If you think the niqab is a choice, think again

Published: February 14, 2016
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Whenever I fly to Saudi Arabia, I find the women on the flight, expatriate or Saudi, donning colourful western, Middle Eastern, or Asian clothes one second, and dark abayas the moment the airplane hits the runway in Saudi Arabia? PHOTO: AMER HILABI/AFP/Getty Images

In my recent article, ‘Our national dress is the shalwar kameez, not the niqab, while examining countries in and around the geographical vicinity of the Middle East, I lamented the loss of cultural riches such as art, music, various religious festivities, as well as heritage sites like ancient temples and monasteries to a single fast-spreading inflexible ideology. To drive the point home, between a dozen countries, I compared various cultural garments with the full single-colour veil called the niqab, also known as the abaya or the burqa.

The contrast was startling.

On one end were 12 aesthetically delightful national dresses varying from one to the next like 12 seasons designed by Mother Nature herself, and on the other was a single dark and restrictive attire, standing out like a uniform for the circumscribed.

Thankfully, the thousands upon thousands that shared the article had little difficulty comprehending the symbolism:

Across dozens of countries; for every temple ransacked, for every monastery brought to its knees, for every language lost, for every painting vandalised, for every statue broken into a hundred pieces, for every book, essay, and piece of poetry declared illicit, there has been an austere binding rule.

Much like the niqab.

The degree with which this cultural appropriation scorched nations has varied.

Take a long hard look at this Middle Eastern man:

Photo: Reuters

At a British museum in 2003, he was overwhelmed with emotion when he found treasured Iraqi antiquities safe from conflict. I can only imagine the pain he feels today at the destruction of the world heritage sites in Iraq and Syria at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Unfortunately, the nuances of ‘Our national dress is the shalwar kameez, not the niqab’ were lost on some of the local readership. In response, many argued that for women, much like a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, or an Indian sari, a niqab was as an outfit of choice.

To start with, what is choice?

Does that man who lost both of his arms in a factory accident, and now stands begging for money at an intersection I pass every day, have a choice? Sure, he willingly gets out of bed every morning to do what he does, but does this translate to choice?

This is American porn actress Raylene.

Photo: Facebook

As the documentary After Porn Ends reveals, she has a small child to take care of, mental health challenges, and a stigma to overcome when seeking regular work. Sure, she willingly gets in front of a camera, but in light of her life’s struggles, how much of a choice does she really have?

I think we can all agree that when it comes to choice, there are different degrees. Action doesn’t always translate to the same level of choice.

Here are some American slaves on a sweet potato plantation in the mid 1800s.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

There doesn’t seem to be a gun to their heads, but are they farming by choice? At the peak of slavery, many slave owners also built a narrative around how slavery was beneficial for slaves. Some slaves were psychologically conditioned into believing this. Not only did slaves called ‘House Negroes’ whip other slaves into submission for their masters, but some refused freedom when it was offered to them.

Did they have a choice?

These are women on a typical street in Saudi Arabia:

Photo: AFP

Sure, they willingly put on the abaya before leaving home, but how much of a choice do they have when wearing anything else will mean being abused by their husbands, fathers, brothers, or the armed mutawas (religious government police) prowling the streets?

How much of a choice is the niqab, if whenever I fly to Saudi Arabia, I find the women on the flight, expatriate or Saudi, donning colourful western, Middle Eastern, or Asian clothes one second, and dark abayas the moment the airplane hits the runway in Saudi Arabia?

How much of a choice is the niqab, if Pakistani women who work as domestic helpers in big cities often wear shalwar kameez when in upscale neighbourhoods, but don the black cloth when going home to avoid catcalls, sexual harassment, rape, or worse?  Is the niqab really a choice when so many Pakistani women wear it out of fear?

Moreover, why is the onus on women to protect themselves by wearing a mentally suffocating garment? Why can’t those who force the niqab wear blindfolds?

