The Veil and Secularism

Category: Life & Society Topics: Secularism, Veil (Burqa), Women Views: 22288

Today, the veil has taken an important role in the public appearance of Muslim women. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Islamic veil is one of the most visible symbols of Islamic revivalism. To say that the veil is a modern invention of Islamic movements is a mistake; but it is true that it was Islamic revivalism that has placed the veil into the modern life of Muslim women throughout the world.

The most visible sign of Huntington's clash of civilizations, indeed, is the revival of the Islamic veil, at a time when the West had just celebrated feminism and sexual liberation. In an agnostic age, the veil is seen as an aberration. The veil is seen as symbols of medieval Islam, of the oppressive side of Iran's Islamic Republic and Afghanistan's Taliban regime. Recently, the debate goes on as French Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin declared that veils have no place in French State schools.

The history of the revival of the veil, which used to be seen as an outdated, rural dress lies closely with Islamic revivalism. The ideas of Muhammad Abduh, Jamaluddin Al Afghani, Hassan Al Banna and Maududi offered disenchanted Muslims an alternative to the Western civilization, whilst recognizing the inevitability and importance of modernity.

While Islam has always placed a great importance on the liberation of women, traditional cultures have tended to disengage women from participation in society. Western culture provided Muslim women with that space; however the radical sexual liberation of the 60s seemed to be at odds with the religion and culture of many Muslim women. It was here that the veil came to be seen as a vital tool, while some took it as a way to alienate women from society, many have actually used it to allow them to actively participate in the public sphere comfortably. The veil afforded Muslim women with dignity, to rise above from being sexual objects in a misogynistic society.

At first, the West and the Westernized Muslim elite saw the veil as being an anathema to the modern world, and were seen with much suspicion and contempt. However, while opening the veil has been seen as signs of liberation in the religious regimes of Iran and Afghanistan, the veil has now adapted itself to society as a whole in other secular Islamic countries where even the upper-classes have now adopted the veil, in its many variations. The veil is now a crucial part of modern Islamic identity. In many Western countries, such as Britain and the US, veils are now more readily tolerated.

Yet, as noted, the tension is still there, especially in fervent secular states such as France and even Muslim Turkey. The roots of the French Revolution, where the common people and the bourgeoisie revolted against the twin powers of the Catholic Church and monarchy, has led to a strict and dogmatic adoption of secularism, regarded as the pride of the country. Although religion is not outlawed as it was in the atheistic Communist countries, it is being forced to be absolutely invisible in the public sphere. France needs to learn to come to terms with its largest minority, the Muslims and to regard them with respect. Muslims do not question the secular nature of the French Republic, recognizing themselves as a minority. Nevertheless, the French Republic must respect the religious beliefs of its citizens, be it a Jew wanting to wear the yarmulke, a Sikh wanting to wear the turban or a Muslim wanting to wear the veil.

Merve Kavakci, became a symbol of veil-wearing Muslim women when she was ousted from the Turkish Parliament, after entering the Turkish Parliament to take her oath adorning a veil. Turkey, following the downfall of the last Muslim empire, became a radically secular country under the leadership of Mustafa Kamal Attaturk. Despite the country being nearly totally Muslim, its secular and Westernized elite strove hard to eradicate any signs of Islam. Today, influences of Islamic revivalism and the country's own Islamic roots have led to over 70% of the women to adopt the veil, yet the government rather than allowing itself to adapt to the needs and demands of the people, have preferred instead to practice hypocrisy by outlawing the veil. The veil is seen nervously as a symbol of political Islam.

Both France and Turkey are signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Article 9 of the Convention allows everyone to "manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance." There should be a legal challenge against the intolerance of the veil, which infringes the freedom of religion in the two countries.

Perhaps it is interesting to note that the two Western countries that have learnt to tolerate the veil have a not-so-secular nature, and thus do not look so at religion in the same paranoia and fear as France and Turkey. The UK maintains a special position for the Church of England, despite the secular nature of the government, while the US was partly founded by the migration of Pilgrim fathers fleeing prosecution in England. While for most official purposes State and Church are separated in the two countries, they are more readily acceptable to the fact that religion can play a positive role in society.

At a time when the West is denouncing the oppression of women in traditional Muslim societies, they need to look at themselves in the mirror, and recognize the right for Muslim women to display their religious identity as they see fit.

NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD is a Malaysian commentator, writer and activist. His writings have appeared in Harakah (the Malaysian Islamic Party newspaper),, and the Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online. He can be contacted at [email protected]

  Category: Life & Society
  Topics: Secularism, Veil (Burqa), Women
Views: 22288

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Older Comments:
assalamou alikum.....
i think that muslims should make efforts to show the truth of islam because sorrowly many non-muslims misunderstand this truth.veil question is the command of god not symbol but ALLAH's shall men change the word of ALLAH?...subhana Allah..''but most people don't know''..

Our Prophet [PBUH]said, "every religion has a peculiar virtue, Islam's peculiar virtue is 'Haya'. Islam has given a dress code to it's followers to maintain that 'Haya'(I may not be able to explain 'Haya'to my non-Muslim friends, as I find no subtitute for the word except 'Modesty),Muslims should be proud to follow that code and the rest should give enough reason for the opposition, or the Muslim countries should enforce few bans on the Christian minorities in response. That's all I have to say. Thanks


Im very proud to see u very active in for commenting all of article. But too bad, U didnt give any answer for my previous question. And new question for u - Did you came inside this website to tell the truth to us (Muslim) or just to create more heat to u?


Dear Sameena....
Im challenge u to gimme a prove that muslim women noneed to cover their head or in accurate word their 'aura'.

U said "......that's his problem, not mine" u r deeply WRONG! Pls read any book/information about what the punishment in NEXT LIFE if u didnt cover yr 'aurah'.I'm begging u.... PLEASSSEEEE read.

If u didnt care about life after death, please keep quite because we are here (in ISLAMICTY.COM) to get ready for that.Please donot change whatever 'Harem' to 'Halal' or OK or Can.

one more time - PLEASE READ. Im really worry about u because u are in big trouble.PLEASEEEE.

