PERSPECTIVE – The Veil and its Hidden Identity

Added by Adeel Ahmad Shah on 23 juin 2014. · No Comments · Share this Post

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* Perspective written by Adeel Ahmad Shah

“Say to the believing men that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Surely, Allah is well aware of what they do.”

(Holy Qur’an Ch.24:V.31)

Scrutinised in public by the media and on-lookers, the West has failed to recognise the importance of the veil. Fingers are often pointed in the direction of Muslim women, with some viewing the veil as being a barrier between the individual wearing it and the person she is trying to communicate with. But, why do such critics fail to recognise that Mary, mother of Jesus (as) also wore a veil? Why do they forget that nuns and many other devout women of other faiths partake in the wearing of a veil?

Is it a result of institutionalised segregation or a do-or-die faith commanding it?

The simple answer is no.

The purpose of a veil is to maintain one’s chastity, creating modest beings in the process. Hijab is an Arabic term, which literally means ‘covering’. The Hijab is also called Pardah. We all have a dim recollection of what our religious studies teachers taught us when we were younger but Hijab and Pardah differ in context and are not the same in meaning.

The veil, which is the English term used to describe the Hijab, is a common practice amongst Muslim women which shows the importance placed upon this tradition and command. Before I continue discussing the veil and the misconceptions surrounding it, it is worth mentioning that Islam also commands men to observe pardah. This practice is not only limited to women in Islam but to men as well. God Almighty states that a man should keep his eyesight on the ground thus avoiding or rather stopping eye connection with another female individual. The beauty of Islam is such that is tackles the issue from the very core and does not wait until the disease has spread.

Nonetheless, the veil is arguably the most disputed piece of clothing in today’s world. We live in an era where free speech apparently dictates that without regard for the religious sentiments of others, an item of clothing which does not reveal certain parts of the body and which is presumed to be a barrier for communication, should be barred and banned. This is surely not God’s law.

A representative of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, whose community leader preaches practicing the veil said: “While freedom of speech is rightfully an important part of Western democracy, it is not a license to ridicule.” The Imam of The London Mosque in Southfields, Ataul Mujeeb Rashid, once stated in a lecture that one turns away from religion due to the commitment needed. The Western world in particular, views a veil-free life as a life without commitment; a life where one is relaxed in their existence and not obliged to follow any customs of purity and covering.

France’s government seems to be ambiguous and confused about the veil, on one hand it supports religious movements in its country and on the other hand it has felt the need to ban the veil. However, despite the numerous voices speaking out against the veil, it seems to be evident that whenever attacks are made on religion, or the hijab for that matter, the importance of the veil to a Muslim woman increases and her faith strengthens.

Those who oppose the veil normally misconstrue it as male dominance and female repression. Many even suggest that men are in control and force their women to hide their bodies. One is at a loss to see how pathetic this statement is. Are Muslim men so insecure that they believe their women won’t be able to control their bodies? Undoubtedly not! It is acknowledged that in some Muslim countries women do face baseless restrictions, such as in Saudi Arabia where there is a prohibition on women drivers but the Islamic law, the Shariah, has never commanded such an absurdity. The veil is part of religion and its advantages far outweigh any perceived disadvantages. Furthermore, making a generalised statement is also wrong. There are many women who choose to wear the Hijab by choice, not because of force.

Prime examples of such devotion to one’s faith are exhibited in the lives of the Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) wives, who are believed used cover of the body. The Prophet (SAW) was told:

“O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons.” (Holy Quran)

Despite the established link between faith and chastity as outlined in the Quran, the veil stands out in a society where mini-skirts and those with fewer garments on have become the social norm. When a veiled individual passes by, the attention given to her is not the same as that given to other women. Although they might be seen as an outsider, their modesty is covered. What the French government has done is violated its own enacted human rights. If some are allowed to reveal their bodies then the law should be amended to let religious women inculcate their beautiful teachings and commands. If a Jew can wear a Yamaka then why cannot a Muslim woman at least wear a scarf? Let us respect all religious sentiments and teachings; the veil is not a barrier but an item of clothing which has allowed Muslim women to understand the importance of covering their beauty. It is not to alienate them. This sort of law and even those who raise objections against the veil are promoting prejudice against Muslims. It is part and parcel of our faith.

Muslims live to please Allah and the best way to do this is by following the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) who is believed to be the zenith of all beings. It was because of the Holy Prophet of Islam (saw) that women were given rights that the Western world has only begun to introduce. We are all forever indebted to him and his teachings, which were brought to unite society as one, rather than divide it.

*This opinion was written by Adeel Shah. Adeel is a missionary training school in London nationally recognized for training missionaries Ahmadi Muslims, the « Jamia ». Before joining Jamia, he got his GCSE’s; There he studied general subjects like philosophy, science or economics. It is defined as a « student of the Prophet of Islam. » You can follow his publications on Twitter (@ AdiAahmad) or on his blog (in English):

Quotation :

Adeel Ahmad Shah, « The Veil and its Hidden Identity », in :, Folder : English Side – Perspective, June 2014.

Credit Picture : Loyehi Blog.

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