A decade ago, while new in Pakistan, I was stunned when our family was dropping off a domestic helper to her home at night, and she quickly put on the niqab when close to her neighbourhood. When I later asked her why, she said,

“Bhai, warna kirdar pay shak kertay hain aur utha kay bhi lejatay hain.”

(If I don’t, men in the area will use it as an excuse to malign my character, and perhaps kidnap me [for sexual abuse])

Here are some Muslim women in ISIS controlled Syria:

Photo: Reuters

If the niqab is a choice, why is ISIS ‘encouraging’ them to dress like this? Why aren’t they wearing a kurta, a shalwar kameez, a sari, a skirt, or a pair of jeans and a t-shirt?

Here is a 19-year-old Afghan girl Rokhsahana. She ran away years ago to Iran after her family forced her to marry an old man. Her people somehow got hold of her and eventually stoned her to death while she screamed and begged for mercy.

Photo: AFP

Notice the outfit they forced her to wear in her final moments. Is the veil really a symbol of choice? This woman spent her entire life suffering decisions made by other men. The niqab was but one of them.

Here are some of the 250 schoolgirls kidnapped by Nigerian terrorist outfit, Boko Haram:

Photo: Dailymail

The niqab they were forced to wear doesn’t cover their faces, but it is a version of a niqab none the less.

The Guardian reports that the women captured by Boko Haram face,

“Forced marriage and labour, rape, torture, psychological abuse and coerced religious conversion.”

Here are some schoolgirls who managed to evade Boko Haram. They have now found a new life in Oregon, United States, thanks to a non-profit organisation.

Photo: Cosmopolitan

One of the escapees, Grace, says,

“I decided I would rather die trying to escape than be killed by these men”

If the niqab is a choice, why do these young women not wear it in a place where they are free to dress as they please, away from the grip of an organisation that forces the garb?

Yes, many women in western society freely wear the niqab, but is it really a choice when they consciously or subconsciously wear it out of fear of being ridiculed or ostracised by their community? Is it really a choice when they wear it for fear of facing eternal damnation in the afterlife because of a hard-line interpretation that, according to many scholars, contradicts passages of the very scripture they follow?

Let me put it this way: Is any garment really a choice when it is worn out of fear rather than respect? Does anyone truly wear any other outfit out of dread? When was the last time a woman was killed because she didn’t wear a bikini? When was the last time a terrorist outfit made women wear jeans and t-shirts?

Consciously or subconsciously, how many other unified outfits in history have a large number of people been scared into wearing?

Of course, fear can do funny things. Sometimes, it psychologically conditions the oppressed into oppressing their own:

Photo: Alamy

Photo: Allkindsofhistory.com

Some critics argue that the niqab is similarly frowned upon by western societies as are western outfits in portions of the Muslim world.

Well, not really.

First of all, some western societies may not welcome the niqab, but are happy to see just about any other outfit in the world, be it a sari or a skirt. On the other hand, parts of the Muslim world only enforce one outfit on women, and that’s the niqab.

There is also a reason behind the burqa ban movement, and that’s because the black veil stands as a symbol of oppression.

The following outfits aren’t well received in western societies either:

Photo: Hulton Archive

Photo: Twitter

Take a look at how these slaves are dressed:

Photo: Hulton Archive

And these prisoners:

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

And people of this concentration camp:

Photo: Ushmm.org

How does it compare to this?

Photo: AFP

Tellingly, the majority of outraged comments on my ‘Our national dress is the shalwar kameez, not the niqab’ article came from men themselves. Once again, an outfit is forced upon by the powerful on the powerless, once again as a tool of suppression. Here, it is an instrument to further misogyny, convincing some of those who wear it that it is for their betterment.

