The veil worn by observant Muslim women is once again stirring anger in Egypt over its religious function. Is it a duty or an option? The radical organizations offer all the suitable quotations from the Koran and the important adjudicators to "prove" that Mohammed literally meant for every woman to hide her face and hands, and not to make do merely with a head covering. They believe that the eyes are the gate to the woman's soul and therefore need to be hidden. On the other hand, the sages belonging to the centrist stream of Islam believe that the veil does not appear in any of the precepts of Islam and that, at most, this is a custom which must be permitted. But of course, as usual, this is not a purely religious-legal argument aimed at fixing the way in which Muslim must women appear in public. The argument is political.
At a time when the Egyptian government is investing vast efforts to uproot religious fanaticism and is not merely making do with the arrests of members of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, but is banning women with veils from appearing as announcers on TV programs and postponing the appointment of women as religious instructors because they wear veils, the following initiative is merely the next obvious step on the way to the religious de-legitimization of the veil.
With this, I refer to a new book being published by Egypt's Wakf Ministry, written by cabinet minister, Mohammed Hamdi, who is a religious sage and religious law analyst. In the book, he "proves" through signs and omens that wearing a veil is not a religious edict but rather a custom, and as such it enjoys a lower status; with this, it will soon be possible to call for the custom to be uprooted altogether. The co-authors of the book, which will be distributed to all the imams in Egypt's 140,000 mosques, include the head of the Al-Azhar Mosque, the most important religious institution in Egypt, and the mufti of Egypt. Hamdi explained that the veil is not merely the result of a radical religious point of view, it even creates it.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
But is headcovering going to remain obligatory in Islam?
Found quote in Haaretz.com concerning Turkish foreign policy with Iran: