Dr. Marranci: Burqu’ing freedom: the danger of ‘moral civilizing’

It’s been a while since I posted any articles from Dr. Marranci (in part because, like mine, his blog’s been a bit in active due to him being busy with various other things). He’s recently put up a nice article regarding the recent global trend seen with “democratic” places banning the face veil. It’s a great read for anyone interested. Here’s a bit from the beginning of the article:

The year 2010 appears to be marked by the ‘war on burqas’ (the Switzerland minarets being an exception). While Belgium has formally moved to ban niqabs and burqas, Italy used regional laws to fine Muslim women using niqabs, and Quebec has imposed a ban for anyone wearing one to enter government places, including hospital and casualty departments (see this article for more information). The majority of European nations, such as France, are still debating the matter. Both politicians and experts recognize that the number of people who wear a face veil (click here to avoid any confusion about them as often happens) on European streets are very few, and in Belgium they are even less than fifty. It would not be so unimaginable to suggest–even starting from my own observations–that today in the west there are more Muslim women wearing miniskirts than face veils.Many have been the opinions over whether the niqab or burqa are an Islamic requirement, innovation, or just one of numerous other styles of veiling. Al-Qaradawi has suggested that niqab is neither a requirement nor an innovation. In other words,it is a style within the tradition of Muslim dress. In another post I have discussed how increasingly, Muslim women, both by non-Muslims as well as Muslims, have been reduced to the ‘material culture’ of their dress styles. In this case, I wish to observe another aspect of the ‘war on burqa’.

The reasons provided for the direct or indirect ban of the face veil are of two orders: the first, quite hypocritical, suggests that the ban is imposed because of security legislation, often ‘rediscovered’ after decades, which forbids citizens to cover their faces in public. An example of this legalistic approach is Italy, which has rediscovered fascist left-overs that impose fines and prison time for those who disguise their face in public. The second is more honest and direct. Like the case of France, the ban is justified in terms of the traditions and morals of a country. In essence, the first case is nothing other than a camouflage of the latter. I think that it is reasonable to suggest that the attempt to ban face veils should be read within the discourse of ‘values’ and ‘morals’ rather than ‘security’ and ‘legal tradition’. In other words, we are entering the realm of ‘civilizational discourse’ and ‘ideology’.

Read on … Burqu’ing freedom: the danger of ‘moral civilizing’.

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Study: Men Objectify Scantily Clad Women

Memory tests performed on the men showed that most of them best remembered photographs of headless women in bikinis despite viewing each image for only a fraction of a second.

Author: Amel S. Abdullah
Source: IslamOnline.net.

Anecdotally, Muslim women often speak of feeling “protected,” “safe,” and “respected” when they wear the hijab (religiously mandated modest dress that covers the shape of the body and includes the headscarf or veil). Now there may also be evidence to show that their feelings are rooted in scientific fact.

When psychologist Susan Fiske and a team of researchers at Princeton University performed MRI brain scans on heterosexual men who viewed a series of images showing both scantily clad and fully clothed men and women, they found that the men had an unmistakable response to women wearing less clothing.

The less they wore, the more likely it was for the premotor cortex and the posterior middle temporal gyrus to light up. These are the areas of the brain associated with tool use, hand manipulation, and the urge to take action. (Cikara, Dell’Amore)

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Going Under Cover: the Jewish Women Who Are Taking the Veil

I came across an interesting story on the TimesOnline titled, Going under cover: the Jewish women who are taking the veil, and thought I’d share it with those of you who visit this spot of mine.

From the article:

Several cars slow and one stops when Sarah walks down the street in her home town of Beit Shemesh, an ultra-orthodox Jewish enclave west of Jerusalem.

On this morning, the streets teem with women herding their children to school in the modest garb and head-coverings befitting their religious beliefs. For years, Sarah walked among them similarly dressed, but today a dark cloth is secured across her face, hiding everything save her eyes. It resembles the head-to-toe covering that is associated with religious Muslim women in the Gulf States.

