Faith, Featured, Women

Is the niqabi woman honoured or oppressed?

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, so perhaps when people encounter a niqabi woman like myself and feel the need to discourteously ask me to go back to my country, they are just intimidated by the profundity of my soul. However, a more likely reason would be the growing epidemic of ignorance. I often wonder how many people who pass me on the street and think to themselves, “look at the poor, oppressed, brainwashed girl.” It is absolutely mystifying how people could be so adamant in their opposition to something without even attempting to understand it. I have read and listened to a multitude of people expound on their logic behind their animosity towards the niqab. The reality is, most of these people have never even had so much as a conversation with a Muslim woman, let alone a niqabi. The stigma and misconception attached to niqabis are disquieting. Believe it or not, niqabis are actually people just like everybody else, with opinions, and passions. If people took some time out to engage in a conversation with them, it would be made apparent that most of their aversions towards the niqab are baseless.

Assumptions

The immediate assumption the public forms when they come across a niqabi woman, is “she was forced to wear that. Her husband made her, her father made her, her brother made her.” Many people appear to be shell-shocked when they learn otherwise. Two years ago, I was sitting at a bus stop and a young high school girl sat next to me. After staring at me for a while she proceeded to tell me, very timidly that she believes I don’t want to wear “that” (pointing to my niqab). Of course, after, I informed her that it was, in fact, my choice to adorn the niqab, her reaction was of genuine shock. It wasn’t even rude, she was honestly mind blown. Fortunately, this encounter can be considered a fortuitous one, as it ended up turning very insightful where she took it upon herself to rectify her ignorance and listened to me with an open heart. It’s incredible how all it took was a single conversation to shift her perspective.

This niqab of mine is my own choice. Moreover, it is a choice I wholeheartedly love and embrace.

I was not forced

My father was oblivious to the fact that I was even considering wearing the niqab, until the day I actually started wearing it. I am not married, and my brothers are both significantly younger than me, so no man in my life could’ve influenced my decision. However, those who are forced to wear niqab by the males in their lives have been greatly wronged and are indeed oppressed. Those who force it upon women are not following any religion, only their own malicious desires. The preferment to wear the niqab is an extraordinarily intimate one, and it is a means for that individual to enhance their relationship with God. It is my reminder that I am a Muslim woman, honoured by the Almighty, with a much more preeminent purpose. It does not serve the purpose of helping men to keep their sexual desires in check, that responsibly falls on the man alone, regardless of my choice of attire. This liability is ordained by Allah, Himself.

I am more than what I wear

The niqab is not a veil upon my intellect and personality. Despite the fact that all niqabis appear to be in uniform, the niqab actually serves to highlight our individuality. Niqabis are the very opposite of demure and narrow-minded. Contrary to popular belief, we are not submissive to any man. We think for ourselves, and our interests and hobbies are vast. We hold strong opinions on a myriad of subjects, ranging from politics to the arts to social issues to religion. Take me for example – I love to occupy my leisure hours reading crime fiction novels. I am ardent in my love for the written word and I am obsessed with skincare and makeup. I am what you would call a “hopeless romantic” and I have a habit of cracking jokes quite often. Under the niqab is a radiant individual whose unusual choice of garments do not function like the moon covering the sun’s glow, rather, it acts to elevate and reinforce the woman.

We are doctors, lawyers, writers, artists, educators and anything else you could possibly think of. The niqab is not a hindrance to prosperity. The niqab forces the world to look beyond my corporeal aspects and to fully discern what a person is truly comprised of. In this society, there’s no denying that a woman’s worth has been reduced to their bodies, the “perfection” of their skin, and the size of their lips. Women are shamed and pressured when their bodies no longer have the same youthful, blemish-free appearance before childbirth. Is this the great liberating society I should take part in? If so, no thank you. Every single one of our bodies will coalesce with the very earth we roam, so this fanaticism with appearance is absolutely senseless. While we are fond of the art of makeup and revel in the satisfaction of looking good, the niqab reminds us that all of this is essentially just frivolous play. Our legacy will be in our warmth and compassion, in the lives we have touched, in the number deeds enacted for Allah’s pleasure.



We are not oppressed

Labelling the niqab a symbol of anti-feminism and oppression is both comical and inequitable. We are vehemently reaching out to the world, telling you we are NOT oppressed. The world’s persistent refusal to hear us is incredibly injurious and irreverent not only to Muslim women, but to all women. Everyone is so heavily focused on a woman’s clothing or lack of, that that’s all she becomes… the gentleness of her heart and the brilliance of her mentality is less than an afterthought. If a woman is seen in niqab, it becomes ludicrous to suggest that her innovative thinking has the potential to transform the world. A woman in a niqab is seen as tantamount to an imbecile, complaint to the whims of men.

It is time the world puts an end to defining women by their clothing, especially niqabi women and reforming such inaccurate outlooks. The niqabi woman is resplendent and vivacious in character, to portray her as anything else is utterly erroneous. Such grave misapprehensions about niqab is a consequence of ignorance. Ignorance is a disease which can only be cured with impartial questioning and reflection, so open your heart, look beyond the surface and you will discover that Muslim women are positively scintillating.


by Noshin Bokth.

