Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Enforced Veilings, and Not Enforced

Two reports came in this week that the Mohmand tribal region of Pakistan has just begun enforcing the wearing of a veil in public for women. The punishment for not veiling will be visited on the male relatives. Just so you know.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Taliban have warned women in the restive northwestern Mohman Agency not to step out of their homes without a veil or else their male relatives will be penalised.

Tehrik-e-Taliban spokesman Asad told reporters by phone from an undisclosed location that orders had been issued by the group's local commander Omar Khalid to punish men related to women who do not observe purdah.

GHALANAI: Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Mohmand Agency chapter on Thursday ordered women in the agency to observe purdah (veil) and announced a penalty for the male relatives of women in breach of the order.

TTP spokesman Dr Asad told reporters by telephone from an undisclosed location that the orders had been issued by TTP Mohmand Agency commander Omar Khalid.

For more information on the Mohmand Agency in Pakistan, click here to link to the Wikipedia article. Also read the entire articles listed above for more on these militant groups' recent actions.

Of note also to historians concerning Muslim headcovering: this clip I copied and pasted from someone's blog who had copied it from his sister's blog...
" We should pause to consider the question of the hijab, and the Muslim institution of the veil. It is often seen in the West as a symbol of male oppression, but in the Qur'an it was simply a piece of protocol that applied only to the Prophet's wives. Muslim women are required, like men, to dress modestly, but women were not told to veil themselves from view, nor to seclude themselves from men in a separate part of the house. These were later developments and did not become widespread in the Islamic empire until three or four generations after the death of Muhammad. It appears that the custom of veiling and secluding women came into the Muslim world from Persia and Byzantium, where women had long been treated in this way.In fact the veil or curtain was not designed to degrade Muhammad's wives but was a symbol of their superior status. After Muhammad's death, his wives became very powerful people: they were respected authorities on religious matters and were frequently consulted about Muhammad's practice (sunnah) or opinions. Aisha became extremely political and in 656 led a revolution against Ali, the Fourth Caliph. It seems that later other women became jealous of the status of Muhammad's wifes and demanded that they should be allowed to wear the veil too. Islamic culture was strongly egalitarian and it seemed incongruous that the Prophet's wives should be distinguished and honoured in this way. Thus many of the Muslim women who first took the veil saw it as a symbol of power and influence, not as a badge of male oppression. Certainly when the wives of the crusaders saw the respect in which Muslim women were held, they took to wearing the veil in hope of teaching their own menfolk to treat them better."
~ Karen Armstrong: "Muhammad: A biography of the Prophet"

Watch these locations for "wardrobe malfunctions" (headscarves) of various sorts:

Turkey, Istanbul:
A graduation ceremony and ‘awkward attire’ (
Missing: only aspiring female Afghan to run in Beijing Games (
Turkey, government:
Turkey's AKP Party Defends Itself In Court (
The Dangers Of Wearing A Headscarf (
Canada: Study suggests "turban effect" as a source of Islamophobia (

For side interest, also see a review and commentary in by Fahad Faruqui, on an art exhibit in England: "The Lure of the East: Through the Orientalist Lens", running from June 4 to August 31, 2008.

The exhibit is at
Tate Britain: "British Orientalist Painting".

Photo here, of: "Hhareem Life, Constantinople" (1857) by John Frederick Lewis, is on display in the exhibition.

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