I dont think anyone cares if you dont wear hijab Sameena. Its not a matter of interpretation, but a matter of knowledge and piety.
Those uneducated and ignorant Muslim woman who make such claims against the hijab are at odds with the Quran and the sunnah of the Prophet(saW). Thankfully serious and new sisters who enter the fold of Islam get it right.

For the guy who said I implied "all" Muslims in India do not wear Hijab: read my opinion, it says people in 'my' community do not wear hijab. It seems you were in such a zeal to respond, you didnt even make a minimal effort to understand the opinion you were responding to. You have a brain, please use it before you shoot your mouth off.
And to everybody else: no, we are not all in agreement over how those verses which some think refer to hijab, should be interpretted. Islam is not meant to be interpreted in a top-down approach, there is no organized clergy in Islam. And there is a lot more disagreement over Hijab and veil than zealous proponents of this practice like to admit. If you think Koran commands the donning of a veil, fine but I dont accept that interpretation.

Brother Farad, I feel you are a bit confused about Identity, tradition and Islam. A man and women according to Islam can wear any dress but the condition is that it should cover thier 'aura'. If a man wears a western outfit and it fulfils that. Then Islam has no problem with it. And if a women wears a western outfit and it covers her 'aura' then Islam has no problem with it.

So this accusations of Arabs wearing suits and not letting their females wear western outfits is not backed by logic.

If an Arab man wears a short. Which is not covering his aura. But asking his wife to cover aura. In that case your point is taken.


Maslina- Kudos to you for your fine posting. Others, Please read another nice article on this issue, taking into consideration all perspectives:

There has been a lot of articles on muslim women and their obedience to Allah s.w.t to wear the veil. What is really disturbing is the people who advocate for muslim women to wear the veil those people have no muslim identity themselves. What I mean by that is most men in islamic countries have adopted the western way of dress and forced a dress code upon their women. We men have to show our symbol and identity as well, not just women. The Qur'an does not tell men to wear the veil, but we reasonable muslims have to understand that men cannot force things on their women in islamic countries and expect to adopt western way of dress. I love the veil it is a strong symbol of a strong muslim woman with high spirit. It is a true statement to say that if a woman wears a hijab it makes her a stronger and better muslim.

Nice article. Responding to the sister in India, it's interesting that people in your region have been practicing Islam without wearing hijab; however, there are chapters in the Quran, Al-Noor and Al-Ahzab, that specifically call for women to cover their hair and body. The meaning of the Arabic is all too apparent. By saying that you enjoy having men see your hair and body, you are going against the very spirit of Islamic modesty. Men and women are not supposed to flaunt themselves. Reading the Quran and Hadith and all the related scholarship, it's baffling that you as a Muslim could come to the conclusion that it's okay to display your sexuality!

Just look at the nuns. They cover their heads don't they. Also look at pictures of ladies in medieval time. They covered their heads. So I believe that early Christians were encouraged to cover their heads. Modern Christians have changed all that. So Christians should not make such a fuss about Muslims who cover their heads.Whatever has happened to freedom that the West talk so much?. Let us all keep aor head cover. Thank you.

Sister Sameena. But you are lying from your tooth. How dare you make in statement that muslim women in India dont wear hijab. You seem to be ignorant about your own country.

I think you have read about the way animals have sex.Let us take the example of frogs. The female frogs make strange sounds and by this male frog gets attracted and then reach to it to have sex.

The attraction between man and women logically ends in sex. If not then as you stated the man is not man enough to reciprocate.

Please do read about the sex abuse cases in America. Be it girl child, women and students.
I can just pity at your ignorance.And I pray to Allah that he guides you.


Romesh. I pity you man. The BJP boy. By the way do you know sexual abuse cases agaisnt women in the so called developed countries. Please do read those reports first and then use your mind and then react.

By the way have you read about the recent rape in India. The developed educated metro city. So your philosophy of development and crime keep in your pocket.

Instead of having blind hatred agaisnt Islam. First read it. I think that is an educated approach instead of frothing like a VHP sewak

Hijab is not, but has been made a symbol of Islam by men and women who go on podiums pretending they have some mandate to speak on behalf of all Muslims. At schools and universities in US, there are a lot more Muslimahs who don't wear Hijab than those who do. I come from a Sunni community in India where for over a thousand years, the Muslims in our community have been practicing their faith without adopting the Hijab.
I am amazed at the naivety (/stupidity?) of some men who see women who don't wear Hijab or wear clothes that accentuates their figure as "innocent" little things who are getting unwittingly "exploited". There is no woman I know who doesn't like to be admired, to see desire for her in the eyes of another man (preferably an attractive one). For those who don't understand that concept, let me add, being admired does NOT mean being leered at or groped or obscene comments, --a common occurrence in South Asia, Arab world, Italy, Latin America and many other parts of the world. Ofcourse when a man behaves in that way, it is his responsibility, not the woman's.

I like my hair and I am not hiding it. I like my body and I am not hiding it either. I don't 'lower' my 'gaze'. I like to see a man eye to eye and if he is not man enough to handle that, that's his problem, not mine. There is no room in my life for a man who doesn't have the guts to handle a woman's sexuality.

Assalamualaikum Dear brothers & sisters,
It was interesting reading the opinions of both the genders regarding the donning of the veil for women in Islam. I would like to share my experience. I am a 25 year old Muslim woman living in cosmopolitan Singapore where Muslims are the minority. I only fulfilled my obligations as a muslim last year, when I covered up proper by wearing a veil in public. It was something that I hv been wanting to do for a long time, but I made the move last year. There were so many doubts in my mind, abt how my colleagues would perceive me, how people's view of me would change. However, I realised that all those thoughts were the devil, telling u to take off that veil and show off your glorious crown! I felt fulfilled as a muslim woman and was glad I made the move. To me,the veil not only serves as protection from lustful eyes but also a symbol of my religion. It directs my behavior to be a better muslim and I am constantly kept in check of my behavior. More importantly, it hasnt prevented me from continuing my lifestyle. Non muslim friends and colleagues have come to understand the need for me to don the veil. They have shown their respect and understanding in various ways. I am indeed grateful to GOD almighty for having enlightened me with the need to wear a veil. Anything done for God's purpose will come with all the blessings and help. That much, I hv experienced.

