't even seen such couples!

And you really want to see some evidence about niqab?? Wow, you are SUCH a fair and balanced person, arent you? As if those evidences will make you change your mind LOL! Once you see the evidences, you will start the usual drill of "ooo interpretation.." and then when the matter is made clear to you showing the actual arabic text then you will stoop to your usual gutter level of abusing Islam till it becomes hard to decipher whether you are speaking from your mouth or just farting away?

Finally, please see how veiled muslimah has a link for the evidences that you so conveniently missed. I will wait for you to go through it and then we can happily go on the usual roller coaster ride, ok? :)

SevenSummits said...

Can approximately 1m² of cloth really be abused as the battleground for legal, political and cultural conflicts? Well, at least this time around it just adds an additional touch. Certainly the recommended dress coat must match the job requirements and personally I do not see a lot of space here for personal choice. In other words, I would not like to see either a women wearing a “niqab” or revealing clothes in a normal office environment. Besides, I just cannot see any reasonable correlation between the “niqab” and Islam, which makes me absolutely agree with the Dutch decision, as the first European government, to ban the face-veil of Muslim women in public places.

However the ongoing European controversy about a general headscarf ban, clearly comprises a violation of a women’s constitutional rights and causes coercion in matters of religious freedom. Those explicitly anti-Muslim politics could deepen the sense of alienation and marginalization of our countries Muslim minorities.
If anyone is interested in the general skepticism towards the ability to integrate Muslims into our societies and the general situation of those now around 4 Mio Muslims in Germany, please
click here to compare EU countries. (have a look at education!!!)

If you would like to find out more about “Islam and Identity in Germany” (March 2007) email me sevensummits@yahoo.com and I will send you the full PDF report.

For those that might have a deeper interest in this topic from a legal point of view, here for instance a paper by Robert A. Kahn (Brooklyn Law School) entitled: The Headscarf as Threat: A Comparison of German and American Legal Discourses


"I was really impressed by the magnanimity of this lady and how there are still women who happily accept what their husbands recommend to them."
Al, we got to have a talk about this one :P!!!!!

al-republican said...

Hahaha 7S, I will pass!

But, please do e-mail me that report.

rosh said...

An aspect I gather from all this cover up recommended for women is that a woman need to protect herself from a man's prying eyes & unhealthy vibes. To me, the man comes across as a true villain of this costume drama (sorry Al - am trying to lighten up the mood here :)

If a man cannot hold his morals or hormones, why should a woman have to cover up? Shouldn't something be *corrected* at the male end? (no pun intended)

Or am I missing the entire picture?

"it is sad when you see the woman trying to drink or eat"

It's true, the sight of having to see someone eat/drink this way is sad, I mean it's quite sad to be honest.

rosh said...

To add, I know several Muslim women who chose the Hijab, because they received comments from MEN on their hair and looks.

It's US, the MEN that need correction - don't force it upon the proper lady.

Whatever happened to being a gentleman or male decency?

rosh said...

"fully exposed, highlighted hair, boddy hugging shalwar kameez all with low-neck and make up that would make a whore jealous."

lol Al - you've nailed it! Top it up with a provocative walk & gestures.

Veiled Muslimah said...

I know these comments weren't directed at me, but I'm still taking the liberty to reply to them. [Sorry al-republican]

And really? Niqab is a fundamental part of Islam? Where exactly does it say in the Quran that a woman should cover herself from head to toe.. not even her face to show? What insanity is this?

Where in the Qur'an does it tell us how we should eat and what duas we should read before eating food or entering the Market? Where does it say in the Qur'an that Women shouldn't pluck their eyebrows and Men shouldn't wear pure silk? Or, where in the Qur'an are the details and rulings a Muslim needs to know about Zakat?

There are numerous things which aren't mentioned in the Qur'an or, are mentioned, but the details are not given. For those things we look at the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad sallalahu alayhi wasallam and through books of ahadith. The Qur'an and the Sunnah are both equally important.

And again, like I mentioned before, there is a dispute or difference of opinion among the Scholars of Islam about covering the face but again, they both agree that it is a part of Islam. Also, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with a Woman who does not cover her face, but I'm defending those who do or wish too.

Really, you just need to read through the evidence I've provided you with to know that it is a part of Islam and what the Qur'an says about it.

SD, whenever my wife and I are out eating or having a cup of coffee.. we often spot those women in the niqab with the husband in the baseball cap, jeans and tshirt. It's not only distasteful.. it is sad when you see the woman trying to drink or eat. It just feels sad. Just... sad.

