Niqab and Freedom


Eman wrote in her Saudi Woman blog that she was unexpectedly ecstatic about the french ban of niqab! She goes on to explain that taking this decision away from women by banning the niqab is in fact the best solution to liberate the majority of women who are pressured and forced into covering their faces.

I found myself commenting on her post and not ignoring it for two reasons:

  1. She is an Educated Saudi woman
  2. She is an avid blogger who isn’t afraid to speak her mind which is something to admire about her spirit

In my comment, quoted below, I appealed to her love of freedom and expressed my curiosity in her thought process:

While I respect your right to free speech, I help but wonder how can a liberal educated woman such as yourself wishes and advocates for a decision that limits women’s freedom!

You say we are either with the 1 who chooses to cover her face willingly or the hundreds who don’t. But that is simply not true. It is quite irrational on your part. Can’t I support both of them in making their own minds? Wouldn’t introducing a concept of no forced covering had been a better course of action in your campaign?

You campaign to take away the choice from women to cover their face, just because you hate what it represents, is making you look like some kinda of dictator to me.

peace out

She quickly replied, quotes below, with a proposition and a couple of questions. So, this post represents the alternative Saudi voices blog spirit in providing an alternative perspective on the issue by trying to address Eman’s concerns and highlight the misconceptions in her take on the subject:

The Freedom Insurance Proposition

Once you figure out how you can ensure that a woman fully and willingly chose the niqab, I’ll agree with you. However real life has shown that the majority of women who wear it are pressured and sometimes forced to. Here in Saudi Arabia school doors are guarded to enforce covering the face completely.

First of all, no individual can ensure anything when it comes to a social change. This is the reason for starting such campaigns as hers against niqab. So our voices can be heard, supported by others (individuals, bloggers & traditional media) and generally generating just enough public interest on the subject for law-makers to feel the need to pass a law that will, finally, ensure whatever the objective is! In this case, no forced “niqab”; and even then, it comes down to the society and its willingness/readiness for such change.

Where is your Humanity?

Can you yourself endure a piece of black fabric on your face every time you leave the house? From a humane perspective, do you really believe that human beings were meant to start out their day that way?

No, I wouldn’t dream of enduring a “niqab” but I suspect one can get used to it with time. Also, I don’t think humans are meant to eat their way to obesity or pierce every corner of their body. However, I would find it disgraceful to relish in the fact that any government has seen it fit to deprive the people from their personal freedom which does not interfere with others freedom.

Imaginary Ignorant Muslim Women!

Many simple women I personally know abhor the face cover but endure it because they were informed by extremist shiekhs that without it they are no longer Muslims. Do you consider these women victims of ignorance and misinformation or women who freely chose to cover?

Finally, I think Eman exaggerates when she suggests that “many simple women” believe that they will lose their Islam without their “niqab”. It’s 2010, Eman.. Even the most conservative women would only say that it is a major sin to remove your “niqab”. I Can’t imagine anyone saying that a woman would automatically be considered non-muslim just for uncovering her face. Not anymore sister 🙂 and I would’ve really appreciated it if Eman took a balanced approach in depicting the situation.

peace out


12 Responses to “Niqab and Freedom”

  1. amazonbaby Says:

    Typical comments made back by a man whom will never have to “endure” having to walk around under a black blanket in the heat. You get to enjoy the wind blowing through your hair. We don’t. We don’t get to enjoy the feel of the sun on our skin. But we do have to feel it multiplied through hot materials making us feel suffocated and sweaty. And, you use semantics so you get to “win” in your argument back.


    • I acknowledge your “accusation” of me being a man enjoying a little sun and wind thru my, rapidly thinning, hair!

      As to my point of view being typical! I say: So what?!

      I don’t know why you complain about not enjoying the sun on your skin and the wind thru your hair. Who is stopping you? I sure hope it is not me!!

