Tag Archive | veil

Why I Shed Bikini for Niqab!


I AM an American woman who was born in the midst of America’s “Heartland.” I grew up, just like any other girl, being fixated with the glamour of life in “the big city.” Eventually, I moved to Florida and on toSouth Beach of Miami, a hotspot for those seeking the “glamorous life.”
Naturally, I did what most average Western girls do. I focused on my appearance and appeal, basing my self-worth on how much attention I got from others. I worked out religiously and became a personal trainer, acquired an upscale waterfront residence, became a regular “exhibiting” beach-goer and was able to attain a “living-in-style” kind of life.
Years went by, only to realize that my scale of self-fulfillment and happiness slid down the more I progressed in my “feminine appeal.” I was a slave to fashion. I was a hostage to my looks.
As the gap continued to progressively widen between my self-fulfillment and lifestyle, I sought refuge in escapes from alcohol and parties to meditation, activism, and alternative religions, only to have the little gap widen to what seemed like a valley. I eventually realized it all was merely a pain killer rather than an effective remedy.
By now it was Sept. 11, 2001. As I witnessed the ensuing barrage on Islam, Islamic values and culture, and the infamous declaration of the “new crusade,” I started to notice something called Islam. Up until that point, all I had associated with Islam was women covered in “tents,” wife beaters, harems, and a world of terrorism. As a feminist libertarian, and an activist, I was pursuing a better world for all.
One day I came across a book that is negatively stereotyped in the West – The Noble Qur’an. I was first attracted by the style and approach of the Qur’an, and then intrigued by its outlook on existence, life, creation, and the relationship between Creator and creation. I found the Qur’an to be a very insightful address to heart and soul without the need for an interpreter or pastor.
Eventually I hit a moment of truth: my new-found self-fulfilling activism was nothing more than merely embracing a faith called Islam where I could live in peace as a “functional” Muslim.
I bought a beautiful long gown and head cover resembling the Muslim woman’s dress code and I walked down the same streets and neighborhoods where only days earlier I had walked in my shorts, bikini, or “elegant” Western business attire.
Although the people, the faces, and the shops were all the same, one thing was remarkably distinct – I was not – nor was the peace at being a woman I experienced for the very first time. I felt as if the chains had been broken and I was finally free. I was delighted with the new looks of wonder on people’s faces in place of the looks of a hunter watching his prey I had once sought. Suddenly a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Finally, I was free.
Of all places, I found my Islam at the heart of what some call “the most scandalous place on earth,” which makes it all the more dear and special..
While content with Hijab I became curious about Niqab, seeing an increasing number of Muslim women in it. I asked my Muslim husband, whom I married after I reverted to Islam, whether I should wear Niqab or just settle for the Hijab I was already wearing. My husband simply advised me that he believes Hijab is mandatory in Islam while Niqab is not. At the time, my Hijab consisted of head scarf that covered all my hair except for my face, and a loose long black gown called “Abaya” that covered all my body from neck to toe.
A year-and-a-half passed, and I told my husband I wanted to wear Niqab.. My reason, this time, was that I felt it would be more pleasing to Allah, the Creator, increasing my feeling of peace at being more modest.
He supported my decision and took me to buy an “Isdaal,” a loose black gown that covers from head to toe, and Niqab, which covers all my head and face except for my eyes. Soon enough, news started breaking about politicians, Vatican clergymen, libertarians, and so-called human rights and freedom activists condemning Hijab at times, and Niqab at others as being oppressive to women, an obstacle to social integration, and more recently, as an Egyptian official called it – “a sign of backwardness. “
I find it to be a blatant hypocrisy when Western governments and so-called human rights groups rush to defend woman’s rights when some governments impose a certain dress code on women, yet such “freedom fighters” look the other way when women are being deprived of their rights, work, and education just because they choose to exercise their right to wear Niqab or Hijab..
Today I am still a feminist, but a Muslim feminist, who calls on Muslim women to assume their responsibilities in providing all the support they can for their husbands to be good Muslims. To raise their children as upright Muslims so they may be beacons of light for all humanity once again. To enjoin good – any good – and to forbid evil – any evil. To speak righteousness and to speak up against all ills. To fight for our right to wear Niqab or Hijab and to please our Creator whichever way we chose. But just as importantly to carry our experience with Niqab or Hijab to fellow women who may never have had such a chance.
Most of the women I know wearing Niqab are Western reverts, some of whom are not even married. Others wear Niqab without full support of either family or surroundings. What we all have in common is that it is the personal choice of each and every one of us, which none of us is willing to surrender.
Willingly or unwillingly, women are bombarded with styles of “dressing-in- little-to- nothing” virtually in every means of communication everywhere in the world.
As an ex non-Muslim, I insist on women’s right to equally know about Hijab, its virtues, and the peace and happiness it brings to a woman’s life as it did to mine. Yesterday, the bikini was the symbol of my liberty, when in actuality it only liberated me from my spirituality and true value as a respectable human being.
Today, Niqab is the new symbol of woman’s liberation.
To women who surrender to the ugly stereotype against the Islamic modesty of Hijab, I say: You don’t know what you are missing.

–Sara Bokker
Former Actress

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Behind The Veil


By Khadijah Natalie Arbee 
 
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.

In 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??!

So 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.