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Moustafa: Niqab un-veiled

BY RANA MOUSTAFA | SEPTEMBER 25, 2012 6:30 AM

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Asalamualikum wa rahmut Allahi wa barakatu [May peace and blessings be upon you]. It is likely you have seen a Muslim woman, if not me, choosing to cover her face with a niqab (face veil) on the news during the 2011 ban of niqab in France or anywhere around the world.

As a commonly misunderstood concept, niqab is simply a garment some Muslim women choose to wear as a form of worship to Allah (God) or an extra striving to please Allah for those who believe it not obligatory. Despite the controversy  — among people, including Muslim scholars — as to whether niqab is obligatory or not, I am more interested in the many comments I have been receiving during my past month of wearing niqab. Community members, fellow students, and fellow Muslims have all expressed their concerns about my decision.

I am sometimes left frustrated because of the lack of time I have to respond to comments in a well-thought-out manner, so I have decided to address some of them through writing this article. The most common comments and questions I get are as follows. “Aren’t you hot in all of that black?”; “Wouldn’t this take away your identity?”; “This is not necessary to wear in America, you are granted with freedom here.”

Wearing niqab is a personal freedom; I am not being forced to wear it by anyone, so obviously, if I choose to wear it, I am perfectly comfortable and content wearing it. Has it taken away my identity? No. I am able to use public transportation every day and attend a public university where I interact with people on a daily basis, including my professors and classmates.

In my job as a reporter, I work with my editors and meet frequently with interviewees for my stories. I am a leader in student organizations on campus, and I have the freedom to express any thought I have in this article. My identity is definitely still here and is not going anywhere, as far as I know.

And, speaking of freedom, I am starting to get concerned with the number of comments I continually receive about not having to wear niqab because, as people say, “I live in America now.” Considering the fact that every person who spoke those words to me was American, I hope people nowadays are familiar with our very own First Amendment in the Constitution, which allows the freedom to practice one’s religion freely.

Those who claim that covering ones body or face is a form of oppression are clearly mistaken. I think the real oppression is this society’s pressure on both women and men to dress and look a certain way to be accepted or fit in. Sadly, that “ideal” image in the media today — no matter how hard people try to possess it by going under the knife, dressing less, losing weight, or putting more makeup on — is impossible to achieve because people will never be satisfied with the way they look and will always be working up to higher standards constantly being set. By covering my body for the sake of Allah and preserving it for the person I am going to marry, I feel like the most precious, beautiful, and free woman in the world.


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