Thursday, April 21, 2011

Behind the Veil by By Khadijah Natalie Arbee (Mashallah she is Australian too)


I am a Muslim woman. I wear the niqaab (face veil)

I'm one of those to whom the new law in France would apply.
I'm one of the ones being discussed by politicians, human rights groups and the media.
I'm one of those whom many feel the need to liberate.
I'm one of those you may think is oppressed.
I'm one of those many of you detest the sight of…
I'm one of those whom you may believe is uneducated; one of the ones you may think has no voice.

But I do. So let me speak.

I am not Arab, Asian or even African. I am Australian. No, not 'first generation', 'second generation', or an immigrant. On my mother's side, I'm of French-Canadian descent, and on my father's side; British. I grew up as a Christian, and attended church occasionally. I was in the school swim team, and district netball team. I holidayed with my family in the summer on the Gold Coast, and I'm educated. I have a university degree.

When I was 18 years of age I was introduced to Islam. I studied it, and accepted it a year and a half later. By the time I reached 20, I was wearing the headscarf, and after I married I donned the niqaab.

Because of my husband? No.
My husband did not want me to wear it, although his mother and sister do, and out of respect for his wishes I didn't do so for two years. But I wanted to, and eventually did, and knowing it to be in line with our religion, my husband knew he had no authority to prevent me, and he now greatly admires my strength.

Then, I wore it because of my father? No. He's a catholic.
Because of my brother? Nope, haven't got one.
My uncle? He's an atheist.
Then because of my son? My eldest is only 8 years old. Then why??
Because I want to, that's why.

And seeing as though my niqaab does not hurt anyone, that should be sufficient reason for all of you liberals of a liberal society; I should be able to finish my discussion right here. But although it may be so for any other style of dress, it isn't enough when it comes to niqaab for some reason. You want more. So I will continue.

What makes me want to then? Two things: Faith and experience.

Faith? Yeah, faith. Faith in my Creator, faith in His decisions, faith in Islam. A deep faith. Many wonder at the faith of Muslims, at their conviction and their commitment. It's a faith, that if you are not Muslim, is hard to explain or describe. The scripture of Islam, the Qur'an has scientific miracles in it, such that have captivated scientists globally, leading many to accept Islam. Moreover, the Qur'an has not been changed in over a thousand years, since it was revealed; not one letter moved from its place. I dare say there isn't a religious scripture like it, and this lends a clue as to the root of such faith.

Photo Credit: Ijtihad.orgIn the Qur'an, Allah Ta'ala tells us to cover ourselves, 'so as to be known, but not molested.' So our covering is a protection; a liberation.

Protection, you ask? Liberation? From what?

This is where I move on to my second reason for veiling. Like I said, I grew up in a Western secular society, in true Western secular style. I dressed secular, lived secular, and enjoyed all the 'liberties' of such a society. Did I feel liberated, free? Suffice to say, we were taught we were, so I never thought to think otherwise. It wasn't until I became Muslim, and started covering, that I really felt liberated, and realised, before that I wasn't.

Yet, time and time again we hear it said that we Muslim women are forced to veil, are oppressed; treated by our men folk as nothing more than 'objects.' And that niqaab, burqa, hijab; whatever term you use, is a form of 'imprisonment.'

But what about the imprisonment of anxiety and depression?
What about the imprisonment of anorexia and bulimia?
What about the imprisonment of frequent rigorous exercise routines?
What about the imprisonment of always feeling the need to look like the super-model on the cover of Cosmo, or the pop-singer in the music video?
What about the slavery to fashion?
What about the entrapment of jealousy??

How many women waste their hard-earned money, destroy their physical and mental health, expose their bodies to vulnerability, abuse and extortion in order to…… in order to what??

In order to gain approval and praise. Who's approval and praise? Men's.

And yes, it seems even other women too. So it seems non-Muslim women are not only slaves to men, but slaves to society as a whole.

Before you scream your disagreement, which many of you may do as a knee-jerk reaction to being told you're also oppressed, stop and think. Look around you, contemplate society today, and its values, its aspirations, its goals, its direction, its past times, its hobbies….

What good has it done for women to doff more and more clothing?
What good has it done for images of uncovered made-up women to be plastered on every billboard and magazine, on the TV, in the movies, and on the net?
Has it really brought any good for women?

The women in the images may aptly feel good about themselves for a while, but what does it mean for every other woman?

Women who look upon these images usually become anxious, jealous, unsure and critical of themselves, or all of these things. Many men who view them will become aroused, or even unhappy, less satisfied with the partners they already have. What can, and does this lead to?