I don't understand this negative opinion of Muslim Men who wear Jeans or a shirt and are with Hijabi/Niqaabi Women? I don't see anything wrong with if the Husband and Wife are okay with it and the clothes cover his awrah. My Sister is a Niqaabi and both her and her husband are practicing Muslims. He has a proper Sunnah beard and they are very strict in their beliefs.
However, he does sometimes wear Jeans or cut-offs [above the ankle ofcourse :P] and a shirt. Islamically there isn't anything wrong with it. And believe me when I say that my Sister does not mind but it is recommended to wear clothing which are Sunnah.

Personally I wouldn't mind either if my husband [I don't have one - hypothetical situation] decided to wear Jeans or a shirt one day? I plan to marry someone who holds the same beliefs as I do and is on the same level of faith as I am. [Insha'Allah]. I don't wear the Niqab permanently, but I'm getting there. Again, if it is covering his awrah there isn't anything inherently wrong with it. There are different rulings for Men and Women.

The Women you feel sad for, have you ever spoken to any of them? Believe me when I say, that a lot of the Women who start wearing the Niqaab do so of their own free will. They don't wish to expose and covering the face is that extra leap in regards to your faith. I guess it is the concept that you keep your beauty only for your husband, etc. [You'll notice that a lot of Women start wearing it after they get married - lol] Secondly, a lot of Women who start wearing the Niqaab do so because of the increase in Imaan and the fact that it makes you feel closer to Allah subhanna wa ta'ala.

A couple of years I ago I hadn't thought about the Niqaab, but over the years, as I gained more religious knowledge and my faith increased, I've considered wearing it and I do wear it on and off. I have the utmost respect for Women who wear the Niqaab properly and permanently [and before they get married].

I've realised that we have different perspectives of things. For example, you feel sad for Niqaabi Women, while I on the other hand hold a lot of respect for them. I think the reason is because we both have different understanding of things. And that is completely acceptable. :)

What an individual might not be used to or doesn't understand the rulings off, or reason behind a certain thing, they will automatically be suspicious or hold different views about it.

I can probably imagine what goes on in the mind of the common Man or Woman who hasn't lived in a Muslim Society and never seen a Niqaabi Woman and then sees one for the first time. He or she will either be shocked, or have pity and will not be able to comprehend why she is so covered. [It is extremely easy to differentiate between tourists and those who live in Dubai in most of the malls]

The same way a Muslim Man or Woman who has lived in a very conservative Muslim society will not be able to comprehend why an individual would walk around half naked or why Women would demand to go topless in some Countries. Infact isn't nudity already allowed and accepted in some parts of Europe like Germany?

That is why I think such discussions are important. Dubai and the United Arab Emirates may have become multi-cultured in the past few years, but I still think some integration is required in regards to religion to dispel some myths and misconceptions

[I'm sorry for the long rant :o]

Veiled Muslimah said...

Rosh:

An aspect I gather from all this cover up recommended for women is that a woman need to protect herself from a man's prying eyes & unhealthy vibes. To me, the man comes across as a true villain of this costume drama (sorry Al - am trying to lighten up the mood here :)

If a man cannot hold his morals or hormones, why should a woman have to cover up? Shouldn't something be *corrected* at the male end? (no pun intended)


Rosh - It's not all about Men. [Sorry guys]. Wearing the Hijab/and the debated-on Niqaab is a commandment from Allah subhanna wa ta'ala. So say, when a Woman first starts wearing the Hijab, she is fulfilling one of the obligatory duties in Islam. Of course, not having Men hit on you and like you said, comment on your hair and looks is an advantage and one of the reasons too, but not the initial reason. If I somehow ended up in a society where there were, for some reason only Old Men or say, a society of Gay Men [I'm not attacking gay men here :o] I'd still wear Hijab.

Muslim men are required to lower their gaze. They're only allowed one glance. All the rest, they get accounted for. [ha-ha]. Now when I say lower your gaze, i don't meant literally walk in such a way that you'll bang your head against the wall. Just make sure your eyes don't wander, or you keep on staring at someone from the opposite gender.

Sadly enough you don't see a lot of Muslim Men practicing that.

Oh and Muslim Men have an awrah too, something that *needs* to be covered. [Like how Muslim Women have an awrah, and they cover with Hijab]. For Men its navel to the knees.

SevenSummits said...

