Saturday, June 19, 2010

what is the zaidi position on the burqa?

The following article would suggest that the widespread use of the burqa in Yemen these days is a salafi inspired phenonomen (perhaps encouraged by the ikhwanis as well?). ....

The niqab, with its unrelenting blackness broken only by a narrow slit for the eyes, has become a symbol for the lack of women’s rights in the Islamic world, and in Yemen, it has become a point of contention between conservative sheiks and Yemeni politicians on the one hand, and westernized Yemenis and Yemeni women’s rights activists on the other.

“I am a Muslim. I pray, I fast, I follow what is in the Koran,” said Ramzia Aleryani, head of the Yemeni Women’s Union in Sana. “[The niqab] is not in the Koran. There is nothing Islamic about it — there is nothing in the Koran that says a woman must cover her face.”

Aleryani arms herself and her visitors with photocopied packets of Koranic passages and the prophet Muhammad’s sayings defending women’s rights. She says the niqab was imported to Yemen by Salafists, followers of an ultraconservative sect of Islam that originated in Saudi Arabia.

Thirty years ago, many Yemeni women wore traditional dresses or Western attire, and shared meals with men. The current vice governor of the southern port city of Aden said his mother used to walk around “in a miniskirt.”

To accept the niqab, Aleryani said, would be to accept many more often intolerant and regressive edicts.

“We are at war with the Salafists,” she said, unblinkingly. “It us versus them.”

Salafists and conservative political groups in Sana have in the last two decades gained an extraordinary amount of power in government and society. In the last few years, Salafists have threatened the Yemeni Women’s Union, left menacing phone messages for its leaders and published pamphlets decrying it as an anti-Muslim organization.

“Our women are cared for, respected and protected according to the Koran,” said Sheik Ali Werafi, a Salafist and a conservative member of parliament. “We cover them up to protect them. They have everything they need. The world comes to them. We do not need Western ideas imposed on our culture.”

(excerpt from “The Bridal Shower”, by Haley Sweetland Edwards, in the L.A. Times)

To read more on the burqa and hijab in Zaidism, see the July post "Zaidism and Women's Liberation"


  1. WOW the current vice governor's Mum is an inspiration to Muslim women around the world. I'm going to wear a mini-skirt to the mosque this Friday for a change instead of my boring Niqab. and I might even pray in the men’s section. Kidding. In all seriousness though, this passage is really interesting and fantastic!

    It’s really refreshing to read that not all Muslims insist that their women-folk play Ninja-dress-ups every time they leave the house!

    Salafist extremists need to be outed by moderate Muslims more often and shamed for their on-going oppression of women, their archaic practices and terrible fashion sense. :)

    Go Zaidis! The progressive school of thought...

  2. Thanks for your comment, I agree about the fashion comment, not to mention the physical restriction which prevents participation in so many worthwhile activities. I wonder why it’s made such a come-back recently? Part of the reason is that
    Saudi Salafi Qur’an translations make the burqa compulsory:
    In the Saudi Arabian (Salafi) translation of the Qur’an into English, the following words have been added into the text (in brackets):
    1. Surah 24, ayah 31:
    And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and protect their private parts…and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)…
    2.Surah 33, ayah 59:
    …Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way)…

    Most new muslims, and young muslims living outside the middle east, don’t know Arabic. The added words are not in a footnote, but inserted into the actual Qur’anic text, in brackets. I’m guessing that the Saudi/Salafis have done the same in all their translations of the Qur’an, which are distributed free of charge in mosques around the world. Therefore, many non-Arab reading Muslims think that the Qur’an commands women to wear the burqa.
    An alternative translation reads:
    1. Surah 24, ayah 31:
    And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their modesty…that they should draw (yadribna) their veils (khumurihinna) over their bosoms…..
    2. Surah 33, ayah 59:
    … Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast/ lengthen (yudneena) their outer garments (jalaabihinna) over their persons (when abroad)…
    (i.e. no mention of covering heads or faces).

  3. This Western Puppets must be Stopped.Muslims unlike Other Religions(Except Confucianism)Encourage Sex,Reproduction and See it as a Sin not to Engage in Sexual Pleasures.Sex is Clean in Islam.and Provided it Is thru The right Outlet,it is a Great source of Godly Rewards,and Form of worship.

    Now We All Know the Women of Ahl ul-Bayt(a.s)Wore The Niqab.

    In regards to Women :
    1.Muslim Women Had the right to Vote Since the Days of Our Prophet Muhammad(SWS),Whereas ion The civilized west,you didnt Get this right until the 20th Century.
    2.Muslim Women Have Inheritence rights and Property Rights ,And this is Based on the quran and Traditions and PRactice of All Muslim States, something Not granted to Them in Western countries Until the 20thb Century.

    3.Muslim Women Are Told To cover up,Because as many women Who CHOOSE to Wear the Niqab : Hijab, Niqab or Nothing

    Have Said,Men Respect Them,they See Them As a Object of Dignity ,Virtue And Appreciatte Their Value in society

    in the West Women Are seen as Sex Objects Showing their Awrat for a Bottle Of Water!

    A Great Lecture on This subject is Dr. Shomali - Islam and Sexuality - PressTV, 'Minbar'

    4.Comparing the Rates of Rape,Divorce,Sexual Abuse and Sexual Harrasment at the workplace in Muslim countries VS.The'' Liberated West'''We Find

    That Saudi Arabia and other muslim Countries has the Lowest for Example on The List While Western-christian-Countries have the Highest Rates .

