Time for a confession: I wore the face veil for eight years

The moment I click “publish” on this blog entry, the judging will start. I do not enjoy being judged, although I should be accustomed to it by now.

As a kid in America, I was a “brain” or the “religious girl”. Later on in Egypt as a university student, I was the half-American girl who had a weird Egyptian accent. I’ve been called too conservative by liberals and too liberal by conservatives. When I worked as a journalist with IslamOnline, I was labeled by non-IOLers as an “Islamist” journalist even though I almost completely avoided writing about religion. And right now I think I’m just confusing people as they are finding it more and more difficult to place me in a convenient box.

I’ve avoided making today’s confession for many years. Most people I have worked with since I started my career do not know this side of me. And I’ve hid it to avoid further judgments, labels, and categorizations.

But the time has come. Blog posts come to me like labor. The water breaks and the words pour out. No matter how hard I resist, they are going to come out and be delivered, gosh darnit!

So here it is:

I wore the face veil for eight years.

This confession comes because I am now sufficiently angered by what I’ve been reading in the media for the past couple of years by writers who clearly know absolutely nothing about women who wear the face veil or why they choose to do so.

These women must be saved, the main message seems to read. They are being forced into submission, writers suggest.

I wore the face veil when I was 19 and continued to wear it till I was 26. During that time, many of my friends wore the veil as well. My experience and that of many, many women who wear the veil in Egypt and many other Arab countries is not what the mass media and some European governments want you to believe.

For the women who have freely chosen to wear a face veil, I write this post.

My university years were my years of attempted piety. While some students started exploring socialism and others liberalism, I gravitated towards Islam and Islamic thought. I read book after book after book. My main goal was to try to become close to God; to be pious. I prayed extra prayers, read extra Qur’an, memorized Prophetic Hadiths, and learned about Islamic morals and tried to practice them.

I arrived in Egypt wearing a small head scarf and long skirts. By my 2nd year of med school I had started wearing wide dresses and very long scarves. And by my 3rd year I was convinced that to become even closer to God I’d wear the clothes worn by the Prophet Muhammad’s wives. My own personal conviction was that this was not an obligation. I did not have to wear a face veil to be close to God. But the idea of following in the footsteps of the Prophet’s wives attracted and comforted me. If anything, it was a sunnah, a practice from the time of the Prophet, I believed.

My father, a conservative Egyptian Muslim, was dead-set against it. He gave me lecture upon lecture about how the face veil is not obligatory and is not appropriate to our times. He would not give me his permission to wear it. Being the person I am and always have been, however, I really wasn’t waiting for anyone’s permission. I wanted to wear the face veil so I was going to wear it. I wore it despite my father’s absolute disapproval. My brother, who is two years younger than me and who was living with me in Cairo at the time, was clearly ashamed of me and my new dress code. He couldn’t stand to be seen with me. I believe I annoyed him to no end.

But I was happy. I felt that this step, among many others I had been taking, was bringing me closer to God. In one way, it was a way for me to challenge every instinct a girl of that age has in her: to be pretty in front of guys and draw their attention. I’ve always been a real flirter. The face veil hid my facial reactions and obliged me to shoulder the responsibility of respecting the dress by being more respectable in my actions. This is what I believed. This is how I approached it.

I write these words and hear all the arguments against them. I do not wear the face veil any longer, also out of conviction. I even have my own questions about the head scarf. But my convictions now and my current questions in no way undermine my convictions then. I am as free now to believe what I believe as I was free then to believe what I believed.

Veil-gone-wild

Wearing the face veil in Egypt did not hinder me in any way from being a productive individual in Egyptian society. I went to med school and graduated with a B average. I was liked by most of the girls I interacted with, regardless of their own dress code. When I started interacting with patients, I cannot remember a single time male or female patients displayed any signs of being uncomfortable with the way I dressed. During the one year of internship where I actually worked as a doctor, all my colleagues, senior residents, and professors, male and female alike, treated me kindly and with respect. I was even the favorite of some of them. The resident doctor when I was in my OBGYN rounds taught me every single thing he knew. Yes. I delivered babies wearing a face veil. No. The veil did not hinder my sight. I always kept a wide opening in the brow and eye area. Yes. I did scrub in properly and wear sterilized clothing while still covering my face. All doctors did, for goodness sake. They wear face masks!

I drove while wearing the face veil. I went horseback riding while wearing the face veil (and man did the tourists love taking pictures of me when I went horseback riding near the Pyramids). One evening, I even raced another veiled colleague down the long corridors of Cairo University Hospital to kill the boredom of a long night shift. Once, I threw myself in the Mediterranean Sea for a dip…yes…wearing the face veil. I went shopping wearing the face veil. I went to restaurants wearing the face veil. I was a fully functioning member of society – wearing the face veil.

If a woman is not used to wearing it, of course it’s going to be tedious. Of course it’s difficult to imagine what it must be like hidden under all those layers of clothes. But for a girl who is completely used to it, it becomes second nature.

My husband married me as a woman wearing the face veil. He was looking for a bride, and a girlfriend of mine recommended me. He came to my home, passed my father’s initial interviews, and we met – without the face veil. I met several suitors without the face veil. Anyone who passed my father’s arduous interviewing process was allowed to meet me “face-to-face”. Over a period of a few months, my husband-to-be visited almost on a weekly basis. Eventually we fell in love and announced our engagement. Shortly afterwards we were married.

I decided to remove the face veil after I gave birth to my third daughter, Somaya. The main reason for removing it was that I had been getting repetitive bouts of allergic bronchitis for several years and I was desperate to do anything to stop them. One doctor suggested that I might be allergic to the synthetic fibers in my face veils. All at once, I removed the veil and all wall-to-wall carpeting in my apartment. We also moved to Germany for a year shortly afterwards, where there is less pollution than that of crazy Cairo. And I took large amounts of anti-allergic medicines for several months. I still get allergic bronchitis every now and then. But since then there has been a significant difference in the length and severity of the attacks.

When I discussed removing my face veil with my husband, he had absolutely no advice to give me other than: “Do what you think is best for you and what makes you feel comfortable”. It was completely up to me. He didn’t mind either way.

In all those years, only once do I remember being treated badly for wearing a face veil. When I entered my 3rd year parasitology lab, the female professor yelled at me. “Either take off that veil or leave this lab at once,” she screamed. Why? I asked. “You might be a man for all I know,” she said. At that time, the Egyptian media had started reporting about a few cases where men disguised as women wearing full body veils robbed people. I was furious. “You can tell from my voice that I’m a girl,” I retorted. “You can take me into a corner anywhere in the lab and verify my identity,” I added. In the end, she allowed me to stay. But that would not be the end of it for me. I wrote a letter to the editor of Al-Ahram Newspaper describing what happened to me as a huge injustice. Its publication was followed by one of Egypt’s most distinguished columnists of the time commenting on it.