Al,
requested paper is already in your inbox and I am still waiting for the one on “Wahabism”? Friendly reminder 7S style: Get it to me ASAP, pls! :- )
The report is not really positive and clearly shows how much we screwed up on this one :- (

Rosh, maybe men have not really evolved in the past 1400 years? (just a thought :- ))

Veiled Muslimah,
Thanks for this interesting point of view. In Germany we have special nudist beaches that are usually separated from the normal public places. Everywhere else it is illegal and considered a criminal offence and will be punished. However, as far as I know topless bathing is allowed in all Western European countries, but not in the States or in Latin America. Please consider that there are still numerous traditional societies out there that believe that this is the most natural thing on earth and would really be surprised to meet someone that things otherwise. (e.g. in Africa and Latin America)

In addition, there are abundant women in Europe that strongly dislike to be stared at by men and that is also a reason why you will find countless women in Europe that would never use any make-up, fashion or jewelry whatsoever. However as a paradox the major harassment for German women in Germany is coming especially from Turkish men. (they must have missed something :- ))

Please elaborate a little more in detail, how in your opinion wearing the niqaab is Islamic, because besides the fact that I didn’t find any reference to this in the Holy Qur'an, I never came across a single Islamic scholar (and I know lots of them) that will agree with what you are saying.

How will a tiny piece of cloth bring you closer to Allah? Isn’t modesty and acquiring/spreading knowledge, what you should focus on (which you are doing right now) – none of those gimmics that were described above: tons of jewelry, highlights, bleached skin, makeup, etc.?

And how will you reason that let us say in a world with hypothetically only gay men – that will not have sexual desires for you – you will need to cover up at all? Wasn’t that the original purpose to protect women?

Respectfully and with LOL from Germany :- ) (sorry i* - got to make sure)

rosh said...

"far as I know topless bathing is allowed in all Western European countries, but not in the States or in Latin America"

Not True 7S - ever been to Brazil? Or California? At least one nude beach or topless beach can be found in almost every county along the California coast.
These nude beach locations include Blacks' Beach, the most popular nude beach in the country and the nation's oldest nude beach (San Gregorio, where people have been going topless since 1967).

Or you just need to walk around in NYC, plenty of J Lo (Jennifer Lopez) numbers walk around the city. There's a top, but no need for imagination. Insecure women - seeking security & attention from insecure men.

rosh said...

"They don't wish to expose and covering the face is that extra leap in regards to your faith"

VM - respectfully, I cannot see logic or humanity in that phrase. God gave us our faces for a reason - our face & character, forms a critical part of our our identity. Hiding ones face from the world, is not something I would think, God had planned for us?

Why would a woman have to cover her face, but not a man?

Thanks for the posts, it does make people sit up and think.

:)

al-republican said...

OK, thank God we have sensible people talking about this topic. I will keep my fingers crossed that the RB-kind brigade is left out of this, hehe.

I find many points of convergence between both Muslims and non-Muslims here. One area that stands out is understanding the concept of "growing imaan". It is something most people will find hard to grasp due to their unfamiliarity with spirituality.

The concept of spirituality, in a nutshell, is pleasing the Lord. This pleasure is synonymous to how a person changes himself/herself to be appreciated by his peers or someone that he/she loves.

A "muslim" by definition is someone who SUBMITS his/her will to the Will of God. Why would one want to submit his/her will to an unseen Being is another topic I wont discuss here. So giving up material and temporal things is a means to attaining that link with God Almighty. The more you give up worldly requirements, the more you grow closer to God and start seeing things that are unseen to most human beings. My shaykh explains it to me like this: Man is made of spirit and flesh. The spirit's requirement is God and is inherently always trying to seek its way to Him. The flesh is inherently attached to the Earth (after all, it is made from Earth too). Its requirements are things like food, water, wealth, desires etc. The human spirits inherent nature to transcend towards God is actually hampered by the flesh's physical need and therefore it is important to tame the self to reach spiritual transcendence.

Cutting to what we are discussing here, it is inline with this reasoning that a "piece of cloth" can be seen as a MAJOR step towards attaining spiritual transcendence that the spirit yearns for. Not every woman would want to wear a niqab, just like not every man would want to wear a turban. But, the dressing of a person plays a MAJOR role in his/her relationship with Allah (SWT).

Rosh, try going to work tomorrow in clothes that are deemed repulsive by society. Observe people's reactions and observe yourself if you feel as confident and "empowered" as you do in your gucci or armani suit. It will make you realize how much you rely on these worldly things, which after all are just a consortium of pieces of cloth.

As a person's faith grows, he/she gives up material needs and appreciates how reliance on the Almighty is TRUE reliance. The biggest and arguably hardest of the material needs to give up is vanity. Take such niqabi women as the extreme opposite of women who inject all kinds of silicon in themselves to attract attention. These try to ward off ANY attention whatsoever. Yes, it might look oppressive and repulsive (like a bushy beard and turban), but it does WONDERS from a spiritual angle.