Noman Ansari

Noman Ansari

The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (twitter.com/Pugnate)

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

  • fze

    Please explain the context of these aayats also, why did they come and what were the circumstances that these aayats came. Don’t leave siyaq and sabaq because that kills the whole meaning of the words and give the people like you to twist them around. Why is it that men seem to be more adamant on purdah than women ? Is it because it gives them a feeling of superiority, of being the oppressor who insist to be listened to, otherwise…., as Noman has pointed out. Then go and roam around with blindfolds on your eyes so that you can understand how it feels. Women are forced to wear niqab because of men. They ogle, they look with dirty intentions, they should be forced to go blindfold. It will be a good experience for them.Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    Sara,

    You are saying Muslims don’t choose their religion even after encountering feminist and western dogma and rejecting them?Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    And liberal, brainwashed, mostly people who think they are “beautiful” who choose to view niqab as as part of “medieval mind”.Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    ladies can buy night dress if she wants to wear in appropriate setting. Do you think women in niqab and burkha is covered with burkha and niqab when she is in her bedroom?Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    Arsha,

    A child prefers not to wear anything. Why put her/him in diapers/pants/shirt and any form of clothing? why restrict him/her?

    Funny what you liberals decide to be “restrictive” and the minds of children.Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    So Muslims have to change to fit into Indian society?Recommend

  • fze

    Blessed wives of Prophet (Salallaho alaihi wa’laihiwasalam) were special women. After the death of Prophet (SAWS) no one was allowed to marry them by special orders of Allah but ordinary woman can remarry after her husband’s death. Special women, special orders. Ordinary women, ordinary orders. Don’t mix them up and make life of an ordinary woman difficult. But mullah like you won’t get it into their heads.Recommend

  • Rafidi

    You are trying to prove things without providing examples from the sunnah or Quran . If you are trying to convince muslims of something atleast provide examples from the life of Prophet (PBUH). Otherwise your efforts are all in vain.
    PS: It has been said by many people before Please learn your religion.Recommend

  • fze

    asking more questions? Blame the humans and not the religion.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Burqa and Niqab are not Islamic. They are Arab traditions. Don’t confuse Arabism with Islam.Recommend

  • Ramchand

    With all due respect, you are born a Hindu, Jew, Muslim,
    Christian, Buddhist, Shinto, Animist. It is later, in your years,
    when you may make the choice to change your religion. You
    are born into the religion of your parents.Recommend

  • Ramchand

    They are. They are born into the religion of their
    mother and father. Whatever religion that may be.
    Take for example caste system.You are born a Dalit
    a Brahmin….. and can you change that in India? No.
    You may convert when you grow up. And become an
    Abubakar or John or Shimon.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Agree with you. To an extent. An excellent comment.
    These women would switch to the burqa when in their
    neighborhood, homes etc. But do realize, that in an Indo-Pak
    culture, highly educated employed women simply CANNOT do
    as they wish. Financial independence, really does not free a woman,
    [from the generally accepted norms of her society, be it Hindu or Muslim
    or even n the West]. Definitely, God has more worries than a burqa
    You are fully aware of the ongoing controversy, a movement, about
    women not being allowed in the inner sanctum of a temple. It is the
    priests of their religion, who made this rule. Same goes for the Durgah,
    in Bombay, where women are not allowed by the mullahs.
    in a nutshell, certain criteria are pre set, for women, by men…everywhere.Recommend

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.co.uk/ Steve Bowen

    Until you are sure that every one of your sisters has your ability to choose, your only moral choice is not to wear the abaya. Otherwise you are forcing the coerced to be hidden in plain sight.Recommend

  • Arman Zain

    Nothing wrong about it!
    They can enjoy there life in the confinement of their home and with their spouses as it is suppose to be. The personal pleasures of martial relationship is fully supported in Islam.Recommend

  • Arman Zain

    Then they should denounce it. They have the choice to denounce it. Yes in Society like Pakistan it is a hard choice but by definition of choice you have to struggle for it.Recommend

  • Arman Zain

    You have the choice to affiliate or distant your self from a religion. But lets not play both ways, I want to be Muslim but I don’t like this or that. It is just like saying I am Muslims but I don’t agree with fasting.Recommend

  • Arman Zain

    I am not saying they are not Muslims. But author argued Burqa as Arabian culture in reality it is not.
    There are so many Muslims who don’t pray or fast, that is between them and Allah. I am no_one to call them not Muslims, but being Muslims they can’t protest or argue against Praying Namaz and Fasting. My point is lets not blur the concepts.Recommend