Relate to me as I relate to you

Having said all this, I can completely understand how shocking the whole concept of the face veil must seem to many people from many backgrounds in many countries. To many people, it goes against every single thing they believe in. I repeat: every single thing they believe in.

I can even relate to how strange it must seem to the French to see a woman walking along the Champs Elysee covering her face. I’ll bet it’s just as strange as it is for me and my children to see topless women walking along the beaches of Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt. But my country allows it. And that’s that. I live with it. It’s called tolerance.

All this is not an argument for or against the face veil. I have absolutely no desire to get into that argument. And I am certain there are many women out there in the world who are forced to wear it or are forced to wear a head scarf. But there are just as many women out there who wear either/both because it is their choice. By wearing it, they are not announcing they are a lesser gender. By wearing it, they are not submitting to the wishes of a family member who has a sick need to prove his manliness. By wearing it, many women are simply expressing their right to choose.

So please leave them be.

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74 comments

    1. Seconded… this is one of the best, most balanced and non-judgemental ‘been there, done that’ pieces I have ever had the pleasure to read. Bravo, sister!!

    2. You have been through different stages in your life that made you have different choices for each stage, a very very interesting story, Nadia.

      I encourage you to put more posts for your past in order to teach others how what you condemn now, you might adopt it tomorrow.

      Thanks.

    3. I truly thank you for your blog. I have always felt this way and trying to talk to some people about the veil without having worn one has been difficult. Moreover, I do not ponder why women do not stand up for the veil. It is a sacred choice and it justified to keep it that way. I am proud of you and believe that if more women would realize the sanctity of our womanhood that they too would understand and uphold the right of choice. Again thank you. Peace to you and your family. A Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint. Imagine that…

  1. I wore the face veil on the U.S. For a very brief period and decided later on that it wasn’t for me. However my opinion of the niqab has evolved, I still strongly believe it’s no one’s business to tell a woman what to and not wear!

    My parents reacted the same way but I felt it was right at the time!

    1. That is exactly how I felt, Organica. It was right for me at the time. It’s not right for me now. But there are other women out there who feel it’s right for them. They should be free to choose.

  2. I particularly liked the “Relate to me as I relate to you” part. I think these words should have been said, we should defend the right to choose for everybody, no one has a say in what a person wants to wear or Not to wear.

  3. Nadia, I feel there’s much of you I can relate to. I’m also one of those who can’t (won’t) be boxed.
    I grew up wanting to wear niqab, even though I only started wearing hijab at 18. When I was in Egypt in ’06, aged 24, I felt the time had come. One night after taraweeh, I rushed to the mall & bought a niqab. This was after I’d been thinking about it for about 2 months, & was yearning to wear it. I was so excited, but the next day when I put it on, I felt like I’d disappeared, like I had no identity.
    I cried, & felt bad I couldn’t get closer to God through this. I felt my Iman wasn’t strong enough. About a year after that, I stopped wearing abaya.
    I too, now question the headscarf, & it being obligatory.
    Although I don’t want to stop wearing it.

    Over the past year., I’ve begun seeing niqab in a new light. I can now understand why non-Muslims would see it as bizarre and freaky.
    But I strongly support the right of women who choose to wear it.

    Bibi-Aisha

    1. Thanks for your comments as always, Bibi-Aisha. I didn’t have the loss of identity issue when I wore the face veil. Neither did any of my friends who wore it. But I am certain what you felt is felt by other women who wear it, especially those who are forced into it (or forced into doing anything for that matter). And although we can relate to how non-Muslims see the face veil as “bizarre and freaky” as you write, it does not mean, as you continued, that we should not support the right of women to choose to wear it no matter where they are in the world. The topic should not be: wear the face veil or not. The topic should be: women deserve freedom of choice.

  4. Hey Nadia! I think it is wondeful that you’ve shared this. Do realize that every young man and woman in every country and of every culture goes through a period of change, of self-introspection, of getting closer to God. And while some “feel the spirit” or seek to be ‘at one with nature,’ others (like the Amish) go “wilding.” I share your belief in the value of personal freedom. A few years back I was friends with a Muslimah who I thought looked very nice when she wore her headscarf. (She had “friends” who always encouraged her NOT to wear it). we all must be what we feel we are in our hearts.

  5. Wonderfully put! I relate to some of the things you spoke of….here are just a few of your words that ring true to my heart:

    “I’ve been called too conservative by liberals and too liberal by conservatives.”

    “And right now I think I’m just confusing people as they are finding it more and more difficult to place me in a convenient box.’

    “Blog posts come to me like labor. The water breaks and the words pour out. No matter how hard I resist, they are going to come out and be delivered, gosh darnit!”

    I love how freedom of expression drives you, and that is true of myself. I have ebbed and flowed with my religious beliefs, yet I have always tried to stayed true to myself. You are such a powerful example of strength. This article was fantastic! I will share this with my friends!
    Hugs!

    1. Big hug to my childhood best friend! Someone who has shown me that true friendships never subside no matter how far friends drift apart or for how long.

    1. This particular post was more important in English, Hisham, in my opinion. I can try to write it in Arabic. But Arabic does not flow out of me like English does. As a result, it takes much longer for me to write in Arabic. I might try though when I have a bit more time. Thanks for the suggestion.

  6. Amazing post and surprising photo too =P

    I think I don’t have any problem with women wearing the Niqab. But there were times when I had to interact extensively with women wearing it at a private Islamic Studies institute in Alex. I was really outraged by how this dress code might make them feel supreme over others not wearing it. Also, I felt I had a problem communicating properly with those women.

    But I think NIqab-wearing women should in the end find a role-model in your behavior and thinking before and after wearing the face-veil

    Mohamed

    1. Mohamed, you are right. There are many women wearing the niqab who think they are superior. They think they have truth while others are far from it. But this is hardly strange. There are also many liberals who feel they have truth. They are superior because others are far from it. Same goes to socialists, to other Islamists, and to people of other religions. In many ways that’s human nature. It takes a whole lot of maturity to be able to be true to oneself, to believe strongly in something, and still be humble enough to know that there are many truths and not just our own. What you noticed from women wearing niqab is not practiced only by women wearing niqab. It’s pretty much practiced by everyone I have ever met.

  7. Thank you Nadia.

    It’s always a pleasure to discover that we can be very much alike even when appearance and personal histories make us look so different.

    I found your post very enlightening on some aspects, and still…

    Still it seems to me that you’re applying your view and motives to the average “Jane Doe”, when you’re certainly far from average.