Finally, someone might say how a turbaned guy they met was nothing like what I have described above or how some niqabis are flirty etc. That is their personal weakness and the sincere cannot be held hostage to the insincere.

Also, let me make it clear that I am nothing NEAR spiritual piety. I have a LONG, LONG way to go, but I certainly do appreciate the Truth that veiled muslimah speaks.

SevenSummits said...

Rosh,
Those are separate “special” beaches you are describing, but in general it is illegal – not so? Field experiment: Have Mrs. A and Ms. B go into Central Park and taking their tops off – how long will it take for the cops to intervene?
I have been to Brazil many times (just love the place and those gorgeous tiny bikinis), but topless in public – a no go and against the law! Besides I wouldn’t know a single Brazilian woman that wouldn’t know that the tiny piece of cloth she is wearing on the beach is way more sexy! :- )))
J Lo impersonators around? Yeah everywhere, in NY, in Hamburg and in Dubai – bad taste is obviously a global trend!

Al,
but …. Mmmmhhh …. I just tend to agree with Rosh, God gave women a face and why on earth should it be hidden? We are allowed to see yours as well aren’t we?

In regards to “outfit” – I believe it depends a lot on your personality and anyone can walk around in stuff that would not exactly fit the general hype. If you have a real strong character you do not have to hide behind designer clothes to proof who you are in society. Well, some people will use their attire to make a statement: Either I am hip (for the young generation – been there! :- )), I am rich (or would pretend to be), I belong to a special group (uniform), shaved hair and military boots (NeoNazi), wrapped into an Israel flag in DC sub (I am really dumb!), and, and , or simply niqaab symbolizing in our view “I am different and want to have nothing to do with you, so stay away”.
We have a problem with the last one, because it stops interaction.

I agree with most of what you said, but still have not seen the proof that “niqaab” has anything to do with Islam? and the place where this is advised or even recommended by God? Could it simply be that the interpretation was done by “males”? (and they didn’t trust their hormones?) I also believe that there is quite a difference between hiding a woman’s shape and hair (her beauty – ok makes sense, even a lot!), but the logical conclusion would be that this does not apply to elderly women (assuming that shape and hair will not trigger the hormones of males any more) and much worse is that fact that with a face fail you will take away a woman’s identity completely. (isn’t that somehow disrespectful?)
Besides all the other considerations: As a professor you would not even know who is taking the exam, males could be disguising as females in this fashion, trouble with eating and drinking, airport security will obviously request the niqaab to be removed, etc.?

Very interesting the notion on those material things:
In the country where I grew up most of my friends (Muslims) received their primary education from missionaries. First of all those missionaries (usually from the US) never tried to convert anyone, secondly they lived in absolute poverty in those remote villages to dedicate their lives to helping others. Just amazing! Most of them even died there and against Islamic tradition, people still take care of their graves by planting flowers etc. until today, just to honor their memory. I believe this is being really religious, wow and of course far from anything that I would ever be able to achieve.

oynk said...

I find this "closer to Allah" thing to be very subjective. Is the Qu'ran explicit about a niqaab making you "feel closer to Allah"? As a non-Muslim, it's none of my business, but one finds differing views within the same religion on such issues (e.g., SevenSummits), so to me, wearing a niqaab translates as an individual's personal choice, rather than obedience (which indirectly implies that someone who chooses not to wear a niqaab is disobedient or less spiritual).

We know that there are those within the group that carry machineguns and "feel closer to Allah" when terminating indifels with the camera rolling; does this mean that those who don't carry machineguns are less spiritual? You see the point I'm trying to make...each one is making a personal choice based on religion, it's not an automatic indictment of the other person, nor is everyone else compelled to accept the niqaab wearer's point of view.

It's their choice; they have every right to do it; they feel better doing it; leave them alone.

The question raised by the original post is not whether it's right or wrong to wear the niqaab; it's whether a niqaab wearer is justified in demanding that certain types of jobs be given to them despite niqaabs being considered inappropriate for such positions (such as the hospital nurse).

Veiled Muslimah said...

So many points to tackle, where do I start?

Sevensummits:

Please elaborate a little more in detail, how in your opinion wearing the niqaab is Islamic, because besides the fact that I didn’t find any reference to this in the Holy Qur'an, I never came across a single Islamic scholar (and I know lots of them) that will agree with what you are saying.

I could provide you with evidence here but I think it would take up a lot of space. I’ve linked my post before too, if only people would click it.

