Lifting the Veil on the Veil Issue
Allah the Exalted says in Surat Luqman (31:6)
But there are some people who trade in distracting tales
to misguide people from Allah’s Way
knowing nothing about it
and to make a mockery of it.
Such people will have a humiliating punishment.
A few weeks ago, some European leaders met together in Brussels in order to discuss the fall-out caused by the disastrous collapse of the military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Concern was expressed about the surprising (to them) rise of numbers entering the Deen of Islam in Europe. Another of their concerns was the awareness of a growing unity and coherence of voice among Muslims who insisted on an end to an ethos which seemed to license and encourage attacks on Islam. Catholic christianity’s dogmas had collapsed in an avalanche of financial claims against paedophile priests, the near-abolition of marriage alongside easy divorce, and the cruel doctrines around abortion and contraception. To distract from their troubles, the Pope decided to win favour with his banking creditors by an attack on Islam. At the Brussels meeting it was decided that a perfect and easy target both to humiliate the Muslims and to break their spirit was an attack on the so-called ‘Islamic veil’. This had the added advantage of boosting the fantasy that atheist women in Europe were ‘free’, were ‘modern’ and not oppressed.
Firstly, we must look at who led the dance, and secondly, at who is responsible among our Muslim Community for putting us in this absurd position. The person who started it, someone who only acts under orders, was the former Foreign Secretary whose family have adopted the English name of Straw. Straw’s achievements merit only a footnote in history. The only record I find of his activities is in Bob Woodward’s important book ‘State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III’. He informs us that the American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice left England on April 2, 2006 for Iraq in her plane with Jack Straw. Straw was air-sick. He let Rice give up her one fold-out bed through the overnight flight, and left her to stretch out on the floor near the burn-bags for classified information. That is the kind of man he is. If he forces a woman who holds high office in an ally country, what chance does a poor Hackney girl have who has put a black bag over her head? Straw’s son was arrested by the police in possession of illegal drugs, but on reflection perhaps that was a morally superior choice to going home.
Sacked by Blair for disloyalty and what he called “fumbling”, he had been put out to grass, not his son’s kind. So he returned to his constituency to fire off the first anti-Muslim salvo. He asked a woman in his constituency office to remove her veil, it being of the kind that only allowed a slit for the eyes. He said he could not communicate with her unless he could see her face. This may go a long way to explaining his dismal failure as Foreign Secretary, since most of his important work with leaders abroad must have been done by telephone – or did he insist on a video link?
The so-called issue was quickly taken up by Sky Television, whose personnel tend to take their holidays by the Dead Sea. In the shortest time they were interviewing a very nasty piece of work, Lord Jenner or Jennings, a high-ranking and active Zionist. Fortunately for us, in the words of Laclos, “His soul is written on his face.” He rabbited on about “what would happen if we introduced the rules of the Bible into today’s society?” What indeed! Therein lies the dilemma of the jews, who, quite rightly, have no intention of doing it. To climax the European nature of the affair, the Italian PM, Prodi, stepped in, just back no doubt from a meeting of the ‘Vatican Fund for the Widows and Orphans of Celibate Priests’. While expressing his outrage at this affront to womanhood, he made absolutely no reference to the 30,000 women bussed in as prostitutes to serve the admittedly bored spectators of the World Cup. Nor did he give a thought to the German Government’s proposals to give prostitutes a trade union at the very moment that France and Germany are dismantling the trade unions of other workers.
While we, the Muslims of Europe, must not only refuse to enter this debate but merely pour scorn on those despicable politicians and media-people who prefer to attack us rather than face up to the moral nihilism that is Europe today – at the same time we must confront the position of our own Community and its avoidance of the heavy Fara’id that remain unconfronted.
Let us begin with the young woman who was asked to undress in Straw’s office. If she was convinced, or had been convinced, that it was necessary for her to allow only a slit for her eyes in her covering – given that strictness, one must ask her what on earth she was doing there in the first place? What was her purpose? Where was her husband? Was it a pick-up? From a legal point of view that is a valid if uncomfortable question. How can you wear what you think is a dress of purity and then perform acts which by implication and possibility are impure?