Noshin Bokth is a student of deen and aspiring writer. She has a passion for the written word. She hopes that by sharing her reflections and experiences through her writing, she can provide people with a place to find comfort and bring them closer to Islam. She is Bengali-American and the oldest in her family. She has her own blog where she shares her writing, that is focused on Islamic Spirituality. Feedyoursoulhere.com

8 Comments

  1. Ignorance and media brainwashing at it’s best…..

    Seriously dude. You think a nun can cover up for god but muslims can’t ? Saudi arabia is not islamic in the best ways even muslims say that.
    You should stop focusing on us and the middle east and see what’s around you. The whole world is has many terrible people from non muslims to muslims. Raping, killing, stealing, abuse and many other stuff yet you focus on us a lot because that’s what the media highlights as it makes them billions when doing so.
    Also saudi arabia has many cultural issues and doesn’t have that got mixed with islam unfortunately, but you must know half of what you mentioned is wrong in islam’s perspective. Plus you can’t just do them without authority and deep search and ruilings while doing so.
    Niqab is not an evil sack, it’s a woman’s choice and jot for oppression it’s for a spiritual journey and i’m aware that many niqabis wear it while being educated on islam.

    We respect Christians and we love jesus as he is our prophet. Please if you want to preach Christianity go guide some atheists maybe they need it :) but already know where the truth is. Peace

  2. There is a lot of social and economic pressure on Muslim women not to wear Burqa. Christine Braddock thinks people will be safe from one another as long as they can see one another’s face. Perhaps she doesn’t know that the vast majority of crimes are committed by people who have their face uncovered and on display for all to see.

    I have seen western educated Muslim women are in Burqa while their mothers never even covered their heads in Pakistan. I do not know whether it is due to western education or because they find themselves victim of racism. According to Lord Bartend Russell, western education makes a man stupid and selfish. The credit crunch in the world is due to the policies of blue eyed western educated elites. British schooling is also in a mess because of such western educated elites.

    Burqa is not locking women, it is a buffer line between protecting chastity and exposing. Being naked and drunk is acceptable but being covered and modest is inhuman.

    No body has the right to tell a woman how to dress, or worse, how to undress? Let her wear what she likes, especially if it’s part of her religion. I see the banning of headscarves or Niqabs as an attack on both religious freedom and on the rights of women & girls. A veil ban targets very few women; it speaks to a fear of other who is Muslim. This is Islamophobia. In the United Kingdom, there is a social and economic pressure on Muslim women not to cover themselves with headscarf or a veil. The tiny minority of women are being blamed for all the failure of integration policies through out Europe. European Muslims are more worried about the economy, the cost of living, decent housing and racism than about a Burqa ban.

    French president wants Muslim women to be topless like his wife who posed topless in fashion shows. He has no right to ban the Burqa because it is undemocratic and an unqualified attack on individual freedom. Burqa is not just a piece of cloth but a lot of ideological and cultural connotation to it. Women are just being exploited in the name of rights. Burqa protects women’s rights and treat each women like a princess. No one has the right to ban the freedom of choice in a secular and democratic country. The right to choice is a basic fundamental right the person should have.

    French president’s interpretation of Burqa as a symbol of subservience is false. It is a usual habit of western ideologists to twist history and distort the facts in order to project their culture as superior one. The president should be criminally tried for spreading such falsehood. To veil or not to veil should be an individual choice. Dress codes are for children, not for adults. Government legislated dress codes for the Taliban religious policy not western democracies. Women should be free to wear bursas. If women can get away with wearing cropped shirts and pants that show their panties, they should be able to wear Burqas too.

    Those Muslim women in Europe who want to wear Burqa are being asked to migrate to another country, remind one of Shiv Sena’s suggestion to India’s Muslims to migrate to Pakistan or Qubarstan(graveyard). There is no difference of mentality between Hindus and Europeans. Both of them have no respect and tolerate those who are different.

    People should understand that better than 90% of the women in France and Belgium (as also UK and Germany) who wear Burqa, are young women who were born in those countries; they did not migrate from another country. In fact some of them converted to Islam from Christianity and Judaism. .

    The lawmakers in Belgium and France are trying to target such a small population is pure irrationality. Unless the motivation is racial and sectarian hatred of the Muslims. The same as BJP and Sangh Parivar in India.

    Equal rights, human rights, women’s; rights are not just nice topics of discussion after dinner; or to make women the plaything for men’s pleasure. They mean the right of each woman to determine her lifestyle as she so chooses. The best thing to spread something is to outlaw it. If you outlaw burqas now in France, it will soon stand as a martyred symbol of ethnic cultural tradition in the face of racist oppression. Do you really want that? The fact is that western tradition of exposing female skin for the edification of the male sex is degrading. I think I’d rather walk around the street looking like a ninja than wearing what girls these days are expected to wear. If I dressed up like a ninja all the time in the street It wouldn’t hurt any one. So why the big fuss? I see the argument for oppression, but how the heck are you gonna know if its oppression or if the woman really wants to cover up?