Here, I’ll link it again:

http://crazyblueh.blogspot.com/2007/06/on-niqaab.html

They do a very good job of explaining the evidence present in the Qur’an and Sunnah for Niqaab.

How will a tiny piece of cloth bring you closer to Allah? Isn’t modesty and acquiring/spreading knowledge, what you should focus on (which you are doing right now) – none of those gimmics that were described above: tons of jewelry, highlights, bleached skin, makeup, etc.?

I think Al Republican does a good job off explaining the concept of Imaan and the whole give-up-the-material life and how it affects your faith. I don’t know how to explain it properly, but I’ll still give it a try [and hopefully I won’t make a muck of it] As a Muslim, I take into account what Allah subhanna wa ta’ala has commanded us to do. We are told to obey Allah and his Messenger in the Qur’an.

{And obey Allah and the messenger, that you may find mercy} (3:132).

One realises, that once you start following the rules and duties of Islam, you automatically start coming closer to God and one main goal of the Muslim is to attain Paradise. [I hope I’m making sense here] Islam isn’t a religion which can be separated from your daily life or something you just have in your heart and then you go on and follow nothing of what it tells you to do. A lot of Girls/Women who start wearing the Hijab do so after a certain period of time where they’ve become more ‘religious’ and attained some knowledge. Of course, modesty and acquiring knowledge are an integral part of Islam and what every Muslim should be doing or aiming to go.

Most of the Scholars of Islam agree upon the fact that true Imaan is achieved by three things: Testifying with the tongue [Saying ‘there is no God but Allah], believing it fully in your heart and third, actions based on Imaan. Your actions must reflect and verify your beliefs.

Now coming back to the main topic, when a Woman starts wearing Hijab, she is covering for the sake of Allah. [That is one of the main reasons] We all know that Woman [And Men] like looking beautiful or nice. It is human nature. But when a Woman wears Hijab she is giving up looking beautiful in the Worldly sense. [Of course, a lot of Muhajibah Women still look nice.] A lot of Hijabi Women go on to become Niqaabi Women and usually it is because of the increase in Imaan. You’ll find that majority of the Muslim Women Islamic Scholars all wear Niqaab. The times I’ve worn the Niqaab, I’ve liked it. I’ve personally felt my faith increase and it is a nice experience. Insha’Allah this Ramadan I plan to wear it more often.
We have this concept that good actions and deeds, that are in accordance with the Qur’an and Sunnah increase the faith and help us in the hereafter.

In a Hadith in Sahih Bukari it is stated: said: ‘Al-Iman is sayings and action that increases (by good deeds) and decreases (by bad deeds).’

If the above paragraph didn’t make any sense, my sincere apologies.

Also, the Ummahat al-Mumineen [The Mothers of the believers – the Wives of the Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasallam] all covered their faces. And they are the role-models of Muslim Women.

And how will you reason that let us say in a world with hypothetically only gay men – that will not have sexual desires for you – you will need to cover up at all? Wasn’t that the original purpose to protect women?

I gave the gay men scenario to point out the fact that the Hijab/Niqaab is not only worn because off Men. Yes, it is one of the main reasons, but like I said before, not the initial reason. The prime reason is because God has commanded us to do it and we do it for the sake of Allah subhanna wa ta’ala. Oh and gay men are still men, and Islamically there is a whole different opinion about them. [Lets not get into that :P]

Anyway I’m curious, I was reading an article on Germany [Which for some reason I can’t find right now – argh] and it mentioned how nudist camps and beaches had gone in decline because exposing had become so common. No one bothered getting a membership anymore. Oh and there was a case where a Woman walked in a store wearing nothing but unbuttoned denim jacked and the police officers decided not to arrest her? Maybe the article was either old or giving wrong information considering what you’ve said.

Veiled Muslimah said...

I'm exhausted, and I still haven't had lunch. Rosh I'll get back to you later.

If we have any bookworms among us, and if you're really interested, I'd recommend reading 'From my Sisters' Lips by Nai'ma B. Roberts. I loved that book. She is a revert to Islam and she tells her story of how she went from the career oriented, sophisticated, fashionable Woman to the practicing Niqaabi she is now.

Last I saw it was at Magrudys.

SevenSummits said...

Veiled Muslimah,
Thanks for the long response. I will need to go into some details and read up on some of your points to be able to give a proper response. :- )
BTW,
I made your link clickable for easier access

In the meantime I will include you in my prayers :- )

أَحْسِنْ إلي الناس تستعبد قلوبهم

(PS: To all of the rest out there - any hate mail responses please to sevensummitsuae@yahoo.com)

Veiled Muslimah said...

