With the niqab controversy raging in the media and online, with your usual self-proclaimed experts on Islam (Muslim and non-Muslim) crawling out of the woodwork, with the usual filth spewed out by personalities such as Majid Nawaz and his ever so ironically named Quilliam foundation, with sellouts like Taj Hargey (apparently a ‘leading imam’) coming out in support of the likes of Boris – here are a few random thoughts:
Whoever tells you that the niqab is something cultural or has no Islamic authority behind its legislation is simply lying to you and/or looking to line his/her pockets. There is simply no other possibility. Why?
1) Every single detailed work on Islamic jurisprudence authored by Sunnis for at least 1300 years has discussed this issue. I am talking works that number in their thousands. They have discussed the evidences for it, but have differed as to what extent it is legislated: is it obligatory or recommended, the circumstances in which it can be worn, and in which it can be removed, etc.
2) Traditional scholars – male and female – have never differed over the fact that it is something ‘Islamic’ for want of a better word.
3) For the last 1400 years, everywhere Muslims have reached, regardless of race, nationality, skin colour; regardless of whether they were a majority or a minority, you find female members of the Muslim community donning the niqab. Not cultural.
4) People only relatively recently started questioning it, and that can be linked directly to the rise of Western imperial powers and hegemony, to the rise of Muslims with a colonised mentality; the obsequious sycophant.
In the West, the overwhelming majority of women who wear the niqab choose to do so, often against the wishes of their own families. Many women (white and non-white) who convert to Islam, choose to wear the niqab. They either believe it is a religious obligation and/or believe that it helps strengthen their spiritual connection to Allah, and that it actually helps them assert their identity as a woman, rather than conform to stereotypical norms expected of them by some, dictated by the society around them, as opposed to the direction received by their Lord and Creator.
The whole debate about the niqab being a barrier to communication is a red-herring and neither here nor there. Consider the following irony; no, the hypocrisy: a radio show discussing the issue of niqab, and the panel raising the ‘concern’ that wearing a niqab prevents proper communication since you cannot see facial expressions. Argued on radio! Radio, where you cannot see faces by default, yet the points raised were being presented perfectly lucidly!
Yes, I can see an argument for security concerns, in certain, extremely limited scenarios – e.g. airport security, but there are simple, easy to implement solutions to all of those scenarios.