It has always been, not just now but through the ages, that when men turn away from their political and fiduciary responsibilities, they cover over the matter by creating a false puritanism. It is easier to discipline women than confront tyrants, be they financial or social. This puritanism has been a mark of the so-called modernist movement and is most shockingly identifiable in that human disaster-zone called Palestine. There the Deen of Islam as we understand it has been slowly eroded and has descended in an escalator of change from a strong healthy Shafi’i and Maliki position, to a corroded Muslim Brotherhood ethos, only to end up in the basement of Shi‘ism and the adoption of the deviant Isma‘ili practice. In the recent election, the Hamas women, on the Monday as it were, wore the full black veil and gown, but on the Tuesday of election appeared in mysterious uniform topped with a head-scarf and an American baseball cap, reminiscent of Libyan women whose outfits are designed by Gaddafi, the Armani of Libya.
In the unanimous view of our Fuqaha, what has been declared Haram is Haram and what is Halal is Halal. Now the Deen of Islam is not actually based on that set of judgments which could result in a decision of either punishment or pardon, or equally a reward of financial payment. While this is rarely understood by the kuffar, it must be understood by the Muslims – the Shari’at and its judgments are sustained by an underlying social nexus of what is agreed among us embodying what is praiseworthy behaviour and unworthy behaviour. The primary inhibition to wrong action is not the threatening law of punishment but the disapproval and social rejection of our peers. This whole web of social disapproval and social approval results in a pattern of social behaviour that is harmonious, fair and courteous. This is what we call Sunna. The Sunnan are pegged in place by the Fara’id, or the obligatory.
It is important to understand that Islam only exists by ‘Amr. A Fatwa may be made, but a Hukm must be carried out. The Hukm can only be authorised by ‘Amr. Islam, what our enemies have now chosen to designate as ‘Sunni Islam’, a formerly honourable term but now used to suggest that the Deen is split in two, cannot fully function without our own governance under our own leader. The inability to carry out the Hukm – that is a grave matter and it is the restoration of our own leadership which must be our one binding concern.
In the light of this the serious and grave concern of Muslims is to find the nature of the mechanism which prevents the Hukm. Clarity on the Fara’id and obedience to them will illuminate the Sunnan and establish them.
If Muslim men are being extreme in their strictness to women, it must mean that they are being lax in relation to their own obligations. The mechanism which will restore power to the Muslim Community is the restoration of the Fard of Zakat. The restoration of the Fard of Zakat demands its payment in Gold Dinar and Silver Dirham, by Qur’anic injunction and the practice of the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the people of Madinah. So important is this matter, it demands a lengthy and all-inclusive Fatwa. To this end we have asked the leading Faqih of our time on all matters concerning Zakat and Halal trade practice based on the ‘Amal of the People of Madinah to give a definitive Fatwa on banking practice.
In the light of that Fatwa, which can be found on this website and soon to be available on Umar Pasha’s own website, (www.umarpasha.com) where people can seek further guidance on the matter, only now, having established that important priority, we should look at the correct view of the issue in hand.
In Surat an-Nur (24:30-31) we find the key text.
Say to the muminun that they should lower their eyes
and guard their private parts.
That is purer for them.
Allah is aware of what they do.
Say to the mumin women that they should lower their eyes
and guard their private parts
and not display their adornments –
except for what normally shows –
and draw their head-coverings across their breasts.
The first thing we must observe in these two Ayats is that they begin in the same way, with Allah the Exalted instructing the Messenger, may Allah bless him and give him peace, as follows:
“Say to the muminun…”
“Say to the mumin women…”
This indicates that it is a strong, Divinely ordained Sunna. It is not a law with punishment or reward attached to it.
Important to us is the phrase from the second Ayat which specifies: “ – except for what normally shows – ”
We find in Ibn ‘Atiyya that he relates how Asma bint Abu Bakr was with her sister Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, when the Messenger entered, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. When his wife questioned about the correctness of her sister’s dress, the Prophet indicated that she should be covered except – and he mimed the hands and the face. This permits us to say that the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, gave indication about modesty by covering, in accordance with the Qur’anic stricture “ – except for what normally shows – ”. This allows us to say that the covering of the face is not an Islamic practice, but more seriously is a defiance of the indication of our Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
The Muslim Community cannot be led into a frivolous and futile struggle at the hands of men and women who do not know what the Deen of Islam is in the first place.
Allah the Exalted has declared in Surat Al ‘Imran (3:32):
Say, ‘Obey Allah and the Messenger.’
Then if they turn away,
Allah does not love the kafirun.