    Your experience seems unusual on many aspects.

    In some points of your story I see a sort of personal mix of obedience/disobedience: you decided to go against your father’s and brother’s opinion, to follow *your* interpretation of religion (while I understand that disobeying your father/brother is not a good thing in the Islamic world).

    I am against the French approach to a widespread ban, even though I appreciate its motives.
    But, paradoxically, after reading about your experience I started wondering…

    The point is: Kaleidoscope Misr confirmed that even when you want it and choose it the niqab makes your identity disappear.

    If you’re Dr Nadia, and someone hides you inside a niqab as a young girl, the cage doesn’t hold for long.
    But what if you’re Jane Doe, and you grow up in a niqab feeling you have no identity, and don’t deserve one?

    On the other hand: if you’re Dr Nadia and you live in France, there is no law capable of stopping you from wearing whatever you feel appropriate for you, because you have strong personal convictions and the strenght to fight for them.

    I see no win-win solution, but possibly the ban (enforced with several grains of salt) is the *least inappropriate* way to help the many women who wear the veil *because they are expected to do so*, without asking themselves whether they should elaborate a personal idea that could lead to *rebellion*.

    You defend the right of the women like you who are empowered enough to decide for themselves. That’s clear. And I agree.

    But I have a question: don’t you think that many (I’d say the vast majority of) veiled women in the world didn’t even start to consider that the decision about wearing or not wearing the veil should be their own decision?

    I assume most religious authorities are against empowering women and letting them decide for themselves: is this a prejudice too?

    1. It’s impossible to generalize, Fabio. We both know that. What I can tell you is that I was not an exception in my community of university students who wore the face veil. I do not know one of them who wore the veil because someone expected them to. The same goes for most veiled women I’ve ever met in Egypt. Most of these women have actually gone against their families’ wishes to wear it. The situation is different, of course, in countries like Saudi Arabia where it is actually enforced. But not all countries are Saudi Arabia. Not all women wearing the face veil are Saudi Arabians. The media, and those who write for it, have given people the perception that women who wear the veil have been forced to do so. I felt it necessary to tell people that this is just not true for a very large number of women. What I think we need to be talking about is not: should we allow women to wear the face veil or not. We should be talking about how to give women the right to choose. And we do not give women the right to choose by preventing them from doing something many of them have chosen to do.

      1. What I think we need to be talking about is not: should we allow women to wear the face veil or not. We should be talking about how to give women the right to choose. And we do not give women the right to choose by preventing them from doing something many of them have chosen to do.

        You’re right, but you didn’t answer my question: how can you reach the veiled, identity deprived and probably uneducated woman who lives secluded under the niqab someone imposed on her, to make sure she knows she has the right to decide, in the first place?

        In this, I agree with western countries such as France that the State and the society have a responsibility to prevent abuses, even when they are accepted by the victims as a part of tradition.

        On a different level, we may think about female genital mutilations, that have little to do with religion but still are felt by many as if they had: a girl may say she wants to undergo FGM for whatever reason, but the society has the responsibility to ban it.

        Then a girl who really decides to mutilate herself (to feel “closer to god” or whatever) can always find a complacent cleric/surgeon and do it illegally and without telling anyone, but chances that an unwilling girl is forced into it are greatly reduced.
        And if a willing woman is caught in the act, the police should verify she was consenting and informed, and the court would judge accordingly.

        Of course the issue of the veil is different, but I think the comparison may help in some respects.

      2. I agree with you, Fabio, and I don’t have a proper solution to the problem. The State does have a responsibility, any State, to prevent abuses. But that responsibility should not be carried out, in my opinion, by abusing others’ rights to choose. So how does one go about sifting through those forced to do something and those who have chosen to do so? It’s a tough question. I really don’t know. Not off hand. I think that’s what the French, and other states, should be discussing. Not calling for outright bans on everyone: those who have chosen and those who have not.

        One way is to make sure there are awareness campaigns that reach people. Maybe it should be an obligation for any person living in France (as an example) to attend courses on certain things such as women’s rights. One way is to provide options for women who are forced to do something against their wishes but have no way out. Something like half-way houses for these women. Laws might be passed to prevent parents from allowing girls under a certain legal age from wearing the face veil, for example. These are all positive steps that actually give women rights rather than take them away.

  8. Hey Nadia,
    Thank you for writing this! You just said exactly everything I’m living feeling and thinking now!! 🙂
    God Bless you and your voice!!

  9. Dear Nadia,

    Well I cannot but express sincere admiration not just of your honesty and courage to share what may seem uncertainty and skepticism to a lot of those who question the sincerity of face-veiled women, but also the process of deciding and violating your own decision.

    Your confession may also anger many fervent Munakabt.

    I would like to touch on two main things you mentioned in your post. How understanding and considerate your husband was, and this should ring a bell to a lot of Muslim men, who do not really comprehend the kind and level of support they’re expected to give to their wives, encouraging them to decide “well” on what’s best for them and what they feel like.

    Another point I’d like to discuss here and one thing I tend to disagree with you is generalizing the case of re-considering your face-veil, taking that debate a step further to revisit the Hijab essentiality. I wouldn’t interfere in what you would end up believing or what others think of Hijab, but my concern is that the state of reconsidering one thing, even if the outcome happen to be positive, shouldn’t reap a really unintended result of uncertainty in general, as it may bring more confusion, or at least this is my personal thinking.

    I really understand the ebb and flow of thinking we all face that has become the dynamic of our mind work- even though that wasn’t really the case with you, as you had a practical reason for taking off your face veil…

    With all that being said, I still do believe, no decision brings comfort unless three elements are there, 1 Freedom (one should have the freedom to decide and enact whatever decision is taken, 2 Pure consciousness, and Knowledge (having the basic knowledge about the realm that’s linked to the decision some way or another).

    I bet your experience, in its entirety, wasn’t easy for you, and I admire the way you went from one stage of deciding on something, to revisiting this decision, and courageously deciding to violate that decision of your own.

    Thinking is a God-given gift, and we all need to learn the art of using it, switching it on at the times we need it and giving it rest when the mind starts overworking…

    Thanks for sharing your valuable experience.

    God bless.

    Maha Youssuf

    1. Thank you, Maha. Just to quickly address one of your concerns: I have reached a stage in my life where I’m giving myself the right to question some of my original “basics” or “essentials”. I believe God gave me a mind to use it and think. I believe that belief is best reached when one questions first and becomes convinced. I am allowing myself to question. I think this is very healthy. I think if our society questioned more often we’d have a much healthier society for ourselves and for our children.