  • Arman Zain

    It is not easy to denounce Islam in a Muslim country but I know people who are atheist and they live in Pakistan. They were born Muslims and not don’t believe on Islam. Worse come to worse leave the country and it is common practice as people leave country for financial benefit then why not for personal choice.Recommend

  • Gidupngo

    Powerful and informative article. Recommend

  • Ali

    The burka is NOT islamic. Understand?Recommend

  • Ali

    For the last time, the burka is NOT islamic.Recommend

  • Ali

    How is niqab islamic? It isnt.Recommend

  • Ali

    Maulanas do not have divine knowledge. Recommend

  • Ali

    Forcing children to wear such ridiculous clothing is child abuse.Recommend

  • Ali

    There you go again, attatching anyone a “liberal” because they dont share fundamentalist views that you have. Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    Of course, while Mullah are “obsessed with women and sexuality”, liberals like you are only “advocating” Muslim women what to wear and how to project their sexuality. Recommend

  • Ali

    Haha.
    No, none of what the Quran says refers to covering the head or the face.
    Recommend

  • Ali

    Yes obey the Quran and the messanger. Recommend

  • Ali

    These restrictions do not apply to regular muslim women.Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    “Muslims really need to understand that they themselves are responsible for the image that Islam has the world over.”

    “Is God a patriarch ? Hasn’t he got bigger issues to worry about than what women are wearing? ”

    God is not just worried what women are wearing. He has plenty to say toward women (and men).Recommend

  • Ali

    Haha noman. Every single one of your articles enrages the right wing fundamentalists. Recommend

  • Hatim Ahmed

    it’s just to let you know , & to let most of the other participants in your article , probably you don’t know that the real muslim women wear is Hijab & not the Niqhab !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! if you’re not sure about that you might need to go back & read the translated Qura’an & you can find the verses talk about that. otherwise , you just give the google a click !!!!!!! something else , which I think is very important to you to finalize your article , you never got back the origin or the history of Niqab & I’m million % sure that you don’t have any idea when it was wore first time !!!!!!! google will definitely give you detailed information about it . To give you a hint ; it’s the Jewish religious women wear , a religion that has been existed ages before Islam shown up. you will never have the courage to write about it in a separate article as the same way as you’ve done with the Niqab !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! try that if you dareRecommend

  • Patwari

    It might behoove you, to, first, understand YOUR OWN religion.
    Which is Hinduism. With multiple gods and goddesses and their numerous avatars. [At last count, there more than 700 of them].
    Then, study the caste system. Which makes it impossible for all
    hindus to be EQUAL. There is no such concept as equality in
    Hinduism. By this logic, is there a different ‘heaven’ for Dalits?
    Because the Brahmins will not allow Untouchables and Dalits in
    their heaven. Whatever ‘that’ may be. So, separate heavens?
    Is there a ‘nirvana’ for these castes? Or simply put…..karma.
    If nothing else, Islam preaches EQUALITY. Everyone is equal in
    the eyes of God.
    No need to preach about other religions, when you know zilch about your own. It makes you look ridiculous.
    You follow?Recommend

  • Ramchand

    You have no idea what the comment is about.
    Recommend

  • Bibloo

    There, a hindu commentator jumps in feet first.Recommend

  • Bibloo

    Say all hindu women have dots on their foreheads?
    Is it religion?Recommend

  • Chitral wala

    Comment forwarded to ISPR, JI, JUL-F, JUL-Q, PPP
    PTI, Sindh secretariat, PM secretariat, Interior ministary,
    ANP.
    Recommend

  • Patwari

    No. Wrong.
    Just look at the sick comments from ‘across’ the border.Recommend

  • Mubashir

    We need to decide first what the word Khimar means. Is it a veil or a covering/shawl/head-covering/sash?

    [Assad] And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and to be mindful of
    their chastity, and not to display their charms [in public] beyond what
    may [decently] be apparent thereof; hence, let them draw their
    head-coverings over their bosoms.
    What does that prove?Recommend

  • Nandita.