We must retrieve Islamic identity, and without oppressing others, seek to fulfill our commitment to Islam in our daily lives as best we perceive it. Above all we must lead by example and remain tolerant of others point of view. Allah has created Muslims as the "Middle Nation, not one of extremism.

Wa Alaikum Assalam Brother Badr-Al-Dinn. First, I thank Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) for that translation of Quran 24:31 - in your reply to Roland Hiltenbrand - which does not appear to confuse a woman's endowments with her dowry (i.e., with her jewelry). Jazak Allahu khair.

Next, jazak Allah khair for your kindness. My thinking is that Allah's role models are more properly the basis for appeal while Allah's directives are instead the basis for decree. In my opinion, a role model and a directive are two different types of things. They can act together to bring about that which is good but they are not necessarily interchangeable. With respect to your suggestion about consulting Ulma, I have already received a booklet on hijab written by Dr. Mohammad Ismail Memon Madani.

At this point my response is, should I assume that the privileges described in Surah al-Ahzab apply to the rest of us as well (or only the responsibilities)? Thus far Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) wills that I not perceive how the directives of Surah al-Ahzab are obligations on those who are not specifically addressed within the verses we have been discussing. Role models I can clearly perceive (and may peace be upon them each). Directives for the rest us are not quite so obvious, at least to me.

In fact I suspect that the state is actually weakened whenever rulers impose upon their subjects rules that Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) does not expressly require of their subjects. That would be my guess for what brought an end to the Golden Age of Islam. My guess would be that well guided rulers owe more, for their success, to Allah's role models than to Allah's decrees - and praise be to Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) for both role models and decrees.


--Yahya Bergum

Mr Roland Hiltenbrand i agree with ur comment, its is men have the lustfull heart to view women as a lust object. 1. Today's world most of the event like car show, car race, cycle race, Olympics, Miss universe, Miss world, so on...... u will see innocent women are dressed very sexy to please the lusty full man and women. It's also very interesting to see in American Professional and college sports so called CHEER LEADERS. Ask one question, are these lusty full people hiding in the name art, culture and modernity by mistreating and abusing woman.

2. Since I live in these so called modern and civilized world one thing I noticed, if you go to a marriage, or an office function or a talk shows so on.... What I noticed is men dressed completely covered from neck to toe when it come to women exposes from head to toe to please the lusty people.

You see how ISLAM came to rescues women from this evil lusty full people.
May Allah send blessing and peace to Prophet Muhammed.

Asalamu Alikum Brother Yahya Bergum in Islam, Please read the entire Surah al-Ahzab Insallah u will get the answer. In this Surah some verses Allah (SWT) give directives exclusively to Prophet wives (which will apply to other woman also, because wives of Prophet is also role model to the entire community (ummah).

Brother u have to remember one thing that is Allah(SWT) gave men and Women different Responsibly I couldn't give you exact ayat but what every Prophet(SAS) said the Noble Quran supports Please read careful and consult Ulma if you know some one in ur community. Maa Salama.

Assalamualaikum, while i agree with the context of the article, i disagree with what you say Islamic revivalism places the veil as an alternative to the Western civilisation. Rather Islamic revivalism rallies the Muslims to rediscover the pure Islam and the true meaning of being a Muslim. Islamic revivalism is not reactionary as some people think. While some Muslims wear veil as a tradition, there are those who wear hijab as a devotion to God. In addition, the veil is only a part of the bigger system in Islam. Good article though.

Our problem as Muslims is not the veil. Our biggest problem is absense of leadership throughout the Muslim world.
If you were to combine the brain power of our leaders together it will equal to zero watt.
Veil is a personal choice, we should worry about the bigger political future and complete fragmentation of Islamic countries. Our leaders have failed us. It is time to get rid of the old guard. With leaders like Saddam who needs enemies. I would like to thank all the Muslim leaders who sat and watched leaders like saddam brutalize his people and sat around and did nothing. Enjoy your HALAL CHICKEN....

I do agree with it.The veil is a liberation to women not opression.

Wa alaikum assalam. Within Surah al-Ahzab the first mention I can find of wives (radhiallahu anhum) of Allah's messenger Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wassalam) begins as follows:

"O Consorts of the Prophet! Ye are not like any of the (other) women..." (Quran 33:32)

How then are such directives said to apply to all (other) women? Are there perhaps ahadith supporting such a position?

I have heard of hadith in which Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wassalam) informs us that a man who does not protect the women under his protection is not going to enter Paradise. Forgive me, brothers, but it would seem that, possibly, the directives about which we are most concerned are actually directed at us - rather than at our Mahram women.

Rather than risking innovation (perhaps through an "overly wide" application of Allah's directives) why not, first, try honesty with our Mahram women - about our concerns for ourselves? I would hope that the women that Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) has placed under our protection would have at least some sympathy for us - depending I suppose on how we have treated them. Who knows?

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.

--Yahya Bergum

I reside in the US, and I am "free," as you put it. No one (not even my parents) asked me, let alone forced me, to wear the headscarf. I wanted to comply to the guidelines by myself (and of course, God). Believe it or not, I feel more beautiful when I am covered up. In addition, modesty spurs inner beauty and a greater focus on virtue. For instance, during the 1900's, women (in the US; the only reason I use American women is because I have not obtained the mentallity of a Muslim women in the past) were covered up (although they did not usually wear a headcover); For example, "when girls in the nineteenth century thought about ways to improve themselves, they almost always focused on their internal character and how it was reflected in outward behavior. In 1892, the personal agenda of an adolescent diarist read: '(To be) Resolved, not talk about myself or feelings. (To) Think before speaking. To work seriously. To be self-restrained in conversations and actions. Not to let my thoughts wander. To be dignified. Interest myself more in others'" (Brumberg). Meanwhile, a century later, "in a New Year's resolution written in 1982, a girl wrote: 'I will try to make myself better in any way I possibly can with the help of my budget and baby-sitting money. I will lose weight, get new lenses, already got new haircut, good makeup, new clothes and accessories'(Brumberg). The difference between the American women in the past and those in the present is the stress on beauty and increasingly revealing clothing. God perscribed these commandments for us (Muslims) because there was some good in it. Rules in Islam are not merely for the sake of having rules; in fact, those rules are meant to benefit us. For instance, in many of the world's major religions, abstinence for both sexes is commanded. Although a commandment, abstinence has proved to be provide benefits such as preventing emotional turmoil and STD.