      1. I believe in this approach to my own religion and have done this very thing, much to the fear and sadness of others. It has been empowering. I do not fear in questioning or “trying on” other beliefs…I believe Heavenly Father does want me to question. I am stronger in my convictions for it. My Dad always advised me to be true to myself. Otherwise, you lose your identity and give up your free will which is a far worse “sin”. Freedom to choose is empowering.

  10. Dear Nadia,
    i’m a scientific writer living in milan and a friend of Fabio Turone’s who let me read this post.. I hope I’ll be able to contribute more broadly to this interesting debate, for the moment let me just thank you for what you shared with us.. Reading about your experience, I felt very close to your research of what’s right, your “rebellion” your being – I quote – “called too conservative by liberals and too liberal by conservatives” ..
    I’m italian , I think quite older than you..but I recognize a younger myself in many of your experiences and hopes…
    thanks for everything, Nadia
    paola

    1. Thank you, Paola. And Fabio’s friends are always welcome to do contribute to my blog posts. I’ve always found Fabio’s input enlightening and thought-provoking and appreciate his input very much. I look forward to yours.

  11. Thanks for that. I strongly believe anyone has the right to dress (or undress) how she or he wants. As men can go bare-chested, women should also have the right to do it. As nuns and catholic priests can walk around in their uniforms, full face veil should not be banned.
    I don’t like religions but I recognise the right to personal freedom, no one should tell me what to wear and I shouldn’t tell it to others.
    You should have a French translation of the text 🙂

    1. I agree, Sophie. Thank you for your comments. Unfortunately, my French is limited to the very few words one needs to get directions to go from one place to another while in a French-speaking country. So translating the article to French is beyond my abilities. 🙂

  12. as far as I know face veil is not required in Islam, and I think Sheik Tantawi pointed out it just before passing away . Everybody can wear what he/she feels make he/her confortable, but it is important to me not to confuse Religion and Holy Quran suras with anything else.

    1. Barbara, the point here is not whether it is required or not. Or whether you and I believe it is required or not. The point, in my opinion, is that there are some women who have chosen to wear the face veil. They have many different reasons for making this choice. For some of them, the reason is that they are convinced it is required. For some, the reason is they want to follow sunnah. We can agree or disagree with their choice. But in the end it is their choice. One cannot talk about giving women their freedom by going ahead and limiting their choices according to what we believe is right or wrong for them.

  13. you are considering it from your country, but in the world there are many women who wear the face veil because they have been told it is mandatory in Islam. I think it is very important for everyone of us to know what Holy Quran and Islam ask and what can be a choice. I totally agree that everyone must be free to dress as he/she likes, but we must be aware of misintepretations that might generate iniquity. And finally, just let me be politically uncorrect: suppose that a men or a woman would decide to go around totally naked because this is the tradition in his tribe living far away in Oceania: would you allow him/her? Every culture has its own limits, and it is always difficult do deal with them. We have to decide what we cannot discuss (Holy Quran precepts for instance) and what we can on the other hand discuss. Personally speaking I’ve nothing against face veil, as long as it is a choice, but I would accept to discuss about it with those who consider it unaccettable for different reasons

  14. Nadia, great post masha’Allah. To respond to one of the above comments (I think by Fabio?), although he makes many good points, but if a girl is “veiled, identity-deprived, and uneducated”, removing her face veil would be a very superficial way of addressing a complex problem. Perhaps education, economic development, poverty-alleviation and other measures would be more appropriate solutions. In that way, one could fulfill the rights of some without violating the rights of others.

    I have personally never worn the niqab or ever felt the desire to. But the journey to become closer to Allah (God) is one that requires effort and struggle, and I have come to find that the way I dress is a factor because such a huge part of how we dress is based on wanting to look good in other people’s eyes. So, I can completely understand why a woman might want to cover her face for the sake of getting closer to her Creator. I know several niqab-wearing women, all out of their own personal desire, and some against their parents wishes. I never felt that the niqab got in the way of them being active members of society. They all have jobs, etc. But the caveat is that all of them are educated and socio-economically upper middle class. The circumstances differ for those uneducated and suffering from poverty and social repression. In this case, it makes more sense to treat the illness rather than the symptom.

  15. I’m not sure why all discussions around the Niqab are around Islam, freedom and saving women. None of these are points to advocate wearing or removing Niqab.

    The issue at hand is much simpler. Is it acceptable for someone to walk around in public without an identity. Do we accept not knowing if the person in our vicinity is a man/woman/child/criminal?

    Do we accept anyone to wear any uniform and deceive us?

    If we accept the eradication of human identity, we accept the Niqab. Perhaps that really is the point of the Niqab, but is it acceptable to a society that might not necessarily believe in the message but requires Ids, certificates and a sense of security?

    1. Hi Will.e,

      It appears to me that for the kind of women Nadia describes, who wear the niqab out of their own free will, the veil is actually very much about affirming one’s identity as a pious Muslim and refusing to be judged by one’s appearance. Clearly, some women feel that the veil empowers them in one way or the other.
      The security issue has been a dominant argument of those who wish to ban the veil and is clearly a very “thinly veiled” excuse to ban expressions of Islamic piety from the public sphere. Criminals have used identity concealing gear for decades but only with the appearance of a hand-full of veiled women has a public debate of any significance opened up about the issue. Do you really think that legislation is the answer? Let’s be realistic–people who intend to commit a crime such as a bank robbery will not be fazed by committing another minor transgression (hiding one’s face) to facilitate their crime. Cultural tensions cannot be alleviated through legislation but require open debate and dialogue. The number of women in France, Belgium and the Netherlands (all countries that are currently considering legislation against the veil) are scarcely two hands full. Do you really think that preventing them from dressing as they please will make society any safer?

      Rahma

      1. Thank you Rahma for answering, but let me make it clear that I did not intend to highlight the safety issue on its own, it’s an overkill. If you notice, it’s just a small part of what I meant to say and perhaps I wasn’t clear.

        The real issue like I’m trying to express is that human society needs to be human. The face veil has grave social and psychological implications (not on the woman wearing it although it may be the case, but on people dealing with her).

        Facial identity is more than just safety and security, I object to it from a social perspective mostly. You see, the question is, can we make do without ID cards in this day and age? can we make do without faces? without dealing with strangers? Do we accept that anyone can wear a police uniform? or anyone dressing like a sheikh?

        The issue isn’t just the freedom of choice or safety, it’s the well being of society. If you can respond from that perspective, then you’d have answered me.

        One last thing, a niqab ban won’t make things safer, but neither will locks on houses, or security guards in banks, or alarm systems in department stores. But just because there will be crime doesn’t account for our dereliction to at least try and hinder it and make it harder.