    No. Muslims have to shed their individuality to fit into or be accepted in their own homes. What a pity!Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    As a man, I want women to enjoy the same freedoms as men. As a man, you’d like women to be confined to ONE garment. There is a difference. It is like the difference between a man who is a jailer, and a man who is not. That’s what is funny.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    “Women still wear NIQAB in European countries where no one forces them ..”

    I suggest you read the whole piece.Recommend

  • Hamza

    freedom to wear NIQAB should also be in your definition of freedom….Recommend

  • Parvez

    Possibly you need to ask yourself ‘ why do you feel discomfort without your Naqab ? ‘……….is it because of your shortcomings ?…or is because the environment around you is faulty ? . If it’s the former or the latter you need to muster the courage to confront it . Hiding behind a veil ( a Hijab is not hiding, a Naqab is ) is not the answer, especially in today’s world.Recommend

  • Khansaab

    God has also ordained Muslim men to be dressed modestly. Also, neither of the genders are required to observe hijab before they reach puberty. These are some of the basic facts that I just wanted to mention, although I can’t be sure if you’re joking or actually serious.Recommend

  • Chitral wala

    Your vitriol is still your your clue.Recommend

  • Patwari

    No, Nandita, sorry, you are off base here. Completely.
    Being individualistic is not shameful or wrong. Why should anyone change their individuality? Their personality? Their
    particular stream of consciousness. Being an individual, or a separate entity, is YOUR personal footprint [for lack of a better word, right now] Your very own ‘self’. Totally apart.
    We are not carbon copies of each other. Were never meant
    to be. Or made by a cookie cutter. Nor are we robots programmed to do certain things or react a certain way.
    Our brains are hardwired. As they say in the tech jargon.
    [Brain washing, is entirely different. It’s psychological trauma]Recommend

  • Oxy Moron

    Thanks for the reply Sir.

    I’m serious. You’d have readily discerned that had my comment not been hacked to death by moderation.

    But now your reply has me even more confused. If modesty is after puberty and for both sexes, why are so many baby girls and toddlers wearing hijab, even in oppressive heat. I saw this phenomenon first around 2010.

    And why in that same period there is no change I can see in boys’ attire, if it’s some cultural preference.

    Hope I’m not being too immodest. I’m genuinely trying to understand this issue.Recommend

  • M

    Once again you have hit the nail on the head. It is refreshing to hear some sane voices on this planet. Congratulations and thank you for this article!Recommend

  • Holier than thou

    There is no heaven in Hinduism (or in Buddhism and Jainism). Only a cycle of births and deaths until you get nirvana. Clearly, you know nothing about Hinduism either but you want to lecture other people in the comment section.Recommend

  • Holier than thou

    “choice is not burqa …. Choice is being a Muslim or not? If chose to be a Muslim then you have to follow the rules and cover your self properly”.
    So you are saying that you are only muslim if you wear a burqa. You are proving the author’s point you know. Your reasoning is flawed. You lose!Recommend

  • REEarl

    If as you say, everyone is equal, why are women not allowed to wear what they want to wear? Or do you mean that all men are equal and that women are a lower caste?Recommend

  • Holier than thou

    Dear Ali, there are a million things that Muslims are trying to debate on to decide whether they are Islamic or not.
    Is ISIS islamic? Is Burqa islamic? Is Jihad Islamic? Is music Islamic? Is sculpture Islamic?
    Problem is that there are no easy answers for any of these questions.
    But in the mean time, people continue to do use these islamic and non-islamic labels as per their convenience. These labels also allow people to continue doing despicable things to other human beings and animals.Recommend

  • REEarl

    It appears that if you choose to distance yourself from being a Muslim, your choice is to be hunted down, kidnapped, taken back to your village and stoned to death. Not much of a choice is it?Recommend

  • REEarl

    Does that go for women too?Recommend

  • REEarl

    The problem is, that they should not be REQUIRED to wear something decided by others. Inside or outside the house it is to be their choice.Recommend

  • REEarl

    Nothing says that you are required to follow anything but wisdom.Recommend

  • REEarl

    Congratulations. I applaud the fact that you wear it out of choice. Please reply how you feel about women who choose not to wear the niqab.Recommend

  • Arman Zain

    You can’t judge religion by its followers.