“The full body, or full face covering that people think is only part of the Arab world actually started with Jewish women,” said a woman who asked to be identified by her first initial, M.

“Muslim women are imitating Jews to try to gain God’s favour with modesty. The truth is that the women of Israel are lessening in God’s eyes because the Arabs are more modest in dress. If the Jews want to conquer the Arabs in this land they must enhance their modesty,” added M, who covered her face for over a year, but currently wears just a loose cloak over her garments.

Read on … Going under cover: the Jewish women who are taking the veil.

Obligation or Mere Personal Choice?

With the recent death of Aqsa Parvez, may Allah have mercy on her, a number of issues have been raised with regards to the various details surrounding her death that have been reported in the media. In my earlier post regarding it (linked to above), I mentioned that not enough is known yet regarding what happened and the circumstances leading up to the killing to justly comment on it. For that reason, I’ve tried to refrain from commenting on the “right” and “wrong” of those involved and throughout the various comments I’ve posted to other blogs about it, I have maintained that we shouldn’t jump to any conclusions with regards to what happened. By this I do not mean that we shouldn’t say her death was wrong, because it was; her life was taken unjustly, whether it was done intentionally (i.e., murder) or unintentionally (i.e., manslaughter). In an authentic hadîth, Prophet Muhammad said that «the blood of a Muslim person [who] testifies that there is no god [worthy of worship] except Allah and that I am Allah’s messenger is not lawful except for one of three: the deflowered adulterer (i.e., one who is or has been married), the soul [of the murderer] for the soul [of the murdered], and the abandoner of what he has—the opposer of the Congregation (i.e., the apostate).»[1] There are other justifications for when a life may be taken (defending yourself from an attacker, for example), but none of them include the possible motives behind Aqsa Parvez’s death that have been mentioned in the media thus far—and even if there were a justifiable reason behind her death (i.e., some sin or some infraction of Islamic law she committed), the punishments legislated in Islam are only to be carried out by the authorities (e.g., government, Islamic courts, etc.) after trying the accused and getting a conviction for the offence. The law is not to be taken into our own hands; vigilanteism is not condoned in Islam.

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Death Due to Dispute Over Hijâb? (Updated)

On the way to work yesterday morning, as is usual, I was listening to AM680 News to check on the the traffic situation. There was a report about some domestic incident where a man had called 911 saying that he had killed his daughter. There weren’t a lot of details given, but when I checked the City News website last night after getting home, I was sad to learn that the incident involved a Muslim family out in Mississauga. I immediately thought, “Great. More negative press for Islam and Muslims.” Browsing through the various websites belonging to local news outlets, one can easily see how this incident will bring Islam back into the main spotlight in terms criticisms and debates. Case in point, this morning on the way to work, tuning into today’s John Oakley show on AM640, my ears were assaulted by accusations from an Evangelical Christian that misogyny and abuses against women were something “common” to Islam (this came during Oakley’s 9am segment which featured two reverends—I’m not sure which of the two made the inflamitory comments).

Here’s just a sampling of the various articles I’ve come across this morning:

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Conditions for Proper Women’s Islamic Dress

(Originally part of a post I wrote for Learn-Islam.net, slightly edited) 

In sūrah an-Nūr (ch.24, v.31 of the Qur’an), Allah (exalted is He) says,

«And tell the believing women to lower their sights; to preserve their genitals; to not display their adornment—except what is visible from it; to draw their khimârs over their bosoms; to not display their adornment except to their spouses or their fathers, or their spouses’ fathers or their sons or their spouses’ sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or what their right hands possess (i.e., slaves or captives), or their servants from the men [who are] not possessors of desire, or the children who have not become cognisant of women’s private parts; and to not strike their feet in order that what they hide of their adornment be known. And repent to Allah collectively, O believers, in hopes that you may be successful.»

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