7s:

No problem. Take your time. I'm wondering, how did you make the link clickable? I'd been trying to do it, but it wouldn't work.

insha'alla ill keep you in my prayers too. I like that proverb. :)

oynk said...

The internal debates among Muslims about who told who to wear the niqaab and why can be quite tedious for others to go through fully...so please forgive some of us for not clicking those links etc....

SevenSummits: I find your views on this to be reasoned and practical...why would you be expecting hate mail? Not from the Taliban, I hope.

Veiled Muslimah: what do you think about what I said a little earlier regarding your post:

"The question raised by the original post is not whether it's right or wrong to wear the niqaab; it's whether a niqaab wearer is justified in demanding that certain types of jobs be given to them..."

[Feeling a bit ignored here, heh.]

Kyle said...

The times I’ve worn the Niqaab, I’ve liked it. I’ve personally felt my faith increase and it is a nice experience.

Veiled Muslimah

I’m new to this region, having moved here recently. However, I do find the above statement of yours a bit interesting when you say you find your faith increase when you totally cover up yourself. But I think, faith (increase or decrease) is linked to what one believes in and not by the fact what one wears, isn’t it?

Say, from tomorrow morning, I start attending Church on a daily basis, does that mean I’ve had a sudden rush of faith or I do it because I want to. So, would you agree with me that it has nothing to do with one’s faith but more of a need to do so, yes?

And before any (not you Se7en) of the righteous (know-it-all about religion) guys shoot back with a litany, please note I’m not interested in your views. I’m only interested to read what Veiled Muslimah has to say in response to my query.

Veiled Muslimah said...

Oynk:

Veiled Muslimah: what do you think about what I said a little earlier regarding your post:

"The question raised by the original post is not whether it's right or wrong to wear the niqaab; it's whether a niqaab wearer is justified in demanding that certain types of jobs be given to them..."

[Feeling a bit ignored here, heh.]


Yes, I’ve realised we’ve gone slightly off-topic in our discussion. But I suppose that’s okay in the long run. About demanding jobs, I’m giving my personal view on this, so I’ll tread a bit carefully here. I don’t think the article says anywhere that these Women are “demanding” to get those jobs? They’ve applied for them and found that they weren’t accepted because of their face-veil.

Now, over here, some firms still take in Women who want to work but as mentioned before they do administrative jobs or jobs which don’t put them in contact with others. [Alhamdulilah] I think that is better then not finding a Job at all.

However, in other Countries, where a Woman walking around in a Niqaab is an alien, it is hard to find any sort of employment.

Honestly, [And I know I may be attacked because of this] Muslim/Arab Countries should be more lenient towards Women who wear the Niqaab because for once, I’d think they they’d at least realise and understand why these Women wear the Niqaab.

One of the reasons that article puts forward about why those Women don’t get their jobs is because people won’t like interacting with them. I think, we have some informal standards and rules set in our Society which we at times cannot look beyond.

We’ve painted a picture of Niqaabi Women as being unapproachable and someone who should not be a part of Society because they refuse to show their face. Can a person for a while, ignore the face-veil and look at the qualities and creativeness of the person? Are facial features so important that a person just absolutely cannot look beyond them? Is that so hard to do? I happen to know a lot of Niqabi Women from different walks of life who are well educated, friendly and sincere and believe me when I say they are as normal as other Women.

The Niqaab and the Hijab to a certain extent have always been controversial subjects. And especially after 9/11, when Muslims were in the spotlight, the media hasn’t helped in portraying a very friendly picture of Muslim Women, especially those who cover.

Secondly, I think a bit of the fault lies in the Muslim/Arab World too. If firms and companies for a start did allow Muslim Women who wear the Niqaab to work in positions where they did interact with others, people would get used to it and it would help in dispel a lot of myths about Muslim Women who wear the Niqaab.

Anyway, the above is just my personal opinion. I’m not forcing it upon anybody. Just expressing what I think.

[Which I think a lot of people will disagree with :o ]

Others, have patience. I’m human after all. And my hands do get tired too. :)

Veiled Muslimah said...

Kyle:

I’m new to this region, having moved here recently. However, I do find the above statement of yours a bit interesting when you say you find your faith increase when you totally cover up yourself. But I think, faith (increase or decrease) is linked to what one believes in and not by the fact what one wears, isn’t it?

Say, from tomorrow morning, I start attending Church on a daily basis, does that mean I’ve had a sudden rush of faith or I do it because I want to. So, would you agree with me that it has nothing to do with one’s faith but more of a need to do so, yes?