    Human rights organizations have declared such bans to be illegal and a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as violating the rights to freedom of expression and religion. Lawyers for human rights and Islamic groups are preparing to challenge the bans in both national courts and eventually, the European Court of Human Rights.

    One Muslim woman, Caroline Chaiima, writing in Lepoint.fr, said she wore a veil: “Let those most closely concerned speak. I am a French woman born in France, with French parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and I am a Muslim. I wear the full veil and I feel like saying: So what? I am happy behind the veil, I protect myself from depraved stares. Neither my father, nor my brother, nor my husband forced the full veil upon me; it’s a personal choice.”
    IA
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

  3. I believe in Freedom.
    Wear whatever you want, fill your boots!
    Unfortunately though, in many parts of the world such as saudiBarberia Women are treated like dogs, like dirt, like possessions, and they are subjugated misogynized beaten, raped from childhood, and endure all manner of debaucherous human rights abuses.
    The “full gunslot headbag” forced at early adulthood when young girls most self-conscious and socially awkward relieves them of the social anxiety of worrying about their appearance.
    as such they become psychologically dependent on being invisible beneath the headbag and removing it in public would be almost impossible making them feel terribly exposed.
    Pure misogynistic subjugating psychological manipulation.
    This was invented by evil insecure inbred hate ideology cult zealots, stunted inhumane “men” following the instructions in the hate filled koran.
    De-evolved primates who couldn’t get a willing & consenting woman if their life depended on it.
    molesters who abduct little girls because teen or adult women would kick them in their deformed balls.
    Wear your headbag if that’s your thing, Freedom is great!
    But DONT EVER DENY WHAT THE ORIGON & PURPOSE OF THIS EVIL SACK IS.
    IT IS A SYMBOL OF SEXIST HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE.
    and it also has one other “secondary purpose”:
    In a homo genocidal society of intolerance and opression, where gays or thrown from the mosq tower, the head bag is a perfect way to hide the fact that your child “bride” is actually a little boy!
    It’s time all you people learned about Jesus (he’s in your koran!) and his clear righteous message of Love Peace Equality Forgiveness Healing Charity Honesty Decency Morality & Good over evil.
    It’s the reason muslims always refugee to Christian Nations and never the other way around (except for psychopaths that leave the way to join isis so they can rape children & mass murder).
    No one can refute or deny the FACTS i have stated above.
    Shame on you deceptive TRUTHOFOBIACS..!!
    I pray for your Salvation & Conversion to Christ, otherwise your souls will burn in hell.

    1. Ignorance and media brainwashing at it’s best…..

      Seriously dude. You think a nun can cover up for god but muslims can’t ? Saudi arabia is not islamic in the best ways even muslims say that.
      You should stop focusing on us and the middle east and see what’s around you. The whole world is has many terrible people from non muslims to muslims. Raping, killing, stealing, abuse and many other stuff yet you focus on us a lot because that’s what the media highlights as it makes them billions when doing so.
      Also saudi arabia has many cultural issues and doesn’t have that got mixed with islam unfortunately, but you must know half of what you mentioned is wrong in islam’s perspective. Plus you can’t just do them without authority and deep search and ruilings while doing so.
      Niqab is not an evil sack, it’s a woman’s choice and jot for oppression it’s for a spiritual journey and i’m aware that many niqabis wear it while being educated on islam.

      We respect Christians and we love jesus as he is our prophet. Please if you want to preach Christianity go guide some atheists maybe they need it :) but already know where the truth is. Peace

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    1. Christians who murder & rape are NOT doing what Jesus said to do.
      muslims who follow moohumad’s example (war, murder, theft, deceit, rape) ARE following their cult.
      LOVE vs. hate,
      TRUTH vs. lies,
      GOOD vs. evil….

      1. Whe you say this is hypocrisy and bigotry. You say that Christians who do sich acts are not following jesus yet muslims who so are?! Seriously?! All of what you said is completely forbidden and has a punishment.
        Go read from an actual islamic sites not the ones who spread anti islamic information. Go meet an actual muslim or at least take some time to read on of the articles here. Better than sitting here and looking like a real ignorant person.

  5. In Australia it was always established that the only people to hide their identity were criminals.
    Normal human communication involves body language as well as spoken. Hiding oneself is a conscious rejection of the world around you.
    The modesty claim in a non-Muslim society backfires because it is equally declaring all other women immodest and declaring to males that all other women have consequences for not being modest.
    Secular countries are communities that have consciously removed religious moral and political control. Communities that bring religious control are simply acting like christian priests and bishops in the past.
    Questions about Muslim customs are simply the same questions that christianity faced in the past. Assuming such questioning to be racism amounts to paranoia. But paranoia is a great cohesive element if there is nothing else to offer.
    If Allah is an almighty God then he is able to come outside the mosque into the rest of the world. Maybe women can follow Allah outside of the niqab too.

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