I think people should be allowed to do as they please, especially in a country with individual freedoms such as the United States. I do, however, often find it difficult to understand how requiring or encouraging a woman to cover her head so that men will not covet her lustfully is liberating to females. I do understand Islam to be the most progressive of the world's major religions in nearly all things, especially women's rights. To solve a problem, however, one must begin at the source. The solution is to fix the source and not cover it up (pun intended). The source of course is a man's lustful nature that is validated by the apparent need for women to be covered so they can be seen as equals. I think if women have to cover their heads, so then should men. There is no need for women to cover their heads, only for true muslim men to continue their jihad against impure thoughts. This would be enough. I think the head covering probably reminds or suggests to a woman everyday that she is a sexual object that needs to be hidden because men are these unbearable animals who cannot control themselves. Besides, I find a woman ever bit as attractive with her head covered and seemingly more desirable because she seems to be more pure.

Forgive me but it would seem that we are wasting Allah's time when we are criticizing Hindu beliefs for the benefit of Romesh Chander. If my memory serves us well, Romesh Chander has recently proclaimed that Romesh Chander is an atheist - in response to having been invited to Islam by another Muslim and yours extremely, me.

My main point here would be that insults directed towards other religions would seem likely to encourage an aversion to seeking the word of Allah among persons that Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) wills to remain uninformed. My question here would be, who is more likely being tested in such cases - the persons averted from seeking the word of Allah or the persons to whom the word of Allah has already been given?

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.

--Yahya Bergum

well_written article

MUZ, you bring up some good points. As for "romesh chander" he's a troll with nothing but an internet connection and hatred for Muslims. Trust me, I've met his kind before, nothing but malice and stupidity in action.
If you want to understand how such a deceased mind works, study the behavior of the Hindu terrorists who were for the Gujarat massacre of Muslims in India. Its sick animals like these who murdered Gandhi and today have their finger on the nuclear trigger.

Dear Romesh

U said "I don't find any hope for muslims in this world; there may be hope for them in paradise (if they do reach there),.." mmmm if u r believed about paradise then why we must put our main goal to the WORLD and abandon the PARADISE?. If we reach there.. then where are u? - IN HELL off course! Do you want to go there? (May Allah open your heart to the truth!)

AND if u still stick with your point; Are u really sure u will be in PARADISE?

about our subject; 'Veil and Secularism'.- pls reply the comments from Al-Diin

Atleast we have some brave Muslims(brothers & Sisters) out there to set an example, regradless of whatever we go through to Please Allah(The Hight, and The Above).

Referring to the wives (Radhiallaahu Anhunna) of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu
Alayhi Wasallam) warns the men:

"And when you ask (His ladies) for anything you want, ask them from behind a
curtain: that makes for greater purity for your hearts and theirs." (Ahzaab

If Allah Ta'ala expects the prophet's wives to be so guarded then surely
none of the believing women can claim greater purity of heart and
consequently exemption from the directive to hide their beauty.

Hadhrat Aaisha (Radhiyallaahu Anha) says, '(during Hajj in the state of
Ihraam) when the male should walk in front of us while in the company of
Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam), then we would drop our veils from
the head over the face.'

This Hadith emphatically shows the manner adopted by the honoured wives of
Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam). They have exemplified an extremely
dignified way of life for the women of the Ummah(community).

For Mr. Romash and other readers too.
Women throughout the world spend millions of Dollars on facial beauty.Companies manufacturing 'beauty' products make a colossal figure in sales.It would be nothing short saying that the products used on the face far
exceed other products. This in itself proves that humans are particularly possessive of their looks - facial expression. People especially women take great pride and time in making up their faces. Allah Ta'ala has placed the beauty of man and woman in the face. Perhaps the
busiest part of the body is the face - used extensively in communication.The face communicates the person's mood and facial expressions and expresses the character and mannerism. Because so much of identification is assembled by the face, least to mention
the beauty of women, Muslim women are required to hide away their beauty. The veil forms part of their concealment. The Noble Qur'an declares:
"Oh Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen
themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women so as not to be annoyed." (Ahzaab 59)
Furthermore, the Noble Qur'an declares in Sura Nur verse 31, that the believing women 'should not display their beauty and ornamentation' except to their husbands and immediate family (Mahrams). Allah Ta'ala says clearly that a woman's body should be covered by loose-fitting, non-transparent clothing so that the shape of her body is not revealed. The Hijaab hides the beauty of the woman's form. No one can dispute that a woman's primary focus of beauty is her face. Therefore, if Allah Ta'ala places so much of emphasis on hiding the beauty
of a woman's body, it's only logical that the centre of greater attraction - the face - should without a doubt also be covered. Continue....

Mr.Romesh Chander, India is the most horrible country in world in term of abusing the woman.
Mr. Romash for your information:
1. Don't be hypocrite or an ignorant.
2. In India Hindus treat a woman like a slave.
3. Hindus woman prostrate her husband feet everyday, because you Hindus made her to believe husband' are GOD.
5. You Hindus man shave Hindu woman's head after her husband dead.
6. According to Hindu reglion woman must cover there head its is still practiced in north, west, centrel India place like Jaipur, Bombay, lucknow so on and so if u seen Hindu marvadi woman cover there also cover there head too.


