No Veil?

 I found this on the ABC Online News this morning.

Jordan’s Queen says Islam does not demand veil

Queen Rania al-Abdullah of Jordan says Islam does not require women to wear veils, and has called on Muslim moderates to “make their voices be heard”.

“Islam neither requires one to be practising, nor to dress in one way or another,” the stylish 36-year-old queen told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera during a visit to Rome.

“So imposing the veil on a woman is contrary to the principles of Islam,” said Queen Rania, who is in Rome for the launch of a Group of Seven (G7) program to develop vaccines against diseases that are endemic in poor countries.

“Unfortunately, after all the suspicion weighing on Islam, many people have begun to consider the veil as a political problem, but this is not the case. Wearing the veil is a free personal choice.”

Queen Rania urged “all moderates to stand up and let their voices be heard”.

She added: “Many people are frustrated in the Arab world. Many give in to the anger because they are accused of violence. But instead we should get up, explain who we are and what we believe in. Over the last three years, most victims of terrorism have been Muslim. So there’s not a war between Muslims and non-Muslims, but between extremists and moderates of all the religions,” she said. “What is important is not to live in fear. The most dangerous [thing to do] is to give up and lose hope. The main enemy is not terrorism or extremism, but ignorance.”

AFP

Is this a sign of hope, that the extremists are finally being “outed”? More work needs to be done within Judaism and Christianity (especially Catholic Christianity and American Fundamentalism) to bring about real world-wide change.

Even the modern Catholic Nun no longer “Takes the Veil”, a religious ploy which gave the impression that “Old is Holy” and that the Catholic Church is unchangeable. Of course, the Nun’s Habit was of medieval origin, not of Christ’s time. Just another of those small misdirections which lead an unthinking populace down a slippery slope, away from the Divine Leader’s teaching into the errors and self-seeking of the human fanatics who claim the direct ear of God.

Perhaps soon, within a hundred years or so, we may find, in the modern airconditioned world,  the wearing of “desert” clothing will pass out of religious fashion and into history. For all things do pass and are replaced – eventually.

But then I am a curmudgeonly old atheist who believes the world would be better off without any religion. Ethics and altruism yes, religion, NO!

I’m going to sit in my rocking chair on the porch, watch the rest of the world passing by (going to Hell in a handbasket) and grumble to myself for the rest of today!

23 Responses

  1. Archie – I don’t wear a veil or scarf, but I think we all know this by now. It is not out of rebellion that I don’t wear one – it is because I have looked into the matter and do not believe it is necessary.

    Even Ghamidi, on Pakistan’s sharia council says that it is not a requirement.

    Up until about a month ago, I was of the feeling that this is my choice and that I am not going to be arguing this point. It was an argument with a man on eteraz’s site and then Oprah’s guest stating that the scarf is a commandment of God, the reminder of the 15 girls that burned to death because they didn’t have their headcovers/abayas on and my daughter comming home once again saying she believes it is a commandment that I said, okay – enough is enough. Not only am I going to point out the flaws to the headscarf/veil issue – but I’m going to make a campaign for the understanding of the issue. I’m sure my campaign will be of mixed opinions – but I hope to bring some knowledgeable/authorative opinions to the matter.

    The Queen is right – moderates need to make a statement. The headscarf may be trivial, but it is of the most basics to oppression of women.

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  2. So there’s not a war between Muslims and non-Muslims, but between extremists and moderates of all the religions. – Queen Rania al-Abdullah of Jordan.

    There are no good guys or bad guys, just perpetrators and victims. Criticising one side or the other is so NOT the way to peace. – MikeFitz, who by the way, thanks God every day that he is an Atheist.

    I like Jordan. I was there in 2005. It has friendly people, enlightened leadership and with neighbours like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria, it is well placed to be an honest broker of peace in the Middle East.

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  3. Nils, Dress has often been used by religion to enforce its authority. Fashion is a human failing and the struggle between the two is always interesting to watch. As the writer of “Proverbs” penned “Vanity, thy name is woman.”

    samaha, wow, I didn’t intend to ignite a revolution. I simply posted what I thought of as an interesting comment by an influential woman. Since then I have been wondering about the reaction of the Mujahadeen who seem to be of the opinion that an “Influential Woman” is an offront to God. In my youth my grandmother used to say “Children should be seen and not heard.” In Afghanistan it seems that women should neither be seen nor heard. (btw, is there a connection between the Mujahadeen and Wahhabism?)

    Mike, I like the “No good guys, no bad guys” comment. Let me officially welcome you to the scattiest blog on the planet. It is very much like Melbourne’s weather. :)

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  4. As a Melbournian (well, a Williamstownian!) married to him for over forty years, I’ll deal with that silly comment later, Mike!