No, I think I’ll have to disagree. For Muslims our faith increases/decreases according to our actions. Islam cannot be kept separate from your daily life. You cannot just say, ‘I believe in Allah’ and then go on to drink alcohol and fornicate thinking that is ‘okay’. There is no concept of a separate State and separate religion. In short, Islam is a way of life. Your action, how you dress, how you behave, etc have a very big impact.

It says in the Qurán:

“Alif, Lam, Mim, do people think that they will be left alone on (merely) saying: ‘We believe,’ and not be tested (in their claims)? We have indeed tested those who were before them; and Allah will certainly make it known those who were truthful and He will certainly make known the liars.” [Surah Ankabut 29:1-2]

Like I said before, In a Hadith in Sahih Bukari it is stated: said: ‘Al-Iman is sayings and action that increases (by good deeds) and decreases (by bad deeds).

And: "My slave continues getting closer to Me by performing voluntary deeds until I love him." [al-Bukhari]

When I’ve worn the Niqaab [Face-veil – Not to be mistaked with the Hijab], I felt that I’m stepping up the ladder in terms of deeds. I know I will get rewarded for it because it is something that is in Islam. And secondly, like I mentioned before, I wouldn’t have considered wearing the Niqaab a couple of years ago, but only after I’d gained a certain amount of religious knowledge and my Imaan increased that I considered it. Like al republican mentioned in his post, not every Woman will opt to wear the Niqaab, infact I know a few Hijabis who wouldn’t think about it and I still don’t wear it permanently.

I’m not sure how much you’ll understand of this, but in Islam we also have the concept of Jihadun-Nafs. [The struggle against ones own soul] Not to be confused with the physical Jihad.

Every Muslim is required to practice Jihadun-Nafs. It means that an individual puts Gods commandments and laws over his or her own personal desires and follows what Allah has told us to do. This type of jihad also includes forcing oneself to behave with the best manners, the best morals, to follow the Quran and Sunnah and to stay away from bad behavior at a time when our desires tell us the opposite.

It says in the Qur’an:

Have you (O Muhammad SAW) seen him who has taken as his ilâh (god) his own vain desire? Would you then be a Wakîl (a disposer of his affairs or a watcher) over him? (25:43)

And

“He followed his own desire. So his example is like that of a dog: if you chase him he pants, or if you leave him, he [still] pants.” (7:176)

And about the person who controlled the passion of his soul/self God says:

“But as for he who feared the standing before his Lord and restrained the soul from [his] desire, then indeed, Paradise will be his refuge.” (79:40-41).

The Prophet said: al-mujahidu man jahada nafsahu fi ta`at Allah `azza wa jall

(“The struggler is the one who strives against his soul/self in obedience to God, the Mighty and Majestic”) [Tirmidhî, Ibn Mâjah, Ibn Hibbân, Tabarânî, Hâkim, etc.]

For some Women wearing the Niqaab is also Jihaadun Nafs, for which ultimately the reward if with Allah. For others it is a voluntary deed, for which again, the reward is with Allah.

“And whoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant) will see it (on the Day of Resurrection to be rewarded) and whoever does mischief equal to the weight of an atom shall see it.” [Surah Zalzalah 99:7-8]

Veiled Muslimah said...

Rosh:


VM - respectfully, I cannot see logic or humanity in that phrase. God gave us our faces for a reason - our face & character, forms a critical part of our our identity. Hiding ones face from the world, is not something I would think, God had planned for us?

Why would a woman have to cover her face, but not a man?

Thanks for the posts, it does make people sit up and think.

:)


Hmm, you probably can’t, but as a Muslim Woman I can. Different perspectives and point of view on things I guess? I accept it as a part of Islam, and I don’t find anything odd with it actually. For most Women, wearing Niqaab is a higher level of modesty, but I guess a lot of people who wouldn’t understand or who aren’t exactly familiar with wouldn’t view it as such.

Why can a Woman have babies and Men can’t? :P

Men and Women are made differently and have different roles in life regardless of what feminists say. [I hope we don’t have any hardcore feminists reading this, lol].

Your welcome. As long as they are of help. :)

Veiled Muslimah said...

Sevensummits:

I missed this in my former post.

I didn’t find any reference to this in the Holy Qur'an, I never came across a single Islamic scholar (and I know lots of them) that will agree with what you are saying.