Good article, unfortunately I dont agree with some of the concepts portrayed here, France and Turkey are two different countries in many ways, then again both of them underwent social and cultural revolutions, Turkey is well known for its secularism, but its also well known for its peoples backgrounds and ancestry, greeks, russians, mongols, armenians, arabs, turkmen, kurds, turks and so on, obviously some of those aforementioned were not muslims, the turkish people before accepting Islam, practiced shamanism, maybe this can give us an idea of why Turkey in general has a tendency to secularism, and not only for political reasons, I remember seeing Tayip Erdogan's wife, wearing a pece (turkish for hijab) and the lady was not disrespected or downsized by anybody in or outside of Turkey, as a matter of fact Mr Erdogan himself had to break his fasting during ramazan while in Europe,Mr Erdogan was supposed to attend one too many breakfasts including the infamous one with Mr Aznar president of Spain, and he was critised by the turkish press for doing so, but then again are we talking about the same turkish people that kill women for wearing a veil?? I have worn a veil in Turkey even in Istambul and people dont even pay attention to what your wearing anymore, Istambul is very much like New York in that aspect, a wonderful melting pot in which you can decide what to wear, and practice whatever religion your heart desires, as long as your not a fanatic, thats the keyword my brothers and sisters "fanatism" maybe what not only the turkish government but the turkish people in general are afraid of, same applies to most European countries, even here in the US we are plagued with lack of tolerance in many ways, try wearing a veil somewhere down south or midwest, people will look at you like you come from planet pluto, before u become showered with smart remarks, sarcasm and a couple of insults, Sikh men have been killed in US soil for wearing a turban mistaken for muslims. Salam.

H.A. can't believe he is being forced to post comments here again...

H.A. agrees w/ Ramesh Chander that Muslim women in Saudia Arabia are forced to do a lot things which are NOT required by Islam.

As long as a Muslim women dress modestly, No need for Hijab or Head Scarf. However, it should be up to the individual. No forcing...please. A lot of Muslim MEN (including myself) need to grow up...Please follow the middle path. Avoid the extremes... STOP MIXING YOUR CULTURE W/ ISLAM.

....The same officials in Saudi Arabia who force women to wear Hijab ete.etc. are themselves lead the life of an Infidel, i.e.-smoking while standing at the gate of Kaba. KFC, BIG MAC all around the MOSQUE. IT SEEMS THAT THE CAMEL MEAT IS NOT TASTY NO MORE!!! WHY DON'T THE MULLAS OBJECT?

Please resist the temptation to attack other's religion (INCLUDING THE RELIGION OF RAMESH CHANDER), which seems to be happening at a rapid rate here, although H.A. himself is guilty of it sometimes.

The good news is that H.A. is trying to mature up....


It shockes me to see how arrogant and self-centred some Muslims can be. When a brother or a sister proposes a new idea on how to be better Muslims, he or she is exposed to a wide range o ill-informed criticism and personal unjustifiable attacks. Why is that ? I believe that Muslims of today are afraid of hearing the voice of reason. And that is exacly how some commentators on this topic felt. It is explicit in what thy wrote and that is very sadening. However, I am not going to follow their leads , but I am going to to say that I totally agree with the writer's standpoint. I thank him for taking the time to shed lights on this sensitive matter. May Allah reward you pontily in the hereafter.

The perspective given in this article is good. I feel that it is a good sign that brothers in the Muslim community recognize the role Muslim woman play in society without negative remarks.

Fatima Muhammad

Here is a recent news from Saudi Arabia, which proves my point that if you give women freedom, they will prefer not to veil/headscarf. It is only the men who impose these rules.

17 girls suspended from Saudi school for uncovering faces

RIYADH: A girls' school in Dammam suspended its 17 expatriate teenage students for
a week for uncovering their heads.

According to a report on Wednesday in daily Okaz, Headmistress of Eighth High School in Dammam Malika Al-Duseiri stated in her remarks that she found 17 girls without their head covers when she made a surprise call on the school bus and suspended them for a week.

Al-Duseiri said she would see their parents and would ask the girls sign written assurance that they would not repeat the act. Okaz quoted family members as saying that they were planning to approach authorities against the decision of the school.

It is compulsory in Saudi Arabia that women must cover themselves in public and in most cases a male family member must accompany them. Picture identity cards to women were issued last year after a three-year debate. Earlier the women were registered on the papers of their fathers or husbands.

There is also ban of mobile phones with built-in cameras, as they may be used to take pictures of uncovered women. Prominent Saudi clerics and academics oppose calls for women's rights. They warn that calls for equality and increased rights for women would make Muslim women more like Western women.

Mr. Kovitz:

The subject was 'Veil and Secularism'.

Your post does not deal with it. Seems like even educated muslims living in the western countries like US/Canada/UK cannot think anything different from an uneducated muslim living in the muslim countries.

In these circumstances, I don't find any hope for muslims in this world; there may be hope for them in paradise (if they do reach there), but not in this world. Education for them is useless.

Dear Romesh Chandar, one thing, in Islam they do not worship dead woods and stones. Hang on to these people, you wil be saved...

Neither extremes are suitable due to the
believe that nothing happens without the will
of Allah. Therefore, we should prove our faith
about the oneness of Allah to ourselves and
the environment by taking small steps. And
whatever Allah has willed for me, how can I
reject it? I can only intend so much. And
success and losses can only come from Allah
alone. Surely we are traveling toward "the
end" that Allah have promised. And who is
better in keeping promise than Allah? There
is no way to avart this process toward this.
The only logical thing for a believer to do is to
fight on until death, and try to die with the
believe of Islamic monotheism when death
comes. what more can one do? Allah's will
-the only will that's ever lasting. Therefore by
the will of Allah one can only intend to.

As a former feminist & atheist (before this coming from none-practising Catholic Christian background) I was ashamed of myself, when I truly opened my mind & heart, rejecting prejudice & misinformation from 2nd or 3rd party and found it out myself that Muslim Women had been already liberated in 7th century. I now have the true freedom & liberation, which is from and of God and have the Veil myself after rejecting it for 30 years of my life. Peace... at last with My Lord- Allah, Master of The Day of Judgement. The rest is the old devil's game.