        I still haven’t elucidated as well as I ought to, but I hope my point is through.

  16. Asalamu Alaikum: I lower my head in gratitude and in respect .If I were to see you in person face to face with tears of happiness ,love and joy I will embrace you .For to me you are as I am . Because of woman like you , like me we will stand together and fight for our right !You have a friend in me forever as Islam ties our bond

  17. How Are you Dr.?

    Good article from you..
    Yes , absolutey right .. it’s an angle which most of people don’t see

    But there’s a very important thing that you have, in my opinion, underestimated.

    I don’t have any problem with wearing Veil in the streets or public places .. but I’m totally against it when it comes to work or study .. yes , because if you have the right to hide your face from strangers , I have the right to know with WHOM am I working .. and teaching

    It’s against human relationship and against body language .. and you know that 70 % of communication is by facial expressions.

    In the past , when Egypt was really liberal live community there were also a lot of women who wore face veil in the streets .. but they removed it when they were talking to the seller in the market or to her cousin at home .. I HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW WITH WHOM I’m talking !!

    Why don’t you see it like that!!!

  18. Ma-Sha’Allah. May Allah bless you and your family. I admire your personality and the decision making procedure you follow.
    If you are still residing in Germany, it might be a chance we are living in the same city. I am living in Munich.

    Best regards,
    Marwa

  19. You covered the whole thing from all the aspects. I very much respect your courage & stands which are showed and described in your words.

  20. ” I even have my own questions about the head scarf. But my convictions now and my current questions in no way undermine my convictions then. ”

    Could you please Dr.Nadia .. Clarify these paragraph ??
    what do you mean by ” I even have my own questions about head scarf ” ??

    Also I’d like to ask about your opinion about what Shiekh Al-Azhar did with the young girl wearing the Niqab

    I’ve a comment on Dr.Amr Magdi .. no you don’t have the right to see the others .. IF this bothers you don’t deal with them .. but don’t push them to take off their veils !!

  21. @deenakhalil
    We certainly start from our own vision of what we think is the context, and of course our prejudices (meant in a neutral meaning) shape our thinking.

    Today’s news from Italy: an Egyptian man has raped his wife because she refused to wear the veil and has kidnapped the 3-year old kid telling her he would kill him rather than leaving him with her (they live in Italy but he had brought the kid in Cairo to his parents).

    (http://roma.corriere.it/roma/notizie/cronaca/10_aprile_29/non-porti-velo-violenta-moglie-rapisce-figlio-1602926060335.shtml)

    According to the press, the 29 yo woman has been accepting several abuses for months.

    She is Italian, btw, and the Egyptian authorities intrervened to send back the kid to his mother (the man was arrested as he got back to Rome).

    Of course the veil is just a small part of the picture in this case, but its symbolic value is huge.

    I cannot say how frequent such abuses are, but I am sure most of them go unnoticed (as it happens in general with violence against women, even in western countries) and even more sure that too little is done to prevent them.

    I am not saying that doing anything is better than doing nothing. I’d like to distinguish more clearly between the cases in which the choice is genuine from those in which it is almost impossible for a girl not to comply to the societal pressures.

    In a sense, from what I know of Nadia I’d say that if she were from Saudi Arabia she would be now fighting on the opposite side, to defend the rights of women who want to decide for themselves.

    This is probably the real point: we know in Italy that women are too often abused, in many – sometimes very subtle – ways, and we fight against such abuses.
    In this fight, we see clearly that the veil CAN BE AND OFTEN IS a tool used by men (the society in general) to impose their power on women.
    Women say that, also in the Muslim world (I remember a piece on the Chrtistian Science Monitor we discussed on Nadia’s page)

    This is the big issue, in my view.

    An issue that is also important, but doesn’t compare, is the freedom of each individual to wear what s/he likes.

    I don’t like to wear a kippah – a sign of submission to God – but I do whan I assist to a Jewish ceremony or visit a synagogue.
    And I take off my hat when I visit a church, or my shoes in a Mosque.

    So I accept limitations to my right of wearing what I feel most appropriate for me, to respect others and live in peace with them.

    Those limitations assure a wider freedom to everyone, including me.

    1. Thank you for your response, Fabio! That story is truly horrible. Violence against women is an awful phenomenon that has been prevalent for too long all over the world, (http://new.abanet.org/domesticviolence/Pages/Statistics.aspx), and when it takes an Islamic motif, it’s no less harmful. On that point, you and I are in total agreement.

      But, it seems once again we will differ on the recommended solution. Looking at the case you described, you said yourself the niqab is just a small part of the picture in this case. A very small part, in fact. Not because forcing a woman to dress a certain way isn’t terrible, I think most of us, as you mentioned, fight equally for women’s rights to NOT wear hijab or niqab or whatever, as we do for the right to wear them.

      But the point is that the niqab in these cases is just a tool, one of many tools, used to commit a crime (in this case, the violation of this woman’s rights). But banning the niqab (or removing one of his tools) would not stop this man’s abusive behaviour. Wouldn’t it be more effective to provide some more encompassing solutions? Such as making it easier for women to report on domestic violence, or setting up violence support groups specifically for immigrant women, or reforming the law to prevent parents from kidnapping their own children…or…or…or… I haven’t studied the issue so I’m just making suggestions off the top of my head, but the point is that so many details are mentioned in that story you posted, but so many people ignore those details and zoom in on the veil. And for those millions of women who suffer from domestic violence that has nothing to do with the niqab, how does the ban help them? In fact, the ban will only help that percentage of women who are forced to wear it, out of the very small number of women who wear it in europe to begin with. Meanwhile, domestic violence against non-veiled women continues unabated.

      This same phenomenon of zooming in on one particular detail happens often, and it never leads to solving the problem. When the columbine shootings happened in the states, many people, rather than addressing root causes such as severe bullying in american schools or parents being out of touch with their children, or youth not having an outlet to vent their frustration, many people blamed Marylin Manson.

      Anyway, I think i made my point, I’m sorry for going on and on about this 🙂

  22. @deenakhalil
    I understand your points, and I go on because I think this dialogue among persons – like you and me – who start from different premises and don’t have a ready solution can be very fruitful and useful (to open our minds, at the very least).

    I’d use your example of the Columbine shootings to try and make my point: in my view, the very first step to prevent such tragedies would be to seriously limit the availability of guns in the US.

    They are currently sold – simply said – because some of them are necessary and useful for the society, when used responsibly, and this is enough for some Americans to say that everyone deserves a gun.

    If it weren’t for the industry lobbying and corrupting (see Michael Moore but also John Grisham) I suppose the reasons for banning/strictly limiting the sale of guns would easily overcome every other “right” invoked by the average citizen.