    1 of 6 U.S. women has experienced an attempted or completed rape. (according to Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault)

    Also 47% of rapes, both the victim and the perpetrator had been drinking. In 17%, only the perpetrator had been. 7% of the time, only the victim had been drinking. Rapes where neither the victim nor the perpetrator had been drinking were 29% of all rapes.

    Now you Can See Why Islam,Forbids Alcohol completely .

    Alcohol also is the major Source of Western Countries Debts,Social problems,Incest,Homicide(Al-Qatil),and other Crimes almost 86 % ,to my knwoledge Atleast,Of the Cases involve Alcohol.

    Now in the U.K the Bastion of '''Freedom'''the Rates of Rape Are 230 cases every day

    In muslim countries ,we Respect Our women,and do not See Nakedness adn Lewdness As Freedom.

    May i Remind you :60 % of Parlement in some muslim Countries,like iran,and i think Saudi Arabia Are women

    In The West,this is unheard of Practicly,but Nominally Women have Freedom.

    Finally Feminism is a Ideolgoy Like Nazism

    it was Created to Enslave Women -

    See the Backround on Feminism and how the Powers That Be,Promoted it To Destroy the Family.

    The Worst Type of Slavery is When You Think your Liberated!

    The opinion and Irreligiousity of A Few Saudis Should not Spoil it for all these Millions of Women.

    The Fact is Saudi women on the Internet always Say They dont nmind this Treatment Because They Are Treated As Queens.

    In Regards to the south,Aden was Communist,and the Regime Openly Encouraged Irreligiousity.

    im not Saying Niqab Should Be Forced.

    but i am Saying it Should not be fought Against Either.

  4. The Bana'at Fatima(a.s)Chose to Wear Niqab.

    Why Shouldnt The Zaidi women Wear Niqab?

  5. Thanks for your comments! I agree with you about the statistics, but I think the prohibition of alcohol and the wearing of modest dress would be sufficient to keep down rape stats, without women having to cover their entire bodies, which is frankly impractical if women are to lead an active life and experience what life has to offer (in a halal way of course). I am trying to ascertain whether Zaidi fiqh actually has a clear policy on the niqab. Anyway, we both agree that it shouldn't be compulsory. The Saudi Qur'ans make it seem that it is compulsory, and this is what I object to.

  6. salaam aleikum.

    in regards to Ali's comments on rape statistics in the muslim vs. the western world, i would just like to point out that having lived in Egypt, an arab and muslim country, while the incidences of reported rape are much lower, the occurrences may not be. the fact of the matter is that in many conservative 'muslim' countries, for a woman to admit or report rape will more likely lead to slanderous remarks on her character, or an accusation of 'wanting it' than any sort of outreach or real investigation and help. since family pride is such a big deal, and having a daughter who has been violated is a deterrent to marriage, many families prevent or ignore incidences of sexual abuse or rape.

    prohibiting alcohol therefore, and even modest dress, do not address the fundamental issue: women are victims of rape and sexual abuse, and it doesn't matter if a woman is in hijab, niqab, or pants, or even a miniskirt. men have the choice to be courteous, lower their gazes, treat women as equal and powerful people in their own right, rather than 'sexual objects'. if a man is filled with lust, he can pray, look away, or something, but there is absolutely no excuse, no justification, and no way that women can be blamed for sexual abuse and rape.

    in egypt, men, muslim men, who are supposed to uphold deen and be well mannered, are constantly cat-calling, and even groping women who walk by them, and then laughing about it. some of these women are muhajjiba, some are niqabi, and some are foreigners and tourists, who are unaware of cultural norms. it doesn't matter to the men. so, fiqh is all well and good, and sunna is all well and good, and hadith and quran are all important, certainly. but trying to justify subjugating women by saying that the way that they dress is the reason they get raped is hypocritical and highly detrimental to the rights that women have as human beings as bestowed by Allah.

    and one more point, even if a woman is married, even if a woman wears niqab, even if she has children, or is barren, or anything, she can still be raped. rape is sex that occurs without consent of any of the parties, and sadly, many 'conservative', sexist, misogynistic 'muslim' men treat their wives as property, to be taken whenever the man pleases, and for the man's pleasure. so i'm sure that if you included un-reported and intra-matrimonial rape and sexual abuse in muslim countries, those figures that brother Ali quoted would look much different.

    i'm not trying to be a jerk, and i'm not trying to deface islam in any way. alhamdullillah, i am a muslim, a 22 year old man, from a mixed arab/american family, and i lived in egypt for most of my life. but it is the responsibility of muslims, no matter what madhab you subscribe to, to speak out against injustice everywhere and anywhere, for Islam teaches that you should fight against injustice wherever you find it, even if it results in your own destruction. i would just like to see muslims start to recognize that as an ummah, we have a lot of problems, and we need to stop arguing between factions about which 'path' is the 'right, true islam' and focus on being good people. fight to stop sexism, fight to stop racism (sudan is a prime example of racism between muslims), and finally, extremism in any form leads to extreme consequences, whether it is wahhabi/salafi ultra-conservatism, or extreme feminist ideology. if you believe that you know the right way, then every other way is wrong, and you automatically dedicate your life to shutting other people down, instead of opening yourself up to the love of Allah, which often comes from places we don't expect.

    an allah qadirun ala kol'shai'

    we should trust in Allah's guidance, and use our minds, our hearts, not our egos, when dealing with all issues within and without our ummah.

  7. Thanks for this great comment! I hope you have time to add some more comments on the blog... I totally agree with what you are saying.