Peace be upon us all...

Kindest Regards

Zeynep Bowes

i agree with the comments. wearing veil and living in the united states have made me realized that Allah always with me while I am reviving His truthful teachings. Even though, I might look different from others, veils give me some sense of self-respect, self-dignity and believing in myself.

I'm a Muslim convert who wears a head scarf and I have a problem with the terminology used in this article. To me, a "veil" is the niqaab or burqah that covers the face. Instead, I think the author is talking about a "head scarf", a very big difference to me and most other hijab-wearing women. So, let's get that straight! The term "veil" to an English speaker sounds much more dramatic than just saying a "head scarf", something that covers the hair and neck and what Western women wear around their shoulders anyway.

It's no wonder that many nations are trying to stamp-out all public displays of religion. Thank Allah I am an American where we are "one nation under God", and even as a Christian in public high school I frequently wore Christian T-shirts and cross necklaces and even attended Bible Study classes before the first bell rang, and we prayed before football games. If anything, the world needs MORE public displays of religion, more people actively practicing their religion-- THAT is religious freedom. Instead, France and Turkey are models of religious oppression! Hmmm...what is the government really afraid of? And, this my friends, is just the beginning. What's next? What will be the next step in limiting religion? That's why my ancestors left France in the first place and came over here!

As an American convert, I also don't attribute my wearing of a head-scarf to Islamic "revivalism". That's really not relevant to American converts like myself who are Muslim for the first time due to extensive study and not because we are looking for "alternatives" to the Western political model. Instead, most converts I know are searching for God, theological consistency, and a deeper philisophical understanding of the universe. And, wearing a scarf around our heads is merely to meet the modesty requirements and to ward of sexual harassment-- not as a means of voicing a political opinion or participating in some revivalist movement.

Wearing the veil has given me the utmost form of freedom. I am openly expressing my choice to be a Muslim. For years, I wanted to be a Muslim but feared wearing the veil and what others would think of me. In making this change, I have truly expressed my strength to others, I am a strong Muslima in my community and proud of it. I am now respected even more than before.


Good Article

Even though Muslim, I find it unnecessary to call a Veil or Hijjab Islamic. By calling it Islamic, I find it to have some "exclusivity" embedded in it and thus denying the opportunity for the Non-Muslim women to adopt as a style of respect, modesty and mordernity. O woman doesn't necessarily has to be Muslim in order to put on a veil.

Will you be against any Non-Muslim woman doing so by her own choice?

If you will, why? If you will, then I suppose the next thing you will wish for "Islamic Rain". I hope you get my point!

"Market" the Hijjab from the "point of style" of being ever-mordern, ever-fashionable, the mordern woman's style, free woman's style, etc (In actual fact it is really is). The objective here is to keep the common enemy Shaitan (both a Muslim woman and Non-Muslim woman have Shaitan as a common enemy) ever on the run. This ruthless enemy means no good rather than destruction to either one of them.

The objective shouldn't be any other than the one stated above.

Shaitan is not stupid, nor a robot as probably most of us (mankind) think of him. He is very active on his battle fronts. As long as your chances to do goog are minimized, whether Muslim or not, as long as you are human, he is happy.

Peace to you all. Let us engage the enemy of MANKIND actively, and make him run rather than making us run all the time (both Muslims and Non-Muslims alike).

Let us use the terms Islamic, Western, Black, Arab, White, Asian, American, African, e.t.c, sparingly. Let us use them intelligently, and really when necessary. Otherwise, Shaitan will pose more diffucult to contain.


With lots of Dictonaries around, findind a non-recursive meaning of any word I find it perplexingly complex, Please mind my Language.


Beautiful article.

The author mentioned two countries as example hiding under the so called "Secularism" bid to frustrate Muslims. Of the two, I think I will pick France as lesser of the two evils. As far as Turkey is concern, I'm afraid they are gone. They are not even in the category of the Ahlul-kitab. The truth is that by rejecting the veil you are rejecting a verse(ayat) of the Almighty Allah. And if you are a Muslim then this makes you a non-Muslim outrightly. Directives(or commandments) of Allah CANNOT (emphasis on the word) be politicised.

Some people will say but the leadership of Turkey is to blame. I said yes but Turkey was supposed to be 99% Muslims. So where are the subjects, if the leadership cannot deliver then CHANGE it. We will all be accountable for our actions, 1st individually and then collectively. Allah would ask how we fair in keeping to his commsandments. But those who reject His commandments,no questions for them but the ultimate doom, Subhanallah.

My beloved Turkey rise up and die not except as a Muslim, the way of your forefathers.

As for France, people are entering the religion of Allah in troups and in-Sha-Allah in the not too distant future change would come.

Allahu Akbar.

I'm curious when this article talks about the veil, do they mean Niqab, Hijab or Qimar?

Generally speaking the views raised seem to be in line with the truth. We muslims do not want to be so called modernised in our belief and faith and eventually end up in hell fire. But rather would go for the harder way and seek paradise. Inshaa-Allah

Covering the head is a God given right.

Peace be with you. Here's a little something from the (non-Gospel) epistles of the New Testament.

"Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered disgraces his head. But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head - it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have hair cut off or be shaved, she should wear a veil. For man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection of God; but woman is the reflection of man. Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man." (I Corinthians 11:4-9)

Note that I personally do not consider epistles to be the word of God. Also, I would say that if any of God's prophets (peace be upon them) had their heads covered during prayers that would seem okay then for me too.

Assalamu alaikum.

--Yahya Bergum


This is in regard to the 'real issues' posted by Romesh, if he ever gets back to this site.
Putting things in perpective, Saudi women/ gulf women are not the ideal women. Just by being born in a specific part of the earth doesnt give anyone authority to be a flag bearer for Islam or Hinduism. For that matter, there are so many Brahmins who remove their sacred thread and eat beef and wear it back again. Now, going by you assumptions every Brahmin wants to eat beef?