    Humans do oppress people to gain sense of power, that doesn’t mean their religion expected that of them. If you really study Islam you will be amazed how much rights a female has over their husband, brother and fathers.
    First of all I have never see 8 year old girl wearing burqa, hijab in some cases, yes majority of girls start it when they are approaching publicity. Parents start earlier to get their daughters use to it, rather than a sudden change.Recommend

  • REEarl

    Wearing clothes was a function of survival. In colder climates it was to protect from the cold. In warmer climate lighter garments were worn to reflect the light of the sun. In moderate climates less clothes are worn to enjoy the temperature.Recommend

  • layla hai

    Hi Oxy Moron..
    Just want to clears something as you are genuinely tryingto understand.
    Actually if you carefully and logically read the Quran, you will get to understand that it is a complete book. God calls “Islam” submiting to the will of God and the way to do it is to follow the religious scripture ONLY.

    If you remove the word “ONLY” in the last paragraph it means there are OTHER things that are a part of Islam. 99% of muslims today are following the Islamic “culture”, not Islam! God in Quran never wanted us to submit to the Islamic cultures. Hijab is one of the practices which are just arab culture.

    Surprisingly, in Quran, there is no word as veil or hijab! God doesn’t want us to wear a veil or hijab. He wants a woman and a man to dress decently that’s all. He specifically mentions that a woman must wear a dupatta or a garment loosely over her bosom.
    We see modern “hijabists” so called muslims…they wear this non-quranic hijab but dont give a damn about covering their chest which Allah specifically mentions to do so.

    Also about little baby girls wearing the hijab. I wouldn;t say its wrong entirely, but actually it is a sin to make any law or rule that transcends God’s law.When God has not made it incumbent on young girls to cover their heads or bosom, then no one has the right to make them do so. We have t follow the rules in the scripture as it is. They are sufficient.Unfortunately 99.9% of muslims think that rules mentioned in the scripture are not “enough” or they are “incomplete”. They try to go into other books of islamic history and sadly that is the cause of so many limitations that muslims have put on themselves that God never meant to do so or never wanted muslims to do so.

    If you want to understand islam, i suggest you read up on Rashad Khalifa’s work.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    I suggest you read the whole piece.Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    Please show me the facts and figures with proper research.
    As far as i can see these are all the wishes, theories and fantasies of the author , please show me these “facts”.Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    If your theory is to be believed then i have a better one, as that is all you have offered, no facts, no figures , no reports no concrete surveys,just your theories and wishes and fantasies.

    So heres mine

    “Women in west actually want to wear Burqa and dress modestly and they want to stop drinking and not go to clubs etc etc but the western culture forces and pressurizes them to wear indecent clothing,to party and to drink.They do these things because they are forced to by their society.Their society will shun them if they rebel against the cultureThey are afraid of the socity’s judgement..Does that make sense.”Recommend

  • Mahi

    In countries like Pakistan, Niqab, Hijab, Burqa, Long Beard, Black Mark on forehead are still considered by society as a Degree, Diploma or a Certificate (of being super religious and piousness). Therefore, all medieval minded, inefficient, depressed, unattractive men and women will find a camouflage (or refuge) in these attires.Recommend

  • fze

    So does it mean that Dalits will be reborn as a dog and a Brahman as a …. monkey (Hanuman)?Recommend

  • rukhsana shama

    Only if we could agree to disagree peacefully, only if we could understand that religion is PERSONAL CHOICE and should not be enforced by anyone outside of you who has power over you…Alas…
    Very well put Noman Ansari. Keep it up.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Read the comment again. slowly, so your mind gets a handle on it…’is there nirvana for these castes?’ ….Do you get it?
    Now, then, also, Buddhism is not a religion. It’s a way of living your life. It’s an Eight Fold Pathway to lead your life. You know zilch about Buddhism.
    Buddha never wanted his teachings to be turned into a religion.
    He was afraid of that. But people like you, turned it into one.
    Again,…being born again and again and again would put you in
    “Purgatory”. Might be better idea to cross the River Styx.Recommend

