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December 18, 2013

Essay on Veil on Women

12:04 PM
Veiled Women

Generally speaking, veil is an article of clothing used by women to cover their heads or face. There are conflicting views on the wearing of veil especially ‘hijab’ worn by Muslim women. Being a religious item, veil serves to show honor to an object or space.  The first recorded instance of veiling for women is recorded in an Assyrian legal text from the 13th century BCE, which restricted its use to noble women and forbade prostitutes and common women from adopting it. The Mycenaean Greek term a-pu-ko-wo-ko meaning "craftsman of horse veil" written in Linear B syllabic script is also attested since ca. 1300 BC.(Scott, 2008) Veil on women has been subject of heated debate on the global scene.
Hijab means "any veil in front of a being or an object to escape the sight of men " It refers specifically to the veil that some Muslim women place on the head leaving the face visible.  When the face is covered, it is called niqab, burqa or sitar.
The term hijab is derived from the root hajaba meaning "to spoil the view, hide." By extension, it also takes the meaning of "curtain", "screen". The semantic field corresponding to this word is wider than the French equivalent for "veil" covering to protect or to hide.

Cultural Analysis of Veil
Across countries and religions, its shape is different.  In Iran, for example, called niqab it does not necessarily hide the face or the clothes of women. In Afghanistan, parts of Pakistan and India, called chador, it hides the whole body including the legs covered with long pants (the woman in pants covered with a robe falling slightly below the knees) and her arms and hands.
The term “burqa” was given to the veil in late 1980’s as it covers the whole woman’s body. Westerners call it “full veil.”Traditionally, chador and burqa were synonymous terms, although the latter is known to have originated from Afghanistan.
In Muslim societies, the question has rarely had the importance as it has today since the theme of the veil has been discussed generally in the Muslim literature as a theological point of view, as a way to preclude offending the vision of God.  
For years, Muslim jurists have consistently affirmed the mandatory wearing of the veil for nubile Muslim women condition, based primarily on the interpretation of verse 31 of Sura 24 - obscure - as well as the verse 59 of Sura 33, more accurate, but indicating the jilbab, a coat or shawl.
The wearing of hijab(veil) in Saudi Arabia and other muslims and non-muslim countries has called into question the full qualification of women’s participation in public life. Many lawyers also temper with the religious obligation of veil if it conflicts with the public participation of women. (Jopkke, 2009)

Is the Veil a law or a practice or a tradition in the Islamic religion?
The Qur'an presents the veil as a sign of recognition of Muslim women that makes them immune from external attack. Nonetheless, the Muslim commentators have often discussed the subject from the perspective of Islamic ethics.
In recent years, the veil has become the subject of extensive debate. Thus, in many predominantly Muslim countries where it was the exception, such as Egypt and Turkey, it has been becoming more widespread since the mid-1980’s.
Considered, according to different situations by some as a sign of belonging voluntary and by others as a tool of imprisonment and humiliation, it raises issues widely debated or commented for widely divergent views, departing the broader issue of ethics to which it belonged to traditionally.
The term "Islamic veil" itself is misleading since it explicitly suggests that the headscarf is a requirement of Islam, while, on the one hand, it seems unnecessary in all Muslim communities, and, secondly, it has existed and still exist in non-Muslim communities. In fact, the link between religion and "hijab" is not formally established and is based on interpretations that vary according to location and time. If the "Islamic veil" exists as usual, and it plays an indisputable symbol of identity for certain Muslim communities, its theological foundations are still a matter of debate.  
Although the clothing requirements occupy a very marginal place in the Qur'an, this aspect is given prominence by the current traditionalists trying to close debate on the issue by stating that the obligation is disputed buckling by any Islamic source and that the question does not arise. But the Liberals claim that debate. According to the traditionalists, the hijab must correspond in whole or in part to certain criteria. It must:
Cover the entire body except the face and hands (and feet in the majority of Hanafi)
 Not be a beautiful adornment in itself
 Be opaque
 Be broad, non-shrink
Not be perfumed
 Not resemble the clothing of men
     Not symbolize the clothes of non-Muslim
     Not attract attention