Similarly, there are those who dont want to follow but are compelled to follow. Another thing that u must take into consideration that Islam's foundations are on the concept of intentions and everyone is responsible for not only his deeds but also his/her intentions. Those who do any deed other than to please Allah (Almighty) is of no use. As a conclusion, I appreciate your effort in reading thro the article, have a good day.

Allah knows Best.

Its a good article.

But for people who don't have correct prospective of islam this seams irrational. Materailistic and oppertunistic people are quick to point out giving odd examples and coming to there own conclusion that muslim women dosent want to wear veils, if they are given choice. On the other hand they are very convinent in skipping and not thinking about majority of muslims Women who themselves have preferred Hijab.

May be they dont want to think!!



Well said. Chander as usual has nothing of any merit to add, choosing instead to go off on unrelated tangents. It should be noted that everytime Hindu fundamentalist terrorists go on a rampage in India, the victim of choice is usually Muslim woman. As for oppressed Hindu woman, its no surprise that many convert out of a religion which defines them as a subhuman entity.
The fact is the so-called western world is afraid of Muslim woman honoring their faith. One can learn plenty from the experience of Muslim girls being subjected to educational apartheid in these "democratic" "tolerant" societys.
Finally go check out for Chander and his ilk do in the subcontinent.

Well said. Chander as usual has nothing of any merit to add, choosing instead to go off on unrelated tangents. It should be noted that everytime Hindu fundamentalist terrorists go on a rampage in India, the victim of choice is usually Muslim woman. As for oppressed Hindu woman, its no surprise that many convert out of a religion which defines them as a subhuman entity.
The fact is the so-called western world is afraid of Muslim woman honoring their faith. One can learn plenty from the experience of Muslim girls being subjected to educational apartheid in these "democratic" "tolerant" societys.
Finally go check out for Chander and his ilk do in the subcontinent.

Romesh Chandar
Please take care of your cows and stays away from this.

H.A's "patented" formulas about the importance of veil-

. Veil + a female Homo Sapien = trust

. Veil - a female Homo Sapein = 70% divorce rate in the cites and 50% in the suburbs of Earth

. Skirt - veil + a female Homo Sapien = confusion about what the meaning of the English word "is" is in the capital of the Free World.


Dear Romesh Chandar:

Long time brother. Let me put this way.

If nobody impose a law on corruption, the whole world will immerse in it. Guaranteed. If no police man stands on the street, you and me cannot walk on the streets. Don't tell your children to go to school. They will not go. Islam is between morality and legality. I have told my wife and daughters not to wear hijab. They do. They insist to do. Your analogy is wrong. A bunch of Saudi or Pakistani is not all Islam about. Which Mullah can force a western lady to wear hijab. Tell me. On the contrary, the white western born women who have accepted Islam is having more penchant towards Hijab than our eastern ladies. Why? Who told them? The glorious Qur'an has clear injunctions for women to wear hijab. Therefore my boy, it is no Mullah or Maulana. It is the injunctions of the Qur'an. Please. By the way, I have 25 white ladies working at my business, and almost all of them are divorced and single mothers. This is the result of not wearing hijab. 80% of the Americnas born are illegitimate and out of wedlock. Father(s) does not exist. On top of that, my employees are normally beaten physically by the ex. Oh' I forgot. The ratio of 1.5% women is being raped in the west every minute for not wearing hijab. Please Romesh. be reasonable. India has the largest concentration of AIDS affected women, result of not wearing Hijab.


ALhamdulla, this is the truth.

Peace be upon you, Ray Hooker. I invite you to read Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19, John 5:19 and Quran 4:171. The first three verses tell me that God (alone) is good. The last two verses tell me that Jesus (peace be upon him) is the word of God but not God.

Also, you might want to have a look at Matthew 5:25-26. These verses indicate to me that there is "chastisement" and that we are responsible for claims that others have against us - perhaps depending on the circumstances.

Again, peace be with you.

--Yahya Bergum

If you catch a plane from Europe to Saudi Arabia, you will find that saudi women (and other muslim women) in the plane are not wearing any veil and find themselves quite comfortable with strangers in the plane. The moment the plane lands in Saudi Arabia, the muslim women put on the veil.

As far as I know of, the veil is to be worn in all non-public places (muslim country or non-muslim country).

So what is the real issue which the author does not care to tackle at all. If you give the muslim woman freedom not to veil herself, she will invariably choose not to put on the veil. It is the keepers of the religion (i.e. mullahs) are the ones who are forcing women to put on the veil.

Come on folks. Let us discuss the real issues.

asalam aleykum wr wb!!! your heart and the fear to allah swt, couldnt be depend of the country where you are. just i wear my veil since i feel im engage to allah swt, that my life cant go on with our his protection and we should relize that when ver we can be on this earth Allah has sent us a law to follow and his is the wise. for me my veil is my shelter; a shelter to cover myself from going out of the right way that allah swt in his mercy has showed me. the veil is a sing on our heart more than on our head. for me is one of the ways to show Allah swt how we are not the nation where our feet stand on, but we are the nation of islam. so never mind whre we are or how lonely or discriminate we can feel about people around us, since our king is all seeing and he is the judge. so are they who criticize towards us going to save us from hell fire?, are they going to give peace and mercy on our heart??? no they are just the way out of islam. and we do know as a musleams our big responsability in our way to be musleams in our heart. be a muslema is not just to say "la illaha ila allah and muhamad rasul allah" but is feel, think, behave as it means. so if tthere is not another God but Allah swt, sohow then we are exposing oursleves to the eyes of the judges of this world??.........just Allah swt is over all the worlds. in conclusion veils for woman is the identity of our effort to become insha allabh really muslimas (insha alllah). veil is in my feeeling one of the most importants and relevants way to show Allah that we are striving to be submitted to his comands. may Allah swt guide us to the straight path. amen. faith is somthing that just Allah swt can see; and our veil is something that has to be done just for Allah swt with all our piety and asking to take this action as a good one. salam aleykum !