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  5. Well, the head scarf is not a sign of “extremism” at all really, it is something most desert-dwelling people have worn throughout history and is part of the Middle Eastern cultural heritage.

    I agree with the Queen – being forced to wear it is the issue, not if someone decides to wear it. You can still be a believing Muslim and not pray, not fast, drink alcohol, choose not wear a headscarf, commit adultery or any of the multitude of other possibilities – which she also clearly stated. It is something the woman herself has to choose to do.

    Personally, I disagree slightly with Samaha’s understanding on this issue – but that doesn’t mean I would force it upon anyone. There are more important issues to worry about these days anyway.

    Archie: The “Mujahideen” were a mixture of native Afghan and Arab fighters funded and trained by the US to fight against Russia during the later cold-war period and right after, specifically in Afghanistan. Wahabbism and its offshoot, Salafism, were dominant creeds amongst the imported Arab fighters – but the Afghans themselves followed a traditional, if ultra-conservative school of Islamic thought. They just followed a very uniquely cultural expression of it, and this is why there were some similarities in thought between the two different camps. There were also many differences, with Mullah Omar (the ideological leader of the Taliban) even clearly stating that bin Laden was not qualified to give “fatwa” (legal rulings) and so on, which is true if you approach from the traditional paradigm. Bin Laden, unfortunately, did not.

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  6. Well, the head scarf is not a sign of “extremism” at all really, it is something most desert-dwelling people have worn throughout history and is part of the Middle Eastern cultural heritage.

    I agree with the Queen – being forced to wear it is the issue, not if someone decides to wear it. You can still be a believing Muslim and not pray, not fast, drink alcohol, choose not wear a headscarf, commit adultery or any of the multitude of other possibilities – which she also clearly stated. It is something the woman herself has to choose to do.

    Personally, I disagree slightly with Samaha’s understanding on this issue – but that doesn’t mean I would force it upon anyone. There are more important issues to worry about these days anyway.

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  7. Archie: The “Mujahideen” were a mixture of native Afghan and Arab fighters funded and trained by the US to fight against Russia during the later cold-war period and right after, specifically in Afghanistan. Wahabbism and its offshoot, Salafism, were dominant creeds amongst the imported Arab fighters – but the Afghans themselves followed a traditional, if ultra-conservative school of Islamic thought. They followed a very unique cultural expression of it, and this is why there were some similarities in thought between the two different camps. There were also many differences, with Mullah Omar (the ideological leader of the Taliban) even clearly stating that bin Laden was not qualified to give “fatwa” (legal rulings) and so on, which is true if you approach from the traditional paradigm. Bin Laden, unfortunately, did not.

    Incidentally, the same “school of thought” is followed by the likes of the Turks, Bosnians, Indians and some others, who have their own expressions of it. Even I follow the same school (the Hanafi madhhab – or school of law). Hence why we have to make the distinction between what is based on the modern revivalist movement of Wahabbism, and what comes from the tradition – even if incorrectly interpreted or used. One can be debated inside the tradition, the other (the former) seeks to circumvent it completely.

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  8. Buff, so Melbourne’s weather is unchanging? Not giving the inhabitants four seasons in one day? OoooKay!

    Dawood, Good to see you back. Thank you for your input here. So, to show I understand, The Mujahadeen were a military group who were made up of two ultra conservative branches of Islam who became the Taliban – or is the Taliban strictly military?

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  9. Hey Archie – below is just a rough synopsis of what I remember reading – I may be incorrect in some.

    The history of Afghanistan is rather confusing – they have basically been in a state of civil war for the last 25 or so years (not an exact date, but I am sure you can find out). Various factions have been fighting since then – some supported by Russia, as they towed the communist line, others either regional warlords or supported tacitly by the US. The Taliban actually grew out of the madrassa’s (religious schools) in the NW fronteir province bordering Pakistan. “Taliban” literally means “the students”, and they originally were a group who attempted to stop the civil war and unite the people. Bin Laden didn’t join with them until around 1996, if my meory serves me correctly.

    Over time, their puritanical streak (especially against the Shi’a in the country, and so on) gradually polarized them and this is kind of what led to the “alliance” between OBL and his group (Al-Qa’ida) and the Taliban under Mullah Omar, when Bin Laden had to leave the Sudan in the mid-1990′s.

    The Taliban were never strictly anything… as their power base grew, they became the de-facto government, as well as judicial power. Originally they were a group of madrassa students and graduates. As their “rule” grew too, their ranks became swollen.

