Friday, October 06, 2006

Straw in your face

Let me first make it clear that this is one of the few occasions where I agree with Jack Straw. The face-covering veil (niqab) is an unnecessary and unnatural attire which can make interlocutors feel uncomfortable. And there is nothing Islamic about it. When Islam spread from the Arabian Peninsula into the Byzantine empire the Muslims picked it up from the Christians. Church teaching in those days was that since Eve was the temptress who made Adam loose paradise, women were soul-less and evil and must be veiled from men in order to protect them from temptation. Since veiling was impractical for women working the fields, only upper class ladies covered their faces. When the Muslim women saw them they considered it a status symbol and imitated the practice. Thankfully it did not become the norm since Islam only mandates a head cover which leaves the face unveiled. When the Saudis tried to insist that women entering the Kaaba during the Hajj pilgrimage should cover their faces, this move was universally rejected as unsound and unfounded in Islamic jurisprudence. Sadly, the Saudis have developed an obsession with the alleged temptation emanating from women not unlike that of the early Byzantines, probably because it excuses men when straying from the path.

However, I doubt Jack Straw's motives. He's never been one for making a principled stance. He has always been a career politician. It seems that to position oneself in the Labour party after Blair one has to show that one is tough on Muslim aspirations to assert their identity. John Reid earned brownie points by telling Muslim parents to guard their children from the evil influence of radicalisation and terrorism. Jack Straw does not want to be seen as weak and dependent on the large Muslim populace amongst his constituents. He is throwing his hat in the ring of the current debate on multiculturalism and community relationships, calculating that his comment will only offend a few Muslims and not the mainstream.

By doing so, however, he is guilty of what Muslim men were always being accused of: telling women how to dress. In an interview on Radio 4 he clearly stated that the veiled women he talked to dressed in this fashion not because their husbands asked them to, but because they themselves wanted to do so. There is a big difference between voicing an opinion on whether a certain pattern of dress seems appropriate and actually asking people to change their attire. An MP might not be too charmed by a young lad with a studded face coming to him for advice, but to ask him to remove that ring from his eyebrow before listening to him would be considered patronising and unacceptable. That an MP feels justified in asking Muslim women to remove their veil indicates that British society today is no longer defining itself independently by its own values, but negatively by what it perceives to be unacceptable in the other. Just as the Muslims adopting the veil from Byzantine Christian women compromised their own theology by doing so, secular Western society by its obsession with providing an antithesis to Islam is beginning to dismantle its own system of beliefs. The very society that still argues about freedom and choice has become restrictive and prescriptive.

8 Comments:

At 6 October 2006 at 21:59, Blogger Martin said...

Och, Herr Bleher, you spoiled a very good piece of analysis by triangulating and wanting to get your retaliation in first...

 
At 6 October 2006 at 22:05, Blogger Martin said...

By the way, are you still listening to your James Last records?

Oops...

 
At 7 October 2006 at 07:05, Anonymous GP said...

Good Morning Mustaquim and all sane peoples of this blog,

Having listened to the many talk radio debates concerning this issue of the veil and Jack Straws ill time request for visitors to his surgery to remove their traditional face veil, i have to say i have heard Muslims state that it is not an edict of the Koran.

The only issue i have with Mr Straw and his ill timed request, is this argument about wishing to see peoples faces in his surgery for all the good reasons, but i must then ask, why the heck did he not speak up against the appointment of David Blunket, who is TOTALLY blind, therefore cannot see anybody to pick up on any nuances?

It just goes to show the ridiculous political correctness the the NEO labour party, when they give us a foreign secretary to attend meetings with foreign officials friendly and not so, and quite unable to read between the lines, nuances of facial expression.

Whilst Jack Straw may well have a point, it therefore follows that he should stand up and be counted, when he speaks out against David Blunket and such further appointment he may seek in government, because now we know that, the constituents of Mr Blunkett were NOT getting a good deal!

Lastly, i'd like to point out to Mr Straw that, it is men in suits and ties that looked the UK AND US public in the eye and lied about Irqi WMD,45 Minutes and it appears covering up of the US assassination of News Journalist Terry Lloyd!!!

For the record, i believe the Muslim ladies should comply when attending meetings, doctors appointments and of course MP's surgeries, but for Jack Straw to make this comment now, having been an MP for over tweny years and not told visitors of his surgery of his concerns, must be viewed as a political stunt, designed yet again to inflame tensions.

 
At 8 October 2006 at 17:18, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For Blunkett it's all the same anyway, but for those of us who are used to full senses, it's not. Plus Straw is partially deaf, so he probably needs to see the mouth more.

Straw is not telling women what to wear, he is requesting.

I thought the main point here is that women who wear the veil need to be educated about the effect that it has, and perhaps once they understand better, they might like to be more sensitive and respectful to the native culture in this country.

 
At 9 October 2006 at 10:14, Anonymous GP said...

Good Morning Mustaquim and all sane users of this blog,

I thought the point should be, choice and if Jack Straw has a need, preference and wants to exercise his right of freedom of speech/choice, then the place to address that would have been in his surgery, in his literature of what he does as a local MP etc!

As it stands, it appears as though he has NOT mentioned this to the very FEW women he's met at his surgery wearing a veil.

I dare him to give a percentage of the Muslim women in his constituency that wear veils and of those, who actually have attended his surgery.

As for Blunket, it makes no sense a blind man holding high office, with such risks attached, nor does it offer his constituents a fair shake of the dice, for they will know he cannot empathise with them and read their facial nuances, which will be sinsere to the plight they face, hence he will hear what he wants to hear.

Remember this is the fool who said that people on Incapacity Benefit are watching day time tv every day and that he thought it was "crackers", now the fool wants sympathy, when he writes that he was depressed, whilst in office.

Well despressed or not, it does not give a blind man the right to cop a feel at his secretary!

Let's face it, how else would he know what her bottom felt like, legs felt like and whether she was a looker or not, if it wasn't for this perv, blurting out is famed dirty jokes and acting like a pub thug grabbing bits of women's anatomy!

 
At 9 October 2006 at 16:26, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Selam,
have a stupid question, but I thought the Niqab was mean to be Sunnah Muakada or so...
Looking forward to an explanation.

 
At 9 October 2006 at 16:42, Blogger Mustaqim said...

How can something be a Sunnah Mu'akkadah (confirmed Sunnah) when it was neither practiced at the time of the prophet nor recommended by him? There are special stipulations for the wives of the prophet in the Qur'an, but they do not apply to the general public.

 
At 10 October 2006 at 10:02, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad I looked up your site today, imam. I have enjoyed your wisdom since hearing you on The French Connection.

My focus is on the coming Police State, The Prison Planet even. I have been a visitor to the UK for 20 years. A fequent visitor. I know the cameras are there, one to every four persons. You are no doubt aware.

Think of this, the veil will prohibit them seeing(registering)your face. Anyones face. Could they allow this to proliferate? This is all about the digital recognition of faces. I wish Islam all the success in the world.

Garry

 

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