Cheating, dumping, chastisement, and even harassment of other women, and even children by, men who cannot find a legitimate outlet for their constant arousal. And yes, I can hear some of you: 'then the men must control themselves!' Frankly speaking that argument is well spent, not to mention futile, as most men are, inherently, only able to react to that, the same way a hungry lion would react if thrown a juicy piece of steak, and told not to eat it….

Do the uncovered women captured in these images and industries, or parading around, realise or even care how many young girls are starving, purging and stressing themselves trying to mirror their image? No.

It seems they even take perverse pleasure in it. One barely-dressed singer even boldly and crudely sung recently, 'Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?'

What?! What is this woman and her ilk saying?? What are they implying?? What are they doing to their sisters in humanity??!

Photo Credit: ReutersSo many poor girls, eroding themselves physically and mentally as they watch with jealousy and anxiety their partners ogle singers like this. Have the same thing occur to these women, these 'idols.' Have their partners swoon over another similarly attired, and witness their reaction! And when their daughters are molested by men they themselves, or women like them, have aroused, will they reflect?
Will they act? Will society act?
Yeah, we see it reacting: Ban the burqa!

It just amazes me how many women especially, despise my choice of dress. Yet, would they rather their husband's secretary to be dressed like me or otherwise?
Would they rather the waitress serving the table at their anniversary dinner, be dressed like me or otherwise?
Is it me and my sisters who are turning their husband's head, or attracting their boyfriends??
Is it me and my sisters who have led their daughters to anorexia, or their sons to pornography?
Is it me and my sisters whose bodies and faces solicit their husband's/boyfriend's attention on every corner? Is it me and my sisters who have aroused that man to rape or harass their sisters?

Whose mode of 'dress' is truly oppressive and harmful to women??

So now I've spoken, and although I am one, I speak on behalf of hundreds. I've explained to you that the majority of us have chosen this mode of dress, especially in the West. I have told you that we love it, we want it, and I've exemplified for you the inherent good in it.

So to those of you who really are so concerned about 'liberating' me, then you will listen to what I have said, and let me and my sisters be.


  1. It is true what u say about the problems carried about women's liberation in western societies, but covering yourself is the cure? like any other way of preventin to comit a sin in islam, opression is not the way, the way should be in fredom.
    In islam if a muslim person drinks alcohol or a woman comits adultery is sent to jail or even sometimes killed by other muslim people. Do you think that's correct? Moral laws come from human nature beyond any religion like respect, love and forgiveness, and Islam doesnt practice these laws. To comit or not comit a sin should come from someones hart not from obligation and opressions...
    France is not a muslim country, if you go to live to another country you should accept their traditions and costums.

  2. @ anonymous :

    First thing, unlike you and many other people we do not see covering ourselves as a CURE. we never said thats the cure, because what men have is not a disease it is their nature just like it is the nature of a women to talk to her friends when she is low, to go shopping, to like good bags.. Above ALL the reasons is the FIRST AND FOREMOST reason for covering ourselves which is compliance with Allah's definition of modesty. And We are submissive to our God because we do not blindly listen to a preacher or we are not asked to believe everything that religion says, we can enquire further and research in Quran to be fully convinced.

    Secondly, I am not sure how much you have studied about the Islamic Law. But let me clarify this to you, a person who is punished in an islamic state is only punished if he/she reveals their sins or are caught doing it. If nobody has seen them doing it then they are always told to keep it to themselves and not surrender themselves for capital punishment because God is the most forgiving.

    Finally, I am not sure if you know this but France is a democratic country. The banning of the face veil is contradicting with the rights of a person in a democratic state. Sarkozy more or less had given a statment that the concealment of the face in the land of france will not be accepted. So, what about the girls who put 2 inches of make-up on their faces, well you see technically even they are concealing their faces. What about helmets? tattoos on faces? Doctor's mask? ooo yeah. They are all cool with that? Yes, because it is for safety reasons and in other case it is for personal reasons. Then why the hypocrisy towards the muslim women? Because they want to give so-called-liberation.
    For any security purpose a woman can show her face. Did you know that when a muslim woman has to give a testimony even in an islamic court of law she has to show her face? and Islamic courts of Law only appoints male judges. Now think of it, wouldn't Islam permit showing face for security reasons?
    Plus, there are so many other problems in france like the 1 million people who are living in poverty why doesn't sarkozy put his funds are concentration is the enrichemnet of these 1 million people rather than the so-called ''liberation'' of 2000 women?

  3. This is a fantastic article.

  4. Great Comments Everyone!!
    @ Kirsty, this is a good article, and it was nice because she is an Australian too.. makes it seem a bit more "real" that it is from home!!