  • Holier than thou

    I know you are trolling but I am still going to reply for the benefit of others. If one has excellent karma as a result of good deeds, one is freed from this cycle of birth and death no matter what their socio-economic status. Nobody knows what/where the next birth will bring or if there is a rebirth at all (cuz you may achieve nirvana) but the idea is to strive for nirvana.
    Or if you were a Jain, you would believe that all payment for deeds will be in this birth itself.
    Even within Hinduism, there are many schools of thought that try to explain how karma works. There is no one right way or one absolute path. (This is where Eastern religion differs from Abrahamic religions)
    Btw, just the fact that there is so much talk about other religions on an article about niqab is telling.Recommend

  • محب اللہ کراچوی

    From Timbuktu to Maluku, the so-called Nationalists who keep on harping about their local culture being subsumed by “Arab culture” or “Arab imperialism” have one thing in common: Their ideology, their worldview and the their manner of living has no relation with the local culture that they purport to defend. In fact those that they condemn as being “Arabised” are far closer to the local culture then they are. Mr. Noman Ansari’s culture is that of the Northern Barbarians that occupied the Indian Subcontinent for more than two centuries, destroyed local industries, granted traitors and sycophants huge tracts of land and murdered millions of locals through engineered famines. Any random Niqabiyah is nearer to the traditional Indian Muslim culture than Mr. Ansari.Recommend

  • Holier than thou

    Is there equality in Hinduism? I have a better question – is there only one correct school of thought in Hinduism? I addressed your question on “nirvana for these castes” in the comment below. And no, people like me did not turn Buddhism into a religion. I don’t follow or support organised religion cuz it is only a way for some people to gain power.
    This applies to all organised religion.Recommend

  • Biswajit Biswas

    I see arguments below where someone says that islam is by choice – and yet they declare death penalty for so-called blasphemy or apostasy. http://hotair.com/archives/2013/05/01/pew-64-of-muslims-in-egypt-and-pakistan-support-death-penalty-for-leaving-islam/

    Taqiyya has become so ingrained in islamic psyche that people don’t realize when they are being hypocritical and lying. So-called moderate and rational muslims need to wake up and get real before the lose the war to the extremists.Recommend

  • fze

    Thanks for explaining. It helps to learn about other religions.Recommend

  • fze

    Here comes the mutawa with a stick!Recommend

  • Barius Pelagic

    They are struggling for it, why can’t you recognize their hushed cries? Is it because you do not want to or because you don’t want them to know you hear it?

    What you believe is of no consequence. What matters is the truth and that truth is that you are hurting many people with your actions and words. Recommend

  • Barius Pelagic

    If you think this is about cosmetics and beauty then you are a sad and can only see women as objects to lust after. Recommend

  • Barius Pelagic

    What wisdom it is to give up wisdom for mythology /sRecommend

  • Barius Pelagic

    Women covering their faces as soldiers pass by is either fear of the soldiers or respect to the soldiers. Where does it say they covered their faces before Allah or that Allah commanded this? Recommend

  • Barius Pelagic

    People in the US may not like to see you wear a niqab, but they will never stone you for it. The same cannot be said for a bikini in many Muslim theocracies around the world. How then can you compare the choice and freedom you have here with the brutality and oppression there? Recommend

  • LS

    1400 years and Muslims are still discussing what it means to be a Muslim, What is Islam or where Islamic culture begins and where Arabian culture ends. Recommend

  • Faisal

    Noman I am really glad someone is starting this ever important dialogue. My problem, however, with your liberal rational critique is that it will go over the heads of most people. In Order to truly get rid of these practises it is imperative the niqab is discredited theologically.Recommend