      Finally, if all what you gathered from this post is me using semantics to win an argument… I apologize. You see, my English isn’t that good and this is, in fact, my first real publicly published article, ever. So excuse me if I wasn’t clear. And Here I though I was enjoying a healthy discussion with reasonable people. Silly me!

  2. Don Cox Says:

    “Even the most conservative women would only say that it is a major sin to remove your “niqab”. ”

    And what would be the result of committing such a sin regularly?

    Wouldn’t the woman burn in Hell for ever after she dies?

    • Dear Don,

      No one could say such a thing. Condemning someone to go hell is a sin itself. Because hell and heaven are God’s call not ours.

      God is the most merciful and he accepts those who repent; and those who don’t are subject to God’s wrath and mercy depending on the, overall, deeds they’ve done and the people who pray for them. God could decide to punish or pardon them. God has the final and only say.

      We do believe that there are people who will forever burn in hell. Committing too many sins without repenting is something that leads to hell. But we don’t identify someone as going to hell or heaven. After all, we are all the same and such divine knowledge has only one source. God.

      peace out

  3. Jean Grant Says:

    Having been told what to wear while I lived in the kingdom, I hate it that in France women are now told what NOT to wear. It’s the other side of the coin of lack of freedom. I’m glad that in the U.S. as Barack Obama said, “we don’t tell anyone what to wear.”

  4. Niqab and Freedom…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

    • Jean Grant Says:

      Hi World Wide News Flash–not sure if it’s my comment or Eman’s that you found interesting. But glad you’ve added a Trackback to it–if I understood right 🙂
      P.S. I wrote the novel, The Burning Veil and it’s about the veil quite a bit–although I dislike books with the word “veil” in the title.

  5. […] Saudi Voices' Ahmed Bagadoodoffers his perspective on the niqab (face cover worn by some Muslim women) and […]

  6. Maha Noor Elahi Says:

    A very interesting discussion!

    As a Saudi woman, who started to wear hijab a few years ago, I would like to share my experience.

    As some might know I am an educated and an independent woman, so the decision of wearing hijab was my decision.

    After reading so many articles on Hijab, I came to the conclusion that there is a lot of flexibility and many options for women when it comes to hijab.
    Please read my elaboration on the matter here:

    And to clarify more, I wear Niqab at times, especially when I am at the mall or it is very crowded with all sorts of men. I don’t want any single man to enjoy looking at me and maybe fantasizing about me!
    When I go out with my husband on a special occasion or to a restaurant, I don’t wear Niqab, but I dress up very decently.

    I think the choice should be left for women to decide what to wear and in which situation.

    Hijab as it came from Allah is not a uniform, so there is a great deal of flexibility and common sense.

    Thank you

  7. Maha Noor Elahi Says:

    I just want to add a side note….
    How come – we Muslims – never interfere in liberating women in the West from their bikinis? This is the worst form of salvation where a woman’s body is on display for men to enjoy….and if she doesn’t have the body or if she ages, she is overlooked!

  8. Muhammad Says:

    I was against my wife and daughters wearing niqab. When my third daughter insisted that she wanted to wear niqab, I tried a lot to discourage her from the idea. But in the end I had to let her choose what she wanted because in the end as a grown up person it is her human right not to be forced to do something she dislikes- exposing her beauty for all men to see. So forcing people not to wear niqab is just as bad as forcing them to wear. Let the woman choose for herself.

  9. Inuti Burkan Says:

    Isn’t it better to focus on changing the society, norms and expectations and to maybe give an alternative to the rigid och misogynist interpretations of Islam (as those from Saudi for example) than to attack women ONCE AGAIN. Why always focusing on somen, wheather to force her to put on, or take off, clothes? I am sick and tired of this.I wear the niqab, I CHOSE TO! I did not have any expectations or pressure, I did it myself. And I help other women understand, that they should NEVER do anything because of other people and their expectations. So jus tbecause some women in Saudi are forced to wear niqab, they should force me to take it off? It doesn’t make any sense at all, really…

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