Burqa Gets a Befitting French Kiss

This was originally published by the blog LUBP on April 15, 2011

burka1

Before reading this argument on recent Burqa-ban by France, you need to know who I am. Raised in an orthodox Muslim Deobandi family, I’ve been educated in Pakistan’s Punjab where urban middle class used to be too sensitive about purdah in 1980s and 90s – the decades when I went to school and then university. Being first generation migrated out of the village in a big city, my father was a part of purdah sensitive educated middle class professional class. But my mother, raised and educated in a secular and Sufist Sindh, fought against Burqa throughout her life in order to save me from this ‘curse’ as she would put it.

Mom succeeded in this battle to the best of my luck and now no one expects her or me in Burqa or purdah in general. Despite being thoroughly religious, mildly ritualistic and overwhelmingly humanist in her viewpoint, I never saw he observing strict purdah. She would cover her head, although, while meeting with my father’s friends and serve them tea – a practice completely absent in my orthodox and backward paternal family. It’s because of her struggle that the family elders were never able to impose either Burqa or hijab – or even a chaddar – on me. All they required of me was to cover my head with traditional dopatta when I stepped out of house. My honest confession: I often cheated on them by just wearing it in their presence. But seeing my aunts and grandmother, I kept wondering all through my childhood, how must it feel to be continually imprisoned in a horrible thing called Burqa.

It has been and is my biggest relief to be among people who are sane enough to be against this practice of subjugating women through veil. But finding so many friends and fellow rights’ activists among those protesting France’s ban on Burqa is shocking and disappointing both. The anti-ban crowd comprises a range of viewpoints – from ardent Islamic, to moderate, to new-age Islam, to seculars, to antitheists and so on. Most heard argument from almost all of them has been their unflinching ‘concern’ for women’s choice and freedom to choose what they want to wear.

To me, this strong sounding argument remains flawed, inconsistent and self-contradictory. How could a choice to commit suicide be that widely accepted? If your suicidal tendency is the result of certain frame of mind, experiences in life, is self-destroying and criminal, so is Burqa. When the society conditions your mind to willingly get subjugated and considering yourself ‘safe’ by hiding behind the veil, how is it a ‘free choice’? Most of the women passionately protesting the Burqa ban are heard saying they do it of their own free will because they feel safe. Well you can feel safe in Guantanamo Bay if you’re conditioned to feel safe that way.

It is a slap on the face of a society where a woman can only feel safe if she hides herself, if she is invisible from public eye, if she conceals herself from the male eye. Stepping on the soil of any Muslim country in a dress of your choice save Burqa, is herculean for any woman. You want to wear a sleeveless top on a hot summer day and go out on the streets of Lahore or Dhakka, it would be appalling if not impossible like it is in most of middle eastern countries. Things would, however, be starkly different in Khatmandu, Kandy or Mumbai even if you put east versus west argument.

There’s a wide gulf between for and against Burqa arguments within Islamic scholars. Major disagreements exist on whether or not Burqa is an injunction of Quran. Even if it proves to be in the holy scriptures, it needs to be reviewed in the context of modern world where men are expected to have at least little hold on their libido, where women are not just sex objects whose unveiled presence in society would be dangerous for public morality.

At the risk of sounding Islamophob or racist against Muslims in west, I would strongly suggest to those who seem too concerned about women’s “freedom” to choose Burqa for themselves, to kindly go back to their countries of origin and fight for women’s choices there. A lot of women in these countries don’t have right to choose their spouse or profession let alone dress. Let us all fight for a free Muslim world where women are free to not wear Burqa. A polite reminder to all the women’s rights activists, of sickening bars on women’s choices in Muslim countries where they are coerced into adopting a life style no sensible male would ever choose for himself. Burqa can never be a free choice of anyone. Had it been, this choice would have been available to men also.

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51 thoughts on “Burqa Gets a Befitting French Kiss

  1. Farhan Virk says:

    For me it’s like this!
    *If someone wants to wear a burqa then it’s totally his or her choice and no one should ban it. But if it’s forced then it’s wrong*
    No Librealism or Conservatism involved.

    Like

  2. Farhan Virk says:

    For me it’s like this!
    *If someone wants to wear a burqa his or herself then it’s totally his or her choice and no one should ban it. But if it’s forced then it’s wrong*
    No Librealism or Conservatism involved.

    Like

    • abid says:

      if you dont like it then don use it but dont portray it as a curse or try to be use in the hand of others .so obey youe belief & perception & respects others

      Like

  3. Raj says:

    Posting a powerful video – Woman are “Neither Whores nor Submissive” I admire these two woman- Mona Elthahawy and Sihem Habachi http://bit.ly/bHzMEj . The third woman Miriyam Francoiss – Cerrah is a by product of sexism. She thinks she can play liberal game. At the end of the video she looses the battle and she makes fun of Sihem. Mona is correct liberals to pass some non liberal laws to save woman from sexism.