I think I already covered the evidence part in being in the link I’ve provided. In regards to the Scholars, I’m hoping they aren’t the ones who try to please everybody and give everyone a religious verdict whenever they want to? From what I’ve studied and all the Scholars I know, Niqaab is a part of Islam. Even the major schools of thought [The Hanafis, Shafies, Malikis and Hanbalis] agree that is a part of Islam. But what is disputed is if it is compulsory or recommended. [I think I’ve said this a hundred times, sorry] The only Scholars I’ve across who actually say that Niqaab has absolutely no basis in Islam are either part of the modernist movement or progressives or want to please the West. And honestly, I’d stay away from those.

Kyle said...

Veiled Muslimah

Thanks for your response and the quotes. I’ll have to do a bit more of my own research before I debate further on this sensitive issue. Although, I must say it’s a little too far fetched for me to understand especially the concept of reward but I’ll take your word for it, for now.

Kyle said...

Veiled Muslimah

Just out of curiosity, what do you make of any (good, kind or decent) woman that does not cover herself be that with a niqaab or hijab? Is she considered any lesser and looked down upon with those who do?

SevenSummits said...

Oynk,
The fact that I ignored your comments was not done intentionally, but simply pragmatic following the global principle “Ladies first!” :- )
[Besides, it a weekend and my mum expects a little construction being done for her, so I didn’t want my mixed cement to turn into solid rock”]

I have realized that on this blogosphere you can get a “hateful response” for even agreeing with someone (especially my critical remarks do not exactly help the situation and some will use about any excuse to try to proof that they are hotshots.) and simply out of respect to the topic and of course Veiled Muslimah, I tried to avoid it this time around. Kyle has formulated it a bit more stylish though and let us just all hope that those loonies got the msg.

Veiled Muslimah:
I have sent the requested HTML ínfo to your email.
Every other meaningful response will take a little time … :- )

hemlock said...

VM, youve done a brilliant job answering a lot of comments :)

what bothers me most is why people find they must offer their sympathies to anyone whose beliefs they cannot comprehend.

just because someone is different doesnt necessarily make them wrong, or you right.

tolerance would actally mean
i) letting a woman dress in any damn way she wants and not making an issue out of it
ii) letting her husband dress in any damn way he wants, and not making that an issue either
iii) not patronizing people who have nothing to do with you. obviously you do not understand where they are coming from.

how can one critique icecream if theyve never tasted it? or comment on someone's life when theyve never walked in their shoes?

as a woman, ive toyed with the idea of veiling myself simply because im SICK of being oogled at, or cat-called or "admired"... that too, when im "dressed for work" and NOT walking to seek male approval. and ironically, none of this has anything to do with my faith.

Anonymous said...

This a wonderful debate going on here. Thankfully no indecent things have been posted. (guess the authors are on vacation) Although vm has done a wonderful job of justifying the islamic way of dressing. It will be difficult for the western mind to comprehend the concept. If one were to go back Europeans had the similar feelings when they saw the natives of the all the places they colonized. Then it was the natives who wore scanty and immodest attire and the europeans were morally upright and wore modest clothes, wealth ladies even wore the veil. Now the mind set remains the same but only dressing style has changed the western women choosing to use less clothes. Guess in a few decades it may be back to old stage!

Kyle said...

anonymous at 18:41

Yes, it was a wonderful debate respectfully laid out until you posted your ridiculous comment.

I'd say, it's the likes of you that resemble a thorn on the path to understanding and most of all co-existence.

You dig my drift hotshot?

al-republican said...

Kyle, watch it. All eyes are on you here. Anonymous didn't say anything that should make you lose your marbles.

In any event, the "terrorists" are still around...

Kyle said...

All eyes are on you here.

I'm already quaking in my Florsheims here.

And in any event, I've not crossed the line. So I suggest you back up your threat with a credible fact.

You see you're exactly the one whose know-it-all opinion I didn't want in the first place. Because this topic is about the hijab and niqaab & it has nothing to do with you being a Man. However, when the topic revolves around a man's dressing style, I'll keep you on my radar :)

Now you dig?

al-republican said...

So I gather Kyle is interested in the niqab for himself? Would you be interested in some nice henna deocration on your hands like that young girl playing chess? It would compliment your niqab pretty well.

Take a chill pill, Kyle, I am just kidding.

oynk said...

Al-R, since no one else seems interested in addressing the primary proposition, perhaps you can help out.

My question again, based on VM's original post:

Is it reasonable and acceptable for an individual, who wears the niqab out of a perceived religious compulsion, to insist that they be given equal consideration for jobs requiring personal interaction, possibly with both sexes?

(I.e., that the niqab should not be considered a factor by a potential employer in such a situation.)

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