    I see you’re half-canadian, so I am sure you understand this point.

    Guns can be used wisely or can be instruments for oppression, and in this I see similarities with the veil, that can bring some people closer to their god but also take your personhood, your being, off of you.

    Many Americans keep saying that they cannot live without their gun, while we all know we can, so they can too.
    I once exchanged apartments with an elderly couple from California, and after a week I lived in their house I found a revolver under the mattress. Then I searched the house and found another one in a closet. You bet I didn’t expect to have to manage such situation, but for sure those guns might have ended up in anyone’s hands, since I didn’t even know they were there. For them, normal people, it was “normal”: they didn’t realize how dangerous and crazy it was to leave me their house with two semi-hidden guns without even telling me.

    My point probably goes beyond the veil, and touches all fundamentalisms: I accept some limitations of some of my rights – I need a special licence and a strong reason in order to use a gun – in the cases in which this helps provide more important rights to others – i.e the right not to get killed by the widespread abuse of guns.

    Finally, I still have to become accustomed to the coexistence of what I see as a symbol of fundamentalism (the veil, and particularly the face veil) with a tolerant and open vision of the world I can share, like it is the case with you and Nadia and many other participants to these discussions.

    I’d like to discover that this coexistence is more widespread in the Muslim world than I assume, but I still fear that in most cases the veil is accompanied by a vision of the world, of the peaceful relations among different people and particularly of the women’s place in society I cannot agree with (and I guess you don’t agree with, neither).

  23. Quite simple and straight forward.
    Allah is the creator of the universe, including man. Allah is the best and only one with knowledge of what best suits his creation.
    His rules and recommendations are for sure the best rules for humans and their benefit in this life and the hereafter.

  24. hello, I’m back to this post after a while, since I’m very interested in this discussion.
    I’m not a scholar in Islam, so about face veil I stick to the opinion of Sheik Tantawi, as I already wrote. And, following His opinion, I assume that face veil in not required in Islam. If it is not required, and if Sheik Tantawi opposed to it in the last days of his life (as I read), it means it is an option, not related with religion but related with the freedon of every women to dress as she likes. But I think there is something that comes a lot before this freedom, and it is respect. Respect is in my opinion one of the most important and beautiful concepts in Islam.
    In our countries people cannot go around naked,, because it would be a lack of respect (but in Germany it is quite normal to be undress in some occasions) .
    In western countries, a lot of people feels offended by having to deal with somebody hiding the face. This is because thelittle face movements are very important in western communication, and a veil face makes them feel you are taking an unfair advantage in the communication. For this reason they feel offended as much as I would feel disturbed by a naked men (even if he claims he can dress and undress as he likes). Personally I think a face veil would make me feel very protected, and it is attractive for this. But to figure out the effect that it has on a different society we must compare it with no dress at all, while higiab is comparable with a short dress.
    Moreover, in last years I read more and more reports about the risk of osteoporosis in women wearing veil face (they lack the basic UV rays required to syntezise vitamin D): This are reports from muslims scientists. It may be a big problem for poor women, who don’t have a private sunny space. If face veil harms halth, or creates discrimination between rich women who can wear it and poor who cannot, is it halal or haram?
    To summarize my opinion, I’m not against face veil and I think it should not be forbidden. But on our side, we should be aware that it is a complex issue, that cannot be reduced to the obvious individual freedom to dress as we prefer…

  25. I’ve been following all of your comments with interest. I am so sorry for not being able to take part myself in the discussions of the past two days due to a crazy work schedule. I have found everything written to be thought-provoking. I will continue to think (and work, unfortunately) and I hope to get back to you all hopefully by tonight or tomorrow with some input of my own. Please continue these fascinating discussions!

  26. Before I start getting busy with more work and some family time, let me try to address some of the things that have been raised here.

    I fully appreciate the importance in Western culture of face-to-face communication.

    But it should be known that this is not the only culture in the world. And this is not the only way to communicate. Even without the face veil, you will find that many Muslim men and women follow an Islamic practice of “lowering one’s gaze while talking to the opposite sex.” I am not an expert in world cultures, but I’ll bet that if we looked into each and every one of them, we will discover that there are also other ways of communicating between people.

    Also, I wonder how many of you have actually communicated with a woman in a face veil? I’m betting very, very few of you have. There are many types of women in the face veil. Many of them live a very isolated existence by their own choice and associate mostly with women. When they are outside of their homes, all they really need is to associate with others in shops, for example, or when running errands. This very short-term sort of communication should not be an issue to begin with. But then there are the women in the face veil who don’t live an isolated existence and they study at a university or work. I am certain that there are certain cases when it might be best that the woman removes her face veil in order to establish identity, for example. But if we are talking about comfort in communication, I can tell you from experience that these more out-going face-veiled women rarely have any problem communicating or being communicated with. You just need to try and spend some time with them and you’ll discover that other than the fact that their face is covered, they are quite normal women. And even though their face is indeed covered, it is quite easy to figure out if they are laughing or frowning or smirking even. There is so much one can tell by looking into someone’s eyes or through body language.

    I think a large part of the uncomfortable feeling some of you talk about is due to the fact that the face veil is something very strange to you and you have no previous experience dealing with women who wear this. Usually we see these women either in the media or walking along on the streets as strangers. So many of you have not been placed in a circumstance where you deal with them personally.

    Then there’s the issue of identity that I keep hearing. Again, there are situations when it is important that we know the identity of a person. In order to gain access to many universities, for example, one must show a student card. Everyone must show their student card. The university has a right to make sure that everyone walking around on campus actually has a right to do so. In this case, almost every single face-veiled woman I know has no problem showing their face to a security guard in order to establish identification. Their face is compared in this case with the face on their student card.

    But I do not understand the argument of needing to know the identity of people walking on the street. Just because you see people’s faces does not mean you have any idea who they are. There are people who walk on the streets with us whose faces we see but who are pedophiles, murderers, women-hitters, burglars, etc. Being able to see their faces does not mean we can identify them as bad people. And wearing a face veil, as someone here rightly brought up, is not the only way to camouflage oneself if one wants to do that. So if the argument for prohibiting the face veil is we need to know whose walking on our streets…and we prohibit the face veil…people can still walk on our streets highly camouflaged. One can wear sunglasses and a hat. One can dye one’s hair. One can wear a large hood. One can do plastic surgery. The list goes on and on and on.

    So yes…the face veil can be used in some cases by bad people as camouflage. But banning the face veil will not ban all other forms of camouflage.

