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Veil threat

The article, “Making sense of Sarkozy's veil threat” by A. Faizur Rahman (July 21), was well argued. The evidence from the Koran and the Hadith is overwhelming. It was shocking to learn that many translations have interpolated meanings into the Arabic text. I wear the burqa but without the face veil. Does that make me a lesser Muslim? Before talking about the freedom of expression in France, let the pro-burqa campaigners ask themselves whether freedom exists for women in Muslim countries where they are not even allowed to drive. All I would say to them is — physician, heal thyself.

Sameera Ahmed,


Mr. Rahman has pointed to the basic issue behind the burqa controversy — gender bias. Religious outlook is overwhelmingly patriarchal. Hence the insistence that a woman's body be fully veiled. The medievalists, who are not ready to accept women as equals, inspire them to protest against their own freedom from the veil. The French government's decision to ban the Islamic veil may be politically motivated. But for women, it marks freedom from the clutches of patriarchy perpetrated over centuries.

C.V. Sukumaran,


The author is right when he says gender bias in Muslim societies, rather than the burqa ban in France, deserves our attention. The picture published along with the article shows the Jamaat-e-Islami cadre agitating against the ban. But where do the mullahs go when a husband throws his wife out of his house after uttering talaq thrice? Do they protest when young girls are forcibly married to 40-year-old men?

Yasmeen Sultana,


The picture is interesting. It shows a crowd of men in Karachi condemning the ban on the hijab in the West. I wonder how they can demand that Muslim women be allowed to practise Islam in European nations as they deem right.

N. Roohullah,


It is interesting that not a single woman is seen in the rally, purportedly taken out to defend Muslim women's ‘right' to wear the veil.

G. Radhakrishnan,


I agree totally with Mr. Rahman that the facial veil is the result of a wrong notion created by some sections of the clergy through a misrepresentation of the holy Koran and the Hadith. Some people who advocate the facial veil argue that people who lived during the Prophet's era were pious but now times have changed and adultery has become common. This argument has no basis because there are a number of Hadiths that refute this misconception. In fact, the Islamic society in the Prophet's era was non-segregated. Men and women helped each other in work. Afif Abdul Fattah proved from 300 Hadiths of Bukhari and Muslim in his book Tahrir al-Mar'a fi asr al-risalah ( “the liberty of women in the time of Prophet”) that the face is not part of the Islamic veil.

Mahmood Alam Siddiqui,

New Delhi

As Mr. Rahman has aptly said, Muslim women need to speak out against all kinds of oppression heaped in the name of religious edicts. They must remember how dangerous blind faith can be from the happenings in Iran, where only international outcry could stop the stoning to death of a woman on the charge of adultery. However, the analogy between the argument of a fight for speech, in the case of the Danish cartoons, and the ban on the burqa is most inappropriate. The burqa ban is well within the concept of separation of religion from the state, whereas the Danish cartoons are purely a case of freedom of expression, notwithstanding the hurt feeling syndrome.

Kasim Sait,


Injunctions to preserve the chastity of women are found in all religious books. But to make a fetish of them is not reflective of a progressive outlook. The scriptures only show the way — laying down basic principles. The circumstances in which the leaders of various faiths lived were different. It did not matter even if women covered themselves from head to foot for, they stayed mostly in their homes. In the changing milieu, when women have come out of their homes, the nature of their dress would obviously undergo a change as per the exigencies of circumstances.

Satish K. Kapoor,


Why do the French government and its Muslim detractors assume that the veil is necessarily a religious rather than cultural practice? Don't Hindu women in various parts of India — and in various non-religious contexts — cover their heads? Didn't Indian men wear headgear of some kind till recently? And isn't the Muslim woman's veil practised diversely in various Muslim societies? By citing the Koran, Mr. Rahman assumes that a Muslim must necessarily derive his or her gender practices from the Koran or the Hadith and not from class, region and individual reasoning.

Valli Cheran,


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