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The veil of deliverance

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The veil of deliverance

Post by Ithar Ghada Faied on Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:24 pm

What is it about the veil that makes it so important for Muslim women?

Allah Almighty Says (what means): {And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their head covers over their chests and not expose their adornment [i.e. beauty] except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’…} [Qur'an 24:31]

The veil of the Muslim woman is such a controversial issue in the world. It is viewed in the West as a means of oppression especially since the feminist movement took hold in the sixties. This mysterious veil causes so much hullabaloo that one would think it was more than it really is, just a piece of woven fabric worn on the head. The symbolism behind the veil is however much broader than that. Perhaps it is because the veil itself is such an ingrained part of our history—mine, yours and every person on this earth. And it will be found there, regardless of which religion one follows.

When we see depictions of Mary, the mother of Jesus, may Allah exalt their mention, dating from a thousand years ago—she is always shown wearing the veil. In fact, when one stops and thinks about it, have we ever seen her depicted in any other form? The women who practice the Catholic faith wore it for years, and were prohibited from entering holy places without it. In fact, it is still worn by nuns to this day. Christians are instructed in the New Testament in a clear-cut verse in I Corinthians (11:5-6), to cover their heads or shave their hair. In the Jewish faith, rabbinic law forbids the recitation of blessings or prayers in the presence of a bareheaded-married woman, since uncovering the woman's hair would be considered "nudity". Additionally, the veil was a symbol of nobility for the Jewish woman in Jewish literature.

So why then, when a Muslim woman dons the veil does it suddenly become a sign of oppression? The unequivocal answer to that question is that this is far from the truth. Some may argue that in some parts of the world women are forced to wear it. That much is true; in some areas it is imposed. So, what is it about the veil that makes it so important for Muslim women?

There is a multitude of reasons. The veil has, forever been a symbol of modesty and righteousness. Only over the past 100 years have non-Muslims thought of it as oppressive. In earlier times, in many religions and cultures from America to Europe, it was held as a symbol of worth and honor for the women who wore it. Let us reiterate that this phenomenon has only taken place in the past 100 years. And that's not a very long time in the history of the earth, rather just a blink of an eye.

The veil is not only a symbol of modesty, but is also a form of protection and identity as Allah Says what means: {Tell your wives and daughters and believing women to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies. That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft—Forgiving, Most Merciful.} [Qur'an; 33:591]

Think about this for a moment. When is the last time you thought of a nun as "sexy" or being someone to be approached in order to "hit on"? Most likely the answer is never and that's the point. The veil detracts the attention to a woman's beauty, leaving it only for those in her immediate family, such as her husband, her father and brothers. Why, one may ask, would someone want to do that?

There are many reasons. The most important being that it is an obligation for Muslim women to cover their heads. Because it is a form of protection not just for the woman herself, but also the society as a whole. That's right, a protection.

Before one says, "Wow, wait just a minute", let me explain a little further. When one wonders—how in the world is this veil considered a "protection" for a woman in Islam? The answer is that simply put, it's a preventative measure. Islam focuses on prevention, and prevention is always better than waiting on a cure. The veil inhibits other men from looking upon a Muslim woman as a sexual object, and forces them to deal with her as a person, rather than focusing on the size of her bust. The latter is not an option because it should be hidden from view.

When the body is hidden, the only thing left which others must interact with is one's mind. This preventative measure puts the brakes on much of the societal harms such as adultery and premarital sex, which can lead to unwanted pregnancies, abortions and sexually transmitted diseases. Not to mention the emotional roller coaster of uncommitted relationships. Adultery not only destroys a marriage, but also harms the children whose lives are directly affected by it. The destructive consequences of these societal harms are the facts with which we live in today's society. This is not Islam pointing a finger. Rather it is the reason why our government spends millions of tax dollars on ad campaigns, encouraging abstinence and sex education for teens. And because it is embedded in the human nature to want to pro-create.

For Muslim women here in the United States and all over the world, the veil carries a significant and sacred meaning. We do not cover ourselves for our husbands; we cover ourselves for our Creator. For us the veil is the symbol of our modesty (which we hold in the greatest esteem), and more importantly it is a manifestation of our religion, singling us out from the crowd so we will be identified as Muslim women. It is also a source of pride for us. When we look at our own role models, the inspirational women in Islam, such as Mary, the mother of Jesus, may Allah exalt their mention, we admire their character, their modesty and their demeanor—we admire the honor they had. It is they who we as Muslim women strive to emulate taking our own personal lessons from them in every manner especially that of their dress.

The next time one sees a Muslim woman in the store or driving in her car, he/she understands that she is not oppressed. She's trying her best to fulfill her obligation to her religion, protecting our society by her modesty and she is following the example of those in our history who were righteous; in the hope that she will be able to enter Paradise in the Hereafter. For us, the veil itself is our deliverance.
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Ithar Ghada Faied
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