    And yes, some women are forced to wear the face veil. Some women are forced to wear the head scarf. Some women from different religions and cultures are forced to do many things by their cultures, society, or men. Some women are forced not to work. Some women are forced to work. Some women are forced into prostitution. That list can go on and on and on. So the issue here is not the face veil. The issue is a much larger one of women’s rights. How do we make sure that women know their rights? Education is a big part of that.

    One solution I gave to Fabio when I was discussing this with him was that men and women from other countries who wish to reside in another country should be obligated to attend courses on issues such as human/women’s rights. Women who live in Western countries and are forced to do things they do not want to do should be given information on how to get themselves out of such situations. Half-way houses and skill-building courses should be given to women so that they have the option of leaving men who force them to do things they don’t want to do, for example. You’ll see that this does not only apply to women wearing a face veil. It applies to so many other cases.

    My point with this blog post was simply to show you that there are many women out there who actually freely choose to wear the face veil. They do this because they believe it might bring them closer to God. Compare it to a nun or a priest, for example. We do not all have to agree that this will actually bring them closer to God. We do not all have to agree that God even exists. But this belief is very relevant to THEM. And that is what is important.

    I think it’s VERY dangerous of any society or groups of people in a society to believe that they know what is best for everyone else in society. That is built on the premise that the truth and that knowledge is with ME and not with others. I think that premise is very dangerous. And this is what I’m seeing many Western countries now falling into.

    One cannot fight injustice by installing injustice. One cannot advocate for women’s rights by taking their rights from them.

  27. dear Nadia,

    just a short answer. Of course I communicate many times with women with a face veil and my sister used to dress it. She stopped to dress it when she realized that wearing it in her workplace was dangerous (because of the kind of devices she had to use).
    Of course the “non muslim “culture is not the only one in the world: so what? I’ve been teached that respect is very important in Islam and I speak from a muslim point of view. Of course I would like that non muslim people show the same respect, (and indeed I see that usually they do it, beside few stupid and noisy people). However I cannot speak from a different point of view.
    Moreover, I’m not sure that it would be so easy for a person with very few dresses to go around in a muslim country, so we cannot claim that foreign people must fully accept our culture as long as we don’t fully accept many other things….. I just say we should not reduce the issue of the veil to the issue of “what shall I dress today” because it is much more then a matter of dress

  28. Assalam-0-Alaikum sister Nadia,

    I’m glad you went through all those difficult times to wear hijaab, here’s my personal story. Me and my wife were born and brought up together because we’re first cousins, yet 8 years before we married she wore face-veil and did not even talk to me, but hey I liked it, I liked the fact that no matter who I am she chose to be closer to Allah (SWT).

    She still covers her face and I still love it and her even more than I did before.

  29. Dear Nadia,

    thank you for the link – I am really glad I wasable to read this discussion.

    I am a westerner, and live in a country with very few muslims – but every now and then I see a person in a niqab. And I wonder. Why? Closer to God? Nuns don’t cover their face. Neither do any other very religious people I know. The face veil is a cultural thing.

    In this long discussion, I still did not get the real answer. Why? What is the good that the face veil brings you?

    I would never put a scarf on my face. Because it makes it harder for you to breathe. To drink and eat. Because it is hot. It prevents you getting the sun you need, for vitamin D. It makes it harder to communicate. Yes yes, you can get used to it, but still: you don’t see the facial expressions, and the cloth in front of the mouth sucks part of the voice.

    And it covers identity. A veiled woman is just a woman, not a person: easier to forget, be not seen, not heard.

    So there must be something that beats all this. But what?

  30. In answer to your question I’ve dealt with women with Niqab, several times and under different circumstances and it was horrible. I didn’t trust what was hidden as it was human nature. Plus there’s a lot of stigma and a halo about the niqab behind which hypocrites can be hiding.That’s the major issue, that Niqabis are untouchable. I don’t know what it’s like in the west in Egypt, that’s the way it is.

    In places where everyone is Muslim you shouldn’t ban the Niqab, but in multi cultural places, it should not be allowed because of the discomfort it causes the majority.

    You yourself said it ” “But it should be known that this is not the only culture in the world. ”

    So why don’t we respect other cultures and expect them to respect ours?? Sounds like a double measure to me. You can’t use the argument in a unidirectionally.

    W.

    1. In Egypt .. We leave Foreigners dress whatever they want !! so what’s the problem with Niqab !!!

      come on .. how do you know that Niqab make THE MAJORITY dis-comfortable ?? In a Country like France .. how many MUSLIMS are there ? .. how many non muslims who can accept Niqab ?

      In London for example u can live more than 2 weeks without speaking English !! ONLY using arabic because of the Huge number of Arabs !!

      And even if this causes discomfort to others … should we ban this ?? I will tell u something .. in Egypt I feel annoyed when I hear the noise coming from the bells if the Church .. and I feel bothered when I see gurlz wearing tight clothes .. Should we Ban this ( as u said ) ?

      The ONLY reason for u to stand against niqab .. is the human CURIOSITY which is awful .. all of what u said is Only Unreal Imagination !!!

      Dr.Nadia :
      ” I even have my own questions about the head scarf. But my convictions now and my current questions in no way undermine my convictions then. ”
      Could you please Dr.Nadia .. Clarify these paragraph ??

  31. This is an eloquent discussion of women in Islam. Thank you for enlightening us Western readers in such a frank way. Best wishes to you!

  32. @ Akrum: dear friend, in Egypt, which is a very democratic and open country, everyone, not only foreigners, can dress as he/she likes (and indeed, there are many Egyptians who are not muslims and there are many western people who are muslims, so it is not a matter of being “foreigner” or not).. However, if you go in the street in Egypt wearing a very short and open dress, people looks at you and many times disapprove your behaviour. This happens in big cities like Alex or Cairo, and even more in Said region or other places. I’ve seen this many times. The same happens in western countries if you go around with a Nigab. I’ve seen this many times too…. in some countries short dresses are forbidden by law, in other there is a discussion about forbidding nigab and even hijab in pubblic places like schools (which I consider a very bad decision). Why should we be blind and ignore this simmetry? I think that to dialogue with our non muslim friends we must look to the reality with white hearts. My personal experience told me that Muslims living in western countries have to do this exercise everyday, or they condamn themself to live in a separate and parallel world. It is not easy at all: it is like living with brain and heart divided in two parts and you have to challenge every habit you have in order to keep your beliefs without becoming intransigent (and if you become intransigent, beside affecting your life, which king of idea of Islam do you deliver to your non muslim neighbours?).
    As I said, my opinion about nigab is that first of all we must recognize that it does not make sense to consider it just a kind of dress. And I think that the discussion about this post proves that indeed it is not just a matter of freedon to dress.