Assalamu alaikum. I find myself confused by articles about the veil. Sometimes the articles seem to be talking about covering the full face, sometimes only part of the face, sometimes none of face but all of the hair or sometimes none of the face and only part of the hair. I thought that a woman's piety and (who knows?) perhaps even the woman's rights are somehow related to the amount of coverage afforded by her veil.

Also, forgive me but I don't really care much for the concept of consensus. Compromise, yes. Clear majority, yes. Taqlid, no thanks - other than according to Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala). Consensus, definitely not. Have a look at the picture that accompanies this article if your browser displays it. If we form a consensus that a screen is something through which we can see, will that be what a screen is - until the day that the pious among us convince us (using Allah's truth!) that the consensus endorsed something that prevents us from seeing what lies beyond?

--Yahya Bergum

PS. I am grateful for the insights that Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) had afforded me through those who don't share my opinions.

Esselam Alaikum
Reading this article inspires me to make changes accordingly. As a Muslim I agree with the presence of hijab. I do not wear the veil except for religious functions, but I want to start wearing it as soon as possible, Inshallah. However, the hijab is not practiced among my people and in my country, Albania. This is the main reason why I'm not wearing it.

I certainly agree that it is wrong to restrict religious dress. We do need to be consistent. I don't have to agree with the practice to believe it should be allowed. That is what religious freedom is all about.

I think that there is a lot of fear and anger that drives the response.

Turkey and France the so-called "Civilized" countries deny the right of Muslim women to practice their religion. Muslim women in Turkey are not only denied the right to gain education but also has punished and placed in prison for wearing Hijab. During the 1996 to 2001, Tabliban was demonized and sanctioned for not allowing girls to get education, but Turkey and France are enjoying the privilege to stop Muslim girls from getting education for many years. Muslim women are accused of being oppressed for choosing to wear veil while a nun can cover herself from head to toe without any question. Turkey and France should be sanctioned for their deny of the human rights to Muslim women.

The biggest issue is that in so called secular democracies as one of my friend is defending so whole heartly do muslim have the choice to follow their religion freely. Mostly say sure you have total freedom to do that but please don't expose your religion to rest of the public they may feel offended. I think for a muslim it is a clear choice leave that land of free country and go somewhere where you can follow your religion. The choice is always yours at the end. Same as veil for woman its woman choice to wear to obey The God's command no question can be asked for God's commands. you just do that or don't do that it is your own personal choice.
Muslim are mostly stuck in between material life that we are enjoying in west with left over Islam in ourseleves. We pay more attention to outer expression of Islam than the inner which really matters.

Assalamu alaykum,

I would like to share my experience as a Muslim girl who wears the veil. Myself being born in Uzbekistan but raised in Soviet culture was a quite interesting exerience to discover beauties of Islam. One of them was veil and I did face misunderstandings not only from strangers but also from my close siblings and friends.

In 1998, as a third year student, I was asked to leave my university in Tashkent for starting wearing the veil. And Uzbekistan has almost 90% Muslim population and is a secular state.

On the contrary, being in US and wearing veil is much easier for me, at least at the university. Yes, some people may not want to communicate or interact but it is for the good as my experience shows. I do get checked at the airports several times, asked some weird questions, e.g Are you being oppressed or Did your parents make you to wear the veil... Hovewer,I have not felt any strong oppression for my beliefs being in US.

For me wearing the veil is a matter of pride, dignity and liberation granted by Almighty, not by any state who wants to support and oppress this.

There is most definitely an inclination for western societies to 'pick' on the veil as it is a very manifest sign of a woman's islamic belief. This can be in the form of taunts on the streets or in general as detailed in this article. I think men can learn alot from the struggle of women in countries like Turkey and France.

What I don't understand is why there are such strong objections to the veil, I don't think the article goes into enough detail on this subject i.e. The reasons and causes for these reactionary measures. It is a requirement for a muslim woman to wear the veil (by veil here I mean the head-covering cloth), so a muslim woman is only trying to do what Allah has ordered in the Quraan. This has been the dress of the muslim woman for over 1400 years.

The banning of the veil is a blatant attempt at banning any signs of true Islam from the western society. So what freedom and tolerance is being preached by these countries. In western society it is acceptable to follow the fashion of a footballer or tennis player or anyone else for that matter EXCEPT if you want to imitate the wives of the Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) and guard your honour and your chastity.

Many problems are overlooked in the 'Muslim World' look at places like Libya, Uzbekistan and Egypt where growing a beard and practising your religion can lead to persecution. Every single woman who wears the veil, I believe shows the true spirit of struggle in Islam to remain within the boundaries of the Laws of Allah.

As for the first reply to this post, I really think brother Abdullah Jefri cannot be serious with regards to his theory on 'manifesting their religions'. For one thing christians can wear crosses, I have never heard of a single case in western society where someone was not allowed ro wear a cross or for that matter a jew wearing a skull cap. He has in no way convinced me as he has presented no evidence or argument to support his claim.


As with most muslims around the world, the author shares a common misconception about the attitude of secular states towards the Islamic veil.

The states are not banning muslims from manifesting their religions, as muslims are allowed to wear veil and pray freely. What is banned, however, is such manifestation in publicly funded organizations. Thus, a Christian student is banned from embracing a huge cross against his chest in school as a Jew student is not allowed to wear his small hat in class.

Muslims find satisfaction in accusing secular democracies of prejudice against Muslims by citing the right free religion manifestation and how they're not enjoying it. Once Muslims realize that this argument is futile and is not even related to the subject then maybe some agreement, or perhaps a dual-compromise, is reached in this matter.

Well said. Lets be honest here folks, the real aim of targetting the veil is to target the Muslim woman, the same Muslim woman who is the backbone of the Islamic family, the bedrock of Muslim civilization. Hypocracy and rank hatred is whats at play here.
France's attitude reflects its Islamophobia as well as its backwardness. The Turkish sceular fascists have actually had some hijabi woman assisinated in order to discourage the veil, but to no avail. Throwing girls out of schools is what the Taliban were accused of, and yet the same thing is being done here so wheres the outrage from the usual suspects ?
Dont hold your breath, the silence is deafening.