Recently, Quebec has decided to push for a ban on the niqab, for sisters who wish to use public services. They are priding themselves on gender equality. I can’t help but think, in our age of technology, of fingerprinting, of eye scans, of surveillance- how can there possibly be an issue of security and communication? If in recently a Saudi niqabi finds the courage to speak against the narrow-minded bullying religious police and shaykhs, then is there really an issue with gender equality?
Instead what we have here is a scenario where the democratic government is inflexible, rigid and unable to change, as if it were a law of nature, and the Muslims are forced to back down bit by bit. Of course, there could be technological solution that both satisfies security and communication concerns, and Muslim belief, but that is not the real motive. The real motive behind this is the Orientalist fantasies of the Muslim woman- the veil is seen as oppressive, but also the eyes as seductive. There is something about this that has to do with putting down the vulnerable Muslim woman, the heart of Islam, as a way of putting down the entire religion- it’s the only way they can find to punish Muslims, through what they know will be recognized by Muslim women as no worse than a sexual humiliation. These sisters will continue to wear the niqab, because they stand up for something beyond societal influences, and because they have not committed a crime if they chose merely to stay at home. It may isolate them more, but its not a bad thing to stay at home- the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam encouraged it in a hadith, both for men and women.
At the same time, Muslims are worrying this is part of a global conspiracy to destroy Islam. From my understanding there really isn’t an agenda to get rid of Muslims. Instead, its more the older generation who have these mentalities and want to keep things ‘traditional’. The younger generation are more likely to be liberal with it and just let it go. With regard to Quebecois and French culture in general, there is a trend of snobbery there, thats as far as it goes in my view. They came up with the laicete, liberte, the French Revolution (the ‘invention’ of revolution) that the world has embraced so of course there is some self-righteousness.
I don’t see this as being directly against Islam- the French are just trying to toot their horn, to up their ego and pride is all. This is Quebec’s way of proving its affiliation with France. In 1994, France banned Ahmed Deedat’s book, ‘Jesus in Islam’…what did that accomplish?? It’s more symbolic and superficial than anything else. Also consider Islam’s history with the French- Napoleon in Egypt, French colonialism in North Africa, etc. Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad mentions the relationship between Islam in the West, is that of the West and the Other- the Other is the Oriental world that is objectified as being either oppressed or ideal, and the West feeds off of the Other- for ideas, for culture, etc. In a very real sense: If Islam did not exist, ‘the West’ would not exist either.
There is also something we don’t notice because of our Islam. The West has gone through all this Enlightenment, all this humanism, secularism, modernity, etc. and all these things they view from their eyes as being so grande and magnificent…and here comes in the little lady content with her niqab. Can she not see how amazing our Europe’s achievements are? Why doesn’t she not throw off her veil and embrace our historic achievements? In a sense, when Muslims IGNORE all of the West’s sense of grandiosity, we hurt their pride in a way no one else can. Do you see what I am getting at? It’s like when a child sees an animal and is amazed by it, and yells, “Look what I found!” and the mother doesn’t even notice and continues talking. While in the same way, Muslims have kept talking with God and unknowingly ignored the West’s little discoveries, because we already knew all this, and the educated know Europe’s history has Islamic antecedents, and therefore will always see Islam as historically superior. What’s the result? The child starts to put down his mother, tries to redefine everything and the mother doesn’t budge…so the child is angry and tries to anger his mother….this is the same relationship between Muslims and the West, out of this discontent, the West is trying to push the buttons of its mother. *
Jean Baudrillard has a commentary on the Paris riots, where he goes into why the North Africans immigrants rioted so fiercely, why these poor immigrants instead of stealing the BMWs and cars in the streets, they chose to burn them, they chose to burn the schools where they were to be integrated…there is an underlying anger that is being built up in a lot of Muslims and its only a matter of pushing a few more buttons and Muslims will start going ballistic. The child tries to pull at his mother’s clothing now…a spanking is on it’s way! Muslims will react to this sooner or later. Something like this will not stand for long, India at one time tried to ban the Sikh turban and that didn’t go so well.
* Some scholars have said the hadith about the sign of the End of Time, “The mother will give birth to her slave master” refers to the Muslim world being the mother and the West being the slave master, since it was the Muslim world’s achievements which gave rise to the West, only to have the West return to insubordinate the Muslim world.
Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.