  33. p.s. I just realized that this is one of the first time in my life that I really feel I can discuss in deep about this kind of issue. Usually, when I speak with western people, I adopt Akrum position, because I feel there is a need to underline the tolerance that is rooted in Islam and in many muslim countries. While speaking with muslims we usually discuss about nigab and other issue without taking care of non muslim position. So thanks Nadia!

  34. I strongly disapprove of the face veil and also dislike the abaya. I am American and spent some years growing up in a rural area in a Middle Eastern country where I did at times wear the abaya.

    Personally I don’t think it was good for me to veil. It caused me to feel more uncomfortable with my body.

    I think in western countries the face veil should be outlawed. It is a corruption of our freedom. Because we are western women, we define western freedom in western countries – not muslimahs, not Imams. There are many countries in the world where muslims can define the rules, but these rules must not be imported into the west.

    There is a great deal of thuggery against women in the context of tradition and Islamic fundamentalism and this must be fought in the west. We must outlaw polygamy, the face veil, forced marriage – it is all part of the same set of issues.

    Muslimahs who want to bring Islamic ways to the west do not understand or respect that western women fought hard and long for our liberty, and our freedom is precious to us. You do not get to change it. If you want Islamic freedom, stay in Islamic countries.

    Veiling is not simply a private religious choice. It has negative social effects. I actually think veiling plays a role in producing sexual hysteria in men, and increases sexual harrassment of women. Because women are hidden, the glimpse of a woman is more tantalizing and disturbing. Because veiling puts so much focus on women, men feel free to blame women for their own harassing behavior. Men are free from responsibility, they are free to blame. They remain childish, with respect to their impulses. They do not learn self-control (which is a moral virtue, by the way).

    It is not true that a veiled woman is more decent and moral than an unveiled woman. Decency and morality are defined by honesty, integrity, loyalty, and the like.

    There is an attitude I’ve picked up many times from muslimahs, that the way women show their bodies in the west is decadent and immoral and somewhat pitiful, because it shows a low standard of morality, and puts too much focus on sexual attractiveness as the worth of a woman.

    But I think that veiling puts too much emphasis on covering as indicating the moral worth of a woman. It is simply an inaccurate measure of moral worth. In its own way, the morality of veiling creates a deeply distorted view of women, in which sexuality (as something hidden) is paramount.

  35. Nadia!

    A delayed response here, but I am catching up on your blog finally. I am glad you wrote this because now I can finally refer my friends and others who have questions or comments about headscarfs and face veils to this wonderful article.

    What strikes me about this whole issue is that there are similarities between university students around the world, regardless of their culture or religion. When you say that, “While some students started exploring socialism and others liberalism, I gravitated towards Islam and Islamic thought”–well, that reminds me in one way or another of most of the people I knew from my own university years. People have a lot in common after all, no matter where they are from. And I can’t imagine taking away from any of them their right to express themselves and their beliefs and ideals in the way they want and choose.

  36. oooooh i read it from a to z ……..regardless my view it was too interesting…I know that subjects related to face veil is controversial…but i agree with all what wrote ……i had a bad experience yesterday when i was in the class having a very stupid sanitary engineering exam when another stupid professor “by the way he is a leading ndp member ” came to a girl having her face covered and starting to tell her that “well, ayaa i told u in the first term that it is forbidden to come her putting that on ur face ” she told him ” but prof i have a court ruling let me to do so and so………..he interrupted her ” look, i am only telling u what u must do >>>> by the way , he left the class without forcing her leave the place , i was seriously ready to talk to him but that mean he will make me fail as he is the” vice dean” >> the most important thing is that ayaa started crying when this man left ,after she was talking in a very confident manner > i hope god help us to get rid of all racist inside our arab country before telling the west to do that >>>تحياتى يا دكتوره ناديه greetings ……….

  37. I started wearing the face veil at the age of 16 right b4 starting the top business university in Pakistan, and alhmdolillah its been 5 years now. It was a voluntary decision, and for the most part worked out for me. Everyone treated me well at university, I was among the top 3 in class as well. However, once entering the job market, I realized that clearly people had a number of misconceptions. In addition, the recent security situation in my country didn’t help the matter much.

    Its my last yr of MBA now and I am not sure what my options are in the future. I would not want to stop wearing the face veil, its become a part of me, I am the most confident with it on!

    Ive been searching on this topic for a while, alhamdolillah finally found something that has truly encouraged and empowered me. Unlike all the news headlines talking abt banning it in Europe etc….it gets upsetting and depressing. I spent my childhood in the U.K and its natural to develop an association with one’s childhood years, had always wanted to go Eurotripping one day…with the media protraying such negative images…it seems that simply clothing will be the first hindrance to visiting such places.

    JazakAllah again for ure entry.

  38. Hi,
    I’m from Europe, in a country were there are very few muslim (has far has I know), and has only seen once or twice a niqabi in the street. And would like to add a slightly diferente point of view to the discution 😛 ( a bit late I know…)

    For the disconfort part and unhealthy side of wearing a niqab… I think its proven without a doubt that high heels is harmfull to the spine… but I’ve usually see lots of european women wearing them, and don’t see nowone bothered with their health or their confort… and from what I know it IS unconfortable!

    for the security… I think it has already been answered.. I can desguise my apearance enouph so nobody can recognize me… the face veil wont change or add to that…

    I think all this discussion goes on the way of tolerance for diferent ways of leaving and our capacity to live WITH ppl with diferent beliefs and ways of doing things and not feel threatened…
    IF we were able to be confortable with what WE ARE then what other ppl are wont bother us… unfortunalty not many ppl can feel that.

    3 more things.
    – I’m not muslim, in fact I have my own relationship with “god” where the organized religion don’t come in. I have a problem with someone thinking that can know better than me what god wants from me. And I don’t belive in one formula of god for everyone. just my way of being

    – I think everyone should be able to choose whatever they want to do with himself has long has they wont force it on someone else or do harm to others.

    – I like the niqba… I also like the mini-skirt and the jeans. For me its a clothing fashion has anyother and I like it, and to be frank wished more women would wear it. I find that tight jeans or some such are booring 😛

    cheers

  39. Now, I know this will sound odd, but I stumbled upon this post by accident and was glad to find myself relating to it. Not as a Muslim wearing a niqab, but as a Christian who decided to cover her head. My father and I are both very theological, and he made sure I knew it was required, then once I gave him my reasons he supported me to the best of his ability. I understand being thought of as weird or out of place, living in the US. I’m friends with Muslims, who wear hijab and those who don’t. I’ve talked happily to women who wear niqab. I once cried with a Hindu girl when we were forced to remove our veils on a Christian College campus. I relate, even over the internet and that makes me smile.

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