    More powers to you, keep up you work. No country in South Asia is a saviour for woman.

    Like

  4. Shazia Aziz Aulakh says:

    Sorry, but it is very lame and insulting viewpoint. We can agree that due to lack of education and some old traditions, Burqa is forced on women in Pakistan and other male dominant Muslims societies. But who can force burqa on a woman, or even a child, in the west???

    Dear Baaghi! You are free to express your views, but not impose them on people, especially women who wantr to live their lives according to their own wishes and understanding. You are free not to wear burqa, it is your own choice, but kindly do not impose it on women who live in a much more free world and, in some cases, are a lot more educated than you think you are, thanks.

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  5. Zuberiaa says:

    First & foremost I am deeply saddened by the illustrative portrayal of semi-covered/semi-nude of a woman, I can’t even come closer to imagine that a lady such as Marvi Sirmed would have used such an insulting illustration on a topic worthy of discussion, however this is her forum and she is the administrator here so however she wishes to exemplify the entity known to us as “woman”.
    When it comes to burqa & purdah or appropriate covering for women, burqa or veil(face covering) is regional traditional garb adopted by some and does not demonstrate the command of Almighty Allah SWT whereas Hijab is.
    Let me be clear that “Hijab” does not represent only a piece of cloth used to cover the hair, head & ears of a woman as prescribed by Allah SWT it goes beyond that and it is in fact an observance, an spiritual observance that one should subscribe faithfully and not just by merely covering certain portions. The observance of Hijab is not particularly directed for the Muslim females, it is also incumbent upon the Muslim males and is specified as “Lower Your Gaze”.
    Lowering of one’s gaze is the basics of observing Hijab while, its time for the followers of Islamic faith to properly understand and practice their faith.
    As far the French policy or law is concerned with regards to regulating the method in which some females are told to observe Niqab by their male counterparts, personally I do not agree with this tradition and firmly believe that neither the Quran-e-Kareem nor any other regulations of deen-e-Islam prescribe such covering of face as a matter of fact adopting such methods only increases the exposure of such women in the Western regions as finding it unique even more members of the society stare at those donning Niqab as they find it strange & unique, eventually it becomes a failure of what the subjects who don Niqab may assume in terms of abiding and adhering to the prescribed covering for an observing Muslimah.
    I appeal Marvi Sirmed to re-consider the inappropriate illustration at the heading of this article
    May Allah SWT bless us with accurate knowledge of deen-e-Islam & prevent us from becoming an excess, ameen.
    Allah SWT knows best.

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  6. mohsin says:

    @Zuberiaa
    yes zuberiaa m hundred% agree with u…….marvi is actually representing the American class or jewish class they dnt have any religion because these types of Enlightened moderate womens leave islam for just sake of money r to b rich….So Marvi Sirmed is like Europeon girls having more then hundred husbands

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  7. mohsin says:

    Marvi is actually representing the American class or jewish class they dnt have any religion because these types of Enlightened moderate womens leave islam for just sake of money r to b rich….So Marvi Sirmed is like Europeon girls having more then hundred husbands

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  8. mohsin says:

    yes zuberiaa m hundred% agree with u…….marvi is actually representing the American class or jewish class they dnt have any religion because these types of Enlightened moderate womens leave islam for just sake of money r to b rich….So Marvi Sirmed is like Europeon girls having more then hundred husbands

    Like

  9. Zuberiaa says:

    Mr. Mohsin
    Thanks for agreeing with me, however, residing in Amrika for 4 decades & with 2 generations born here that is almost a little more that Ms. Sirmed has spent on the surface of earth, I can tell you that regardless of the perception of several from the Eastern & Muslim world Americans based on my personal observation are still lot more conservative specially when compared with Europeans. I could be wrong and anyone can feel free to correct me, but in my opinion it would be best if this topic resided within our boundaries and don’t pull other nationalities or faiths in a mud slinging mode.
    I respect Ms. Sirmed for her intellect, educational background and the spirits of leadership specially being a woman from where it is rather difficult for a female to progress to this extent and survive, however, I do differ on her take on this particular topic though with regard. I am confident that if not now there will come a time when Ms. Sirmed would better evaluate her current opinion and resort to a better befitting one.
    I have hope and that happens to be the axis this world of ours revolves around.
    Regards

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  10. Zuberiaa says:

    Mr. Mohsin
    By the way “Burqa” and “Veiling of the face” are not a Islamic pre-requisite, nor is there any evidence of such a requirement, it is rather a traditional garb thought out by those who innovated it and attempting to enforce it.
    In accordance with Islamic rules a female is not to cover her face when in Ihram performing Umrah or Hajj.
    The appropriate covering in loose fitting garments covering the head, hair & ears is required as prescribed under Islamic Aurah for women it is recommended that they are covered from wrists to ankles, nothing more nothing less.
    I am principally intrigued by the use of given illustration since going beyond humiliating extents it goes to show and demonstrates private parts of the body of a woman, that is my principal disagreement with Ms. Sirmed and I am sure deep down inside she gets the message whether or not she rectifies that or says anything about it.
    Regards

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  11. samah khan says:

    I am not sure how Ms Marvi is expressing her anti-Islamic sentiments so openly, from the stage of Baaghi. Perhaps chief operators of UNDP and any other UN agencies have this kind of immunity? I am amazed at the boldness of some women of the ”defected clan” , and I strongly condemn it. Marvi’s nerve is obviously due to the pathetic “beggar’s” disposition of our government high-ups who are least bothered about all such violations from their ”Donors” who are now so boldly attacking the Islamic injunctions even sitting in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Islam according to our constitution is a state religion and the preamble of our constitution says,” Whereas sovereignty over the entire Universe belongs to Almighty Allah alone, and the authority to be exercised by the people of Pakistan within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust”,” Wherein the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah;” So how can anyone in this country be allowed to shred a Muslim women’s attire unanimously accepted in the Muslim world as “Sharaee”, let alone from such a responsible platform as the lead person of UNDP in Pakistan? In the name of doing development work in our country, the religious practices of Muslims specially sitting in our Islamic state should neither be challenged nor made a laughing stock as is depicted here in the picture pasted here so shamelessly; with nudity being revealed from under cover of the sacred attire of a Muslim women. The observance of various degrees of purdah from Hijab to Niqaab “face cover” is ordained in Quran in Surah Noor and Surah Al-Ahzaab, and women practice it with only slight variations in pursuance of their personal choice, conformity and allegiance. Women who observe the Shariat’s purdah as practicing educated Muslim women (who have read and understood what Allah asks them to do) do it at their own free will. As for those ritualistic or “culture bound women” or those subjugated to do so by their men; their observance of purdah against their own free will, is not Allah’s decree in spirit. In Islam for every deed first the “Niyaat” is worthy of acceptance in the eyes of Allah. Please do not challenge the decree of Allah so audaciously, and how dare you referring to Quranic script and saying, “it needs to be reviewed in the context of modern world”, you want the Quran to be re-phrased and the tafasser based on Quran and Sunnah to be reviewed just because a bunch of anti- Islamic like you are scared of the growing popularity of Islam and its modest attire? I wonder why the poor mostly innocent people are implicated in Blasphemy, why does the open anti-Quran sentiments of this Baaghi go unchecked! I would request worthy followers of this blog who have legal expertise to present the matter to the Federal Shariat Court at least for want of reprimand. If our soiled rulers have been sold, this nation of almost 180 million Muslims will still retaliate anyone who dares to disregard our Islamic values, as is evident from the majority of condemnations you have received in this small blog. As for the “befitting French kiss” the Lord of the Heaven and the Earth will show the perpetrators what befitting downturn for such violation of Human rights and Human personal freedom awaits them InshaAllh. Allah save us from the toils of the Shaitan. (Ameen)

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  12. Zuberiaa says:

    @samah khan, “The observance of various degrees of purdah from Hijab to Niqaab “face cover” is ordained in Quran in Surah Noor and Surah Al-Ahzaab, and women practice it with only slight variations in pursuance of their personal choice, conformity and allegiance. Women who observe the Shariat’s purdah as practicing educated Muslim women (who have read and understood what Allah asks them to do) do it at their own free will.” Jazakallah for posting the essence of Islamic ruling by Allah SWT as commanded in Quran-e-Kareem.
    I found this quite disturbing but was restraining myself from commenting along the lines that you have taken the bold step to do, just as I wished that it should come from a learned and knowledgeable lady who submits to Almighty from the depth of her heart & mind with a clear understanding. Burqa or no Burqa the perimeters of purdah the aurah for women is distinctly described in the holy scripture any deviation from this is subject to accountability in the hereafter.
    My daughter & daughter in-laws born & raised in US sought knowledge and conformed to the required practice at their own free will when it was “wajib” for them, and alhamdulillah neither parents had to indulge and impose it on them.
    I pray to Allah SWT to bless Ms. Marvi Sirmed with the right knowledge & practice of Deen-e-Islam so she can appreciate it at her own free will without anyone imposing on her, once this happens we will not need any mullahs to scream & shout and sermonize as to what is expected of a man & what is expected of a woman who consider themselves Muslim.
    May Almighty Allah SWT guide us to the right path, ameen.
    Walah alam bil’sawab(thawab) Allah knows better.
    Thanks again
    Mr or Ms.Samah Khan

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