    Ironically, a Shaykh I study with here visited some of these types of madrassa’s in Pakistan and across the border in Afghanistian. He saw them using the same classical texts that I also study, yet their interpretations and understandings of the text differs greatly from mine or my teachers – who are from Turkey etc. So this highlights the cultural influence if you ask me.

    Anyway, the Wikipeida article covers a bit more of this. The Afghan Civil War also gives a good overview.

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  10. Also forgot to add that they were more like a Pashtun nationalist movement – kind of like pan-Pashtunism… if that makes sense. This is one reason why the Hazara, who were mostly Shi’a too, were basically exterminated by them. A lot of bad things happened during this time…

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  11. Hello Dawood, thanks for your enlightenment here.

    I’ve never met a Dawood before, so please excuse this question if it sounds silly. What is the origin of the name Dawood? Is there a particular saint or prophet that may have been in David Hicks’ mind when he changed his name to Mohammed Dawood?

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  12. G’day Buff. I think you will find that it wasn’t I who disparaged Melbourne’s weather in the comments above. I suggest it was Archie who made the comment, perhaps believing that I was from Melbourne.

    So to set the record straight, I’m actually from Brisbane (or BrisVegas as the kids call it). Now, it turns out I was actually in Melbourne last week. I seem to recall 38C on Monday, followed by something like 20C on Tuesday… Just the facts, Ma’am.

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  13. Dawood is basically the Arabic for David. It is also sometimes written as Daud, Dawud etc.

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  14. Thanks Dawood. It’s good to learn something every day.

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  15. Dawood, thanks for all your comments here. I feel as though I have learned a little :)

    Mike – good question. I admit to wondering about “Dawood” as well

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  16. No problems – glad to be of some small help. It is hard to render Arabic in to English – especially a few key letters – which is why there are many variations on words floating around cyberspace. :)

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  17. Hello Archie,
    Queen Rania’s comment “Islam neither requires one to be practising, nor to dress in one way or another,” is a bit bizarre I think. It is correct that there are people who are cultural Muslims, that is they identify themselves as Muslims and celebrate Muslim holidays, believe in God etc. But the technical meaning of Muslim is one who has submitted themself to God. And the way that we do that is by following the requirements of the religion. Part of this requirement is dressing modestly. Whether this involves the headscarf or not is another matter entirely. This has to do with whether people feel comfortable with contextual versus literal analysis of the Qu’ran.

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  18. Hiya Jamilalighthouse, welcome to the mixed-up-est blog in the universe. I thought that part of the Queen’s speech was a little strange, but then I put it into my own cultural system where a Christian is, technically, according to the New Testament, a Follower of Christ. Yet so many who claim the label of “Christian” are nominal believers only. I suppose there would be similar people within Islamic countries.
    The question of contextual vs literal anaylsis of any Book is interesting. The Hamish and Luddites within the Christian context live with the rule that if it is not mentioned in the Bible, it is not permitted. There would be some groups within Islam who take the same attitude and so headscarves, because they were useful where Islam began, are mandatory the world over, while modesty is truly, “In the eye of the beholder.”

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  19. Well, our theology is such that someone can be a “believer”, and commit any sin apart from that which clearly takes one out of Islam, and still be considered Muslim. Hence why people like Bin Laden etc. are still classed as Muslim, even though they have committed many vile acts which are heinous.

    So in that sense the Queen is correct – you don’t have to pray, or wear certain clothes to be considered Muslim – and let’s get real – plenty of Muslims don’t pray, fast, wear the headscarf, have beards etc. Yet all are classed as believers. Perhaps sinning in some form or another depending on their specific situation, but still a believer.

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  20. In that, both Christianity and Islam are alike. I have a theory that the majority of people in every society are not “committed” (read “over-ridingly interested”) to being actively concerned about the afterlife. They are far more interested in life in this world, putting food on the table for their family OR they are in increasing their own power in this world, for their own benefit.

    Of course, in a lot of societies around the world it is necessary for a certain amount of self-protective camouflage to be used. Performing the minimum amount amount of rituals which will ensure that strict eyes are turned elsewhere. There are also those who use religion to do that power thing I mentioned above.

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  21. Well, not doing these actions are classed as sins, and in some cases major sins – but they do not take you out of the fold, so to speak. According to tradition though, you will generally be punished in the afterlife for it, possibly for a long time (still not eternity though).

    But I agree with your last paragraph for sure! :)

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  22. What always puzzles me is why the followers of an Almighty God, who has the power to award punishment after death, needs His followers to begin that punishment here on Earth. Don’t they trust God to do it?

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