                                              Behavior, popularity and acceptance of the Veil
Many liberal thinkers contemporary Islamic scholars, have sought to question the obligation of hijab challenging the meaning given by some traditionalists to Qur'anic terms, none of which explicitly refers to the hair, noting that the three verses of the Koran used by some theologians to assert that the veiling of women is an obligation were found to address specific situations: for one to impose the respect for privacy and the home of Islam's prophet Muhammad, the other women of Muhammad who must dress in a certain way how to be recognized and not to be bothered and the third is the need to cover the chest (between the breasts) or by questioning the authenticity of the hadith cited by the traditionalists to support their demonstration, and finally noting that, if it exists, this requirement is not qualified, nor in the Quran or the hadith, no penalty.(Kepel,1997)
From an analysis of the socio-cultural perspective, Liberals believe that the ancients held buckling for evidence because they bathed in socio-cultural norms which inspired Bedouin clothing in a very strong manner.  
Of all the elements above, these liberals conclude that the veil is not a fundamental principle of Islam, much less a requirement. We can cite for example Iqbal Baraka (Egyptian journalist), Muhammad Sa'id al-'Ashmawi (former judge and expert on Islamic law and comparative), or Gamal El-Banna (brother of Muslim Brotherhood founder). Liberals still agree with the majority of theologians on the obligation of decency in clothing and modesty in attitudes (both men and women for that matter).
In Egypt, Qasim Amin, the then proponent of modernist school of thought sought to interpret Islam and make it compatible with the modernization of society , also spoke in favor of changing status of women in his book Tahrir al-Mar'ah (The Liberation of Women) published in 1899. He laid particular emphasis on women's education, the reform of the divorce process and the end of the web and the confinement of women. At that time, in Turkey and Iran, the ban on full veil was imposed in the early twentieth century by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the Shah of Iran who saw the adoption of Western dress as a sign of modernization. In February 2008, the Turkish parliament, dominated by the ruling Justice and Development, passed a law allowing women to wear headscarves in universities.
Relevant History
In Tunisia, Habib Bourguiba banned the wearing of headscarves in public administration and strongly discouraged women to wear it in public.In Morocco the advent of independence, King Mohammed V, father of King Hassan II, asked his daughter to remove the veil in public as a symbol of the liberation of women.
In Afghanistan, the veil was made optional in 1959 by Royal decree issued by Mohammed Zaher Shah. Women from wealthy backgrounds, intellectual or diplomatic were among many in Kabul to have particularly benefited from this largesse. The taliban in power from September 1996 to November 2001 restored the obligation to wear chador. At the country's liberation by the Americans, British and French, in particular, women in Herat, Mazar-e Sharif and Kabul, particularly abandoned the chador again leaving only a simple headscarf. (Heath, 2008)
From the 1960s the headscarf was neither imposed nor strongly recommended in most predominantly Muslim countries, except Saudi Arabia. Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, the veil in public was once again made compulsory for all women in Iran (while Saudi Arabia requires women not to wear the Muslim abaya without covering their head.
The tradition of the veil existed before the advent of Islam. A law from the twelfth century BC in Mesopotamia during the reign of Assyrian King Tiglath-Phalazar I (-1115 to -1077) made outside the veil mandatory for any married woman. The obligation for Muslim women to cover their heads with a veil, had been set in the Islamic law before the death of Muhammad (the last prophet of the world according to Islam). It is with Islam has been held in different countries around the world. Moreover, Christianity was the first monotheistic religion to impose the veil on women arguments both strictly religious and the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians (11/2-16) 28 is the first written from the monotheistic religions to have linked the veiling of women in their relationship. (Lezra, 2010)

DisneyLand Example and French Controversy and Political Contradiction
On the other side of the story, the ban of wearing veil imposed on Disneyland workers attracted widespread denunciation and support as well. The case of France is no different. The women who were affected by the ban voiced their opposition and some of them even dragged the matter to courts. They allege that the ban on veil is an attempt to steal their dignity and respect. Majority of the women in West still continues to wear veil because they believe that it protects them from being molested at workplace and other public areas. The controversy escalated following the ban France imposed on wearing hijab in public places
In west, many commentators have expressed concern over the rigid policies of Saudi Arabia that compel women to wear veil even if they are unwilling. For example, the ban on women driving is a matter that has come under excessive criticism from the proponents of ban on veil. They believe that veil merely reduces the status of women to a puppet controlled by the men.
The case of the headscarf and its legislative implications revealed problems related to the practice of Islam as a religion in French society and institutions (as opposed to the related problem of the integration of people). Partly fueled by the fear of a "communitarisation" or an "Islamization" of French society, it has fed some sectors of the Muslim community fearing a "forced assimilation" of a spiral "always more" banning the veil or other expressions of Muslim faith in an area more broadly. However, it has also begun to define the place of Islam in the national society.
The controversial Islamic headscarf has been conveniently used for expression of a French Islam, independent of country of origin of Muslims in France. The presence of French Muslim women wearing veils and lights proclaiming "I am French" in demonstrations against the law "antifoulard" held in Paris is an example, certainly timely, but symptomatic of a social reality that is becoming increasingly visible. A poll by the CSA in January 2004 identifies the reality that over 90% of French Muslims surveyed say they are committed to principles such as the republic or gender, and 68% approve of the principle of separation of Church and State. In contrast, a majority (50-65%) of respondents expressed opposition to the law on secularism.
Advantages and Disadvantages
In traditional Muslim societies, an unveiled woman may be regarded as not fully clothed. The importance of head covering varies between "kerchiefs" motley who do not hide all the hair in black Africa, a veil concealing the entire kingdom of hair, sometimes with part of the face (Yemen) , hands, or even the whole body, a rigid mask (sometimes made of leather) in some Persian Gulf countries and some areas of Pakistan.  
In modern Muslim societies, there may be a partial or total removal of this obligation, especially its absence in the law such as the headscarf ban in certain situations (Tunisia, Turkey). In fact, the sight of Muslim women not wearing veils is common in cities like Istanbul or Casablanca. On the contrary, the obligation to wear the veil is an obligation in law for women in some countries like Saudi Arabia or Iran, and non-compliance with this obligation is punishable under the Penal Code. It can be observed in some countries where veil wearing has found acceptance.  Ban on veil is certainly a disadvantage to such veil-wearing segment across the globe.

All in all, veil wearing does not require states and legal systems to impose an Islamic headscarf or ban it, it requires states and legal systems to protect the right to decide to wear it or not, and the freedom to act according to the discretion of individuals. People should be educated enough to decide whether to wear veil or not. The choice for the acceptance or rejection of veil should be left to the people instead of the interference of state and lawmakers. It is a matter of free will. The extreme lines that have been taken from both Saudi Arabia and France on the issue of veil should be blurred and toned down.


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