To wear or not to wear a niqab

Published: April 20, 2012

It is no surprise that both our top blogs this week have talked about the face veil. In the first one, our blogger wrote about a social experiment she conducted by wearing a niqab for a day. The other blog talked about the controversy surrounding a picture of a veiled woman holding up a bra.

Here are some of the reactions to these pieces:

“’Female figure is a source of evil and therefore should be kept strictly hidden. All girl children be taught to be ashamed of their own bodies. Any reference to female anatomy meets with a response of disgust, or lust or even violence.’ These were the golden rules I grew up learning in an average lower middle class Pakistani family. I struggled for a long time before finally growing out of it.”

“It’s not so much the niqab but what it gets connected with that causes them to behave this way.”

“This hijab is violation of human rights, it is against the dignity of a woman……… it is not a matter of choice………… is just to show off that you are more pious and righteous.”

“You don’t really know who is behind that mask, second for communication reason you don’t know what his facial expressions are, its like holding a conversation with a pole.”

“I don’t think feeling awkward around someone in a niqab has anything to do with being judgemental, per se. How would most people feel like when sitting in a restaurant next to someone dressed in traditional Sami, Inuit, Zulu or Maori fashion? Exactly, a bit awkward.

It was interesting to see the polarity of views, and as the debate raged on in the comments section,  I decided to ask The Express Tribune staff a few questions and recorded their answers.

This video discusses people’s opinion on the veil and how they feel around women who have adopted it.

Read more by Atika here or follow her on Twitter @AtikaRehman


Atika Rehman

Editor of the Life & Style pages of The Express Tribune and an LLB graduate from the University of London.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Muslim


    I did point out in my previous post the KSA only applies certain islamic laws but its socio political fabric is NOT based on the Islamic socio political model but rather based on the monarchy model. If you want to understand the Islamic socio political model, try to read the history of the first four caliphs of Islam where servants were treated better than influentials. Recommend

  • wise counsel.

    my dear man, the fact that you compare two religions and call your religion “divine” and another man made…shows your biased state of mind.All religions are paths to realise the One God in whatever name he be called and that concept can be easily understood as how can someone coming from the icy mountains of tibet understand the desert language of arabia? So in whatever way he comprehends about God he will follow.To make it man made and your religion Divine is so low and crafty.I for one could never understand the harsh pronunciations of the arabic language however hard i tried, and while i can easily comprehend my mother tongue which makes living easy simple and my spiritual quest comprehendable.You might wonder why your country goes through tough times, its because few autocrats like you ruin the goodness of many.Kindly treat all religion as one and just different paths to reach the One God in whatever name he be called as per their individual languages and habits and their culture of their birth.Converting them to think that your path is best shows insensitivity to others hopes and beliefs.i mean praing to their God they would have achiebved much more then trying to understand what islam is all about,Even zakir naik and the likes of him are worthless lot of bigots who are dragging people away from what has been given to them by birth.Instead of making them value what they got , these half baked zealots are trying to make them loose their culture and ride their bandwagon in the hope that great things await that path .Please…praying that good sense prevails here!!Recommend

  • Muslim

    @wise counsel

    Please read all my previous posts, I have already answered your post. Religion is not about your or Mine. Its about the way the ONE true God has sent. Humans have to follow the way of God to worship God. The problem with all other religions except islam is that the other religions focus on worshipping others apart from God ie idols worshipped in Hinduism apart from God, Jesus worshipped in Christianity apart from God, Guru Nanak worshipped in Sikhism apart from God, etc. Islam is the only religion which says do not worship anyone except God. Regarding your rant about Arabic, believe me its a lot easier than English, if you can achieve mastery in English or French, then Arabic is a lot easier to learn!Recommend

  • http://birmingham elementary

    @wise counsel.:
    I agree with you.Recommend

  • elementary

    I have enjoyed this discussion with you.
    ET didn’t allow my last comment for some reason.I will try to be vague this time and see if I can get past ET mod this time.
    What I understood from your last comment was that Ruler will be accountable and there will be justice.Both essential points for any political system.
    Have you ever tried thinking what societies need …… to flourish ,prosper and be happy;without having any particular ideology in mind?.
    Let’s talk about the social system.
    So long as the life is to remain bearable it must continue to contain art and science,and the freedom of thought and expressions.If you dont agree with this statement then we will agree to disagree and ,I don’t think there will be any point taking discussion forward.

    Restrictoins placed in the name of morality severely cramp any freedom of expression and forms of expressions (various art forms )and therefore literature and art can not prosper.
    Channeling and putting constraints on curiosity of brilliant minds ,because you don’t like what they are thinking or theories they are working at go against your beliefs,this not only results in demise of science but also there can not be any free literature and journalism for instance. When any dissenting voice and thought is throttled with severe punishment ,fear dominates and society suffers.
    I would welcome your thoughts on how you think these issues will be dealt with.Recommend

  • Shadytr33

    See now that’s what I mean, you think its a prison and many women think its a way to shelter themselves. But nnooooooo.. what you think is right and and if anyone has a differing opinion, then that person is just dumb..Recommend

  • Ammar

    These liberals are more liberal than actual westerns lol many firms here are not unhappy and allow their staff even at customer interface to follow their head scarfRecommend

  • leila rage

    @Muslim: Your knowledge is quite flawed. Islam does not institute or encourage stoning to death. Stoning was a pre-Islamic tradition.Recommend

  • leila rage

    @Muslim: I feel that in your criticisms of hinduism and ‘religions of the west’ you forget an important verse from the quran

    ‘To you be your way, and to me Mine’ ie You have your religion & I have mine.

    To each his own. No one should criticise anothers religion, beliefs or how they choose to practise their faithRecommend