  • Chitral wala

    wb, watch your language.Recommend

  • Chitral wala

    Your language, wb, your language.Recommend

  • Bibloo

    Exception being the hindus.Recommend

  • Bibloo

    Wrong. Burqa has been around for more than a 100 years.Recommend

  • Bibloo

    Back to Banarsi Mullah.Recommend

  • Chitral wala

    Be careful, wb, with your languageRecommend

  • karachiite

    yeah well… neither the hijab or niqab is mentioned in the Quran. It simply states to dress decently for both sects. The Hijab is just a Saudi tradition that we picked on. None of these things existed back in the old days, women would just wear dupattas. The hijab is not islamic. its tradition. Something we tend to mix up alot these days…Recommend

  • Arman Zain

    Hushed cries is not struggling it is sitting in home and crying. You struggle and strive something when you do something about it.

    Indeed what matter most is truth, and being a Muslim, I believe Islam is absolute truth, if I would have doubt, I would have denounced Islam.Recommend

  • Person.

    This article is lame.
    You forgot a third point of view; the greater and most common one. Most Muslim women choose to wear the niqab out of obedience to God. iI’s not fard, yes. But it’s a Sunnah of the Prophet’s wives. ﷺ.
    You shouldn’t be posting about things you don’t experience. The whole point of the article is “a man enforcing” his opinions/wishes/ways on women. Well, you’re one of them to begin with. We don’t need you to tell us about things you cannot justly talk about. Recommend

  • Linux Novice

    Unless?!Recommend

  • Linux Novice

    As a doctor it is my duty to guide the diseased and as God it is my duty to call people’s bluffs on me.Recommend

  • Dr Abeer H

    They never stone anywhere for not doing niqab.whoever stone for this that is not right.as you said niqab is not liked in USA .similarly bikini is not liked in many Muslim countries.so that is comparable!Recommend

  • Dr Abeer H

    I feel that that is their decision because every person after being told about pros and cons ,it is upto her what she does next.Recommend

  • Dr Abeer H

    I feel this is her decision .every person is free to choose after being told about pros and cons.so if a person wants to be Muslim,she will wear niqab as she chose it.Recommend

  • Oxy Moron

    Yeah right.Recommend

  • Oxy Moron

    Thank you. I think I understand misinterpretation. I am aware there can often be what I term competitive piety among adherents of similar creeds – I’ve seen something similar in the competition between fan clubs of ManU and Chelsea, so I think I understand.Recommend

  • mahide tekcan

    With due respect, I think you actually got it very wrong. Being a Muslim woman does not mean you have to wear burqa/niqab/abaya or even a headscarf, there are only 5 conditions of Islam and covering yourself properly is not one of them, that is an ancient Arab tradition which is forced upon women by Vahhabi school of Islam, there are many Islamic scholars who do not agree with such strict interpretation and many women in the Islamic world are fighting for their right to be a free of the compulsory Islamic headscarf, take a look at My Stealthy Freedom campaign in Iran:

    https://www.facebook.com/StealthyFreedom/?fref=ts

    https://en.iranwire.com/features/6789/

    Islam is much more than covering yourself or fasting or praying, these are simply rituals, the root of Islam is moral virtues, you may pray day and night and it still does not mean anything if you cheat your co-workers, if you beat your wife, if you steal, if you kill, if you rape….

    To summarise, a piece of clothing is a piece of clothing, kit has nothing to do with person’s moral values, personality, whether she is a good person or devout Muslim. All the Saudi money in the world could not change that fact.Recommend

  • mahide tekcan

    The problem with that kind of thinking is reducing islam to religious rituals, religion itself is not that strict, for ex: the rule on not eating pork, in principle you should not eat pork but if you’re starving to death and pork is the only food you could find, according to Holy Book you can eat it, but say this to a Wahhabi, they would rather see you die than eat the pork and survive. Another point is no one including you Arman Zain has a right to question if somebody is Muslim enough or not, whether they are following the religious rules or not, that is between God and that person, if you want to come between God and people and dictate the rules of religion that is no different than what ISIS does….Recommend